The British Seaman: A History of Life on the Lower Deck During the Wars with Revolutionary France
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My interest in the social life of the British seaman began during a six-month voyage aboard Brigantine Ronance, an authentic 1840 English square rigged ship affiliated with Kalamazoo College through the Career Service program. Upon leaving Kalamazoo College I began a career as a professional ship's officer aboard square rig sailing vessels operating in the Baltic, North Sea, and English Channel. My interest in British ships and seamen grew as I sailed the waters of England's historic victories In my naivete, and as a student of history, I imagined myself aboard the great ships in the heat of battle, and reckoned that I was as close to actually experiencing the past as was possible. After all, the sea was unchanged, the winds and waves were no less great for me than for my British heroes, and I was sailing aboard a square rigged ship, a vessel so similar to those of old as to be identical. At least that's what I imagined. As I became more deeply involved in the subject I came to realize that the life of the British seaman was as far removed from my romantic dreamings as any other society of man from the past. The only thing I truly had in common with the British seaman was the human condition and the elemental battle of man against the sea.