Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: London, UK
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I have an old friend who always amazes me. He looks at things dispassionately, and lists the "hidden subsidies" that fund what meets the eye, instead of the notions of how wonderful thing are within themselves.
I like the vids references in this link, but the narration is a bit too much of a tease. "In these days, men lived a man's life, and there were casualties and losses but isn't it better that men live a man's life and if it ends suddenly then that is what it was."
In the actual equation, the ships were carrying a cargo to pass a hefty profit to the shipping companies and owners, and not so much to the men in the rigging. In fact, if they died (as shown in the film), they were put over the side and the rest of the crew carried on. At the end of the voyage, the wives were given something from the companies but they didn't have much say.
So, basically, it was a "hidden subsidy" in the old days that lives could be lost without much cost to the companies. It's cool to think about men living men's lives, but mostly we're talking about young men in the old days (as noted in the vid, a first-timer was lost) as being maybe disposable. I'm not sure if today's standards would allow that, and the cost of lost lives might make a truly traditional ship too expensive to operate (liability, risk exposure, etc.). Maybe that wrecks the romance of it, but on the other hand, maybe it should.
So, the vid talks about the old ways being lost when it seems like wind-powered alternatives to power are coming back to the fore. Today's designs may look quite different from the ships in the vid; however, that might be not because knowledge was lost, but because life is valued more highly.
Great videos-- thanks for the link.