Acadian-Cajun Genealogy & History

Sea Travel

This page has some basic information on ship travel in the 17th and 18th century. 
Sailing ship
Ship Travel in the 1600s
     The settlers who became known as Acadians made the trip to the New World aboard ships.  For information on the trip, ship conditions, etc., see the sections below. 
    The only passenger ship list that we have from this era comes from the St. Jehan, which left France on April 1, 1636.   Though a passenger list hasn't survived, it is known that the St. Jean made a trip to Acadia in 1647, and La Verve made the trip in 1648.  [Emigration Rochelaise en Nouvelle-France, Archange Godbout, p. 142]
    Though a passenger list hasn't survived, it is known that the St. Jean made a trip to Acadia in 1647, and La Verve made the trip in 1648.  For example, births of children by the Hebert brothers started appearing in Acadia in 1649 ... so it is thought that they may have come to Acadia aboard this vessel.  Those two ships were chartered by Emmanuel Le Borgne, sieur de Coudray, to bring colonists and supplies to the colony. [Emigration Rochelaise en Nouvelle-France, Archange Godbout, p. 142] 
     When England took Acadia in 1654, French immigration stopped.  It resumed under French control in 1670 and continued sporadically until Acadia was taken by England permanently in the early 1700s. 
     Since the settlers came over as engages and/or as colonists, they were probably considered passengers.  Although not an enjoyable adventure, it would be nothing like what awaited them in the 1750s. 
     Once in Acadia, smaller boats were used in the area for fishing.  It was not uncommon for an Acadian to have a small boat.  Cadillac said that “The creolles ... travel most of the time by bark canoes.  Their wives do the same, and are very bold on the water.”  ["The Cadillac Memoir," p. 81]  Meneval wrote of how the Acadians used “canots d’escorce comme les sauvages, ou d’autres petits canots qu’ils font eux mesme d’une troue d’arbre creuse” [AC, C11D-2(1), 206: 1688]  He may have meant dugouts or canoes made of one large piece of bark.  They also used larger boats (ie. fishing skiff), especially when carrying large loads. [Clark, p. 136]
Ship Travel in the 1700s
     Before the deportations, there were 2 types of sea travel involving Acadians.  In one case, a few new settlers came to Acadia ... but not many.  Also, boats were used while in Acadia for fishing and in a few cases, transportation 
    From 1755 to 1785, Acadians were deported by ship to Europe and territorial colonies.  For the first wave of ship travel ... from 1755 to 1763, the Acadians were being forcefully deported ... packed in ships like sardines and suffered under terrible conditions.  They weren't permitted to take their belongings.  Hundreds died during travel and while being detained in ports. 
The Amitie
The Amitie
One of the seven 1785 ships
     The next major sea movement of Acadians came in the latter 1760s and in 1785, when 3000 +/- Acadians sailed to Louisiana ... presumably under better conditions. 
     For information on the travel, ship conditions, etc., see the sections below.
Types of ships
     The French navy had: men-of-war (vaisseaux), frigates, flutes, corvettes, and barges.  The merchant marine (private ships) had: frigates, full-scale ships (navires), brigantines, schooners, and bateaux. 
     The man of war was a 3 masted ship with square sails and from 56 to 120 guns.  They 
were from 110 to 163 ft. long. [Proulx, p. 17]   The frigate was also 3 masted with square sails and from 24 to 36 guns.  It was 110 to 125 ft. long.  It was faster than a man of war. The merchant frigate had only one deck.   The flute was a cargo or transport vessel that could carry from 8 to 30 guns.  It had a flat bottom and was large.  Most had a large cargo port in the stern to load long 
pieces of timber.  They transported men and goods.  The corvette was a small frigate and was used as a messenger ship across the Atlantic.  It could carry from 10 to 22 guns.  To unload men of war, they sometimes used barges (flat, broad-beamed vessels). 
     Private vessels included frigates, which were used for privateering or as escort vessels.  So they were primarily warships, with capacities from 550 to 800 tons.  The word “ship” (navire) was used to describe 3 masted vessels of 100 to 500 tons burden. [France, AM, Rochefort, 2G2,
bundles 2, 5, 7, 8]   Brigantines had 2 masts, with a square foremast  and a fore-and-aft rig on the 
mainmast.  The average tonnage was 87.  Schooners were 2 masted vessels and were 
lateen-rigged fore and aft. Their average tonnage was 61.  Bateaux, with only 1 mast, had 
an average tonnage of 55.  Snows and doggers were 2 masted trading vessels, but never really crossed the Atlantic.  [Proulx, p. 18-25]
The Transatlantic Journey 
     Ships from France usually left from the ports of Bordeaux, La Rochelle, LeHavre, Nantes, and sometimes Marseilles and Bayonne. [Proulx, p. 26]    Before heading out, sailing ships had to go through a major refit before crossing the Atlantic.  In the process known as careening, the ballast would be removed by heaving it down with cables running through pulleys attached to the heads of the lower masts and capstans on the ground; this would put the ship on its side.  Then workers replaced rotten planks, stopped up cracks and seams with oakum, and poured pitch and hot tar on to waterproof the hull.  Then the other side was done.  In some cases, parts of the keel needed to be repaired. The short lives of vessels suggests that they were poorly built. 
     After careening, the ship would be set upright and further work was done.  The surface of the hull was scraped and repainted.  Ballast (old iron, stones, gravel) were loaded aboard.  Cargo and provisions also provided some of the ballast.  But when the casks of wine and/or drinking water were used up, they had to be filled with sea water to maintain proper equilibrium.  The ballast also had to be distributed evenly for the ship to sail well. [Proulx, p. 42]
     Large ships couldn’t enter shallow ports, so lighters and barges (in France) or longboats, schooners, and bateaux (in Canada) were used.  Tackle was used to hoist the cargo from the ships to the transports.  Spaces between casks were filled with pieces of wood to prevent them from rolling at sea. [London, PRO, HCA 32, bundle 132]  The quality of the casks and packing was often poor.  Things often arrived in Canada in poor condition, what with the dampness and all.  [Proulx, p. 43]
     The process of careening, ballasting, and loading often took 3 to 4 weeks.  In Canada, unloading took place over about 10 days (as did loading).  It was usually the problem that they couldn’t find enough cargo to fill the holds of ships sailing from Quebec.  Many craftsmen were hired to fix up a ship ... 50 different trades (ie. carpenters, painters, sailmakers).  [Proulx, p. 44]
     Other than careening, the work in getting a vessel ready was done by the crew.  They stayed aboard ship while it was being loaded.  The captain took care of permission to leave port and port duties (for anchorage, beaconage, and light dues).  He was required (upon entering or leaving a port) to provide a statement about his cargo.  He’d put his papers in a sack and tie them to a cannon ball. [Proulx, p. 45]
     When all things were taken care of, a commissioner representing the Admiralty inspected the ship’s company (at least for the king’s vessels).  Then the passengers could board. [Proulx, p. 46]

