During the Age of Sail ... life for those on the sea was brutal and precarious. A battle injury such as the loss of a limb or being cut in two by grapeshot was the "third" greatest cause of death. Drowning was the "second" greatest, and usually the result of a shipwreck or a fire on board. Tied for the "greatest" cause of death were accidents (ie. falling from the yards and hitting the deck) and diseases such as scurvy, typhus, yellow fever, malaria, dysentery, etc.