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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 Piano Man

For Christmas, I am posting something a little different. I was asked to write a short story earlier this year, inspired by a song. I chose the Piano Man by Billy Joel. My Christmas gift to you, is my story A story inspired by Billy Joel’s song Piano Man by Philip K Allan It was Christmas Eve, and Jack’s Bar was filling nicely. Stretched along the length of the counter was a wall of drinkers. Many were clamouring for attention, waving dollar bills in the air as if drowning. Jack stood back from the bartenders, working hard to keep up with the incessant demand for attention, and looked at the sheer variety of humanity that washed through his establishment. Some groups of drinkers talked in an

The Flying Dutchman

One of the more enduring legends of the sea is that of the ghostly ship, the Flying Dutchman, cursed to sail for all eternity, without ever making harbour. In the most common version of the story, the Dutchman is identified as Captain Hendrick van der Decken, the 16th century commander of a Dutch East India Company ship. He was homeward bound from the Spice Islands of the Dutch East Indies, and was trying to enter Table Bay in South Africa, when he was caught in a dreadful storm. In a rage, van der Decken challenged the sea to do its worst, swearing on all that was holy that he would make his landfall, whatever the consequences. His ship foundered at that moment and with his oath still on hi

The Indefatigable

The Indefatigable (44) was one of the best loved and most successful ships of the age of sail. During the two decades of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars, she was involved in the capture or destruction of an unprecedented 27 enemy warships and privateers, with a collective broadside of 628 cannon. This figure does not include all the many merchantmen and smaller craft that were also captured by the frigate, and that were too numerous to count. As a ship, she will forever be associated with her most famous commander, the brilliant Sir Edward Pellew. Yet when she was launched in 1784, she looked like an embarrassing mistake. Built as a small 64 gunned, two-decked ship of the line, she was

The Secret Pirate

In 1791, Able Seaman William Davidson of the frigate Niger was in trouble again. A gloomy, brooding Scot, he had a history of violence against his shipmates which had resulted in frequent punishment. On this latest occasion he had struck an officer. He was put in irons while he awaited trial, and his possessions were searched. In his sea chest a small, neatly written notebook was discovered, entitled “Journal kept by Wm. Davidson on board a Russian Pirate.” What he had recorded there is not for the faint hearted. The journal is brief – only 27 pages of closely spaced writing. It starts three years earlier in 1788, when Davidson enlisted on board a Russian privateer called the Saint Dinnan. R

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