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Thread: Age of Sail Warships

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    Ja mata, TosaInu Moderator edyzmedieval's Avatar
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    Default Age of Sail Warships

    I know the title looks like the title of a videogame about 18th century warships, but that's not the point.

    Straightforward question - how did age of sail warships (18th century I mean - so picture Empire TW and Napoleon TW warships) manage to efficiently fight considering...


    • guns only on the sides (so that meant switching the ship)
    • sails (so wind propulsion only - making first rates and second rates literally immovable in light wind)


    So... how did they manage to effectively fight? Because it would have been quite a long, drawn out battle if all you had were huge ships and light wind.

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    Moderator Moderator Gregoshi's Avatar
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    Default Re: Age of Sail Warships

    I'm fairly uninformed about about the Age of Sail warfare, but I'd imagine if the wind is light, the huge ships from both sides aren't going to make to the battle. IIRC, the British favoured smaller, lighter ships compared to the French, Spanish, etc, which gave them some advantage in the lighter wind conditions (Trafalgar?). Now that I've exposed my gross lack of knowledge on the subject, let's have some input from folks with real knowledge on the subject.

    Note: I find the Age of Sail fascinating but never quite enough to be well read on the subject. The closest I got was having/reading a book on great naval battles in history and the board game "Wooden Ships & Iron Men" by Avalon Hill.
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    Ja mata, TosaInu Moderator edyzmedieval's Avatar
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    Default Re: Age of Sail Warships

    Actually, at Trafalgar, a lot of first rates were used.

    What I do know is that first rates were used mainly for set piece battles - aka Trafalgar - but the light wind meant that the French massive first and second rates were rendered useless, giving Nelson a considerable advantage. The Spaniards at that time had the biggest first rate, with 130 guns, more than many countries' armies, but the sheer size and weight made it a floating platform and that's it.
    Last edited by edyzmedieval; 12-14-2016 at 03:35.
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    Dux Nova Scotia Member lars573's Avatar
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    Default Re: Age of Sail Warships

    A primer on age of sail combat:



    I highly reccomend his whole channel. If you can deal with a thick Austrian-German accent.
    Last edited by lars573; 12-15-2016 at 17:11.
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    Default Re: Age of Sail Warships

    Quote Originally Posted by edyzmedieval View Post
    Actually, at Trafalgar, a lot of first rates were used.

    What I do know is that first rates were used mainly for set piece battles - aka Trafalgar - but the light wind meant that the French massive first and second rates were rendered useless, giving Nelson a considerable advantage. The Spaniards at that time had the biggest first rate, with 130 guns, more than many countries' armies, but the sheer size and weight made it a floating platform and that's it.
    You're mistaken, the French didn't have a single 1st or 2nd rate shipin Trafalgar, their strongest ship had only 80 cannons. The British had 7 ships with more than 90 cannons. The Spaniards had 4, but their crews were incompetent.

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    Ja mata, TosaInu Moderator edyzmedieval's Avatar
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    Default Re: Age of Sail Warships

    Indeed, my mistake. Thought of the Spaniards when I wrote, and then I edited only the Santissima Trinidad (the 130 gun first rate).

    And those videos are spectacular, thank you Lars!
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    Member Member Greyblades's Avatar
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    Default Re: Age of Sail Warships

    The British had developed a system that churned out glory hound captains who took more risks than thier continental counterparts, resulting in young officers who often succeeded in actions that would have made thier continental counterparts refuse even the attempt.

    They did this by occasionally shooting an admiral to encourage the others.

    Well not really occasionally, it only happened once to admiral John Byng who was executed by a humiliated king for not taking his battle damaged floatilla into action against a french force of smaller size but better condition. The effect on the admiralty was stunning, culminating in a generation of aces like Thomas Cochraine, Edward Pellew and, of course, Nelson.

    It set a tradition of almost suicidal daringamong officers that would keep our navy the highest individually performing naval force for 150 years.
    Last edited by Greyblades; 12-25-2016 at 00:11.
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    Moderator Moderator Fisherking's Avatar
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    Default Re: Age of Sail Warships

    In fact Nelson would have had another 2nd Rate if its Admiral were not on the way back to London for Court Marshal.