     Travel on the North Atlantic at this time was uncertain and depended on the winds.  The charts were not very accurate.  Piracy or enemy warships were a threat.  Many vessels were lost (captured, wrecked) on the long journey.  [Proulx, p. 36]
     When the ship was ready, the captain would have a flag raised on the small topmast to announce that he was raising anchor.  Then he would fire a shot to hurry up any late arrivals.  Then he would give the order to unfurl the small topsail for casting off.  After leaving the  Rochefort-LaRochelle area, ships would sail up to Isle Dieu or Belle-Isle and would then head west. Captains sailing to Canada tried to stay between the 43rd and 47th parallels.  Traveling back to France, they sometimes went up a bit beyond the 51st parallel. [Proulx, p. 47]
     The routes were determined by winds and currents.  The currents in the south Atlantic pull west, while those in North Americal pull east.  So westward trips were made further south than eastward trips. 
     The most important event in a France to Canada trip was the arrival at the Grand 
Banks of Newfoundland.  After weeks of nothing but water, they finally had a point of reference.  The sight of birds (such as penguin, great auks, and razorbills) told them that they were approaching the Banks. They used a sounding line to find the bottom. When they reached the Grand Banks (called banking), it was almost like reaching a port.  Sailors would cry out “Long live the King!”  Ships usually crossed the Banks between the 44th and 46th parallels. On returning to France, all vessels (even those heading to the West Indies) would go through the Grand Banks to catch the winds and currents. [Proulx, p. 49] 

