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I've found as I am building the Victory, I often ponder what life must have been like on those ships.  One day I set about to google said question and found an interesting book.  

Man-of-War Life: A Boy's Experience in the United States Navy during a Voyage around the World in a Ship of the Line


This may be one some of you have read before but I've never heard of it and amazingly enough there is a free digitized copy online at: https://archive.org/stream/warlifeboysmanof00nordrich#page/n7/mode/2up


From what I can tell the digitized copy has had the years replaced(sometime in the mid 1800's is when it's set) and the name of the ship removed(USS Columbus).


Even with all that, it makes for a fascinating read, or you could just pay the $6 for the real thing on Amazon.

Edited by EinsteinTaylor
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I have read a number of books on the subject and the thing that struck me was that while there were many differences depending on which navy and whether it was a merchant or warship, one of the biggest influences was the Captain and senior officers of the ship. When you get to reading actual diaries or ships logs, the hollywood romance of 17th, 18th or 19th century sailing is quickly lost !


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I think it's fair to say that machines of war tend to be purpose built and that human comforts, such as we know them, are not a high priority.  I've found this to be the case whether we're discussing battleships, aircraft, submarines or tanks and also regardless of the era.  How 'romantic' could it have possibly been making one's way at night up to the head to use a seat of ease in heavy weather in February???


Sailors in the age of wooden ships must have been one tough bunch.

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One of the things that has really struck me from this book is the author saying that on a 3 year cruise, with all the ports of call they made, they only actually got to go to shore once.


Imagine spending 3 weeks in Rio and only getting to look from the harbor.


Instead boats would come to the ship and sell local fruits and what not, and even that was tightly controlled.  The author says that throughout a 3 year cruise, a crewman would only be given about $10 of his pay to spend on those things.  The purser would deliberately withhold the rest of the pay so that the crewman had money when he got home from the cruise. 

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Have now read most of the book and the contents are truly fascinating.  The only downside for me is the very bad editing of the book, the change to electronic format has not been well done. I found it was quite an effort in places to work out what was a footnote or the beginning of a chapter etc..


Still am enjoying the contents.



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