Reply To: East India Company Ships

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Frank Scott

Although Goteborg III is a most interesting vessel, care should be taken when interpreting her performance compared to that which might have been achieved by her 18th century predecessor.
Like all such modern vessels she is for many reasons (not least modern maritime legislation) not a true replica, but rather a good representation. Steel watertight bulkheads, twin screw auxiliary propulsion, wheel steering, modern diet, anti-fouling paint, weather forecasts, satellite navigation system, modern risk assessment, etc., all combine to make shipboard life and operations quite different from that of the original vessel. On the specific issue of average speed for a passage, the impact of modern anti-fouling by itself makes it almost impossible to produce data that can be used by historians.
Even in my own time at sea (which began in 1966) things have changed almost out of recognition. To take one example – the very idea that even large warships and merchant ships used to operate for long periods – days if the weather was bad – navigating purely by dead reckoning is inconceivable to the modern ship’s officer.