It was said that life on board ships of the time was practically the same as being in prison. The living conditions so terrible, the men wished themselves dead.
Overcrowding was one of the main problems, leading to poor hygiene, poor food and extreme rationing when supplies were short. On board the Captains were forced to be cruel and excessive when disciplining the crew members. It was important to remember that most of the crew members of the time were forcibly recruited. Terror was a method used to prevent mutiny. Corporal punishment used to ensure the sea men remained aboard ships. The threat of it was enough to frighten them into submission and to maintain discipline. It was therefore unsurprising that when attacked by a pirate crew, many of the sea men would abscond. The pirate's clean and healthy living conditions was well known.