People have been building ships capable of safe navigation on the sea for millennia. The sea is an unforgiving environment and the greatest dangers have always arisen from taking unnecessary risks. Bad weather conditions, ships in disrepair, and human enemies [142] all contributed to a horrendous loss of life. In the middle of the nineteenth century, roughly one in six passenger ships were lost on the North Atlantic. In 1873-74 more than four hundred ships and five hundred lives were lost just on the coast of the United Kingdom.

But with care and forethought one can minimize the risks of seafaring. Advances in engineering, better training, and enforcement of international regulations mean that today the odds of anyone—crew or passenger—dying in a shipboard accident have fallen to only 1 in 1.6 million.