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⚓se sai ascoltare il mare, ha da raccontare storie che nemmeno i marinai possono immaginare⚓

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capitan-blood·5 hours agoText


HMS St. George - HMS St. George was a 98-gun ship of the line of the Royal Navy, launched on October 14, 1785 from Portsmouth. She participated in the Battle of the Hyeres Islands in 1795 and participated in the Copenhagen in 1801. To end up shipwrecked in Jutland in 1811 with the loss of almost all her crew. The St. George, during the Naval Battle of the Hyeres Islands in 1795, and at the Battle of Copenhagen in 1801, was part of Nelson’s fleet, its captain being Thomas Masterman Hardy, who would later be the capital of HMS Victory, a Nelson’s orders at the Battle of Trafalgar. In 1847 the Admiralty awarded the Naval General Service Medal with the pin “Copenhagen 1801” to all survivors of the battle. HMS St. George was shipwrecked near Ringkobing on the west coast of Jutland on December 24, 1811. It had narrowly escaped landing on a bank (Rodsand) in southern Zealand on December 15, when returning from the Baltic Sea.

She seemed to have gotten out of trouble when a gale hit. This, combined with rough seas, resulted in the destruction of the At. George, at Nazen, some five Kilometers From Ringkobing, along with HMS Defense. Only seven of its 738 crew were saved. Among the dead were Rear Admiral Robert Carthew Reynolds and Captain Daniel Oliver Guion. Most of the bodies that made landfall were buried in the thorsminde Sand Dunes, which have since been known as “Dead Men Dunes

Strandingsmuseum St. George

It was the biggest disaster, in terms of shipwrecks off the west coast of Jutland and a serious loss to the Royal Navy, which lost HMS Hero an HMS Grasshopper in the same hurricane.

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capitan-blood·10 hours agoText

The Virgin Queen adored her audacious sea dogs

Queen Elizabeth gazed fondly at the boldest and most popular of her sea captains, Francis Drake. He had just returned from a four-year, round-the-world voyage, with a vast horde of Spanish treasure in his ship’s holds. There, in 1580, on the deck of his ship, the Golden Hind, Elizabeth Knighted Francis Drake. This represented a further deterioration in the fraught relationship between England and Spain. It showed Elizabeth gathering about her the type of men she would need later to destroy the great navy Philip of Spain was building.

A triple portrait of three Elizabethan explorers: on the left is John Hawkins, Drake in center, Cavendish on the right.

Sir Walter Raleigh, one of the Queen’s favorites.

Within a decade, Britain and Spain were at war, and Drake was fighting against the Armada. The issue which finally provoked that war was the central one of Elizabeth’s reign. The period was one of great religious strife. The protagonists were the Catholic church and the Protestants.

Drake; boarding a Spanish ship.

The great question facing Elizabeth was whether to take a firm Protestant stand, or bring the Church back to what it had been in Henry VIII’s time, Catholic in its teachings but without subservience to the Pope. Elizabeth tried to please all her subjects, preserving Protestantism while at the same time refusing to persecute Catholics.

(Cate Blanchett) Elizabeth: ‘The Golden Age’ 2007 movie

The Catholics Church was determined to win back heretics and conquer the world for Catholicism. Philip II of Spain fully shared these aims. He ruled Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands and many colonies in the Americas.

Spain was so aggressive that Elizabeth had to be very careful. A wrong move could have plunged England into a disastrous war. Elizabeth was determined that if war were to happen, it would do so when England was ready. To this end, she ordered the building of a new navy under the supervision of Sir John Hawkins.

Elizabeth was an astute, well educated woman, who had an almost instant grasp of any situation. She never married. Early in her reign, English privateers began preying on Spanish shipping. England was not then at war with Spain, so these acts were piracy. But Elizabeth, despite complaints by the Spanish crown, did very little to punish or discourage the freebooters who went gaily on with their daring expeditions.

Sir Francis Drake surveying the Armada.

