February 13th, 2010


What exactly is a coxswain? And some misc. ship questions

I've read the Wikipedia article on coxswains, which talks primarily about the modern usage of the word and has only a very brief explanation of historical roles.  I have also googled "coxswain" combined with various descriptions of the time period, such as "age of sail," "1700's," "eighteenth century," and so on.
For the second question, I have looked extensively at articles and books about sailing ships of this time period, and while I know all about different kinds of rigging, I haven't figured out much about actual types of ships.

Setting: A fantasy universe with technology and society roughly equivalent to eighteenth-century Europe, with most of the characters coming from an England-analogue.  (Has nothing to do with my icon.)  Not much in the way of magic. 

1. One of my characters is the coxswain on board a pirate vessel (see second question for size and specifications of the ship).  What exactly do their duties entail?  How much sea experience would such a person typically have?  And would a non-navy vessel actually use the term "coxswain"?  If they wouldn't, what would be the equivalent?

2. I don't actually know what kind of ship my pirates have.  Here is what I do know:
           -It has a sick bay, at least two cabins (one for the captain, one shared by the mate and the quartermaster), a galley, and a hold.
           -It has a crew of at least twenty men.
           -It is capable of making journeys across the open ocean, and surviving a fairly violent storm.
So, what kind of ship might this be?  If these qualities are incompatible with each other, let me know so I can fix things.

3. (Didn't know what to search for this one) Is it conceivable to steer a ship of this description while using a crutch?  The crutch-using character has both legs, but is supposed to keep her weight off one of them.

Thanks in advance for any help!

Edit: Looks like I'm definitely going for a sloop-of-war.

Caribbean mythological creatures

I'm turning to you, little_details, for my Google-fu is stuck.

I have a character in mind, a Santeria priestess (santera) and I want to make her be an immortal or something along those lines.  I don't want to do the stereotypical, expected thing where she's an Orisha in hiding.  I want something more magical but not in the god realm.  I was just wondering what kind of mythological creatures there were (like the Black Dog, etc) in Latin American cultures, Cuban specifically if possible.

I googled Latin American folklore, Cuban mythology, Caribbean mythology and various combinations of those terms.