Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

Tag: Age of Sail

  • Of toerags and spice boxes: Sanitation at sea

    Richard De GrijsSydney, Australia At 5 P.M. it blew rather fresh, but so steady that the Top Gallant sails were not taken in. The Purser went into the weather round House about this time, which is fixed in the Galley, on the Ships Bows. While he was on the Seat, a mass of wind was…

  • Ship fever: A malignant disease of a most dangerous kind?

    Richard de GrijsSydney, Australia During the Age of Sail, “road,” “workhouse,” “hospital,” “army,” “camp,” “emigrant,” “jail”/“gaol,” and “ship” were routine noun adjuncts pertaining to the deadly fevers frequently occurring in overcrowded spaces in cold weather. Although “fever” diagnoses were common, most such instances in ships’ surgeons’ journals related to typhus or typhoid fevers—until 1869, they…

  • The forgotten menace of long naval patrols

    Richard de GrijsSydney, Australia Heavy manual labor was part and parcel of the daily routine on eighteenth-century sailing ships. Although simple mechanical aids such as capstans (winches), blocks, and pulleys reduced some of the burden, shipboard life relied largely on enormous physical strain and exertion. Lifting heavy casks, or tubs of seawater for washing the…

  • “Plague of the Sea, and the Spoyle of Mariners”—A brief history of fermented cabbage as antiscorbutic

    Richard de Grijs Sydney, Australia   Germans eating sauerkraut. Hand-colored etching by James Gillray (1756–1815), published 7 May 1803. (© National Portrait Gallery, London: NPG D12809; CC BY-NC-ND 3.0) “. . . those affected have skin as black as ink, ulcers, difficult respiration, rictus of the limbs, teeth falling out and, perhaps most revolting of…