© The Author(s) 2021.The Jan Maria was a Dutch schooner that, in 1883, en route from the Baltic to its home port, was forced to jettison cargo during a fierce storm, which resulted in a General Average (GA) procedure. GA refers to a method that redistributes damages that were deliberately inflicted by the master, in order to save the ship and its cargo, among all those parties that benefited from the action. The report of this procedure of the Jan Maria has been preserved and is exceptional in its completeness. It offers a unique view on a complex procedure and also on the coping mechanisms of small-scale entrepreneurs in a volatile business environment. In this article, I will explain the principle and functioning of GA, and I will argue that, in spite of financial innovations like marine insurance, GA remained an important part of risk management.