Fifty reasons for the loss of ships

In 1841 the Nautical Magazine published an article in which they set out a number of a list of causes which resulted in the loss of ships at sea either by wreck or otherwise. These were:-

  1. Short complement of men
  2. Deficiency of materials and stores
  3. Deficiency of water and provisions
  4. Bad materials - anchors, chains, boast, spars, sails, cordage, &c
  5. Bad quality of water and provisions
  6. Teetotality - coffee instead of rum
  7. Bad condition of the ship from age, want of repairs, caulking, and looking properly to
  8. Bad construction of the ship, out of trim, &c
  9. Incapacity of masters and others
  10. Presence of captains' wives, and other women
  11. Insanity
  12. Inability of men, or crews, from sickness, maims, exhaustion, &c
  13. Drunkeness, revelry, &c
  14. Discipline, too lax or too severe
  15. Mutiny or insubordination
  16. A dead-and-alive set; no devil on board
  17. Discord and dissension: the devil let loose
  18. Deaths, desertion, and discharges
  19. Fire
  20. Collision
  21. Upsetting in a squall, &c
  22. Shifting of cargo, &c
  23. Consternation - the ship on her beam-ends, on fire, water-logged, &c
  24. Shipping of seas, foundering by stress of weather, &c
  25. Springing a leak by starting a butt-end, &c
  26. Deep lading, crowded stowage on decks, &c
  27. Striking on rocks, grounding on shoals, &c
  28. Driving on a lee shore
  29. Impressment at sea, detention and deviation
  30. Incorrectness of charts, compass, &c
  31. Want of care: bad dead reckoning
  32. want of vigilance: bad look-out
  33. No latitude by observation, on account of fogs, &c
  34. No flying the blue pigeon (using the sounding lead): no regard to lights, bells, drums, &c
  35. Capture or destruction by an enemy or pirate
  36. Struck or blown up by lighting
  37. Masts, &c, rolled or pitched away
  38. Driving with a foul anchor: a kink in the cable, &c
  39. Parting a cable
  40. Staving of boats, carrying away of masts, splitting of sails, &c
  41. Sleeping on watch, drowsiness of the helmsman
  42. Breaking adrift of floating lights, &c
  43. Mistaking of headlands, lights, &c
  44. Sinking or destroying a ship purposely
  45. Rising of prisoners, convicts, &c
  46. Fool-hardihood - guns run out when blowing hard upon a wind, press of sail with a crank ship, &c
  47. Carrying away topmasts from neglect of breast backstays, after going about
  48. Broaching to when weathering a headland in a gale of wind
  49. Incapacity of persons having charge, as pilots
  50. Abandonment of ship without sufficient causes, in case of wreck, officers leaving their juniors in command, with orders to land the treasure, the men, &c

Basil Lubbock was slightly less verbose when he stated that th greatest dangers faced at sea by sailing vessels were:

  1. Leaks
  2. Lee shores
  3. The enemies of one's country, and
  4. Pirates



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