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    Ja mata, TosaInu Moderator edyzmedieval's Avatar
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    Default Re: Age of Sail Warships

    Having such a daring officer corps clearly propelled them forward - and quite remarkable they didn't have massive defeats and managed to sustain the same pace and power for more than a century. Quite impressive.
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    Member Member Greyblades's Avatar
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    Default Re: Age of Sail Warships

    There was a trickle down in quality, I am not certain of the specifics but I presume it started out with the captains thinking "if I dont get my men good enough to consistently win I might get shot", I am more confident saying that, with continued success, pride became the main motivator. British captains were pushed to excell by fear and pride, in turn they pushed thier crews to higher standards than other navies, particularly with reloading times.

    The dynamic between British officers and thier crews was an interesting compromise between authority and comradere; midshipman and up were not allowed to fraternise with the crew to any real extent, maintaining a stand off-ish relationship between ranks. However they deliberately avoided deadly resentment and even fostered a large amount of loyalty by ensuring the officers shared the same burdens as the crew.

    An example of this would be the shared danger in battle; the officers were about as likely to be struck down as the men in the chaos of battle and they were even more likely to be killed during a boarding action due to being prime targets for snipers.

    This was true for all navies but British equity truly shone through when came to rations. British sailors were exceptionally well fed on normal operations, in good supply a sailor would eat much better than most "land lubbers" of equal status with the officers food only really surpassing the enlisted in terms of fanciness. This came into its own when a ship was short on food: the officers portions would be cut the same as the men under them regardless of rank or societal status, leading to situations where admirals put up with the same weevil ridden tack as the powder monkeys.

    Such a sense of equity made the crews of the Royal Navy more willing to be pushed to excellence than those of the more aristocratic nations, though it was not an infallible deterrant; there were still instances of mutiny among the royal navy by mistreated crews and during the french revolution the fleet went on strike twice in 1797.

    In the spirit of British protest movments at the time the first strike at spithead ended peacfully, the crews negociating better food, pay and the removal of unpopular officers. The strikers even promised to go back to sea the moment the french actually presented a threat in the interim.

    The second strike was somewhat less of a orderly affiar, the sailors that took over the fleet anchored in the thames pushed the admrialty's patience and even got political. The leaders rather lost the plot, to the point where the ringleader had his flagship shooting at vessels that tried to abandon the mutiny and when they were starved out he even tried to make them defect to france, which prompted the crews to immediately hand the idiot over. It ended somewhat well for the crews as only the sixty odd ring leaders were punished with the customary hangings or one way trips to australia, the followers were summarlity pardoned, something downright lenient for the times.
    Last edited by Greyblades; 12-29-2016 at 18:01.
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    Default Re: Age of Sail Warships

    Trafalgar

    Orders of Battle and casualty rates.


    Things were SLOW back then, with fleets taking hours, and sometimes days, to position themselves and close for battle.

    Gunnery was miserable -- commonly both ships in an exchange of fire would be moving in three directions simultaneously -- catenary shooting is a beeyach. For most ships, the solution was simple, fire lots of shots at close range.

    At Trafalgar and through much of the 1750-1840 era, British crews were so well drilled that they commonly fired 3 broadsides for every 2 of the enemy. If only one shot in 4 were to hit -- not uncommon at a range above 100 meters -- a typical British 74, with its added carronades (not counted as these were not guns), might have a broadside of 40 cannon. This would be the same number as those fired by a French ship. Let us say that the Frenchie was slightly less accurate, not as well drilled at catenary as the Brits, and could produce only 2 hits for every 9 shots.

    6 British broadsides later, the "shopkeepers" have racked up a total of 60 hits. During the same time period, the "frogeaters" would have generated 36 hits.

