Welcome to my blog

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

December 16, 2019

The tide, as Geoffrey Chaucer observed, waits for no man. Even out at sea, when all seems calm on the surface, the tide is there, constantly changing, flooding in and then ebbing away. Remorseless and powerful, its effect is most dramatic close to the shore. For sailor...

November 25, 2019

The Guillaume Tell (80) was one of the magnificent ships built in Toulon by Jacques-Noel Sané during the 1790s. She fought at Nelson’s victory at the battle of the Nile in 1798, but had the good fortune to be stationed towards the end of the French line, and was able t...

November 11, 2019

George Anson is best known for leading a squadron of Royal Navy ships into the largely unexplored Pacific Ocean in 1740, but his achievements were so much more. He was a talented fleet commander and a brilliant First Lord of the Admiralty during the Seven Years War. Hi...

October 28, 2019

When mutiny on a ship is mentioned, there is only one that comes to the public’s mind. Helped by countless books, TV documentaries and films, the popular view of naval mutiny is synonymous with the events that overtook the Bounty in the lonely South Pacific. Naval hist...

October 14, 2019

HMS Bellerophon was affectionately known by the sailors who served on her as the “Billy Ruffian.” She was a 74-gun ship of the line launched in 1786, one of a class of forty third-rates built in the 1770s and 80s to modernise the Royal Navy. These ships would go on to...

September 30, 2019

Mounted on my wall at home is a sextant. It is not an especially old or valuable one. Made from brass and steel, it was manufactured by Heath and Co of London in the 1950s, and still works well. The advent of modern marine navigation aids have made it largely redundant...

September 16, 2019

On the 2nd of April 1801, Nelson fought the second of his major fleet actions against the Danish fleet in the shallow waters of The Sound off Copenhagen. It was one of his hardest battles, and saw him come close to defeat.

Tensions had been building with the Baltic powe...

September 2, 2019

At the 1839 Royal Academy exhibition Joseph Turner revealed his most famous oil painting. It was a wonderful work, heavy with symbolism. It showed a Napoleonic warship being dragged to her doom at the breakers yard. To add to the indignity, the tug towing the old saili...

August 12, 2019

In May 1916, the explorer Ernest Shackleton and four of his men were approaching the end of a gruelling ordeal. They had left the rest of the crew of Shackleton’s ship Endurance stranded on Elephant Island in the Antarctic, while they attempted to cross the Southern Oc...

July 29, 2019

The story of the quest to find a way of calculating longitude at sea is well known, thanks largely to Dava Sobel’s excellent book Longitude. John Harrison was responsible for the eventual solution, by constructing a clock of unprecedented accuracy. He devoted forty-thr...

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