How Did the Royal Navy Keep up Morale during Long Voyages?

It’s said that Britain's Royal Navy instituted the practice of doling out a daily ration of rum as a way to fend off scurvy, a common ailment on ships because sailors didn’t have access to fresh produce and often lacked Vitamin C. However, it wasn’t the rum that helped, but the lime juice that was provided with the sailor’s daily “tot,” served every day around noon for more than two centuries. The daily rum ration finally came to an end on 31 July 1970, when the well-known call of “up spirits” could be heard during last call for the Royal Navy.

All hands on deck:

  • One of the reasons for ending the rum ration was that the Admiralty Board was concerned about the safety of its sailors, especially due to the introduction of technologically-advanced machinery and weaponry.

  • Back in 1740, concerned by the drunkenness of sailors who received half a pint of rum per day, Admiral Edward Vernon declared that the rum should be mixed with water.

  • In later years, sailors would check that their rum had not been watered down. They would pour some on gunpowder and light it -- a practice believed to have led to the term “proof” being used to rate liquor content.

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More Info: The Telegraph

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