    Unlike many of their contemporaries, British practice was to ignore shots at the rigging in a fleet action and concentrate on hull shots -- which generated the real winner of battles, lots of wood splinters spalling off to kill and maim.
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    Member Member Crandar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Age of Sail Warships

    Yes, the French Navy focused on masts, which wasn't necessarily a bad tactic, but it required a very well-trained crew, something the French didn't have. They should target the hulls, instead, they would have lost anyway probably, but at least they would take HMS Bellerophon and some other British ships with them. Spanish, Danish, Dutch or Ottoman crews were totally unsuitable, although they were all capable of achieving something, if their admiral was somewhat competent.

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    Ja mata, TosaInu Moderator edyzmedieval's Avatar
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    Default Re: Age of Sail Warships

    Keep the info coming boys.

    How slow where these things? Particularly the first rates and second rates. I imagine them to be really slow, but how slow? Would it take literally hours for them to advance let's say 10 kilometres? (or 10 nautical miles)
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    Member Member Greyblades's Avatar
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    Default Re: Age of Sail Warships

    Games typically depict smaller sail based ships as faster than larger ones. In reality this was only half true; small ships with competent crews and similar sail configuration (as in the same tech level and not something like a 13th century cog in the age of neptune class battleships) had greater maneuverability and acceleration due to having less mass to shift. However thier max speed was often much less than that of a ship of the battle line which would have much greater sail space and thus potential wind power behind it.

    A sloop from a standing start could reach it's top speed of, for example, 12 knots within 5 minutes and leave a first rate sitting twiddling it's thumbs but after 30 minutes the first rate will have reached it's top speed of, say, 18 knots and would easily out pace the sloop. If the sloop were to change course drastically it would easily evade the first rate but would have to lose sight of it if it was to actually end the chase without being captured or sunk as the first rate would allways catch up eventually.

    Edit: my utter incomprehension when it comes to units of measurments strikes again, a first rate reaching 18 knots would be like a WW1 Mk4 tank reaching 40 MPH, such speeds were reserved for clippers of the late 1800's, which were extremely long ships equipped with at least 5 main masts.

    HMS Victory, a first rate from the 1760's had a top speed of 8 knots, aka 14KPH. An example of such speed in action would be when a similar size ship, the french 74 gun battleship Tyrannicide , was able to outpace and capture the tiny 14 gun sloop HMS speedy in her final engagment of the napoleonic wars.
    Last edited by Greyblades; 01-01-2017 at 08:33.
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    Default Re: Age of Sail Warships

    A number of factors as to speed.

    Wind strength; hull shape, length of hull at waterline, sparring/canvas.


    Wind strength: In short, more wind speed is more potential power to harness. Too much, and it tore the sails right off the masts or ripped the masts themselves apart if encountered suddenly (white squall was the term, massive wind blast but no cloud/weather with it -- rare but deadly). Too little and you not only lost speed but potentially lost any means of steering the vessel. Modern vessels have water jets to push them about, but in that time you had to have a certain amount of water flowing past your rudder or it's ability to steer the ship ceased. Term was "steerage way."

    In general, lighter ships did better in lighter winds since there was less mass to push. In heavier winds, the larger ships had an advantage since their spars and masts were thicker and heavier and capable of absorbing more strain. As the example above depicts, in the right winds, a quick second rate 74 might just outsail a little sloop, especially if that sloop had lots of weed etc. diminishing the smoothness of her hull shape.

    Hull shape: Sailing ships simply couldn't be as hydrodynamic as modern vessels or as would have been ideal even at the time. The masts had to stick up to catch the wind and the whole assemblage made them top-heavy. Therefore they had to be narrower as they got taller to reduce the overall top weight and attendant risk of capsizing the ship in a heavy wind. Also dictated that the lighter cannons were mounted on the upper decks despite the obvious advantages to range and visibility for shooting to mount your biggest guns higher up. Part of the reason that the carronades were so devastating was that, despite their shorter range (which was actually not that much shorter than long guns, though the shot velocity was lower), the lighter weight meant that you could shoot a 32 pound weapon from the upper deck for the same weight as a 12 pound long weapon.

