On the High Seas with Voyager

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“That’s verra strong-smelling stuff, Sassenach, ” Jaime observed, during one of his brief visits to the taproom. “What is it?”

“Fresh ginger, ” I answered, holding up the remains of the root I was grating.  “It’s the thing most of my herbals say is the best for nausea.”

“Oh, aye?”  He picked up the bowl, sniffed at the contents, and sneezed explosively, to the vast amusement of the onlookers.  I snatched back the bowl before he could spill it.

“You don’t take it like snuff,” I said.  “You drink it in tea.  And I hope to heaven it works, because if it doesn’t, we’ll be scooping you out of the bilges, if bilges are what I think they are.”

Voyager.  We Set Sail, Chapter 41, page 632.

Source: Pixabay by Comfreak. Licensed under CC0 Public Domain (https://pixabay.com/en/ship-shipwreck-adventure-setting-1366926/)

Season 3 of Outlander will be epic.  It will be an adaption of Voyager, the third book in the Diana Gabaldon book series.  Voyager is one of my favorite books and I am not ashamed to say that I am on my fourth reread.  As I patiently await Season 3, I have found another perfect escape to relive the adventures of Jaime and Claire on the high seas.  The San Diego Maritime Museum is the perfect place to experience and learn about the ships used in the 18th century.

There are several vessels that are on permanent display at the museum.  My favorites were the Star of India and the HMS Surprise.  In fact, the Star of India is celebrating its 150th birthday on November 14th.  Both vessels are worth the visit, each holding secrets to what 18th century sea life must of been like.

HMS Surprise

The HMS Surprise was built in 1970 as replica of the Royal Navy frigate Rose that was originally built in 1757.  It sailed for next 30 years as an attraction vessel and sail training ship.  She was later converted to the HMS Surprise when she was remodeled to be a 24 gun frigate, once used by Great Britain’s Royal Navy.  You may also remember this ship during its use in the award winning film Master and Commander:The Far Side of the World.

All pictures are from the HMS Surprise. From left to right: Examples of firearms used by the crew, replicas of the cannons, a hammock and daily materials used by the crew, and examples of items found in the ships pantry.

It is a beautiful vessel, with no detail left unturned.  Walking through this exhibit felt as though you were walking back through time.  Even more amazing, is how you could imagine yourself in the footsteps of Jaime and Claire as they set sail on the Artemis in search for Young Ian.

All pictures are from the Star of India. From Left to Right: Barrels stored in the hull of the vessel, examples of personal and trading goods, painting of the Star of India and examples of the sailing knots.

I can certainly imagine Claire undertaking the various roles as a physician and health advisor for the crew within the surgeon’s cabin.  Avoiding epidemic diseases was the primary concern of the the surgeons assigned to each vessel.  Diseases such as typhus, typhoid, or yellow fever were unfortunately a common occurrence in crowded vessels or when traveling in tropical climates.

Remember when Claire boarded the Porpoise, following the demand for a ship surgeon?

Surgeon's Cabin
Surgeon’s Cabin

“I am acting captain Thomas Leonard, of His Majesty’s ship Porpoise.  For the love of God,” he said, speaking hoarsely, “have you a surgeon aboard?”

If not for the headache, it could be simple gastroenteritis-but not with this many men stricken.  Something very contagious indeed, and I was fairly sure what.  Not malaria, coming from Europe to the Caribbean. Typhus was a possibility; carried by he common bloody louse, it was prone to rapid spread in close quarters like these, and the symptoms were similar to those I saw before me – with one distinctive difference.

“It’s typhoid,” I told the Captain.  I was as sure as I could be, lacking a microscope and blood culture.

Voyager.  We Meet a Porpoise, Chapter 46, page 714-719.

From top to bottom: Description of a Captain’s duties, examples of a Captain’s attire and wig for formal matters, and books and means for lighting while in the cabin.

Since the Captain holds the ultimate authority on each vessel, he naturally had the privilege of having the best accommodations.  This Captain’s quarters had space for sleeping, eating, and documenting the daily ventures while at sea. It also included a large table to have meetings with his staff to strategically plan various movements.  Perhaps in some cases, it was also a retreat from the possible threats of epidemic disease, as depicted in Voyager.

HMS Surprise, Captains Quarters
Captains Quarters on the HMS Surprise

“My Lord!”  You shouldn’t ought to be out of your cabin, sir! The night airs mortal, and the plague loose on board – and the Captain’s orders – whatever is your servant a-thinking of, sir, to let you walk about like this?”

“Yes, yes, I know. I shouldn’t have come up; but I thought that if I stayed in the cabin a moment longer I should be stifled altogether.”

“Better stifled than dead o’ the bloody flux, sir, and you’ll pardon of my saying so,” Jones replied sternly.

Voyager, Moment of Grace.  Chapter 48, page750

HMS Surprise
HMS Surprise

The figureheads represented the spirit of each ship and was originally believed to help ensure a safe voyage.  Life on the sea was not easy.  The adventures of Jaime and Claire in Voyager demonstrate the imminent dangers that were always present.

If you are in the San Diego area, take the time to explore the Maritime Museum.  You will not be disappointed by the exhibits they have and the year round events that occur on site.  In certain special events you can actually set sail on one of these historic ships.  It is place of discovery and learning for all ages.  My children and I can’t wait to go back!

San Diego Maritime Museum
San Diego Maritime Museum


All photos from our blogs are owned by Timeless Sass3nach Journeys, unless noted or attributed. The use of our photos is not permitted unless consent is given.

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