Mortality on the Squadron
Total loss sustained by vessels due to disease and accident. Parliamentary Papers, 1845.
Crew morale was often low. If a man fell ill, the remaining crew tended to lose hope and required extreme reassurance. In 1830, Surgeon McKinnel of HMS Sybille went to extraordinary lengths to show the men that yellow fever was not contagious.
To prove his point he collected a pint of black vomit from a dying seaman. After toasting the health of his first officer he then, to the horror of those present, drank it. The crew expected him to die, but instead he walked on deck to prove he was well before going to dinner as usual.