Photo: Private


Under Sail: To Asia, Africa and America
(Under sejl—Til Asien, Afrika og Amerika)
Published 2021, 429 pages


Gads Forlag

Foreign rights:

Rikke Detlevsen,


Under Sail: To Asia, Africa and America

Under Sail tells the story of the long Danish voyages during the Age of Sail. Both the dramas of mutiny, slave revolts, disease and shipwreck and the times when things mostly went as planned: hard work, miserable conditions, and holds full of valuable goods headed home.

Many of the longest sea voyages from the beginning of the 1600s to the middle of the 1800s were bound for the Danish tropical colonies—Tharangambadi, the Gold Coast and the West Indian Islands—or for China and South America. This book, for the first time, presents a compilation of the long voyages under the Danish flag during a period when the merchant navy’s largest ships would only return home after years at sea.

The book describes navigation, crews, rations, discipline, and women, and it traces the development of sailing routes and sailing times. Here you can get to know the sailors, from the youngest cabin boys to experienced captains.

About the author 

Erik Gøbel, b. 1949, is a historian and was a senior researcher at the Danish National Archives in Copenhagen from 1981 to 2017. Gøbel is the author of numerous articles and books on the history of seafaring and the tropical colonies and has long been known as one of the most important names in Danish maritime history.

Text translated by Sharon Rhodes