The Age of Exploration: Life on the Open Seas

The age of Exploration Life on the open Seas

A hard day's work

Life was pretty difficult for a sailor in the age exploration.

Journeys could take years. Ships only covered about 100 miles a day.

The pay was poor. Seamen on Columbus' journeys made less than $10 a month in today's money.

Crews worked around the clock in shifts minding the ship.

Disobedience led to harsh punishments. Beatings and floggings were common, and mutineers were put to death.

16 was the minimum age for sailors, but some boys started working on ships as young as 7 or 8.

Some men didn't join willingly. They were"impressed," or forced into service.

1LB. 1LB. 1GAL.

Sailors consumed about 3,000 calories a day, which they got from:

Salted beef or pork

Biscuit or hardtalk

Ale, wine or hard liquor

Dried beans, peas or rice

Flour mixed with fat was served when meat rations ran low.

Hardtack was infested with weevils and bugs, which sailors ate as additional food.

A salty diet combined with a lack of fresh water led to dehydration.

There were no fresh fruits or vegetables.

Scurvy, Seasickness and slime

Vitamin deficiencies gave men scurvy-and rotted teeth and gums, open sores and even mental breakdowns.

It was common to lose 50 percent of a crew to scurvy, known as the "scourge of the seas."

Explorer James Cook was a pioneer in scurvy prevention.

He fed his men sauerkraut and dried vegetable soup.

If the diet didn't kill you, there were plenty of other things that could.

Sailors had just one set of clothes that were rarely washed.

They thought dirt and grease provided protection from wind and rain.

Lice, rodents and foul drinking water spread typhoid fever.

Ships could be dangerously cold-fires were only allowed in calmer weather.

The lack of fresh air below deck caused carbon monoxide poisoning.

Men slept on deck in hammocks-an invention they borrowed from Mesoamerican cultures.

Ignominious ends

Captains didn't have it much better than their crews.

A fight over stolen boats ended Cook's life in Hawaii.

Balboa was beheaded after feuding with his bosses.

Magellan didn't make it around the world with his ships. He was killed in the Philippines.

Hudson's crew set him adrift in what is now Hudson's Bay. He was never heard from again.

Ponce de Leon failed to find the Fountain of Youth, but a poison arrow found him in Florida.

Verrazzano was killed and eaten by cannibals in the Caribbean.

The Age of Exploration: Life on the Open Seas

shared by ColumnFive on Jan 16, 2013 in History


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Life was pretty difficult for a sailor in the age of exploration, and every day was filled with hard work, and back breaking labor. Journeys could take years, since ships could only cover about 100 mi...
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Category: History
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