Tuesday, July 25

Jane Austen Fest in Images 2017

The Doctor has a look over the men ashore on Sunday morning.
Lady Hamilton says something amusing before the dinner.
Lord Nelson at the dinner table.

Mr. Whinchester keeps an eye on the end of the dinner table.
Lt. Lord Willam Fitzroy watches over the boarding party exercise.
A group of well dressed ladies takes over the table in the private room of the Lord Nelson Arms tavern.
Acasta sailors cling to the shade on a hot Saturday afternoon.
Mr. Hobbs and his bottle.
Mr. Armitage discusses boarding party tactics and the equipment used.

Monday, July 24

Lady Hamilton and the Volcano

Emma Lady Hamilton entertains the guests at the Acasta dinner with stories of Mt. Vesuvius.
At the Jane Austen Festival 2017.

Friday, July 21

Lord Nelson and the Polar Bear

Bryan Austin as Admiral Lord Nelson at the Acasta dinner at the 2017 Jane Austen Festival in Louisville, KY. Lord Nelson entertains guests with a tale of one of his boyhood adventures!

Thursday, July 20

Meet the REAL Acasta

Sir J. T. Duckworth's Action off St. Domingo, Feby 6th. 1806 (PAD5760)
Hand-coloured.; Technique includes etching. Published 1 Feb 1817

HMS Magicienne (36) at right and HMS Acasta (44) on the left at the Battle of San Domingo, the only primary source (original, from the era) image of Acasta, other than the original plans, known to exist.

HMS Acasta Deck, Quarter & Forecastle
HMS Acasta Frame
HMS Acasta Gun Deck
HMS Acasta Inboard Profile Plan
HMS Acasta Lines
HMS Acasta Orlop Deck
HMS Acasta Upper Deck Plan
These plans from the Royal Museums Greenwich collection

Wednesday, July 19

Dinner at the Jane Austen Festival

The Acasta hosted a number of special guests at their dinner at the 2017 Jane Austen Festival. The above video features some of the highlights of that magical dinner experience. Special thanks to all the hard work of the guests and the cooks and servers and servants who helped to make this amazing dinner take place!

Tuesday, July 18

Mr. Apple at the Helm

At this year's Jane Austen Festival the Acasta hosted a magnificent meal with special guests from all over. The Doctor was forced to hand over the videography duties to ship's carpenter Jim Apple. 

The following are some of the delightful results.

Monday, July 17

The Voyages of Captain Cook

The Voyages of Captain Cook
edited by John Borrow and Ernest Rhys

a review by Tony Gerard

This particular book is a reprint of a 1906 edition originally titled “Captain Cook’s Voyages of Discovery”. It is edited somewhat oddly. Cook made three voyages of discovery between 1768 and 1779. The original editor uses original sources to write a third person narrative account of the first two voyages. For the third voyage he uses Cook’s journal to write a first person narrative, later switching to Lieutenant King’s journal after Cook’s death at the hands of native Hawaiians.

Although it’s an interesting read, I often wondered what I was missing by not reading the actual account. For instance in the introduction it’s mentioned that Cook had a difficult time convincing his crew to eat walrus meat during his time in the Arctic. The book only makes a mention that the crew eventually cane to like walrus meat and I’m left wondering what type of juicy historical tidbit, the kind that we history nerds love, I might have missed.

Another issue I have is that of maps. I’d really like to see where Cook was when. The book does provide a map for each voyage, but it’s just a line drawn on a silhouette map with various islands named. Since many of the names used at the time have changed from what we currently use the maps are of only vague help.

Cook’s voyages were spectacular – from the coasts of New Zealand and Australia, to the islands of the south Pacific, to the artic coasts of North America and Russia. His emphasis on cleanliness and scurvy prevention (using sauerkraut, ship brewed beer and fresh provisions at every opportunity) revolutionized certain aspects of naval health care. I’m sure tales and accounts of the voyages would be well known by the average British tar. 

So in summation, if you want a good solid account of all three voyages all in one place, this isn’t a bad book. If you actually want the historic detail, and you want to know exactly what happened where, there is probably a more modern selection that might be a better choice.

Friday, July 14

The 2017 Mail Packet, Deliver'd

The MAIL PACKET gets deliver'd to the ACASTA on Sunday while they are ashore at the Jane Austen Festival! Herein find a sneak preview of a few of the many excellent letters we rec'd this present year for inclussion in the packet. 


As you can see, it was another year of beautiful submissions from our friends and readers! We'd like to take a minute to thank those who contributed to the 2017 packet:

J. Winchester
E. Rust
A. Miller

and Melissa Alexander who taught a special class for period letter writing
and had her pupils write 50 letters to be added to the packet!

We are so pleased and honored by the interest you all showed and by the submitted pieces themselves. Without you, the mail packet project would be woefully empty. The Packet is slated to be delivered on Sunday at NOON at the 2017 Jane Austen Festival. 

Keep watching participants, there's more to come!

Monday, June 26

Last Call for the Mail!