    Many wooden ships were modeled, at least vaguely, on the shape of fish. While a good try, locomotion in fish is entirely different from that of a rigid hull propelled by wind.

    In general, the wider your ship, the slower it would likely be, though again this would be influenced by specific wind conditions. If your hull was relatively deep into the water, you were held in place more by the sea and were less likely to be pushed down-wind as you moved forward "Leeway." Deeper hulls were harder to push forward in light winds though -- there were always tradeoffs.

    Last point, these ships were built of wood and functionally unique -- even ships of the same class, made in the same yard by the same people working to the same plans, might sit differently in the water, sail a little differently or have their "best point of sail" (where they got their best speed relative to the direction of the wind) a few degrees off from one to the other.

    Length of Hull at waterline: A surprisingly influential issue in ships, particularly sailing ships. Length of keel tends to be one of the biggest factors in determining speed, particularly in moderate winds. This was one reason why larger longer ships such as the large French frigates of the era and US naval frigates of the era were so fast compared to their counterparts. Longer keels traded a bit of maneuverability away -- larger turn radius -- but this was less important than might be supposed as it was the WIND that determined most direction choices, not the desired direction as with steamships. There is in fact, one recorded example of a French large frigate making 7 knots (roughly the cruising speed of HMS Victory under full normal canvas).....while towing another large frigate that had been dismasted.

    Sparring and canvas: Better canvas (tighter weave to cloth) caught more wind and produced more power per square inch. Sails that were relatively flat, not "bellied out," were more efficient at transferring power to the hull to create speed. Sails on taller masts caught more wind then sails placed lower down. Though weight meant they had to be relatively small in overall size, they contributed a disproportionately large amount of transferred power per square foot of sail. This is why topgallants and royals had so much more impact than the seeming larger "courses" nearer the base of the mast. The risk, of course, is that the more sail area you have higher up, the greater the risk of strong winds damaging the rigging. English ships, which were expected to be at sea patrolling a LOT, were modestly canvassed and RN ships generally mounted to small sails above the royals (moonraker, cloudscraper, & stargazer in ascending order) only as temporary measures in light winds. US ships tended to be much heavier canvassed -- and usually outran English ships -- though they did suffer the occasional catastrophic failure event more frequently than did the Brits. USA could afford to, since we didn't have to endlessly patrol back then and British naval strategy mandated it.

    Square rigged ships transferred more power to the hull and were capable of greater speed. Fore and aft rigged ships were not quite as powerful at energy transfer, but could said closer to the wind because of the "pulling" angles capable with that sail arrangement.

    Ships were more maneuverable when they had fore-and-aft sails that were positioned as far out as possible away from the center of mass -- thus the long bowsprit and jib sails for better turning in later-era sailing vessels and the use of a fore and aft spanker on the aft-most mast.



    All ships could add studding sails (temporary wideners to the square rigged normal sails) or stay sails (for and aft sails mounted on the stays [mast support lines]) in light airs or for specific conditions to maximize power transfer to the hull.


    Cruising speeds for most ships, over a broad range of conditions, were roughly 5 knots -- which had been true for the merchants of ancient Rome as well. Top speeds had increased since ancient times, but there was an effective limit of about 15 knots for top speeds under ideal conditions. Most Heavy ships of the line would top out in the 8-10 range, with frigates a couple of knots faster. Smaller ships were generally about the same speed as a frigate, though they averaged better speeds whenever winds were light or changeable.



    So, overall, there were a lot of factors at play and it was every bit as much an art form to sail those ships as it was a product of science.
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    Default Re: Age of Sail Warships

    Supplemental on ship speed etc.


    The great clipper ships were designed to be relatively long of keel and narrow of beam in order to promote speed. They were heavily sparred and usually mounted spars permanently above the royals. The best of them were capable of averaging 7.5 knots average speed over the course of months-long voyages (Cutty Sark for example). Such ships were expensive though, since all those spars required a comparatively large crew and the narrower beam mandated smaller carrying capacity. They were the acme of sail. Transporting tea -- which needed short trip times to minimize spoilage but brought in a large amount of money pound-for-pound -- were really the only types of cargo that made them economically viable.

