Monday, December 28

Events of 2015

As 2015 draws to a close, let's have a look back at some of the events attended this year by the crew of the Acasta! Be sure to join us again in January when we start posting daily again, Monday through Friday at 8am cst. We hope you have a happy and prosperous 2016!

200th Anniversary of the Battle of New Orleans,
British Field Hospital, Chalmette LA. January 2015

Spirit of Vincennes Rendezvous,
Vincennes, Indiana, May 2015

Aboard L'Hermione
Alexandria, Virginia, June 2015

Shore Party, Historic London Town & Gardens
Edgewter, Maryland, June 2015

Going Home Dinner, Locust Grove
200th Anniversary of the Acasta being called home for the last time
Louisville, KY. July 2015

The Fair at New Boston, Press Gang, Springfield, Ohio, Sept 2015

Jane Austen Society of North America, Annual General Meeting
The Captain and the Doctor give lectures to attendees at the Galt House Hotel
Louisville, KY. Oct 9-11, 2015

Wednesday, December 23

The Vulgar Tongue

Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue
by Francis Grosse

A Book Review by Tony Gerard

There are probably few re-enactors unaware of this little gem! Originally published in 1785, it was republished again in 1796, and then again in 1811. I found reprints of all three versions available. The book is a wonderful collection of English slang, mostly lower class, used in the later 18th and early 19th century. The 1811 printing was added to by college students of the time, but they usually identify their college slang as such when it appears.

The value of this little text for first person interpretation of a "lower decks" sailor is beyond measure -and it's fun! It amazing to see how many slang expressions have made it into the 21st century- for example "pig" for a policeman. Many expressions are identified as sailors slang, and Grosse was not shy about including lots of sexual terms!

If you're a first person re-enactor doing an English persona this book is a must have!

Monday, December 21

Happy Christmas!

The spirits aboard the Acasta have been uncommonly high since the capture of the Herald, Friendship and Little Catharine on Christmas day. It is, of course, due to the news of the fortune aboard the captured ships, combined with the extra food and drink for every man to celebrate Christmas. I am told that they will only require moderate repairs to make the trip to Halifax as prizes, and that their repair should be only the work of a day or so. 

The Acasta's officers had been invited over to dine with Capt. Beresford and his men aboard the Poictiers for Christmas, but the sighting and chase of the Herald caused a delay in those plans. Now that the capture has taken place, we are to have our belated Christmas dinner with the Poictiers this evening.

While I do not want to count my proverbial chickens before they are hatched, I have found it difficult not to think about the sum of prize money that could potentially befall me should all go well back in Halifax with these recent captures. I would suspect that I am not the only man aboard with such thoughts.

But not all my thoughts lie in my purse, they also lie with my good wife at home, and to Christmases past, under the kissing bough.

A full length program about the Royal Navy to get you away from cleaning house after opening presents, in-laws who have stayed a little too long after Christmas or cleaning dishes after your holiday dinner party! ENJOY, and all the best of the season to you my friends.

Video - Any post with a video or a link to a video in it can be found here. Fair warning, clicking on this link will send you down a rabbit hole. Music videos, presentation videos, event footage, battle footage, some of these videos are even full length programs from television.

Monday, December 14

Happy Birthday Patrick O'Brian

December 12th is Patrick O'Brian's birthday and it's no secret that we here at are huge fans of Patrick O'Brian and the Aubrey-Maturin series. When reading through the books, I discovered that the Acasta makes a couple of cameos. So, here are the 'O'Brian-verse' connections to our particular favourite ship!

MILD SPOILER ALERT: You're about to read some very LIGHT, semi-spoilery info from The Fortune of War, Treason’s Harbour, and The Hundred Days.

From the WikiPOBia:

Acasta is one of a series of ships in the Aubrey-Maturin series whose commands are promised to Captain Jack Aubrey by the Admiralty, but are ultimately given to other, more influential officers. Another such ship, promised to Aubrey but never delivered, is the fictional frigate HMS Blackwater.