FINAL 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 we have undertaken in the past with awesome results.

This is where YOU come in, but HURRY! ALL submissions must be received by July 8th to be included.

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.

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! But remember, all submissions need to be received by July 8th so that they can be included.

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!

Friday, June 23

Success to Nelson!

February 8, 1805
Royal Navy Dockyard,
Halifax, Nova Scotia.

To: Dr. Albert Roberts,
Ship's Surgeon,
HMS Acasta
At sea..

From: Thomas Hurlbut, 
HMS Satyr.

My Dear Doctor

While briefly at home here in Halifax, my ship receiving a much needed "small repair", I was greeted one morning with a package in the post . 

As I am known to be particular about the mail (lose not a moment!), our very dutiful, and earnestly persistent servant brought the package to our bedroom. Surprisingly, it was from your assistant, Baptiste. 

I hadn't realized the man knew I existed. I'm not sure we've had two words between us, and so to receive anything from him was puzzling. 

More to the point Doctor, his known fascination with natural philosophy (and particularly small creatures, no doubt in proud emulation of yourself!) gave both my wife and I some concern.

When the sender of the package was made known the sudden trepidation surrounding the possible contents of the parcel was palpable. The imagination can be truly frightening, can it not? We instantly were compelled to give it a wide berth.

Our morning routine ruined, we quickly made for the main room to have our breakfast. The package followed, and was placed on the table between us by the sevant. We both drew back as far as we could.

"Earnest" then produced a letter opener to enable me to see the contents. Never did I feel a weapon at hand was more inadequate to the task. I would rather a pistol, even a club!

My wife moved to the doorway, to be able to close the door and trap the contents (and me!!) so that it (they?) could not escape.

I plunged the knife into the brown paper, expecting the appearance of many legs to emerge from the hole produced.


I peeled back the paper (slowly!), wondering if a small head might poke out..

Still nothing. 

(Well, it's been at sea a while, maybe it's dead?)

Finally, knife in hand, I lifted the top of the small box, and.

Actually, I discovered a fine drinking vessel for my morning coffee (that was produced just as I pulled it from the package! "Earnest" again!).

I must express my appreciation when next I see your man. Perhaps I'll send a word through my cox'n who I understand is a friend to him (I believe they both are fluent in French!).

I am enjoying my brief respite from my patrol. The North Atlantic is miserable this time of year.

Your Humble Servant

Thomas Hurlbut,

Wednesday, June 21

This Year's Special Guest!

We are pleased to announce our secret SPECIAL GUEST who you may also interested in writing to as part of the Mail Packet Project… Admiral Lord NELSON! He got some letters last year and was very excited and we’d like to include him again this year.

Our only rule is that etters to Lord Nelson should not be from his wife Fanny, or Lady Hamilton (as we will have Lady Hamilton with us and that would be weird).

Remember, letters need to be in to me by the first weekend in July for them to be processed and placed into the packet for delivery. If you have any questions about what might be appropriate for Lord Nelson, feel free to contact me via the Royal Navy Doctor Facebook page, or via my email at:

Tuesday, June 20

Mail Packet Addition

The fine box of letters from the writing class!
The letters for the sailors are beginning to roll in from you, our readers! I received a box full of letters from Melissa Alexander just the other day. Melissa taught a period letter writing class, and the assignment she gave her students was to pick and Acasta from the list of those that planned to attend the Jane Austen Festival in July and write a period letter to them.

But ONE sailor in particular got left off the list of attendees and now he’s woefully short of period correspondence! One of our newest fellows Mr. Johnson, as seen above.

Nathaniel Johnson was born in August of 1770 in Cawsand in south eastern Cornwall. He was the first son of three children to his parents Theodore and Melissa. His father was a priest for the Rame parish of which Cawsand was a part. Growing up near the sea and overlooking Plymouth sound and Rame Head, Nathaniel saw ships entering and leaving the bay while at home and  traveling with his father to the parish church in the hamlet of Rame. Theodore intended for Nathaniel to enter into the Lord’s work when his time came, however Nathaniel had a different calling in his heart. Listless and not ready to settle,  Nathaniel signed onto the Busbridge in 1784. The East Indiaman was headed to the Cape of Good Hope, then onwards to Calcutta and these seemed as good a place as any to start his adventure. The next few years were spent in the service of the East India Company making several voyages between England and India. In Plymouth, after returning from one such voyage in 1793, he heard of the hostilities with France. Caught up in the fervour of war, he left the East India Company to join the Royal Navy. Nathaniel was rated as an ordinary seaman on board the 24 gun sixth rate HMS Squirrel in 1794 and departed England for convoy duty in the West Indies. When the peace with France was settled in 1802 Nathaniel was paid off and left the service. Thankfully, the peace did not last long and Nathaniel found himself in Guernsey in 1803 where he was signed on board the HMS Acasta.

Letters need to be in to me by the first weekend in July for them to be processed and placed into the packet for delivery. Email me for my address at: