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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 Emperor’s Giraffe

Archaeologists excavating early Ming dynasty tombs in China sometimes find small gold ingots. They are generally stamped with Chinese characters that describe the precious metal as having been come from the “Western Ocean”. This was the Ming name for the Indian Ocean, and they date from a time when China engaged in oceanic exploration, sending out large fleets to explore the world around her. Like so much of early Chinese activity, they were doing this before the great voyages of exploration carried out by European powers. China did have a maritime tradition before the first Ming voyage set sail. She had an active coastal trade, and some sea-borne commerce with the spice islands of Indonesia

Victory off the Gironde

At dawn on the 14th December 1798, the Royal Navy frigate Ambuscade 32, was patrolling the estuary of the River Gironde on the west coast of France. As grey light spread across the sea, they spotted the sails of another ship coming from the west. The Ambuscade approached to investigate, at which point the unidentified ship, which was the French corvette Bayonnaise 24, turned-tail and ran. This was a perfectly reasonable response. The French ship was only armed with 8 pounder guns, as oppose to the more numerous 12 pounder cannon of the Ambuscade. Even though she was carrying a detachment of 40 soldiers, in addition to her normal crew, her opponent was both larger and faster. Prudence, after

Maritime Greenwich

For much of its existence, Greenwich has had little connection with the sea. It lies close to London, on the south bank of the River Thames, a short boat ride from the bustle of the capital. For this reason, it proved popular as a convenient rural retreat for successive monarchs. In the 13th century a royal hunting lodge was built there. Under Henry IV this was expanded into a manor house, and under Edward IV it became a palace. The Tudors spent large amounts of time in Greenwich. Henry VIII was born there, as were his daughters, Mary and Elizabeth, and the palace continued to be used by the Stuart kings up to the end of the English Civil War, when it fell out of favour. Greenwich’s associat

Murder in the Dockyard

In the old naval dockyard at English Harbour, Antigua there used to be an anchor that was known locally as “Peterson’s Anchor”. It was reputed to mark the spot where Lieutenant Lord Camelford shot Lieutenant Peterson dead in 1798. Local legend tells that the two officers fell out because they were rivals for the love of the same woman. Both men were in their early twenties, living in the sultry tropics, so perhaps there may be some truth in the story. What is certain is that the two officers were not on speaking terms at the time, and that fact was to have fatal consequences for Peterson. In January 1798 there were only two ships in harbour. The first was the small sloop Favourite, which was

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