    After the advent of practical steamers in the latter 1800s, sail still accounted for a huge percentage of cargoes hauled -- at least the less perishable ones -- because Barques and Barquentines (used both square and fore-and-aft sails with the latter being of a new and more mechanically advantaged type) could have small crews and were quite economical for much trade. This continued until the era of the modern oil-fired steamer made even those obsolete.

    Side note: A surprising percentage of the allied shipping sunk by Central Powers submarines during WW1 were sailing vessels.
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    Ja mata, TosaInu Moderator edyzmedieval's Avatar
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    Default Re: Age of Sail Warships

    Sailing vessels, in WW1? That's something new.

    Thank you Seamus for the detailed informative posts.

    I have to say I am quite impressed with all of the names of sails - topgallants, royals, cloudscraper, moonraker, stargazer, studding sails, stay sails...
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    Default Re: Age of Sail Warships

    Quote Originally Posted by edyzmedieval View Post
    Sailing vessels, in WW1? That's something new.
    No it's true. One of my maternal great-grandfathers was a spar-maker until around the depression when he had to switch to carpentry. And if you look at the Canadian 10 cent piece there's an image of a wooden schooner type sailing vessel called the Bluenose (a nickname for Nova Scotians). It was built in 1921 for fishing and racing. And was used as such until 1946.
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    Default Re: Age of Sail Warships

    Quote Originally Posted by lars573 View Post
    No it's true. One of my maternal great-grandfathers was a spar-maker until around the depression when he had to switch to carpentry. And if you look at the Canadian 10 cent piece there's an image of a wooden schooner type sailing vessel called the Bluenose (a nickname for Nova Scotians). It was built in 1921 for fishing and racing. And was used as such until 1946.
    Interesting family tidbit.

    It was a question of economics. Wind is, of itself, free. With the right rigging the crew was small and your range was only limited by provisions though your average speed especially when sailing against the predominant winds was slower than for a steamer.

    Steamers did not fully supplant the sailing ship entirely until the development of the oil-fired boilers of the early 20th century. Before that, range limitations on coal still left wind as a viable alternative for non-perishable cargoes. Oil was so much more efficient in terms of bulk and storage that everything moved to oil-fueled steamers. Even if, as with the Liberty vessel, they used an antiquated engine to keep it cheap and simple, the BTU extractable from a kilo of oil greatly exceeded that of a kilo of coal (as well as being more safely stored).
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    Praefectus Fabrum Senior Member Run N Gun Champion, Hook Line & Sinker Champion, Anime BlackJack Champion, Street Racer Champion, Pipe Mania Champion, Spider Jump Champion, Flash Poker Champion, Soap Bubble Champion, Word Up Champion, Burger Time Champion, Shape Game Champion, Quick Shot Champion, Shuriken Challenge Champion, James Bomb Champion, Snake Shooter Champion, Crazy Cars Champion, Space Runner Champion, Submarine Champion, Fishwater Challenge Champion, Jukebox Hero Champion, Cub Shoot 2 Champion, My House Is Bigger Than Your House Champion, Chicken Champion, Funky Pong Champion, Cutie Quake Champion, Squirrel Soccer Champion, Fling The Cow Champion, Treasure Diver Champion, Tiger Punch Champion, Stuart's Xtreme Skateboarding Champion, Jet Pac Stan Champion, Warthog Launch Champion, Candy Tetris Champion, Solitaire Champion, Worm Race Champion, Frogger Champion, Slack Man Champion, Fishing the Sea Champion, Mission To Mars Champion, Ollie Skates Champion, Japanese Baseball Champion, Rope Walker Champion, Brighton Bounty Champion, Penguin Pass Champion, Skate Park Champion, Super Mario Mushroom Champion, Watch Out Champion, Lawn Pac Champion, Rotation Champion, Weapons Of Mass Destruction Champion, Skate Boarder Champion, Fish Kill Champion, Ninja Turtles 2 Champion, Ice Racer Champion, Its Mine Champion, Lane Bowling Champion, Bugz Champion, Makai Grand Prix 2 Champion, KF 9000 Champion, Stick Avalanche Champion, White Van Man Champion, What-A-Shot Champion, Mars Patrol Champion, Parachute Panic Champion, Magic Ball Champion, BlackJack Champion, Sonny Sunshine Champion, Stans Ski Jumping Champion, Smaugs Treasure Champion, Sofa Longjump Champion Seamus Fermanagh's Avatar
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    Default Re: Age of Sail Warships

