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Old 02-15-2010, 06:26 AM   #21
The Colonel
 
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Default Re: Crewing a ship in the Age of Sail

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In naval vessels, the post was civil rather than military. Like a ship's surgeon, he was supposed to be a trained expert in his field.
IIRC the Purser's warrant was sold by the board of Admiralty to anyone who could lodge the correct bond, and at times was an unpaid office dependant on comission on the stores... hence the almost universal suspiscion of pursers.

A cook's warrant was often something of a misericorde, given to the more fortunate amongst disabled seamen - hence the common image of a peg-legged cook. Skill in cooking was not a pre-requisite, and the work had a distinctly industrial quality to it by most accounts.Cook's mate was also a light duties role, frequently given to members of the afterguard who were unfit for other duties due to age, injury or other infirmity. The people aboard most likely to be actually able to cook would be the Captain's Steward and the Wardroom Steward, if only because a captain and 1st lieutenant who valued their stomachs would likely scour the crew for someone competent. Some captains even rated themselves a seperate cook.

To the Navy a quatermaster was part of the Master's crew and thus concerned with sailing and navigation. I vaguely recall something about that pirate thing myself - wasn't the pirate quatermaster in charge of the ship and the captain the leader of the crew or something? With the Quatermaster representing the interest of the owner(s) if the ship was a privateer rather than an out and out criminal enterprise?
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Old 02-15-2010, 06:42 AM   #22
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Default Re: Crewing a ship in the Age of Sail

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Of course there may have been some malicious advice involved there.
Yes, of course. Long John was one of the greatest smooth-talkers in all literature - or history. But the Squire was also uniquely vulnerable.

Edit - althought the Squire was also apparently a very good shot - great roleplaying material!

Last edited by trans; 02-15-2010 at 06:47 AM.
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Old 02-15-2010, 07:12 AM   #23
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Default Re: Crewing a ship in the Age of Sail

I'll add my support for Anaraxes post, which I think is one of the more useful of this thread (the "your question was too broad" discussion is pretty silly, isn't it? by now I'm sure you understand what's being asked, the initial query has been specified, drop it).

From what I remember of the research I did for my campaign, his numbers are more or less on the spot. Skeleton crews were very small, but you could have more than 3 people per gun, a lot of people operating the rig to ensure quick response to the winds, etc...

By the way, the Pirates of the Caribbean game has more or less accurate numbers for crew, I discovered... so you can get a lot from there (or wait until Wednesday and I'll post some).

In case there's any doubt, I'll clear up the question once more...

What are the crew requirements for ships of the age of sail (as many as you can list), preferably detailed in minimum, usual and maximum? For example, how many people to crew a sloop? how many people to crew a merchantman? how many people to crew a frigate? Etc.
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Old 02-15-2010, 07:28 AM   #24
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Default Re: Crewing a ship in the Age of Sail

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To the Navy a quatermaster was part of the Master's crew and thus concerned with sailing and navigation. I vaguely recall something about that pirate thing myself - wasn't the pirate quatermaster in charge of the ship and the captain the leader of the crew or something? With the Quatermaster representing the interest of the owner(s) if the ship was a privateer rather than an out and out criminal enterprise?
On pirate ships the quartermaster was in charge except in actual combat, when the captain's authority was absolute; kind of like the ancient Roman institution of dictator. In particular, the quartermaster rather than the captain supervised the division of loot. Peter Leeson has a brilliant discussion of all this in The Invisible Hook.

Bill Stoddard
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Old 02-15-2010, 07:43 AM   #25
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Default Re: Crewing a ship in the Age of Sail

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On pirate ships the quartermaster was in charge except in actual combat, when the captain's authority was absolute; kind of like the ancient Roman institution of dictator. In particular, the quartermaster rather than the captain supervised the division of loot. Peter Leeson has a brilliant discussion of all this in The Invisible Hook.

Bill Stoddard
The quartermaster hired the crew and paid out the shares. He also decide where the ship looked for prizes and what vessels would be attacked. He had the ultimate authority since he could dock a crewmember's pay as punishment. The captain led the men in battle and was often elected. He did not need to know anything about shiphandling or navigation; he just needed to be a charismatic bloke who knew something about fighting. Navigation was handled by the quartermaster, or a pilot, or a ship's master, depending on who was available for hire.
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Old 02-15-2010, 09:03 AM   #26
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Default Re: Crewing a ship in the Age of Sail

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The quartermaster hired the crew and paid out the shares.
I don't see how "hired the crew" can be accurate. A pirate ship did not have an owner. It was in effect a joint stock company, a cooperative venture in which the crew members had shares. Pirate crews were not employees.

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Old 02-15-2010, 09:52 AM   #27
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Default Re: Crewing a ship in the Age of Sail

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I don't see how "hired the crew" can be accurate. A pirate ship did not have an owner. It was in effect a joint stock company, a cooperative venture in which the crew members had shares. Pirate crews were not employees.

Bill Stoddard
Perhaps a better phrase would be "recruited the crew". Pirate ships did have owners. Either someone bought it from a shipyard or it was a prize, in which case, it belonged to the "joint stock company" that brought it in. If the crew had mutinied, it would be their prize.
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Old 02-15-2010, 10:30 AM   #28
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Default Re: Crewing a ship in the Age of Sail

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I don't see how "hired the crew" can be accurate. A pirate ship did not have an owner. It was in effect a joint stock company, a cooperative venture in which the crew members had shares. Pirate crews were not employees.
Rather depends on the crew I think ... some of the more famous 'pirates' were in fact privateers sailing on a joint stock basis and their crews were hired and paid. More usually the privateers and pirates sailed for a division of spoils rather than a fixed salary, but even then someone had to recruit them and sign them up to "the articles" (effectively the membership contract).
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Old 02-15-2010, 04:55 PM   #29
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Default Re: Crewing a ship in the Age of Sail

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Originally Posted by Gudiomen View Post
In case there's any doubt, I'll clear up the question once more...

What are the crew requirements for ships of the age of sail (as many as you can list), preferably detailed in minimum, usual and maximum? For example, how many people to crew a sloop? how many people to crew a merchantman? how many people to crew a frigate? Etc.
You still need to specify the years. The Age of Sail is almost 300 years....

But anyway, Anaraxes' numbers look good. One must bear in mind that the ships almost never had the full complement. Sometimes they just couldn't find the men, and sometimes men were sent into other ships as prize crew. I am guessing the prize crews were something between 10 and 30 men, depending on the size of the ship seized and what condition it was in.

The prize crews were under the command of an officer (midshipmen count as officers) and had the task of getting the ship to a friendly harbor, and the captain of the ship the crew was from informed the officer of the prize crew what port to steer for, there's a scene like this in Midshipman Hornblower, where Hornblower is put in command of a captured ship by Pellew.

Good skills to have for sailors? Though not all sailors need all the skills below.
Climbing.
Seamanship.
Shiphandling.
Knot Tying.
Navigation (Sea).
Carpentry.
Sewing.
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Old 02-15-2010, 07:08 PM   #30
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Default Re: Crewing a ship in the Age of Sail

Would the Quartermaster's primary Job skills be Administration and Leadership, or is this better represented by a Professional skill?
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