The Catholic-Protestant struggle intensified when the Pope released Elizabeth’s subjects from their duty of obedience to her. This meant that the Catholics looked to Mary Queen of Scots, a Catholic queen, to provide them with leadership. There were many plots to remove Elizabeth and put Mary in her place. After the most serious of these plots was uncovered, Elizabeth very unwillingly signed a death warrant for Mary, who was executed.

'Mary, Queen of Scots’ - Maria Stuarda goes to the gallows.

Mary’s death worsened relationship with Spain to a point which made war inevitable. Spain speeded up her preparations and in 1588 launched the Armada against England. However. The Spanish fleet proved no match for the English navy. The English ships were far more manoeuvrable. Added to which, the English had developed grea superiority in gunnery.

The effect on the uge, slow-moving Spanish ships was devastating. The Spanish plan had been to establish superiority at sea and then to disembark an army in England to dethrone Elizabeth. This was not to be. The parts of the Armada which escaped Elizabeth’s navy were torn to shreds by storms and wrecked all the way from the Channel to the Scottish coast. After 1588, Englishmen launched out on enterprises which were to lay the foundations of the British Empire. There was a new confidence in everyone.

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capitan-blood·3 days agoText


The Kyrenia ship, 4th century B.C. Greek merchantman. Kyrenia, Northern Cyprus. (Kyrenia Shipwreck Museum)

This Museum houses the oldest trading ship known to us with her cargo, which was raised from the bottom of the sea. The ship sailed in the Mediterranean during the life time of Alexander the Great and his successors. She sank in open waters less than a mile from the anchorage of Kyrenia. The evidence point to her being taken by rough seas around the year 300 B.C., when she was rather old.

Model Kyrenia

The object in the museum are the original ones carried on her during her last voyage about 2300 years ago. From them we can learn about the life of those traders.

More than 400 wine amphoras, mostly made in Rhodes, consist the main cargo, and they indicate that the ship made an important stop at that island. On the other hand, ten distinct amphora shapes on boar show a different port of call, such as Samos in the north.

Another part of the cargo of the ship was perfectly preserved almonds, 9000 in number, which were found in jars and also amassed within the ship’s hull. From all these it can be assumed that the ship sailed southwards along the coast of Anatolia, calling at Samos, Kos and Rhodes before continuing eastwards to her destruction in Cyprus.

That the sailors fished during the voyage is clear from more than 300 lead net weights left in the bow. The wooden hull, build mostly of Aleppo pine, was preserved for a length of almost 40 feet, originally measured 47 feet long by 14 ½ across. She sailed at 4 to 5 knots.

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capitan-blood·4 days agoText

HMS Bellona - by Capitan-Blood

HMS Bellona 1760

The HMS (His Majesty’s Ship) Bellona was one of the most famous 74-gun ships of the British Navy. The 74-gun ship formed the backbone of the principal naval powers of Europe from the Seven Years War (1756-1763) until the end of the Napoleonic Wars (1815). In fact, compared with the less-armed lower classes, and the 80-gun ships, structurally unstable, the 74s were considered the ideal compromise between gun power and manoeuvrability.

Launched from the French shipyards in the 1730s, the first 74-gun vessels, although structurally weak (like many of the ships built in France at that time), immediately showed their superiority in comparison with the British ships then employed in similar operative roles. After the capture of several French 74s during the two Battles of Finisterre in 1747, the British Admiralty began in 1755, under the Surveyor Thomas Slade, the construction of the first ships of that type, the Dublin class. Three more ships, the Hero, Hercules and Thunderer, were ordered the following year.

Sir Thomas Slade: 1703-1771) was a British engineer, builder of certain classes of ship and responsible for the construction of many units of the Royal Navy. He held the post of Surveyor of the Navy from 1755 to 1771. He was the builder of the 100-gun HMS Victory vessel.

The Bellona, together with the Dragon and Superb, was commissioned on 28 December 1757; Slade’s draught was produced on 31 January 1758. The construction of the Bellona began at Chatham shipyards in the same year, on 10 May. The Bellona, launched on 19 February 1760, sailed, on 8 April, to join the battlefleet which was then blockading Brest.

