A sailor on a nineteenth century sailing vessel had a lot to contend with in his daily life. The constant motion of the ship. The noise of the wind in the sails and rigging, waves which could loom ahead like a cliff face, then drop the whole vessel into a trough just as deep. Freezing rain, or in the tropics baking sun. A monotonous diet. Being awoken from your narrow, damp bunk after a few hours sleep. Hard physical labour. Being trapped on a floating prison with a dozen or more men who you might otherwise cross the street to avoid. Months without sight of land, longing for the day you put in to port. Months stuck in port, waiting for cargo or crew for the next voyage, and no money for fun.

On top of all of these routine hardships, there was always a chance of some even more extreme disaster. Some of these made headlines around the world, others went largely unnoticed except by the men who lived through them.