    Quote Originally Posted by edyzmedieval View Post
    Sailing vessels, in WW1? That's something new.

    Thank you Seamus for the detailed informative posts.

    I have to say I am quite impressed with all of the names of sails - topgallants, royals, cloudscraper, moonraker, stargazer, studding sails, stay sails...
    Total nerd that I am, I didn't have to consult much of anything for those tidbits either.

    Been reading historical novels in that setting since I was single digit age. Forester, Keene, O'Brian, Lambdin, Weber's Safehold books...
    "Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word, equality. But notice the difference: while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude." -- A. de Tocqueville

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  21. #21
    Ja mata, TosaInu Moderator edyzmedieval's Avatar
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    Default Re: Age of Sail Warships

    Well, about topgallants I knew too... courtesy of Empire TW.
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    Default Re: Age of Sail Warships

    Quote Originally Posted by edyzmedieval View Post
    Indeed, my mistake. Thought of the Spaniards when I wrote, and then I edited only the Santissima Trinidad (the 130 gun first rate)....
    Her nickname was El Ponderoso. Apparently, decking in the spar deck of a big three decker to make a 4th deck was...unwise.
    "Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word, equality. But notice the difference: while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude." -- A. de Tocqueville

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    "When you're in jail, a good friend will be trying to bail you out. A best friend will be in the cell next to you saying, 'Damn, that was fun'.” -- J. H. Marx

  23. #23
    Ja mata, TosaInu Moderator edyzmedieval's Avatar
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    Default Re: Age of Sail Warships

    Surprising they didn't topple over or sink outright some of them, imagine 130 guns on a ship - the weight would have been huge, not to mention the 800 or so men who have to live on that ship.

    Speaking of living... how did they actually live? 6-800 crew. That's a huge amount of men, on a massive ship.
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    Default Re: Age of Sail Warships

    Well the officers definitely lived more comfortably than the rest of the crew:


    It is not an academic source of course, but Stephen Biesty's Cross-Sections are ideal for children and adults to get an easily digested picture of a ship's of the line every-day life.

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    Default Re: Age of Sail Warships

    Quote Originally Posted by edyzmedieval View Post
    Surprising they didn't topple over or sink outright some of them, imagine 130 guns on a ship - the weight would have been huge, not to mention the 800 or so men who have to live on that ship.

    Speaking of living... how did they actually live? 6-800 crew. That's a huge amount of men, on a massive ship.
    Yes, the really big 3 deckers and that Beast of a 130 had crews, ideally, of more than 850 all told. To be fair, though, the Spanish and French were often in port for long stretches and many would live ashore. They rarely had long cruises afloat with their larger crews. By contrast, it was rare for a RN ship to boast more than 80% of their "ideal" complement unless the captain was ridiculously popular and able to have mostly volunteer crews rather than pressed.

    In the RN, these crews were usually "watch on watch" so 35-40% or so would be on deck or working the ship at any one time. All hands were subject to being called to sail duty, particularly in changeable weather. They didn't have a lot of space on board, the biggest ships let men sleep in about 2.5 feet of width space in a hammock.

    Food was rarely very appetizing, but the sailors of the RN were rationed appropriately in terms of caloric intake and protein amounts. When not supplemented by fresh provisions brought to the ship over and above basic stores, the diet was NOT tasty and consisted of salted meats that required hours of soaking (they used to haul it in canvas bags behind the ship to soften it and get some of the salt out. Yes, the seawater was much less salty and this worked) and hard baked biscuit that lasted longer than any land-bound provisions but still ended up with weevils in it. The weevils were quite often consumed as additional protein. They got regular rum rations and enough vitamin C to keep them from scurvy. All in all, rations were bad, but they were actually as good, sometimes better, and certainly more plentiful than the diet of London's urban poor.