HMS Bellona- the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich.

In May 1761 she was detached to patrol off the River Tagus; on 13 August at 3pm, the Bellona , in the company of the frigate Brilliant, sighted a small French squadron, constituted by the 74-gun ship Courageux and the frigates Mauliceuse and Hermione. Aftera long chase, the following morning at 5 the Bellona reached the Courageux and fought it, while the Brilliant engaged the two frigates.

HMS Bellona captured French ship Courageux. Drawn by H. Fletcher c.1890.

Two hours later, the Courageux. Owing to the terrible damages suffered, struck her colours; severely damaged, neither of the British ships was in any condition to pursue the two frigates, so they were able to make good their escape. Having been properly repaired, the Bellona was fitted as a guardship at Portsmouth until 1770; in 1771 she sailed to Chatham; there , she was laid up in ordinary, with guns and rigging removed, until 1778, when she was docked and began a major repair. Particularly, the poopdeck bulwark was modified: 6 short-barrel guns of new conception, the first carronades, were fitted on it. In March 1780, her bottom was coppered for the first time.

In the same year, on 30 December, the Bellona took part in the capture of the 44-gun Dutch ship Princess Caroline; then she cruised off Gibraltar, in the North Sea and the West Indies. From 1783 to 1791 she was laid up at Portsmouth again; after further repairs at Chatham, in 1793 she joined Admiral Howe’s fleet in the Channel.

Until 1797 the Bellona operated in the West Indies again, against the French fleet, and in the Baltic; in 1801 she could take no part in the Battle of Copenahagen, because she was grounded just outside the scene of the action. She was employed in the blockade of Cadiz; then, the Bellona was at Jamaica, at Portsmouth again and at Barbados. In 1806 she took part in the chase of the Foudroyant and the destruction of the 74-gun Impetueux, both French Ships. Although more than 50 years from her launch were passed, the Bellona served in the Navy until February 1814; she was broken up at Chatham in September 1814.

NOTE: Bellona, no name was more appropriate; but who was she?

Bronze bust of the goddess Bellona - Museo Rodin, Paris.

Ancient Rome gave great consideration to its goddess of war, Bellona. Often described as the female shadow of Mars, she was much more as her Kingdom encompassed all aspects of the conflict, diplomatic and military. Even her name shows importance, since in Latin ‘bellum’ means war, from the name of this goddess.

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capitan-blood·5 days agoText

In the midst of a Melville rediscovery in the 1920s, Schaeffer was commissioned by Dodd, Mead & Co. to produce illustrations for a series of classic novels. His dramatic illustration of Ishmael and Ahab in the crow’s nest propelled his long career and aided in the revival of interest in the author.

Mead Schaeffer, frontispiece & dust jacket illustration for Moby Dick, oil on canvas, 1922.

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capitan-blood·5 days agoText


The bay of betrayal (painting by John Collier 1881)

The sinister shadow of the mutiny hangs over almost all the great sea voyages of the XVI to the XVIII century. It is difficult to analyze the causes, certainly the harshness of the trips combined with a ruthless discipline on gathering crews made discouragement and insubordination easy. But it was above all the fear of the unknown that pushed men to revolt. Among all the tragedies of the sea, a unique case remains that of a great navigator; Henry Hudson, disappeared in 1611 in an aura of mystery never dissolved, absolutely nothing is known about him, appeared out of nowhere, he got lost in nothing, leaving only the admiration for his exploits. In 1607 the English Company of Muscovy entrusted him with the first journey, the idea was to find a way to Asia the so-called “fourth passage” the North-West Passage, under the command of hopewell, unsuccessfully commissioned another, Hudson was repelled by the ice.

French map of the Hudson strait in Canada 1722

In 1608 he entered into negotiations with the Dutch Company of India, he was entrusted with the Half Moon, but the insubordination was spreading and radically changed the program. Hudson’s fourth and final voyage was funded by the British East India Company, and was the most extraordinary because it gave him glory and death. On board the Discovery (1610). The journey up to the discovery of the bay always took place in the shadow of the mutiny, finally Hudson together with his son John and seven others, was abandoned on a launch, among the ice of the bay he discovered, of them no longer known nothing.

