Life in the Time of Sailing Ships - Part II
|An officer’s cabin on HMS Trincomalee.|
The ratings were not so lucky. They slept on one of the gun decks. As you can see in the photo below, the guns take up a fair amount of space. In this image the guns are ‘run out’, with the ends sticking out through the gun ports as they would be when ready to fire. When the ship was not cleared for action, the guns would be completely inside the ship with the gun ports closed to keep spray out. Not only did this leave less space on the deck, but also reduced the light and ventilation.
|A gun deck on the Victory, ready for action, with a tourist for scale.|
|Hammocks slung on HMS Trincomalee.|
At sea, most sailors got only 4 hours’ sleep a night. The crew of a ship was divided into two watches, apart from the Captain and some of the warrant officers such as the purser or carpenter. At sea, there would always be one watch on duty, ready to handle the ship.
|Netting on HMS Victory. The bagged hammocks were stored between the two lines of netting, and provided some protection against musket or pistol fire in action.|
Storage of possessions was also a problem. A sailor with only a few possessions could roll up spare clothing and small items inside his hammock, but a man with a sea chest would have to stow it on a lower deck during the day.
|The Sick Bay on HMS Victory with cots slung from the ceiling. Note the table in the foreground, mounted on one of the guns.|
|An officers’ dining area on HMS Victory|
The men ate on tables between the guns, suspended from the ceiling, or sometimes just had to sit on their sea chests.
|A table a ‘mess’ of six men on Victory. This one is in the sick bay, hence the cot hanging above it. Note the gun on the left.|
|The bows of HMS Victory. The area behind the netting at the top would have had seats with holes, allowing waste to drop down through the open structure beneath it.|