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I publish them regularly on topics based around my enduring love for all matters maritime. I keep them short and light, so they should be no longer to read than the time it takes to drink a coffee. If you want to receive them, please subscribe below

The Curious Career of a man named Home

Home Riggs Popham was one of the Royal Navy’s more controversial officers. His military record contained a sprinkling of both triumphs, and disasters. He was an exceptional surveyor and chart maker, who gave the navy the signalling system that Nelson used at Trafalgar. On the other hand, he also showed a number of lapses in judgement, especially where money was concerned, was court marshalled, and was thoroughly disliked by most of his brother officers. Popham was born in Gibraltar in 1762, the sixteenth child of a family that would eventually consist of twenty one offspring. He joined the Navy in 1778 as a volunteer, and played an active role in the final years of the War of American Indepe

Swinging the Lead

Ilfracombe is a charming little port on the North Devon coast in England. Close to its bustling harbour is the base of the local scuba diving club, who have a large and active body of members. Many are keen wreck divers, and the busy but treacherous waters off Illfracombe provide rich pickings for their amusement. Over the centuries, numerous ships have foundered on this coastline, as the dive club’s bar bears witness. It is an Aladdin’s cave of maritime artefacts. Portholes and valves, ships telegraphs and wheels stud the walls, while smaller items crowd the window sills. In one corner, near to the back, are a number of dull grey conical objects. They generally have a round depression in th

“Oh God, it’s all over!” - the Naval Battle that cost an Empire

In the late summer of 1781, the British attempt to re-conquer Virginia from the American rebels was not going well. Their army was boxed into a defensive position around the little port of Yorktown, by a combined French and American force of almost twice their size. The British commander, General Cornwallis, was not overly concerned however. His army may have seemed to be trapped, but they were in a well fortified position, with their backs to the wide York River. The river ran into Chesapeake Bay, which in turn opens to the sea, and it is Britannia who rules the waves - doesn’t she? At first, all had seemed to be well for the besieged army. A steady flow of ships arrived, bringing both supp

The wreck of the Mars

In 2011, a team of divers operating off the Swedish Island of Oland found the wreck of a large warship. From artefacts recovered from the site, she was positively identified as the Mars, pride of the Swedish navy, which had been sunk in 1564. Lying in seventy-five metres of brackish water in the virtually tide-free Baltic she was astonishingly well preserved. After four and half centuries, her stern quarter appeared almost as if the shipwrights that built her had only just completed their work. But a fan of her timbers that radiated out across the dark sea floor hinted at the catastrophic explosion that had sent her to the bottom. The Mars was claimed to be the largest warship in the Balti

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