     The crew used several instruments to find their way.  A sounding line was a rope with a piece of lead (coated with suet) attached to it.  It was used to determine the water’s depth from the sound and from the sand/pebbles that stuck to the suet.  Compasses were used in the open sea, but care needed to be taken that it wasn’t placed next to the iron axle of the steering wheel.  The variation compass (a combination of a compass and sights) was also used and utilized other objects or stars.  A renard (a disc with 32 points of the compas card) was used for the pilot to note the direction every half hour.  An oak plank tied to a rope was thrown out.  The rope had knots about every 47.5 ft.  The number of knots per 30 seconds told them how many leagues they sailed in an hour.  Champlain used a rope with knots 42 ft. apart (faster speeds implied).  Other instruments used to calculate latitude with astronomical surveys were the astrolabe, the cross-staff, the English quadrant, and the graphometer.   Determining longitude was not perfected until marine chronometers in the later 1700s.  French sailors had rectangular maps.  Maps were often not accurate. [Proulx, p. 51-53]

      The time it took to cross over usually depended on the wind.  The direction of the winds determined the sailing seasons and affected life in New France ... 6 months of activity, and 6 months of waiting.  The trip from France to Acadia could take 7 weeks, and from Acadia to France might be 4 weeks ... but times varied.   Navy ships made it faster than merchant vessels.  The larger ships sailed better and took bad weather better.  Mechant vessels also had smaller crews.  The difference in times (east vs. west) is that the east wind blows 100 days/year, while the west blows 260 days/year.  North Atlantic east winds blew strong in the autumn and winter; and many ships headed to Europe in the autumn.  So the return trip was easier.   Crossing times from France to Quebec ... 5 were more than 100 days and 8 in less than 40 days.  The longest was a 117 day trip and the shortest a 35 day trip. [Proulx, p. 54-57]
     A ship would travel about 20-30 leagues in a day, but rarely more than 50. Since the ports of New France were iced over from Nov. 15 to May 1, it was recommended to leave France before April 15 and to leave Acadia before the cold set in.  Most of the kings’s vessels left France for Acadia between June 15 and July 15, and left Acadia for France in the last 2 weeks of October. [Proulx, p. 58]
     Wind speed determined crossing times; ice determined the length of the sailing season.  The greatest fear of seamen were gale force winds.  Sails had to be reduced and sometimes waves carried goods off the deck.   Montcalm said in 1756, “In stormy weather, it is impossible to stand, eat or sleep; everything must be secured, and, if we dared, we might be tempted to have ourselves tied down as well.”   Water leaking in from a storm or crack in the hull spoiled provisions.  Dry cargo would rot because there was no place to spread things out to dry.  The hold was too crowed for the crew to go down and check on conditions.  Pumps were installed beside the masts to get rid of water.  If there was a big leak, the captain might have the ship heave to so that the crew could stuff oakum into the cracks.  Big cracks were sealed by crew members who dove in and attached a leaden plate.  Masts sometimes broke and had to be fixed.  Sailors sometimes were stitching up torn sails at night by lamplight.  Food couldn’t be cooked during a storm for risk of starting a fire.  In bad weather, water would be everywhere ... even the bedding was soaked. [Proulx, p. 59]
     Fog banks also were found as ships approached the Grand Banks.  The fog made it hard to take celestial readings.  The fog might cause a grounding, getting lost, or even running into another ship.  Sometimes, drums were beaten or weapons fired as they sailed as a warning to other ships. [Proulx, p. 61-64]