The Admiralty’s promise of Acasta is first made to Aubrey in The Fortune of War. She is described by Aubrey to his friend Maturin as a "forty-gun frigate, pretty well the heaviest in the service … And the finest sailer of the lot, on a bowline. Two points off the winds, she could give even dear Surprise foretopgallant, at least. A true, copper-bottomed plum, Stephen…."

Aubrey's fictional characterization of Acasta's speed likely overstates the historical ship's actual performance. The historical Acasta is described as "not outstandingly fast," but is acknowledged to have been "very weatherly" and more maneuverable than most other frigates her size. Likewise, Aubrey's description of Acasta as the "heaviest in the service" is not entirely accurate. Although she was among the largest fifth-rates of her time, she was not the heaviest of her contemporaries. For example, two other British 40-gun fifth-rates launched at the same time as Acasta (Endymion and Cambrian) both outweighed her and mounted heavier weaponry (24-pound cannon).

In The Surgeon’s Mate, Aubrey learns that Acasta has, in his absence while a prisoner-of-war in Boston, been given to Capt. "Robert Kerr." Acasta re-appears later in the Aubrey-Maturin series near the end of The Hundred Days, as part of Admiral Lord Barmouth’s squadron at Gibraltar.

Monday, November 30

Signal Flags Made EASY!

Capt. C. Bertani
Captain Bertani of HMS Cornwall (74) has written a program that will translate typed text into 1806 Popham Telegraph Signal Flags!

Not only can you choose to use the start and finish flags, but you can alter the shape and size of the flags themselves.

Thanks to Capt. Bertani for writing this fun program and for pointing it out to me!

Monday, November 2

Thomas Kydd

The "Thomas Kydd" novel series 
by Julian Stockwin
a short review by Tony Gerard

Is there actually life after Aubrey and Maturin? 

Can any other novel series fill the void left when Patrick O'Brien so thoughtlessly died before writing another 40 or so novels? Well, no....but as British Tar novel series go Stockwin  has come the closest. 

Stockwin is a real life sailor, a veteran of the Royal Navy, and this shows in his writings. Like Patrick O'Brian, he is fond of long, technical descriptions of sails and sailing maneuvers.  Unlike O'Brian he didn't immediately bring his characters to life with brilliant character development, but I can hardly hold that against him, because I've never know another author that good.

The series centers on Thomas Kydd and his friend Nicholas Renzi. For the life of me I've never figured out why the two of them became such good friends. Kydd is an impressed commoner, Renzi a gentleman in self imposed exile from aristocratic society.

In the first book Kydd is impressed, and I thought "Great! A series about a common sailor!" As it turns out he rises through the ranks at lightning speed and is commanding his own vessel by novel six or seven. I'm currently reading novel nine in the series. Kydd is currently a privateer captain. Renzi is on his way to becoming a spy- picture Stephen Maturin without his endearing naturalist philosopher tendencies. Kydd's character has developed as the series has continued. I may seem overly critical, but I got to admit I've stayed up too late on a work night many times now just to "see how it turns out".  Stockwin also is a pretty good hand at bringing his 19th century locations to life. He obviously does his homework. 

There are a projected 21 titles in the series, number 16 is due out in October. Stockwin seems to be healthy, who knows, maybe he could be convinced to produce another 40 or so novels in this series?

So, if you've finished the Aubrey/Maturin series, this is the one you should start next- after a suitable period of mourning of course.

Monday, October 12

More from the Mail Packet

Don't forget to check back every Monday at 8AM CST for brand new ACASTA content!

Monday, September 21

From the Mail Packet

Another 'THANK YOU' to all those that participated in the 2015 Mail Packet project:

Melissa Alexander
Toni Tumbusch
Tony Gerard
Lauren Muney
Catie LeCours
Stephanie Farra
Adrian Geary
K. Tolhurst
Paris Major
J. Winchester
Kat Rosewitz
L. Phillips
Sabine Schierhoff
R. Bartgis
S. Jones

…and all of our other readers who submitted pieces for the education and enjoyment of our members and the public. Without you, the mail packet project would have been woefully empty.

Monday, September 14

Images from the Fair

Enjoy these selected images from the recent Fair at New Boston, taken by several of our members.