Drunken Sailors

Sailors have and had a reputaion for drinking.  In 1876 he captained the ship Uruguay from London to Tunis, taking in Odessa and other ports along the Mediterranean and Black Sea.

The voyage would take a month or so, required that the crew had daily allowances of certain foods to keep them at an optimum level of health, as daily nutritional of vitamins and mineral requirements were not known back then but they did have some idea of nutritional deficiency. Lemon and Lime were taken by all seafarers to prevent scurvy, which occurred when there was a long term deficiency of vitamin C. Along with a table of provisions, merchant ships governing body, the Board of Trades had a list of rules for seafarers. One of the strict rules stipulated by the Board of Trade was sobriety, appearing in the first sentence of the rules and regulations as such;

And the Crew agree to conduct themselves in an orderly, faithful honest, and sober manner, and to be at all time diligent in their respective Duties, and to be obedient to the lawful Command of the said Master…Captain Weddall

Captain Weddall took the sobriety rule very seriously, perhaps sailors really did live up to their “drunken” reputation! He even stipulated it in the Account and Agreement of Crew, stating it clearly in the Seale of Provisions for the Crew “No Spirits Allowed”.


Admiral William Henry Smyth’s 1865 Sailor’s Word-book – an alphabetical digest of nautical terms