Wednesday, March 26

Young Sea Officer's Assistant

It is my understanding that Mr. Midshipman Edward Stewart has, in his free time, been making efforts to study for his Lieutenant's exam. He has been spotted all over the ship with his worn copy of the 'Young Sea Officer's Assistant' in his hands or tucked in his pocket. The pages are nearly gray with wear and age.

Young Mr. Hanmer, who is a Master's-Mate and fancies himself the 'King' of the gunroom, tho' he is the same age as most of the fellows there, has made great sport of poor Stewart. Mr. Stewart's family sent him an older copy of the 'Young Sea Officer's Assistant' from '73 I believe, and Hanmer has not allowed Stewart to forget it.

This morning, Hanmer approached Stewart and clapped him on the shoulder and says, "Edward, I'm certain you'll make a fine Lieutenant... during the American Revolution!"

You may have a look through Mr. Stewart's poor old copy of 'Young Sea Officer's Assistant' HERE.

Wednesday, March 19

Mail Packet for Jane Austen Fest

Open Call to ALL Reenactors, 
Historians and Creative Writers!

The Royal Navy reenacting group that represents HMS Acasta will be attending the Jane Austen Festival in July of this year. One of the things that I'd like to be able to do is deliver a 'mail packet' full of letters to the various Acasta members. This is a project that I have undertaken in the past with other groups with awesome results.

This is where YOU come in!

Anyone who would like to submit a period correct letter to add to the packet is encouraged to do so! We'd love to have your contribution, however large or small! Anything added to the packet will help to enhance the historical experience for not only the Acastas who receive them, but for the public who will attend the Festival as well.

At last year's event, the Mail Packet was a huge hit with the Acastas and the public alike. Mr. Midshipman Raley delivered the packet to the Captain about mid-day on Saturday and the letters were passed out.

Some examples of things that we got as part of the project:

The Doctor got a secret coded message from Sir Joseph Blaine with the Admiralty. Obviously from a Patrick O'Brian fan.

Lt. Tumbusch got a notice from the Dutch East India Company letting him know that his stock was now worthless.

Rev. Mr. Griswold got a letter letting him know of the death of one of his parishioners.

Mr. Raley got a letter from his 'mother' back home written a professional author of nautical historical fiction.

A letter arrived for the Purser from a mysterious wife and children he claimed to know nothing of.

Capt. Freymann got a letter from a father in England looking for news of the location of his two sons.

Need some ideas for what to write? Try one of these:

Letter from a friend or colleague back home. 
(But none from 'family' this year if you please, last year we had to leave a letter out because Mr. Raley got TWO letters from his 'mother')
A bill or request for payment.
An overdue payment of debt.
A letter carrying news of the war(s)

Or, use the link below to see some other types of period letters:

The Complete Letter Writer...

Wondering what a period letter looks like? Here are some beautiful examples:

Contact me to find out where to send your finished letter… or questions, or for any other additional information.

Finshed letters will need to be to ME by the end of June so that they can find their way into the Mail Packet!

Don't know WHO to write to? Here's the lot of Acastas who are usually to be found at the festival:

So pick up your pen and paper and get writing, and HAVE FUN!

Thursday, March 13

Hoisting the Blue Peter

Captain Freymann had Mr. Midshipman Raley go up on deck this morning to hoist the Blue Peter, and it is my understanding that the Captain wishes to depart Bermuda with the next tide. The winter is nearly over and the Captain and Master are of the opinion that the American ships will begin attempting to slip out of port again, if they have not already begun to do so.

There are but a few liberty men remaining ashore, and once word gets round the island that the ships in Castle Harbour have begun to fly the Blue Peter, I imagine the sailors will begin returning in great numbers.

The men ashore from the Acasta are of the more trust-worthy sort, else they would not have been allowed off the ship.  And, Bermuda is such a small island, there are not many places a sailor could hide away and not be discover'd.

We return to our blockade of the port of Baltimore. I must finish my letters and get them ashore before we depart!

BLUE PETER. A flag, "blue pierced with white," was used in the British Navy from 1777 as a general recall flag. In a quarter of a century the term "blue peter" was used by all to designate this flag. Civilians knew its significance, for merchant ships and convoys in the French wars would not sail until the escorting man-of-war hoisted the blue peter for passengers to come aboard.

Naval Ceremonies, Customs, and Traditions 4th Ed. by William P. Mack and Royal W. Connell.

Wednesday, March 5

Note to the Captain

Dear Captain Freymann, 

Your man caught up with me today and, he was quite rude! I hope that he merely misunderstood your meaning and misquoted your message. What I am led to believe is that you wish me aboard today and that with all my dunnage! Sir, I am not nearly ready to embark what with all my navigational instruments currently on loan to an associate of mine. I was in fact, in discussion with business associates in a tavern about the return of my instruments when your man approached me (nay accosted would be more accurate!). I must say, he was very impertinent! He, in fact, made suggestion that I was under the effects of drink! If he were not one of yours, I would protest officially, Sir. As it is, it is quite impossible for me to report aboard today, and I shall require some men to assist in the transport of my trunks and sea chests, perhaps Thursday afternoon, if you would be so kind? I thank you and again wish to state how much I am looking forward to this cruise. 

Your Humble Servant, 
J.D. MacLachlan, 
Sailing Master.

Tuesday, March 4

Acasta's Captains

1797/03/14 - 1799/11 Captain Richard Lane

1799/11 - 1802/05 Captain Edward Fellowes

1802/05 - 1803/04 Captain James Athol Wood

1803/04 - 1803/06 Captain James Oswald

1803/06 - 1805/05 Captain James Athol Wood

1805/05 - 1806/09 Captain Richard Dalling Dunn

(1766 - 1813) in naval full dress uniform, looking to the left.
c. 1805. Oil on canvas. Size 30 x 25
by John Opie
1806/09 - 1810 Captain Philip Beaver

1811/03 - 1815/09/12 Captain Alexander Robert Kerr

From: British Warships in the Age of Sail 1817-1863
Design, Construction, Careers & Fates
by Rif Winfield

Monday, March 3

From the Acasta's new Sailing Master

Dear Captain Freymann-

I am quite pleased to be ordered to the Acasta, although I trust that the master's accommodations on board will be adequate to my needs. I was quite satisfied with my cabin aboard HMS Majestic and would prefer not to be forced into a smaller space. I believe that it may compromise my delicate constitution.

As I may be delayed a few days while I deal with affairs ashore, I ask that the storage of some casks and barrels of spirits be kept separate from those to be stored in the spirit locker as I have found them to be lighter than those of water and salt beef and when stowing the hold for trim, it is well to have a variety of weights available to hand.

I expect to report aboard no later than Friday in the first watch and I look forward to sailing together. I hope that we will pass many evenings together, playing whist over port or brandy.
Until then, I remain,

Your Most Humble Servant,
John Duncan MacLachlan,
Sailing Master.