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capitan-blood·5 days agoText


The HMS Pandora was a 24-gun Porcupine-class frigate of the Royal Navy, built by Adams and Bernard in Deptford, England and launched on May 17, 1779. It was deployed in North American waters during the American Revolutionary war, better known as the ship sent in 1790 to look for the Bounty and the mutineers who had taken it. After the news arrived in England on March 15,1790, the Admiralty sent ‘Pandora to the South Pacific, Pandora sailed’ from Portsmouth on November 7, 1790 with Captain Edward Edwards, a crew of 134 men.

Sixteen of the mutineers had already decided to return to Tahiti. Pandora reached Tahiti on March 23, 1791 via Cape Horn, five of the men from the Bounty boarded voluntarily, 9 more were arrested these 14 men were placed in an improvised cell on Pandora’s keep, which they called “Pandora’s box”. Heading west towards Torres strait, the frigate ran aground on 24 August 1791 on the Outer Great Barrier Reef.

He sank the next morning. In the end, among the survivors only 78 of the 134 men returned home, Captain Edwards an his officers were acquitted for the loss of the Pandora, even the 10 survivors were tried. The descendants of the 9 escaped Pandora still live on Pitcairn Island, the refuge that Fletcher Christian founded in January 1790.

A fine example of an officer’s Fob Watch restored from a previous Pandora expedition.

The wreck of the Pandora discovered in 1977 is located about 5 km northwest of Moulter on the Outer Great Barrier Reef. To c. 140 km east of Cape York.

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capitan-blood·6 days agoText

The Neptune

The Neptune is a “galleon” built in 1986 in the shipyards of Port El Kantaoui (Tunisia) specifically for Roman Polanski’s film Pirates. The Neptune was designed as a real ship, therefore perfectly navigable, with the hull in steel, and registered in the naval register of Tunisia.

The ship has 20km of cordage, for a total of 11 tons and 4.500 m² of sail area that allow it to sail at 5 knots, against the 3 knots that can be developed with the auxiliary engine.

It is located in the Porto Antico of Genoa (Italy), where it is moored at Ponte Calvi and can be visited as an attraction. On the whole it gives a pretty good idea of how a large Spanish three-deck of the second half of the XVII century could look even if it is closer to a French-type vessel than a Spanish one.

Notes: the distinctive characteristics of the Neptune are those of a vessel, for the number of guns, the number of battery decks , the volume of the forecastle, and the larger overall dimensions.

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capitan-blood·6 days agoText

“Clockwork” globe - British Museum

This globe is insanely complex. Made in 1575 by 4 craftsmen, the globe details all the known stars and their positions. When wound, the globe rotates once a day, the little sun travels around it once a year (and the position relative to the globe is indeed the point the sun will be at). It also reads out the time of the next sunrise and sunset, and the current time, and you can move the iron bar to calculate the appropriate times at different positions on earth.

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capitan-blood·7 days agoText

Captain Kidd in New York Harbor

Captain William Kidd welcoming a young woman on board his ship; other men and women crowd the deck as another woman steps aboard. Some of the women are wearing fontanges.

Oil on canvas - Artist: Jean Leon Gerome Ferris (1863-1930) private collection

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capitan-blood·8 days agoText

Ship surgeons

The age of sailing ships depended completely on the health and strength of their crews. Before the introduction of steam winches in the 19th century, the only source of energy available to them was the muscles of sailors. The range of patients the surgeon had to deal with was wide; ruptures, hernias, and crush injuries were common. A prolonged run ashore could bring with it a number of STDs, for which the surgeon could request an addition to his pay. As the European powers colonized the globe, the crews of their warships were increasingly exposed to new dangers. Contact with the coast in tropical waters carried the risk of diseases such as yellow fever.

Some surgeon’s tools found in the wreck of the Mary Rose -1) surgeon’s drill - 2) urethral syringe (for the treatment of venereal diseases) - 3) enema pipe.