     Pirates were a threat in the 1700s.  Countries even legitimized it in a way, sanctioning ships to take vessels of hostile nations / enemies.  Privateers could sell the ships and would give a portion to the king. Sometimes, the only way the Acadians could get supplies was to buy them from privateers.  [Proulx, p. 71]
      Proceeds from captures made by royal vessels would all go to the king.  In the 1600s, the emphasis became “increase the revenues” rather than “build up the royal navy.”    So France made privateering an important resource and pushed it more than England..  Ships were built more for privateering than for war.  The French captured more vessels than the English.  But the English were still causing fear by seizing vessels and even imprisoning the captives. [Proulx, p. 72]
     Battles were usually short, as captains quickly determined if they had the upper hand or not.  Sometimes, if taken, a ship was allowed to go if it promised to later pay a ransom.  The French used convoys to help prevent attack, but were only really used in wartime.  The convoys also helped bring aid to the colonies.  Men of war and frigates were up front, and trading ships also might join in the convoy.  To indicate various moves, they used colored flags.  Bullhorns were used to communicate. [Proulx, p. 73-76]

Who was on board ... the crew and passengers
     Generally speaking, the larger the ship the bigger the crew.  A ship smaller than 200 tons would probably have less than 2 dozen on the crew.  Larger ships of 250 tons and more would have perhaps a crew of 50.  The larger man-of-war might have as many as 200 or more men.  [Proulx, p. 82]
     The function and size of a vessel determined its crew.  Most sailors were recruited from the towns near seaports.  In the 1700s, males (age 17-50) in the coastal provinces of France were registered and assigned to one of 3-4 classes.  Every 3-4 years, each class had to serve on the king’s vessels for a year.  If a sailor couldn’t make it, he had to find a replacement.  Sailors were needed, especially as the Seven Years war progressed.  Sometimes royal vessels took crew members from merchant vessels if they needed them. [Proulx, p. 83]   Sailors were young and poorly paid.  Since the profession had little to offer, recruitment was hard. [Proulx, p. 87]
     The average age for an able seaman was 26, for an ordinary seaman ... 21, and ship’s boy ... 15.  Petty and chief officers were about 29.  Captains averaged 36 years old.  The crew on merchant vessels were paid 2-3 times more than those in the navy. A seaman’s wage was about the same as a soldier in Canada. [Proulx, p. 84-85]
     Some of the positions that may have been onboard were: captain, chief officers, second captain, lieutenant, second lieutenant, midshipman, surgeon, writer, chaplain, petty officers, first boatswain, second boatswain, boatswain’s mate, first pilot, second pilot, master carpenter, carpenter’s mate, master gunner, gunner’s mate, gunner’s assistant, master caulker, caulker’s mate, anchor mastor, leading seaman, coxswain, boatman, master sailmaker, sailmaker’s mate, gunsmith, gunsmith’s assistant, second surgeon, surgeon’s assistant, apothecary, cook, baker, able seamen, ordinary seamen, ship’s boy.  Bigger ships utilized more of these positions. [Proulx, p. 86]
     Rules for sailors’ duties were spelled out in a couple of codes in the 1680s.  Merchant captains had to have 5 years sailing experience.  Chief officers were often nobility.  The lieutenant was 3rd in line for command (after the 2nd captain).  The captain took starboard watch, while the lieutenant took port watch.  Half the crew handled the port side, while the other half handled the starboard side.  It was a full watch during storms or for casting/weighing anchor ... and everyone had to be at their posts.  At sea, each group was replaced every 4 hours (port watch and starboard watch). Sleep for the sailors was never for more than 4 hours at a time. [Proulx, p. 95]
     The writer, posted usually on royal vessels, was a notary or clerk.  He kept a record of everything ... rigging, merchandise stowed & distributed, food consumed, crew list, deaths & desertions.  Petty officers were in charge of: ship handling, piloting, gunnery, and maintenance.   The boatswain had the job of the physical operation of the vessel.  He gave orders to the crew, usually from the stern to the mainmast.  Leading seamen (literally quartermasters) handled 1/4 of the crew.  Pilots set the ship’s course.  Chief officers and boatswain could be attained after being leading seaman, anchor master, and boatswain’s mate.  Petty officers included the master carpenter, coxswain, boatman, master caulker, master sailmaker, etc. [Proulx, p. 97]   Able seamen handled the sails and the anchors.  Ship’s boys ran errands.  Ordinary seamen took orders and learned from able seamen.  Coopers maintained and repaired barrels. [Proulx, p. 99]
      There was no sailor’s uniform, even in the navy.  Though the chief officers and soldiers wore breeches, a jacket and jerkin.  Some sailor’s had women shirts and breeches, jerseys, cloth caps, woollen stockings, cloth hankerchiefs, French sabots and shoes, and a canvas or leather bag.  Their clothing was usually inadequate. When things became wet, they had to work in them ... leading to fevers and colds.  They often kept the same clothes on.  Water was too valuable to use for washing.  So hygiene was poor.  [Proulx, p. 103-04] 

