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How far could a ship of the line travel?

Admiral Beez

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Ships of the line, such as a 74-gun third-rate would carry more than 700 men.  How far could one realistically sail one?   One could reply, as far as the food and water lasted, but how far is that?  Here’s James Cook’s final voyage, two small ships with a total of about 200 men.  Did ships of the line ever sail to Australia, for example?   How long could a ship of the line stay at sea before her water and food ran out?

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The standard stowage for RN ships on foreign service was 6 months, and that only reduced for the smallest classes which couldn't store sufficient stores and unmodified French captures which had different hold and Orlop arrangements which didn't conform to British practice. On home station the stowage was reduced to 4 months. It was normal during a moderate or large repair to rebuild a French capture to meet British standards, though many were too badly damaged through battle or rot that they were reserved for harbour duties (freeing a serviceable British hull) or broken up.

Victualers, and local resupply from naval stores or local purchases by the ship's purser could extend a ship's service on foreign patrol to 'years'.

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  Without enough vitamin C, survey among the crew was a problem until the British navy took up the suggestion for the mandatory consumption of limes ... hence the term Limie (alt. Lyme).


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