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phlebotinum
06-16-2012, 07:29 PM
A significant portion of my fantasy story takes place on a large wooden sailing ship. I know nothing! Please help.

My character has experience on a small river fishing boat, but she finds work on a large merchant ship. In my brain, she's pretty overwhelmed by this, but I don't know if that's realistic. What would she experience? How would she be taught? What tasks would she, as a beginner, be given? How would her body react to the rough water at sea? Are there rough waters at sea? What kind of people would be on the ship with her? What would she eat? Where would she sleep?

Again, please help!

Buffysquirrel
06-16-2012, 08:39 PM
There's far more here than can be covered in this forum. I recommend you get hold of some books for the relevant period (ie a period that matches the kind of vessel you want her to be on).

Patrick O'Brian's Master & Commander books, although fiction, are full of details about life at sea (in the Royal Navy in his case, but much will be similar). There's also a book called the Wooden World, which again is about the Navy.

ULTRAGOTHA
06-16-2012, 11:35 PM
What time period and where in the world are you interested in? Viking style longship sailing techniques are vastly different to sailing techniques used during the Napoleonic wars, for example. Egyptian ships work differently from Greek ones.

If you're going with earlier style northern European ships then the difference between vessels used on rivers and ones used on the ocean are slight. During the 17th or 18th century in western Europe the differences are far larger.

frimble3
06-17-2012, 02:28 AM
A significant portion of my fantasy story takes place on a large wooden sailing ship. I know nothing! Please help.

My character has experience on a small river fishing boat, but she finds work on a large merchant ship. In my brain, she's pretty overwhelmed by this, but I don't know if that's realistic. What would she experience? How would she be taught? What tasks would she, as a beginner, be given? How would her body react to the rough water at sea? Are there rough waters at sea? What kind of people would be on the ship with her? What would she eat? Where would she sleep?

Again, please help!

Given the lack of information, the only thing that could be said with any certainty is: yes, there are rough waters at sea. But, even then, not always, it depends on: the time of year, the weather, the distance out to sea, the local waters, the shape of the coastline.

Regarding her previous work: how big is the 'small fishing boat' and how far up the river did they fish? Was it a sail boat? Did they hand-line or use a net?

Because you're going to have to have some reason that the large wooden sailing ship would hire her, over every other experienced sailor hanging around the docks looking for work. Giant muscles from rowing all day and hauling nets or lines full of fish might work.

REMLIG
06-17-2012, 08:14 AM
My character has experience on a small river fishing boat, but she finds work on a large merchant ship. What would she experience? How would she be taught? What tasks would she, as a beginner, be given? How would her body react to the rough water at sea? Are there rough waters at sea? What kind of people would be on the ship with her? What would she eat? Where would she sleep?



I can offer some insight regarding boating. What time period is your story? Is she a pirate?

Depending when this is, but modern day times large merchant ship hire experienced ships hands only. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Merchant_vessel

She would be taught by going to a maritime school.
http://www.mptusa.com/

http://users.hal-pc.org/~nugent/school.html (http://users.hal-pc.org/%7Enugent/school.html)

You asked what tasks would she have? She could end up working in the kitchen/galley.

She would bunk in sleeping quarters with other ship hands. A girls had to be pretty tough to keep up with the guys. Unless your story and character is modern day on a cruise ship, or a hand on a private sailing yacht. Then she could be a stewardess, hostess, or crew. Here you can see what is out there. http://www.crewfile.com/
http://crewrecruit.com/

Here are from olden days http://www.thepirateking.com/historical/ship_roles.htm

Yes, there are rough waters at sea, 12 foot seas is nothing these look like 50 footers. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pHiDaeShxt0

Rough seas... your talking sea sickness. The best place to be is on deck breathing fresh air. (We'll not in rough high seas like the video above.) But anything up to about 15' you don't want to be below, it just makes it worse. While on the deck breathe in the fresh air and focus on the horrizon. Eat saltine crackers they really help.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seasickness

Whatever you do, have her lean over the side of the boat to vomit. Don't let her vomit into the wind. Then after the vomiting stops stay hydrated.

