Wednesday, April 2

Leaving Bermuda

Today's post by Gordon Laco, supplier of traditional sailing hardware, reserve officer for the Royal Canadian Navy & historical consultant for documentaries and feature films including being the lead historical consultant for the film Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World.
Captain Freymann:  Mr Hamilton, I see you’ve about completed your morning preparations – you’re ready to face the new day I presume?  Good.  With no further delay I’ll have her underway on starboard tack; we shall depart the harbour clearing the leeward cape without need to take a board to windward.  Carry on.

1st Lt Hamilton:  ALL HANDS, ALL HANDS, HANDS TO YOUR STATIONS, PREPARE TO GET UNDER WAY.  (more quietly, addressing the Master)  Mr. MacLachlan,  we shall recover the starboard hauser and hang by the port till I give the word.  Mind you do this smartly, not like last time.  HIS eyes are upon us.  Pray do not place young Moreton where you had him last time.  We cannot bear another drama.

1st Lt Hamilton: starborlines away aloft!  Cast off your fore and main tops’l gaskets, cast off your forestaysail gaskets!  Stand by to haul away!

1st Lt Hamilton:  Waisters... Brace your yards to starboard.... Forward there, brace your foreyards aback!

(up forward the starboard cablet has been recovered from the buoy... The port one is still made fast but hauled short)

Midshipman Raley on foredeck:  Starboard cablet’s away and recovered sir!  Port is at short stay! (the port cablet is hauled short and is angled down at the same angle as the forestay)

1st Lt Hamilton:  Let fall your fore and main topsails!  Haul away your foretops’l halyard!... (A pause of some minutes as the foretopsail yard creeps up its mast...)  Haul away your forestaysail halyards!  Back your forestaysail!  Haul away your foretopsail sheets!  Helm down!

(the forestaysail fills does the foretopsail... The frigate begins setting aft, pulling against the remaining cablet)

1st Lt Hamilton:  forward there on the cablet...SLIP! (the inboard end of the cablet is released from the cavelle cleat.. Its end snakes over the side and through the ring on the buoy... The foredeck hands begin hauling it in)

1st Lt Hamilton:  (watching the ship gather sternway, her head being pushed to port by the backed staysail and foretopsail...) HAUL AWAY SMARTLY YOUR MAIN TOPSAIL HALYARDS SMARTLY!  CAST OFF YOUR DRIVER BRAILS!  MIDSHIPS HELM!

(the Acasta is sliding backward away from the buoy, turning her head away from the wind to port.  As soon as she’s about 60 degrees off the wind, the 1st Lt centres the rudder, and begins setting sail to drive her forward...)


(the frigate stops her sternway under the forward drive of the sails.... Now the forward gear is no longer pushing back and to port, but pulling ahead.  For a time the frigate is stunned and makes only leeway, a boil of turbulence rising to windward of her... Then she starts moving forward...)

1st Lt Hamilton: (to the master)  Mr MacLachlan – meet her there – hold to the weather side of the channel, steer a fair course out....

As the frigate gathers way the leeway decreases.... With yards braced hard on starboard tack she slowly accelerates and begins answering her helm.   The 1st Lt glances at the Captain who has been standing aft during this... And gives an imperceptible nod. 

1st Lt Hamilton: (to the Master)  Mr. MacLachlan, I’ll have t’gallants and upper staysails on her...carry on.  

It all seemed to go well;  much relieved, the 1st Lt turns to write up the deck log.  Glancing astern, he is horrified to see a boat, his ship’s launch, struggling to keep up but being left behind by the gliding frigate.  He had forgotten to recover the party he’d sent to the buoy....  His eye darts to the Captain, who of course had not forgotten the boat, and is staring at him with his right eyebrow arched, arms folded, and an indecipherable expression on his face.

The 1st Lt gasps and stands frozen with the slate in his hands.  The afterguard all avert their expressions.  Mr. MacLachlan, the master, turns his back and squints at the foretopmast head, privately wondering what the service has got to....

The beginning of another day.


  1. Baptiste, the surgeon's mate, to the loblolly boy : *Sigh* Back to the northern blockade, I had so hoped for New Orleans...

  2. I do hope the boat was picked up without too much delay to the ship's making way...

  3. I think I would have sheeted the foretopsail before "Haul away your foretopsail halyard". I wonder if it makes a difference if the sail is backed....

    Also interesting how this entry is the first Google hit for "cavelle cleat".