The comparatively small crew of a Baltic merchantman often consisted of family members, friends or acquaintances of the skipper. They came from towns and villages in the provinces of Holland, Friesland and Groningen and were usually considered to be 'respectable citizens'. Sailing to the Baltic was an attractive livelihood. Wages were higher than in the navy or the VOC and the risks were smaller. In winter the Baltic froze over and sailing came to a temporary halt. The sailors found jobs on shore, unless frost came early and they had to spent the winter in the Baltic region.
The sailors also brought souvenirs from the Baltic: wooden ‘riga cups’ (bowls from the town of Riga) and painted trays. Or silver spoons with the name of a firm, that were given to them as promotional gifts by Baltic ship brokers.