Return of the Obra Dinn

Return of the Obra Dinn

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lars Nov 11, 2018 @ 8:20am
If I were the ship's steward...
(This is intended for people who have finished.)

...I would be worried that there aren't enough spots for people to sleep. I could only identify about 52 berths for 60 people. In particular,

since the captain's wife sleeps in his quarters, I could only identify 7 berths for 8 passengers. Also, assuming the captain's steward sleeps in his quarters, I could only identify 4 berths for 6 stewards.

Also, I could only identify 6 berths for 11 lesser officers. (7 if one sleeps in the surgery, which is unlikely?) And last, I can't find a hammock for #50 (Naples). I can imagine one or two people sharing berths because of night watches, but surely not 8! What am I missing?

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Showing 1-15 of 16 comments
ceztko Nov 11, 2018 @ 8:50am 
That's a valid reason for mutiny.
squatdog_nz Nov 11, 2018 @ 2:45pm 
Originally posted by ceztko:
That's a valid reason for mutiny.

That and the giant squid.
Wisnoskij Nov 11, 2018 @ 3:31pm 
Considering that the ship operates 24/7 and the fewest people awake at any time probably never go below ten-20 even, this is not surprising. I remember watching a documentary on submarine life and remember there being come complex rules for who can sleep where and when.

For the most part people just string up hammocks and take them down at a moments notice. Mostly you see hammocks strung up 2 deep on those gun bays, but then there is at least one instance of three deep. And I was surprised with the size of the stewards quarters, but I assume probably 3 of them are awake at all times so they do not need much space (1 to serve whatever officer has night watch, and two to stand watch for any middle of the night requests from the sleeping officers).

For the Top Deck accommodations:
The map does show both the outer and the inner cabins as being passenger cabins. But I am following your logic way better. The inner cabin on the bottom (of the map) side does not even have a door, and is behind the captains outer door.
So pretty much has to be for the steward.
I also think the bed that the wifes corpse is in is almost certainly her bed, as there is not room for two to sleep in even the captains bed (did captains have wives aboard with them?)
But there is perhaps some very minor evidence that both ladies might be in the one top cabin together. which would then leave the other cabin for the italian.

The Formosan royalty have a section in the Orlop deck. They seem to have about as much room as the normal crew. I am sure they manage, probably why we see one guard and the man standout outside their bay, in a few scenes. The woman is catching up on the sleep she missed last night when the bunks were full.

I am not sure what you mean exactly about the lesser officers. The midshipmen have a labeled cabin, with three beds. The bosun, and his mate have individual cabins. As for the craftsmen/skilled labourers, they have no beds at all unless you count the single one in the surgery. I assume they hang hammocks in their offices when they need to sleep. They probably would've made far too much money to sleep among the crew.
lars Nov 11, 2018 @ 7:29pm 
Each of the two side cabins on the main deck only sleeps one person, as far as I can tell.

There are 6 crew bunks on the orlop deck, but they need to serve 11 people (gunner + mate, carpenter + mate, surgeon + mate, butcher, cook, helmsman, purser, artist). Most of them either don't have workplaces, or don't have enough room in them for hammocks.

Stewards are like personal servants, so I wouldn't think they would be very useful on deck at night. (But I'm no expert.)

It's hard to believe this bunk shortage is an oversight by Pope, but I can't think of an explanation for it.

DiegoKevin Nov 13, 2018 @ 2:56pm 
Helmsman, butcher, cook and artist would sleep with the crew, they are considered no diferent from the rest of the crew.
Purser needs an office/shop for his paperwork and shop-work, but otherwise is not considered important enough to be given his own big cabin (office+bed) or separate room, so he just has a private space where to string his hammock.

There would always be 2 stewards awake, the wach officers one (he gets assigned the same watches as his officer) and sometimes the ships steward at night as the other steward awake would be serving his officer and could not serve anybody else.
- Some stewards would sleep in his officers cabin (or in case of captains in nearby cabin) by stringing hammocks.

Carpenter+mate and gunner+mate would sleep in their post on hammocks (carpentry and armoury)



All in all a ships is very space saving, if you are not using it at night a hammock can be strung there.
Kamamura Nov 16, 2018 @ 5:01am 
That of course if you decide to ignore the fact that women were not allowed on naval ships at all. Maybe as a high profile passengers as in this case, but IMO it was unheard of for a captain to take his wife along to sea and let her sleep in his cabin.
EckyThump Nov 16, 2018 @ 7:18am 
It is definitely true that it was not officially allowed, and the following was stated in the Admiralty's regulations;

"He [the captain] is not to allow of any woman being carried to Sea in the Ship; nor of any Foreigners, who are Officers or Gentlemen, being received on board the Ship, either as passengers, or as part of the crew, without orders from his Superior Officers, or the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty"