     Besides the crew, there were often a variety of passengers on board ... government officials, 
missionaries/nuns, soldiers, fishermen, merchants/clerks, etc.  Many would return ... fishermen after the fishing season, officials after their work was done, businessmen after their business was taken care of, soldiers after their tour was up.  Only some soldiers, the religious, and prospective colonists often stayed on.  Also, a number of prisoners were sent to New France from 1720 to 1740. 
     Passage on the king’s vessels was free to officials, soldiers, prisoners, and missionaries.  Others had to pay 30 livres (with crew rations) to 150 livres (eating at the captain’s table). [France, AN, Colonies, C11A, 48:68, Dupuy to the minister, Quebec City, 20 October 1726.]  Merchant vessels may have charged 150 livres in peacetime.  From 1730-1744, the king’s ships took 150-200 people to New France each year ... 75-100 recruits and 40-60 prisoners (at crew rations), and 20-30 officers and missionaries (at the captain’s table). [Proulx, p. 89]
     An estimated 10,000 people (including 3500 military) emigrated to New France from 1630 to 1760. [Jean Hamelin, Economie et société en Nouvelle-France. Québec: Cahier de l’Institut d’Histoire, P.U.L, 1960, p. 77] 
     Passengers usually had a rough trip, especially when there was bad weather.  They wouldn’t know where to be or how to hold on.  Animals would die. It was damp and cold, lurching to and fro.  Passenger’s inactivity probably made the pitching and bad weather even worse.  It was boring and crowded. [Proulx, p. 92]

Life Aboard Ship 

     Meals were eaten on deck in good weather; but cold and rain usually forced them to eat between-decks. Inside of the boat was not at all like today's cruise ships.   The vessel was too be swept once a day and animal droppings thrown into the sea twice a day.  Between-decks were to be aired in good weather and vinegar was used as a disinfectant when necessary.  There was high humidity in the boat, what with the people and livestock in there.  This caused condensation on the walls and beams.  Water seeped into the hold and became stagnant.  This led to unsanitary conditions. The day after a storm, the ship had to be aired out. 
      At night is was pitch black inside and passengers and sailors had to move about stooped over.  The portholes were closed unless involved in a battle.  Lanterns and candles were not 
permitted for fear of fire.  The only place for “socializing” was on the upper deck, but the weather often rendered that impossible.[Proulx, p. 104]
     A sailor’s hammock was a 3x6 foot piece of canvas, suspended between beams by 2 or 4 (one at each corner) ropes.  The French called them “branles” or “swings” because they swayed with the ship.  One officer called them the “swinging graves”.  There was one hammock for every 2 seamen.  They slept fully clothed, in case of emergency.  They also got a blanket.  All hands slept between the decks.  They often had to stoop, since the decks weren’t tall.  On an 80 ton brigantine, the floor-ceiling distance was 3 1/2 ft.   A 50 gun man of war had heights of only 5 ft.  Passengers might sleep in the gun room at the stern of the ship ... on bunks set up in two or three tiers.  The cots were corded with spun yarn and had a mattress.  If there were too many  passengers, some would sleep with the crew.  A makeship partition of canvas or wood might be set up for privacy. [Proulx, p. 101]
     The passenger area was noisy, with the rudder tiller passing through the gun room.  It was dark and crowded.  There was no privacy to change clothes so many stayed in the same dirty clothing.  The movement of the ship would dismantle the cots and people would be flung on top of one another. 
     The infirmary was forward in the between-decks, and there were cots similar to the passenger area.  Chief officers and important passengers slept in rooms or cabins under the quarterdeck.  They had locks and paneling (to quieten noise).  There was a wardroom; a large chamber used for chief officer meetings and as a dining room, under the quarterdeck.  The kitchens were in the forecastle. 
     Live animals (such as pigs, sheep, chicken, cattle; usually only transported by men of war) were put between-decks in front of the sailmakers.  Sometimes they were taken to be eaten; and sometimes to establish livestock in the New World. [Proulx, p. 102]   Sometimes horses were transported.  Animals were sometimes tossed around so much that they died. 
     Most provisions (powder, vegetables, sea biscuits) were stored in storerooms that were lined with plaster and hung with matting to protect against moisture. 