    The RN were also FIENDS for cleanliness. Nothing put a ship out of action faster than disease in such close confines. Despite the close confines and limited vitamin diet, sickness was rare once they had been out of port a couple of weeks. They did not understand why, really, but they knew that a clean ship left a crew pretty healthy. Most ships had a doctor of sorts, sometimes with trained assistants. This left them with a better doctor patient ratio than ANY part of English society ashore save for the professional class and higher.

    Discipline was brutal, physical, and never delayed more than a week (and usually done in the moment). With punishment delivered, however, the crew generally viewed it as "penance served" and the crew member was back as before. The harsh discipline was necessary in many ways as the ship was never more than one sharp gale away from an emergency.

    In short, RN life in the age of sail sucked by modern standards. By the standards of the time among the working class and poor in Engalnd it was....not too bad.
    Last edited by Seamus Fermanagh; 01-30-2017 at 18:12.
    "Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word, equality. But notice the difference: while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude." -- A. de Tocqueville

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  26. #26
    Ja mata, TosaInu Moderator edyzmedieval's Avatar
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    Default Re: Age of Sail Warships

    Fantastic bits of info Seamus, thank you.

    Given that these guys were on water for a lot of time - wouldn't they be fishing a lot of time? Fresh fish and things like that? And when they did arrive for resupply, did they feast or did they ration?

    Similarly - the men were paid, but how much? And how much would a captain earn?
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    Default Re: Age of Sail Warships

    A resource for you. Link

    Yes they would fish as well and/or stop fishing boats and buy some of the catch.

    As to following a resupply or the start of a cruise, it would depend on the provision in question. They took animals to have eggs and fresh food as long as possible. They took both preserved foods (wait) and soft foods (eat quickly before it goes bad). And the whole lot of them, with rare exceptions, washed it all down with quite a bit of drink. Partly this was common of the era, and partly it was because alcohol kept -- even small beer (light beer) is drinkable long after it goes flat and takes much longer to breed bacteria.
    "Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word, equality. But notice the difference: while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude." -- A. de Tocqueville

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    Default Re: Age of Sail Warships

    I was impressed by the deductions for the Greenwich Royal and the chest and fund, fantastic stuff. And this 200 years ago.

    Wasn't alcohol used as a disinfectant back then as well? I'm pretty sure the surgeons and physicians would know this, even though they probably had no idea how it actually worked.
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    Praefectus Fabrum Senior Member Run N Gun Champion, Hook Line & Sinker Champion, Anime BlackJack Champion, Street Racer Champion, Pipe Mania Champion, Spider Jump Champion, Flash Poker Champion, Soap Bubble Champion, Word Up Champion, Burger Time Champion, Shape Game Champion, Quick Shot Champion, Shuriken Challenge Champion, James Bomb Champion, Snake Shooter Champion, Crazy Cars Champion, Space Runner Champion, Submarine Champion, Fishwater Challenge Champion, Jukebox Hero Champion, Cub Shoot 2 Champion, My House Is Bigger Than Your House Champion, Chicken Champion, Funky Pong Champion, Cutie Quake Champion, Squirrel Soccer Champion, Fling The Cow Champion, Treasure Diver Champion, Tiger Punch Champion, Stuart's Xtreme Skateboarding Champion, Jet Pac Stan Champion, Warthog Launch Champion, Candy Tetris Champion, Solitaire Champion, Worm Race Champion, Frogger Champion, Slack Man Champion, Fishing the Sea Champion, Mission To Mars Champion, Ollie Skates Champion, Japanese Baseball Champion, Rope Walker Champion, Brighton Bounty Champion, Penguin Pass Champion, Skate Park Champion, Super Mario Mushroom Champion, Watch Out Champion, Lawn Pac Champion, Rotation Champion, Weapons Of Mass Destruction Champion, Skate Boarder Champion, Fish Kill Champion, Ninja Turtles 2 Champion, Ice Racer Champion, Its Mine Champion, Lane Bowling Champion, Bugz Champion, Makai Grand Prix 2 Champion, KF 9000 Champion, Stick Avalanche Champion, White Van Man Champion, What-A-Shot Champion, Mars Patrol Champion, Parachute Panic Champion, Magic Ball Champion, BlackJack Champion, Sonny Sunshine Champion, Stans Ski Jumping Champion, Smaugs Treasure Champion, Sofa Longjump Champion Seamus Fermanagh's Avatar
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    Default Re: Age of Sail Warships

