What Did Sailors Eat?

Great advances have not only been made on the engineering front but have also been made towards sanitation and nutrition. It has been asked by many people what did sailors eat. Pioneer sailors have limited sized vessels that could carry only a certain amount of supplies. They usually carried dry grains, cured and picked meat and dried food such as nuts and fruits.

Since they would be out at sea for weeks at a time, there would be no fresh food available on vessels they sailed on during the voyage. This lack of fresh food often led to disease out breaks such as scurvy. Scurvy is caused by malnutrition of the body due to lack of enough fresh nutrients from food causing the affected persons teeth to fall and getting many sores on the body. Without proper treatment the disease could lead to death.

As today, fire was a major concern aboard sailing vessels so cooking food was prohibited on voyages. The vessel sizes were also small compared to modern vessels so they had limited space to stock food. Food would be rations depending on the distance, weather, and food availability at the next stop over. On long voyages each vessel would have a butcher and curing equipment and supplies which would be used to cure meat and dry food supplies at the next food restocking destination if it was isolated. Food and water collection would take some weeks before vessels began sailing again.

So what did sailors eat during the industrialization era, when propulsion methods changed and vessels become bigger and faster? Construction using steel also improved the safety standards and onboard pantries began operation on vessels. With this nutrition improved and vessels began carrying live stock for food supplies while at sea. Since voyages had been shortened the requirement for huge amounts of food were not necessary since vessels could dart across in a fifth of the time used by sail ships.

Thing only got better as technology improved, canning and refrigeration paved way to total nutritional satisfaction for seafarers in the 20th century and they still enjoy these privileges today thanks to technological advances. Marine vessel food stocks are usually replenished at each port they stop at, and depending on the duty the vessels does. Navy vessels, ULCC (Very Large Crude Carrier) & VLCC (Ultra Large Crude Carrier) which do not entre harbors often are supplied with food ration out at sea. Since they require to be supplied and are usually based out at sea for many months at a time they tend to have bigger food ration storage facilities. Passengers cruise ships also have big food store since they carry many passengers who have different tastes that require to be satisfied by the accommodating vessel.

Modern ships do not face any difficulty with satiation and nutritional deficiencies experienced by sailors in the past. Today it not a matter of what did sailors eat rather what do they not eat, a sailor is served with an array of nutritious fresh food to keep him healthy and fit to work and be productive aboard the vessels he serves for. In shipping it is observed that good nutrition produces more results so most vessels will invest large amounts of money of food to satisfy their personnel while sailing.


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