     A seaman’s rations were usually less than he needed.  More than half of the calories came from sea biscuits.  The biscuits were pure wheat, unmixed with bran.  They were baked 4-6 weeks before.  The flour used was not always the best.  If flour was questionable, it would be sold to use to make sea biscuits.  The biscuits (hard tack) was packed into sacks of 55-60 pounds each.  They were shaped like pancakes.  Each was 14 ounces of dough cooked till it was 8-9 ounces.  Each man got 18 oz. (~2 biscuits) a day.  In port, everyone got fresh bread; on the voyage, only petty officers and the sick got it.  Each crew member got 3/4 pint of red wine which was mixed with water to make 3 half-liter mugs of beverage.  Most of the wine was from the Bourdeaux region.  Wine was consumed first, because it didn’t keep well.  Once a cask was opened, the wine would turn to vinegar after a short while. 
     A sailor’s breakfast was wine and a biscuit. In the French navy, bells and drums were used to signal the hours of rising, meals, watches, and sleep.  The day began at 7 with prayers then breakfast. [Proulx, p. 100]  There was change in shift about 6 PM, and everyone could eat.  Under bad weather, when the cook couldn’t build a fire, biscuits made up most of the daily menu.  Petty officers got a sardine and a little meat or cheese each morning.  Lunch on “fish-days” (Wed., Fri., Sat.) was either rice, cod, cheese, or vegetables.  Other days, called “flesh-days”, the meal included salt beef or pork.  Vegetables and rice were cooked in the broth left over from the boiled meat or fish.  Fresh meat was only available while in port.  Live animals aboard ship for the table were for the captain’s table.  The sick were allowed to have chicken and mutton.  The supper meal included a biscuit, wine, and 4 ounces of vegetables (peas, broad beans, or kidney beans). 
    Rations for the sick also included eggs, fresh meat, rice, butter, plums, and sugar. [Proulx, p. 106]    These meals really didn’t provide enough calories for the seamen.  The lack of “fuel” probably contributed to their deep sleep when they got a chance to go to bed.  The rations mentioned above were for seamen on the king’s vessels. [Proulx, p. 108]   Vitamin deficiencies (like A and C) were common. [Proulx, p. 109]
     A large cauldron was used to prepare the crew’s meal.  The cook had to soak the meat for a while to remove the salt.  The sailors gathered in groups of 7, and each group got a common grog-tub, mess bowl, cup and plate.  Each man did get a spoon to himself.  Now one could eat alone or at a non-meal time.  There was no table, so that ate seated on the decks ... sometimes on a pile of planks or a chest.  Dishes were never cleaned well, and they were wrapped with a greasy rag to stop them from tipping over.  Utensils for the captain’s table were much more involved ... with plates, cauldrons, pots, pans, silverware, even pastry molds. [Proulx, p. 111]

     The most common disease was scurvy.  They thought at that time that it was due to a steady diet of salted foods.  To get better, a diet of fresh meat and vegetables was suggested.  Although the effects showed after 4-5 months at sea.  Though the crossing didn’t take that long, if a sailor didn’t get vitamin C in port, ...  Fever was also bad ... common, hot, malignant, or purple.  Sometimes it became epidemic and fatal.  Though VIPs and officers had a better diet, illness struck them too. [Proulx, p. 112]
     Smallpox was a deadly threat and could kill in a day.  Food poisoning, though not as fatal, was also occuring.  Infections and lice were two other problems.   Working in wet, dirty clothes led to chills, fevers, and the spread of disease.  Sickness was felt in that it reduced the crew numbers. [Proulx, p. 113]
     Perhaps 1/2 the vessels had surgeons.  Blood letting was a common “cure.”    Surgeons kept a variety of medicines (stimulants, narcotics, liniments, purgatives, and gargles) and knew how to dress wounds.  Some had medical books with them.  One sailor’s “home remedy” for fever prevention was to drink some brandy with garlic in it ... in one gulp (but this smelled). [Proulx, p. 115-16]