Happy adventuring!

phlebotinum
06-17-2012, 09:09 AM
This is awesome, thank you, I hadn't even thougt of asking most of these questions. I have read books that take place on ships, but without diagrams, the terminology was hard to internalize. My character dresses as a boy at a time when the ship is very desperate for crew and has few options, but she will prove herself somehow. Her fishing boat on the river would have to be at a location where fishing was very good - I haven't figured that out.

I'm also terrible with history, which is why I'm making it a fantasy story in Greag Brittain-like land, but in my mind well-adorned ships have cannons and people still fight with swords. I've heard of tall ships, were those used for shipping goods? How big were the crews?

REMLIG
06-17-2012, 09:51 AM
I take it your story is a period piece? What exact time period is your story in? I can point you in the right direction that way.

Here is info on women sailors in history. http://www.nps.gov/safr/historyculture/maritimewomenhistory.htm (http://www.nps.gov/safr/historyculture/maritimewomenhistory.htm)

http://www.katyberry.com/Dorianne/pirates.html

http://www.marineinsight.com/marine/top-5-female-sailors-of-the-marine-world/

Have you thought about how you will hide the fact she's a woman when she is bunking with men, showering and dressing in the same quarters as men. And then there is that once-a-month-thing that she had to hide from the guys.

Where will the ship be docked or what port are they in?

Where will her fishing river or lake town be in? America? Maine has lots of fishing towns on the ocean or even Alaska. The oldest active fishing port in the US is in Gloucester, Massachusetts, its just north of Boston.

Here you can pick from this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fishing_industry_in_the_United_States

Here is nautical talk http://www.seatalk.info/

ULTRAGOTHA
06-17-2012, 07:21 PM
If you want cannons and swords, then you're looking at 18th and 19th centuries and yes, the differences between river and ocean vessels are significant.

Read Patrick O'Brian. Watch Master and Commander, the movie. Watch a bunch of Napoleonic war movies and documentaries. Read up on Nelson and the British navy.

There are also some books about women masquerading as men on ships. Getting on the crew of a British naval ship at this time is not difficult. They were press ganging for crew and took any one, even farm workers with no skills at all.

Being on a naval crew doesn't give one much time for having other adventures, though. It's very hard work with very long hours.

Trebor1415
06-18-2012, 12:21 AM
I agree that you are asking for much more than can really be answered here. You need to do some reading to get some general understanding of the possibilities so you can ask some specific questions later.

Of all things I actually recommended the following Wiki pages for an overview. Figure out what is most relevant to you and make sure to follow the links to other related topics within Wiki and then to outside sources. Once you have narrowed it down a bit you can research what types of ancient ships might work best and you can pursue further research as needed on those.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ship

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sailing

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sailing_ship

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sailor

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_historical_ship_types

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sail-plan#Types_of_ships

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glossary_of_nautical_terms

Chasing the Horizon
06-18-2012, 11:07 PM
I agree that you're asking for far more information than anyone here can give. The others have posted good links for you to begin your research in.

However, I do want to point out that the whole "girl dressing up as a boy to get on a ship" thing has been done to death. I literally will not pick up any book that uses that cliché anymore because it's been THAT overused. And not only is it overused, it's also pretty dumb to begin with. The living quarters on ships are tight and the rest of the crew isn't blind.

Since it's fantasy, why not just create a society where men and women serve together on ships, or even one where some ships are crewed entirely by women? That's the wonderful thing about fantasy. We can alter the world to fit the story we want to tell instead of the other way around. It really amazes me that so many people fail to take advantage of this and fall back on the same old historical clichés instead.

REMLIG
06-18-2012, 11:23 PM
However, I do want to point out that the whole "girl dressing up as a boy to get on a ship" thing has been done to death.

Since it's fantasy, why not just create a society where men and women serve together on ships, or even one where some ships are crewed entirely by women?

I love that idea a lot! Women sailors that's cool. I think it will broaden your readers as well.