But knowing there was a law against it doesn't tell us how often it was broken or how vigorously it was enforced. There are definitely many casual accounts of wives following their husbands to sea, or other female passengers in general, some info here -> http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/empire_seapower/women_nelson_navy_01.shtml
Last edited by EckyThump; Nov 16, 2018 @ 7:19am
lars Nov 16, 2018 @ 7:30am 
This isn't a navy ship, is it? I thought it was a trading ship of the East India Company.
EckyThump Nov 16, 2018 @ 7:58am 
Oh yeah. That's a good point. I forgot that part.
Courtney Nov 16, 2018 @ 8:32pm 
Thank you for this topic! I had a good hour where I was weirdly fixated on the fact that there were 6 stewards and 3 steward beds. Also, thanks for all the helpful replies.

I was hoping to dig around in everyone's belongings/sleeping areas to help figure out who they were, but I guess it was unneccessary/not a game mechanic.
@Courtney - You should dig around when you find you cannot discover enough information to differentiate some people.

Minor tiny "detective method spoiler" that you should read: There is more detail to the clothes than simply matching uniforms.

Another tiny detective method spoiler that's only 1% more spoily: Not just the clothes, but their accessories, too.

Tiny spoiler that is 20% more spoily than the last (you should just dwell on the previous ones and wait for an epiphany, instead of reading this stronger hint): Can't see their faces? You can still see their clothes...

Come back and read each hint individually whenever you're stumped. They're so simple, I can't believe I never came up with them myself. I just assumed there wasn't that degree of detail to things.
Last edited by Voted #1 Healer Since 2009; Nov 19, 2018 @ 4:10am
Also, perhaps some of the crew were berthed with the animals. :D
Commodore Nov 26, 2018 @ 9:15pm 
Figured I could tell some ship's knowledge.

The time of day you are working is called a watch. There are six of them, so you work 4 hours, rest for 8, work for 4, rest for 8, etc.

On board merchant vessels, the crew was usually divided into 3 section, often corresponding to where you sleep (so you don't wake up the guy beside you when going on watch).

The captain doesn't have a watch, he is constantly working and his quarters are on the main deck so he can hear everything going on. His first mate is the navigator, and the three others are officers of their corresponding watches. Each officer has their own cabin.

The stewards are assigned each to an officer. They clean the officer's cabin, serve the meals, and assist the cook in the galley (kitchen). They are not assigned to a watch, instead will often have a schedule centered around the various meal times (since everyone sleeps and work at different hours, there are many meals during the day). The ship's steward is assigned to the crew and help in the kitchen. All stewards report to the purser. There is only 3 bunks because the stewards share them between themselves.

The midshipmen all have their own bunks on the Obra Dinn, but this was not always the case, sometimes having to share. They are named thus because of where they sleep. Each of them stands a watch, and serve as an apprentice to the officer of their corresponding watch.

The bosun and his mate are in charge of all seamen and topmen, and coordinate all their work. They do not stand watch, instead usually work throughout the day and night if necessary.

Seamen and topmen stand watch, and are not given a bunk, nor an area to sleep. They would put up their own hammocks. The Obra Dinn is a spacious ship, but often some would sleep on the deck or share hammocks.

On the orlop deck you find all the warrant officers, the surgeon, gunner, carpenter, purser as well as the cook and butcher. Each has their own office space, locked. All the bunks on that deck are intended for them and their mates, but the Formosa royalty has taken some of them. Remember this is not a passenger ship, so obviously sacrifices are to be made. The warrant officers do not stand watch, and usually work during the day, but may be asked to work at night if required.

Of note, the purser is responsible of the stewards, cook and butcher. He also is responsible of the stores, and would often bring onboard alcohol and tobacco that he would deduct from the crews wages, effectively running a canteen on board. On private vessels, he was responsible for the buying and selling of goods and was often paid in a commision based on profits, but the Obra Dinn being from the EIC, we can assume he is earning a salary.

As for women on board, the idea behind that was to prevent the crew from taking on prostitutes as that would affect productivity, as well as forbidding female crew members due to fraternisation (but considering the stereotype of gay sailors, it did not succeed to stop fraternisation). Female passengers were certainly allowed, otherwise how else would they travel?

And for the captains wife, I don't think she is just following him. Her husband is employed by the EIC, so it could be that she is moving to India.
What an amazing explanation! Thank you for taking the time to share this knowledge with us. It really fleshes out the workings of an era ship like the Obra Dinn.
lars Nov 28, 2018 @ 6:14am 
But there's a scene where all of the topmen and seamen (except one) are in their hammocks simultaneously. Should some of them have been on watch?
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Date Posted: Nov 11, 2018 @ 8:20am
Posts: 16