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May 4th, 2005, 03:31 PM
I'm wondering if anyone can help me, and since the types of boats i'm asking about are mostly used in Fantasy, I thought what better place than here. My question is, on say a merchant ship, where and what would the crew eat? I don't suppose they have anything like a mess hall or a kitchen to cook in, do they?

Also, I have this image in my head of rope nets creeping up the sides of the main mast like spiderwebs, is this inacurate?

Any help/advice is much appreciated.

Thank you.

May 4th, 2005, 06:24 PM
You would have a lined firebox below decks where you would do your cooking, with a chimney that went up to get rid of the smoke. There would be some tables and benches. The officers ate at the captain's table, it might be with the crew or it might be in a wardroom in sterncastle where the officers sleep.

To keep the masts upright, there would be ropes called shrouds and stays that held the masts in place. Once the mast was in place and the ropes adjusted tight, there would be no reason to change anything so this was called 'standing rigging' (http://www.all-model.com/wolfram/PAGE49.html). The shrouds ran from the mast to both sides of the ship and small ropes called ratlines were tied into the shrouds to make a ladder the crew could climb.

The rigging to adjust sails was called 'running rigging'.

You might want to look for books in your local library about ancient sailing ships.

May 5th, 2005, 06:02 AM
the staple diet was salted meat or fish with dry bread. Sometimes animals were taken alive on board for later slaughter. No fresh vegetables or fruit on long voyages would cause diseases like scurvy.

A recent read about cooking on board a sailing ship I found in "The Book of Words" by J.V. Jones - which I found better than the reviews on this site led me to believe.
Also - The Liveships Trilogy by Robin Hobb - is a good place to read about ships in fantasy.
Non fantasy books - I remember being fascinated in childhood by Fritdjof Nansen narrative of his voyage to the North Pole.

May 5th, 2005, 06:12 AM
Maybe you should do a google search for a dictionary of maritime terms and pictures of famous sailing ships. I seem to remember a kitchen = galley, window=porthole, a bed=a bunk and so on.
The rope ladders were very much present on these ships, providing easy access up the mast in times of emergency.

By the Way - I remember another series of books on this subject : Master and Commander - some 20 books in the series. I don't know if the "Oneghin Line" TV series of the 70's was also based on a book?

May 5th, 2005, 02:31 PM
Although they're not about merchant ships, the Hoare series by Wilder Perkins might be helpful. Each book contains a glossary of naval terms and very thoroughly describes life at sea. Not exactly fantasy--the series is set in the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic War--but it's pretty entertaining and informative.

May 5th, 2005, 10:06 PM
can anybody find pictures or illustrations with maybe things labeled? I've tried looking, but only get stuff on modern ships and boats.

May 5th, 2005, 10:29 PM
Penny, if this is in reference to a piece of writing you're doing, I'd suggest moving this thread to the Writing Forum. We've got quite a few writers who have a wealth of arcane knowledge or know of useful resources.

May 6th, 2005, 01:38 PM
'Tis moved. ;)


May 6th, 2005, 01:49 PM
Im not sure about kitchens or anything, but during the Viking age their boats were the best of their time.

May 6th, 2005, 02:05 PM
I guess the question is what kind of ship are we talking about? A merchant ship transporting what?