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 23

At War's End


May 17, 1815
Dearest Marie

   I am sure you heard the joyous news of the war’s end before me, but as the English would say- I wish you joy on the war’s end!  Our happy reunion is now within reach!

When word first reached us of the end of the war my only thought was to return to you and the boys as swiftly as possible. I thought of various ways to quit the ship and make the shore. But on sober reflection there are many other things to consider.  I am owed all my wages for the endless time I have been aboard the Acasta- plus a goodly amount of extra money from the prizes we have taken. The Doctor has always treated me with kindness and through some effort of his I am listed as an assistant surgeon. This entitles me to a better wage and is normally given only to those with a formal medical education. I know this is true for he showed me myself listed as Assistant Surgeon in the Navy chronicle. As I have said before, I believe he is more than just a doctor, how else could he have such influence? The only way to collect my wages and prize money will be to return to England with the ship. I would never put money above my love for you and the boys, but to have such an amount would perhaps justify a delay of our happy reunion?

And another consideration. The Doctor has made me the offer to continue as his assistant in England. I have flattered myself to think that he and I worked well together and it seems he agrees. I have no wish to try and remake myself as a gentleman, and I know you are content there in Louisiana, but this could be an excellent chance to better our situation. Perhaps a formal education for the boys. The Doctor assures me he could easily find you employment there among his friends and acquaintances. I feel I would be foolish to not at least look at how things are in England before I give him an answer.

I wish we could talk about these things, but we are daily expecting to receive our orders to return to England. Write to me as quickly as you can with your thoughts about this. Tell Mr. Clark it is urgent and help will help you right away I am sure. Give my best regards to Mr. Clark and M. Rochambeau.

Ever your loving husband, 
Baptiste

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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.