leaf detailCristóbal Benítez, Boatswainleaf right detail

Cristóbal Benítez, was the son of the same and a native of Spain’s southwestern coastal city of Sanlúcar de Barrameda.

On the Santa Margarita, Benítez served as the boatswain (pronounced “bosun”). As the main seaman on board, he oversaw all aspects of sailing and seamanship. The boatswain was the person who transferred the orders of the pilot and master into action by the sailors. He administered the loading and stowage of cargo, which kept the vessel properly trimmed so it would sail safely and efficiently, and set and maintained the anchors, rigging, sails, and cables.

Though maintaining discipline and administering punishment of the crew would have generally fallen to the boatswain’s mate (guardian), the boatswain would have also taken on this duty, especially when it came to more senior sailors. The boatswain is symbolized by his traditional whistle, which was used to pipe various piercing calls, each of which gave specific commands to the crew more clearly than the human voice. A gold whistle recovered from the wreck of Santa Margarita is a stylish emblem of this position.