    Quote Originally Posted by edyzmedieval View Post
    I was impressed by the deductions for the Greenwich Royal and the chest and fund, fantastic stuff. And this 200 years ago.

    Wasn't alcohol used as a disinfectant back then as well? I'm pretty sure the surgeons and physicians would know this, even though they probably had no idea how it actually worked.
    All of the classic "Age of Sail" era was pre-Lister/Simmelweis so there was virtually no sterilization and any disinfectant effect from a poultice or the like would have been accidental and unique to the surgeon compounding the salve. Alcohol was used, when possible, to sedate patients before, during, and after procedures. If instruments were rinsed or cleaned between patients, it would only have been done to suit the fastidiousness of the surgeon in question. There were no requirements for them to wash hands or instruments between patients. Moreover, the sick and recovering where generally kept on the orlop deck below the waterline. This was for safety during battle, but in practice this was the sickbay as well....in the least well ventilated portion of the ship with almost no fresh air and quite near the perpetually filthy bilges just below. Some captains/surgeons would bring the sick on deck for "better air" when possible, but this was not a required practice.

    When not in a rush, the surgical instruments were heated in a flame to make them less of a "shock" when cutting a patient (this would have had a limited anti-bacterial effect as well but would have been a by-product, not intent). They WERE aware that foreign objects internally almost always resulted in infection (though they did not know why) so they did their best to remove splinters and cloth from wounds (though this was imperfect).

    Interestingly, that was one of the reasons officers and others wore expensive silk shirts in battle when possible. Silk's tensile strength is such that, when hit by a relatively low speed penetrator (black powder musket ball or the like, particularly from beyond point blank range) the silk cloth often held together and came out of the wound entirely when the shirt was removed or, in some cases, actually surrounded the musket/pistol ball and could be used to pop the ball out of the wound entire. The same was true to a lesser extend with thrusting wounds from swords and the like -- silk made it less likely for cloth to remain in a wound. So the dueling in silk shirts thing you see in films is actually correct (though the producers seldom had that in mind during the filming).

    There is an amusing scene in one of the later O'Brian novels that touches on this ignorance of modern microbiology. Dr. Maturin and a colleague stop their scientific dissection of a dolphin corpse to have their main meal. The simply take and use the dissection knife to carve the bird they then eat.
    "Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word, equality. But notice the difference: while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude." -- A. de Tocqueville

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  30. #30
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    Default Re: Age of Sail Warships

    The 6d deduction goes all the way back to Hawkins in 1590 (neat reading). Greenwich hospital's construction was funding from fines levied against smugglers and, in one case, the proceeds of the sale of the estate of Capt. Kidd following his execution.

    It is an extension of the medieval guilds concept. The guilds developed sick and hurt funds and even funeral funds for members of their guild with all pitching in a bit to help. They were the first to develop actuarial based practices for life insurance as well.

    Even earlier, there were funeral clubs among craftspersons and even groups of slaves going back to imperial Rome.

    Hawkins' effort may be the first time this was done for a government military organization.
    "Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word, equality. But notice the difference: while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude." -- A. de Tocqueville

    "Under capitalism, man exploits man. Under communism, it's just the opposite." -- J.K. Galbraith

    "When you're in jail, a good friend will be trying to bail you out. A best friend will be in the cell next to you saying, 'Damn, that was fun'.” -- J. H. Marx

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