Speed under Sail, 1750–1830

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Title: Speed under Sail, 1750–1830
Authors: Kelly, Morgan
Ó Gráda, Cormac
Permanent link: http://hdl.handle.net/10197/8727
Date: Jun-2017
Online since: 2017-08-18T12:05:02Z
Abstract: We measure technological progress in oceanic shipping directly by using a large database of daily log entries from ships of the British and Dutch East India Companies and Navies to estimate daily sailing speed in different wind conditions from 1750 to 1850. Against the consensus among economic (but not maritime) historians that the technology of sailing shipswas static during this time, we find that average sailing speeds of British ships in moderate to strong winds rose by nearly a third. Driving this steady progress seems to be continuous evolution of sails and rigging, and improved hulls that allowed a greater area of sail to be set safely in a given wind. By contrast, looking at every voyage between the Netherlands and East Indies undertaken by the Dutch East India Company from 1595 to 1795, we find that journey time fell only by 10 per cent, with no improvement in the heavy mortality, averaging six per cent per voyage, of those aboard.
Type of material: Working Paper
Publisher: University College Dublin. School of Economics
Start page: 1
End page: 22
Series/Report no.: UCD Centre for Economic Research Working Paper Series; WP2017/10
Keywords: Technological progressShipping
Language: en
Status of Item: Not peer reviewed
Appears in Collections:Economics Working Papers & Policy Papers

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