The long ocean voyages have resulted in several health problems caused by the deficiency of some important foods, scurvy, which is caused by a lack of vitamin C. The busiest time for the surgeon was generally when his ship was in action. The surgeon’s station was in the ship’s cockpit, a cramped and dark space below the waterline, where he could heal the wounded undisturbed by the fighting that raged above them.

The iron cannonballs that cut their way through the wooden ships cause horrific injuries, those who survived had a high chance of succumbing to the infection. The quickest means of preventing this was amputation, a procedure that was performed without anesthesia.

At the time of Trafalgar, ships of the Royal Navy were operated by naval surgeons such as William McDonald on HMS Colossus. The effect of their work was not only of human benefit, but helped to swing the battle in favor of the Royal Navy.

Superior medical practice meant that Nelson’s sailors were considerably healthier than their opponents, consequently they were able to fight longer and harder.

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capitan-blood·10 days agoText

HMS Trincomalee

HMS Trincomalee is a Royal Navy Leda-class sailing frigate built shortly after the end of the Napoleonic Wars. She is now restored as a museum ship in Hartlepool, England.

Trincomalee is one of two surviving British Frigate of her era-her near-sister HMS Unicorn (of the modified Leda class) is now a museum ship in Dundee. After being ordered on 30 October 1812, Trincomalee was built in Bombay, India, by the Wadia Family of shipwrights in teak, due to oak shortages in Britain as a result of shipbuilding drives for the Napoleonic Wars. The ship was named Trincomalee after the 1782 Battl of Trincomalee off the Ceylon (Sri Lanka).

CURIOSITY: Work on the Trincomalee began in May 1816. Ceremonially an engraved silver nail was hammered into the ship’s keel by the master shipbuilder Jamsetjee Bomanjee Wadia, this being considered vital for the ship’s well-being, according to Parsi Zoroastrian tradition.

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capitan-blood·13 days agoText

The wreck of the “Amsterdam”

The Amsterdam was an 18th century ship that belonged to the Dutch VOC (vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie, Dutch East India Company), the ship began her maiden voyage from Texel, the Netherlands, bound for Batavia, present-day Jakarta, on January 8, 1749, but was destroyed by a storm in the North Sea on January 26, after only eighteen days of sailing. The wreck was discovered in 1969 in Bulverhythe Bay, UK, and is sometimes visible at low tide. An exact reproduction of the ship was built between 1985 and 1990 and can be visited at the Maritime Museum of Amsterdam.

Amsterdam was built for the transport of goods between the Republic of the Seven United Provinces and the Dutch colonies in the east. On the outward voyage these ships carried weapons and bricks for settlements, and silver and gold coins to purchase products. On the return journey, however, they carried goods that had been purchased, such as spices and textiles. On an eight-month outward voyage, the ships had about 240 men on board, while on the return voyage they had about 70.

The maiden voyage of the Amsterdam was planned from Texel, in the Netherlands, to Batavia, now Jakarta.

The ship, commanded by the 33-year-old Captain Willem Klump, had 203 crewmen, 127 soldiers and 5 passengers on board. Amsterdam was loaded with textiles, wine, ballast stones, cannons, paper, pens, pipes, household goods and 27 cases of silver coins. The entire cargo would be worth several million euros today.

On November 15, 1748, the ship set sail, but had to turn back on November 19 due to a particularly unfavorable wind. The Amsterdam sailed again on November 21, 1748, but returned to Texel on December 6, 1748, again due to bad weather conditions.

The third attempt was made on January 8, 1749 Amsterdam had problems in the English Channel due to a strong storm, failing, for several days, to go beyond Eastbourne.

Some symptoms of black plague appeared among the crew and there was attempted mutiny. Eventually the rudder broke and the ship, at the mercy of the storm, sank in Bulverhythe Bay on January 26, 1749, 5km west of Hastings. In 1969 the Amsterdam was discovered after being exposed due to a low tide. Among the ships of the VOC it is the best preserved.

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