The worst crime on the high seas was mutiny, and punishment was usually swift and harsh death. But sailors were not always obedient to their captains, and captains used a variety of punishments to enforce their will.
Extra duty or flogging by whips was common, the number of lashes depending on the severity of the crime. In extreme instances, a sailor was “keel-hauled.” A sailor was lowered by rope down the bow of the moving ship.
Caught in the water, the sailor was dragged under the ship, banging and scraping against the barnacle-encrusted hull. The unfortunate sailor was pulled up from the stern and returned, possibly more repentant, to his duties.