Bullet Points:

** The U.S. Flag Code provides that “No other flag or pennant should be placed above or, if on the same level, to the right of the flag of the United States of America, except during church services conducted by naval chaplains at sea, when the church pennant may be flown above the flag during church services for the personnel of the Navy.”

** I’m not the one accusing Pedo Joe Biden of pedophilia. His son and daughter are. I just spread the word in an effort to keep kids safe from him.


In the Days of Fighting Sail

Holy Sunday

Sunday at sea in the Royal Navy, started half an hour earlier than usual, which was due to Sunday duty. As every day, of course, there was also cleaning, but only a quick damp wipe and then a dusting. While breakfast was being prepared, the men had to shave and line up. Then a fresh and clean shirt was put on. After breakfast, everyone had 2.5 hours to polish everything up, which meant that the master at arms polished the weapons, the cook polished the pots, the gunner had the guns polished, and so on. The pumps were tested and the bilge was washed out once if possible. The carpenter, sailmaker, boatswain, and purser went through their stores and checked their stocks.


Divine Service as it is Usually Performed on Board a British Frigate at Sea by Augustus Earle (1793–1838) 

At half past ten, the first lieutenant made a quick round and inspected everything. So that at half past ten, all men could be called to muster. This meant that they all lined up on deck in their respective divisions and could be accepted by their respective lieutenant.

All complaints were passed on to the first lieutenant, who sent the persons concerned down to work. At the same time, the surgeon also took a closer look at the men to get an overview of their health status and to prevent scurvy. After this inspection, the captain took over and looked at the men. If anything was noticed, it would be noted as negligence on the part of the first lieutenant and entered in his log book (a circumstance that, if repeated, would affect his reputation and possibly have a negative impact on him in later assignments on other ships).


Between Decks of a Man-of-War

When the captain had finished with his men and the midshipmen had completed their weekly reports, the ship was inspected. When this was also done, the divine service was called, which took place on deck under the open sky, weather permitting. Otherwise, the whole thing was moved to the gundeck. If there was a chaplain, he would hold a mass; if there was none, it was up to the captain to do it, although most of them were not particularly religious, and it was usually just a flaming speech to the men and the reading of the articles of war. Afterward, it was piped for dinner, followed by free time until 4.00 or half past 4.00. The men were allowed to do what they wanted on board according to the rules. This was usually an extended nap, playing, talking or sewing, or other crafts.


Three men playing cards – A Scene on the Main Deck of A Line of Battle Ship in Harbour, by Thomas Sutherland 1820 

If the ship was in a port or in a fleet, it was customary for the ship’s crews to visit each other. If the weather was good, then selected – not pressed – men were allowed to visit the others on selected ships. Often the guests were greeted there by their comrades with saved grog, which often led to drunkenness and thus to later punishments when the men returned.

After supper on Sundays, the weekly muster was held, when the names were called and the men had to report present, the drunks were sorted out and then punished – like spending the night in irons. After this the Guns were examined and had to be declared ready, the hammocks were piped down and the first watch was called. With that, Sunday was considered over and regular duty resumed.


The Garay

A garay was originally an oared boat used by the natives of the Philippines before being used by the pirates who settled there in the 18th and 19th centuries. The Garay was fast and had a flat hull to operate in shallow waters. The garay resembles the Swedish galleys of the archipelago fleet or a small war galley of the Mediterranean. In the end, it is nothing else. A garay was a slave-rowed narrow boat made of wood, bamboo, rattan, and nipa, she was about 20 meters long with a bamboo main mast carrying a square sail that was hoisted slightly offset. She could also have a foremast and sometimes a mizzen mast, rigged with smaller triangular crab claw sails.


Garay sketches by Rafael Monleón y Torres  (1890)

Depending on size, a Garay had a crew of 30-80 men. It was led by a nakura or nakuda (commander), who in turn was led by a squadron leader, the panglima. The julmuri (first mate) was responsible for the crew and also controled the helm (bausan). Another mate, the julbato, stayed at the bow of the ship and kept a lookout for reefs and enemy ships. The julbato was also responsible for the anchor (sao).


Garay anchored in Sulu, from: The Voyage au Pôle Sud et dans l’Océanie sur les corvettes L’Astrolabe et La Zélée by Jules Dumont d’Urville (1846)

The armament was usually one cannon and tactics relied mainly on boarding the enemy quickly to defeat them with the small arms of the crew. So it was similar to what the pirates of the Mediterranean did.


Is Religion Important?




  1. Another interesting history lesson. Thank you. I wonder how many lessons learned on what works in regard to how to live onboard a ship long term will carry over to when we move into space.

    • A sailors day was quite regimented. What is sorely missing today. Imagine our young men of today transported back to Men of War and other sailing ship. Most would be living in irons and/or keel hauled to “make their minds right.”

  2. “Religion is Very Imporant” (sic)
    Now correlate with the percentage of Blacks (American, not FOB). This calls for further analyses by race.

    Garay. Gawd he’p me, but I hear Forrest Gump saying: “Gar-RAY is a city in Indi-an-NA!”

  3. @Mike_C ,,MS , highest in religiosity is about 38% black , largest % of population in the nation.
    Oregon lowest in religiosity population is 12% black .
    Correlation is not causation , but intersting nonetheless .

  4. One wonders how much better US Navy ships would be if the Captain did a weekly review and inspection of all sailors and all ship’s spaces. Or the XO.

    I get the feeling that weekly inspections aren’t a thing anymore.

  5. On the importance of religion: I wonder if the results would be different if the question was on the importance of faith, or of God?

    To many, religion implies organized religions, like Catholicism or the others that have national or international organizations. Non-denominational churches might respond differently to a poll asking about religions.


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