The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0881 Wednesday, 23 September 1998.
Date: Tuesday, 22 Sep 1998 11:23:00 -0400
Subject: 9.0875 Query: Duration of Travel in Othello
Comment: Re: SHK 9.0875 Query: Duration of Travel in Othello
Steve Sohmer asked about "the duration of transit via sailing vessel
between Venice and Cyprus in the 16th century?"
I guess I'm a source. I don't have the exact distance, but eyeballing a
map, it looks like Venice to Cyprus is about 1200 nautical miles. Speed
would depend on wind and wave conditions, but for a naval ship in those
days, average sailing speed would have probably been somewhere between 3
and 5 knots (nautical miles per hour). At an average of 4 (a good
passage assuming steady winds, no protracted calms, no storms), the time
would have been 300 hours or 12-and-a-half days. Maximum possible speed
for a good Mediterranean ship (newish sails, no weed/barnacle growth on
the bottom) would have been in the area of 7-8 knots, but in reality
that could probably be sustained for only short periods. In calms, days
could be added easily. In storms (as reported), standard procedure would
be to heave to (stop and drift) or run off before the wind, even going
away from the destination if necessary-days or weeks could be added to
the trip. (For comparison, the uncertainty about Antonio's ships in MofV
and the "miraculous" re-appearance of them would have been quite
realistic for the times.) The Venetian fleet would have been thought of
as "top notch" for those days.