Reply To: HMS Bellona 1760 – question regarding crew’s duties

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David Hepper

    Definitions from Falconer’s Dictionary of the Marine ([revised edition] 1815):
    Trumpeter : in ships of war a person who sounds the trumpet or bugle horn every morning and evening after drum beating. The person rated as trumpeter was originally employed to pass the word of command from the man at the cun [sic the early spelling for ‘con’] through the hoses which encircle the tiller ropes to those at the tackles, when steering the ship by the tiller in the gun room, after the tiller ropes had been shot away, or the steering wheel disabled by shot.
    Shifter : a person appointed to assist the ship’s cook in washing, steeping and shifting the salt provisions.
    Swabber : a man appointed to use the swabs in drying up the decks; he is sometimes called the ship’s sweeper but commonly the captain’s swabber (n.b. definition of a swab : a mop formed from a bunch of old yarns and used for cleaning).
    The definition of a Topsail Breeze may be found in John Harland, Seamanship in the Age of Sail (1984), page 53:
    ‘equivalent to a Beaufort Scale 5, what today would be termed a ‘fresh breeze’, about 15-20 knots; a ‘stiff topsail breeze’ would be Beaufort 6, ‘a strong breeze’, 20-25 kts.’