Another shipping insight
- In 1492 the two 'Caravels' (the Ninña and the Pinta) were faster than the 150 ton Santa Maria, a 'Carrack' (the merchant ships of their day), with a crew of 36 and was chartered by Christopher Columbus. The Caravel Niña (90 tons) had like the Caravel Pinta (70 tons), been sized by the Crown for alleged smuggling and failure to pay taxes. Both sailed with sailing masters from the families that had owned them, the Niña with a crew of 24, and the Pinta with 28 in crew under the Martin Alonzo Pinzon, the oldest brother of the Pinzon family.
All three vessels sailed heavily laden with supplies for a year; food would have been salt meat (mainly pork), salt fish, hard biscuit (seasoned but not old, specified Columbus), chick peas, olive oil, flour salted at the time of milling, and lentils. Fish caught on the outward trip was a pleasant addition, on the return an absolute necessity. Potatoes, chocolate, pineapple, blackberries and avocados were still waiting to be discovered! Living conditions on the ships were primitive. Columbus as Captain-General of the Fleet, had a small cabin (which he disliked), under the poop deck of the Santa Maria; the majority of the Santa Maria crew slept on deck, the hold being full of supplies, plus some goods to trade.
The master and crew of the Pinta and Niña all slept on deck, the hold being full. Cooking, mainly stews and soups, was done by the ship's boy on a 'fogon', an iron tray with iron windbreak using charcoal near the lee rail. There was no oven, and food was eaten from the lap.