Saturday, March 15, 2008

Sick of the sea

Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson - British admiral famous for his participation in the Napoleonic Wars, most notably in the Battle of Trafalgar - paid a heavy price for his courage and determination. He lost an eye, an arm and ultimately his life while serving his country. But, perhaps surprisingly for Britain's greatest sailor, he suffered throughout life from seasickness.

He endured five months of seasickness on his very first voyage. And as late as 1801 - 30 years after his first voyage - he wrote of 'a heavy sea, sick to death . . .. I shall never get over [it].' Yet he was not deterred from a naval career.

Seamen were constantly exposed to deprivation, malnutrition and disease. And Nelson was as prone to them as the next sailor. During a voyage to the Caribbean in 1780. Nelson and 87 of his crew came down with yellow fever, fewer than ten survived.

Among other ailments, Nelson suffered from recurrent malaria, scurvy, temporary paralysis and possibly tuberculosis. He also frequently suffered from depression - hardly surprisingly, considering his medical history.


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