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

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...

July 15, 2019

In 1853 most of the world’s warships were still made from wood and powered by sail. The ships of the line that had dominated the great sea battles of the Napoleonic Wars continued to rule supreme in the navies of the world. In the decades after the fall of Napoleon the...

July 1, 2019

Portsmouth is on England’s southern coast and has long been the home of the Royal Navy. Known by the nickname Pompey, its special geography marked it out from the earliest times as an ideal location for shipping. The city is on an island, divided from the mainland by a...

June 24, 2019

When Admiral Chester W Nimitz, the architect of the Allies victory in the Pacific during WW2, was asked this question, he replied; "A ship is always referred to as 'she' because it costs so much to keep one in paint and powder." But pre-feminist jokes aside, the questi...

June 17, 2019

Captain James Cook’s three voyages of exploration in the Pacific where widely admired throughout Enlightenment Europe. The southern Pacific Ocean was almost completely unknown to Europeans, and there were high hopes that he would discover a lost continent there. The re...

June 10, 2019

When she was launched in 1769, the Santisima Trinidad (Holy Trinity) was the greatest warship the age of sail had seen. She was built as a one-off design in Havana, Cuba, by Matthew Mullan, an Irish naval architect in the service of Spain. Her displacement of 4,950 ton...

June 3, 2019

Mankind has long known that they lived on a spherical world. Astronomers could see the circular shadow cast by the earth on the moon during an eclipse. Sailors noticed the suggestive way that a ship disappears over the horizon, the hull vanishing first, then the lower...

May 27, 2019

The city of Havana in Cuba was Imperial Spain’s most important base. In the 18th century it was the third largest city in the New World and was a heavily fortified port that could shelter a fleet of over a hundred vessels, together with dockyards capable of building an...

May 20, 2019

British Admiral Jackie Fisher, the great Edwardian naval reformer who was behind the introduction of dreadnought battleships and battlecruisers, once said that “the essence of war is violence. Moderation in war is imbecility.” He was not a personally aggressive man, no...

May 13, 2019

There have been Royal Navy vessels called Warspite since the time of the Tudors. Sir Walter Raleigh commanded the first ship of that name, while later Warspites served with distinction throughout the age of sail. With such a proud heritage, it was small wonder that the...

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