Chris and I stopped for a drink at one of the little bars along the Rodney Bay waterfront, and I started flipping through a magazine (Caruiser, issue 2, October 2011). There was an article on Old Ironsides, which, as a good Boston girl, I had to read. Old Ironsides, aka USS Constitution, just celebrated her 214th birthday, and is the oldest commissioned warship in the world still afloat, though her only excursions now are out into Boston Harbor to turn around and go back to her slip in the Charlestown Navy Yard. The article was written by Seaman Shannon S. Heavin, USS Constitution Public Affairs, so we’ve got to assume that the information is accurate. What caught our eye were the stats (from the ship’s log) for a cruise Old Ironsides made in 1798-99 with the mission: “To destroy and harass English shipping.” It seems that someone mis-read “English shipping” as “our livers”. See what I mean below (I’m only giving the information on liquids):
July 27, 1798, Boston – 475 officers and men sail out carrying 48,600 gallons of fresh water, and 79,400 gallons of rum
October 6, 1798, Jamaica – took on 68,300 gallons of rum
November 12, 1798, Azores – took on 64,300 gallons of Portuguese wine
November 18, 1798, Azores to England – “captured and scuttled 12 English merchant ships, salvaging only the rum aboard each”
January 26, 1799, Firth of Clyde, Scotland – captured whisky distillery and took on 40,000 gallons of single malt Scotch
February 20, 1799, Boston – arrived home with “no cannon shot, no food, no powder, no rum, no wine, no whisky, and 38,600 gallons of water
So, let’s do some math.
10,000 gallons water / 475 sailors /209 days = ~13 ounces/person/day
187,700 gallons rum/wine/scotch* / 475 sailors /209 days = ~2 gallons/person/day
*this doesn’t include the rum salvaged from the merchant ships they sank
Granted, they may have collected rain water, and they may have traded/sold some of the alcohol – the article didn’t say. Still, that’s a lot of sundowners.
That said, I must give a big THANK YOU to our friends Steve and Lynn on Celebration, who carried out a humanitarian mission by sailing from Martinique to St. Lucia to bring me some French wine. I had run out of wine a couple of weeks earlier in the Grenadines, where it was just too expensive to purchase. I tip my wine glass to them.