     A navy ordinance in 1681 stated a chaplain be on board the king’s vessels; but the church couldn’t provide all captains with a chaplain. [Proulx, p. 117]    Even though a chaplain might not be on board, morning and evening prayers (and a refrain from swearing) were encouraged.  When danger threatened, religious beliefs shone through.  Sometimes a vow was made if things got really rough.  On king’s vessels, the chaplain said mass and recited the Angelus before meals.  On Sundays and feast days, attendance at mass and vespers was mandatory for the crew ... even those at their post listened in. [Proulx, p. 118]   Religious services took place on the deck, so all could participate ... even soldiers at their station.  Those who didn’t attend services were given 6 lashes.  Funerals are rarely mentioned.  The funerals went fairly quickly, as the body was thrown in the sea. [Proulx, p. 121]

     Desertions occured, especially when a man got advance pay. [Proulx, p. 123]   With the 1681 naval law, sailors who jumped ship during fitting out had to make the voyage without pay.  Those who deserted in route were flogged.  Before 1689, deserters from the king’s vessels were executed; after that they were condemned to the galleys for life.  Some captains gave deserters a ducking with a hoist attached to the end of a yard.  A dry ducking was when the fall was stopped before he hit the water. Sometimes a keel hauling was done.  The executor would drag the person under the boat from one side to the other across the keel.  Getting knocked out and drowning was a certain possibility.  Theft wasn’t really a problem ... what was there to steal.  But provisions were kept under lock and key.  Sailors’ revolts usually took the form of refusal to work. [Proulx, p. 124]

      Some of the French settlers to Acadia may have been treated to a baptism at sea.  The biggest ceremony at sea was the mandatory baptismal ceremony for all vessels and people crossing over the Grand Banks for the first time.  The individual would have to report to a crew member who was disguised to look as boorish as possible.  He then had to sit on a pole over a barrel full of water and make an offering of money to the crew.  If he didn’t offer the money, they’d let him drop into the barrel or soot him (if the weahter was bad).  The money collected went to buying brandy for the crew.  Passengers didn’t seem to appreciate the ceremony.  Missionaries saw it as a mockery of baptism and didn’t like it. 
     Another pastime was that the crew might fire a round from their muskets at an ice floe.  A feast day (such as Saint Louis’ Day - Aug 25) meant a few cannon shots and a meal at the captain’s table. [Proulx, p. 127]   Officers might listen to music, and some even played an instrument (ie. 
harpsichord, bass, etc.).  Sailors could also smoke a pipe, dance on the quarterdeck, and sing.  If they played cards, chess, or dice, they couldn’t play for money. [Proulx, p. 128]

Here is an example of the regulations for sailing ships.
   1. Everyone must be on time for prayer, or lose their ration.
   2. Smoking under the mainmast without a lidded claypipe ... lose rations.
   3. Urinating on the gangway ... lose 1 day’s rations.
   4. Defecating between-decks ... 50 lashes while tied to the cannon.
   5. Miss a watch ... lose a day’s rations.
   6. Fighting ... tied to a cannon in irons and fed bread/water for 4 days.
   7. Shooting a gun ... 50 lashes while tied to a cannon, then 8 days in irons on bread/water.
   8. Stealing ... run the gauntlet and lose his ration for 15 days.
   9. Insulted by someone ... lodge a complaint with the officer on watch.
   10. If you don’t bring your drinking mug when called for rations, you won’t get any.
   11. Complaint about rations ... talk to the officer of the watch.
   12. Smoking a pipe between-decks ... no bread for 4 days, then put in irons on bread/water.
 [Proulx, appendix K] 

For further information on ships of the Acadian era, check out the book, Between France and New France: Life Aboard the Tall Sailing Ships by Gilles Proulx (Dundurn Press Limited: Toronto, 1984).  It's available from a number of libraries (ie. the Louisiana State Library) by interlibrary loan, or you can purchase a copy from Quintin Publications.

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