Tag Archives: hms victory

Sailors go 200 years back in time to crew sailing vessel which brought news of Trafalgar

Portsmouth Naval Base volunteers are to sail the schooner Pickle from Hull to the Solent to attend a celebration of the original HMS Pickle’s voyage to Falmouth carrying the news of the victory at Trafalgar and the death of Admiral Lord Nelson.

The battle took place off Cape Trafalgar (not far from the Southern tip of the country) and the journey took ten days – and then it took another 37 hours for captain Lieutenant John Lapenotiere to reach the Admiralty in London.

On arrival, it’s recorded that he announced: ‘Sir, we have gained a great victory but we have lost Lord Nelson.’

The accomplishments of Lapenotiere and his small boat are celebrated each November 4 – the anniversary of Pickle’s arrival in Falmouth – with Pickle Night, an evening for naval ratings to remember the heroes of 1805 and generally let their hair down, often dressed in the uniform of the day.

HMS Victory hosts a special Pickle Night event on the great ship’s lower gun deck with 104 specially-nominated ratings dining with Second Sea Lord Vice Admiral Jonathan Woodcock.

HMS Victory executive officer WO1 Dickie Henderson along with some senior ratings serving aboard Nelson’s flagship thought this year the presence of a replica (the original Pickle was wrecked more than two centuries ago) berthed next to Victory, would add to the proceedings.

The current Pickle was built 20 years ago in the Baltic, has a hull similar to the original and was adapted to look more like the original HMS Pickle to mark the 200th anniversary of Trafalgar.

The crew will live in more comfort than sailors of Nelson’s era but he sailing gear would have been recognisable to old time sailors. On her  planned way south from the 25th-30th October, she is to call at Harwich, Dover and Eastbourne, and reach Portsmouth on the 30th.

Thanks to support from long-time Navy supporter Sir Donald Gosling and his foundation, and the RN RM Charity, up to six sailors, at a time, from HMS Victory and Portsmouth Flotilla will be able to crew the Pickle on each leg (the longest is 36 hours)… I gather there has been no shortage of volunteers.

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The sinking of HMS Implacable in 1949

This film of the destruction of HMS Implacable is extraordinary. Almost unbelievably, this vessel was originally a French naval ship that fought at the battle of Trafalgar, and was later captured at the battle of Cape Ortegal.

According to the Wikipedia account, in British service she was involved in capturing the Imperial Russian Navy 74-gun ship Vsevolod in 1808 during the Anglo-Russian War.

Later, Implacable became a training ship and for a time was the second oldest ship in the Royal Navy after Lord Nelson’s flagship at Trafalgar, HMS Victory. It seems unthinkable that a ship in today’s Navy could stay in service for so long.

As the film shows, she flew both the French tricolour as well as the White Duster on the day she was scuttled by the Navy.

Will Stirling’s latest news – a classic cutter, an Arctic circumnavigation and popular dinghies

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Classic cutter Integrity's hull framing Stirling & Son

Walrus photographed in the Arctic by Will Stirling Stirling & Son General Purpose Dinghy

Cutter Integrity being framed, walrus photographed by Will Stirling in the Arctic, and the bows of a Stirling & Son general purpose dinghy.

The latest Stirling & Son newsletter makes it clear that the yard is as busy as ever.

Will writes that his building shed is dominated by Integrity, a replica 43ft gentleman’s cutter of circa 1880. A cruising racer, she’s a classic English cutter, and here design takes references from Fife’s Bloodhound, Nicholson’s Marigold, Beavor-Webb’s Partridge, Watson’s Vanduara and Dixon Kemp’s Zoraida.

The shape is now defined with all oak the frames up and three planks wrapped around each side. She is a speculative build, so if anyone out there wants to buy a newly built classic, Integrity offers an opportunity that doesn’t come by every day.

The Stirling & Son 9ft general purposes dinghies seem popular – three have been built this year – and the range has been extended with a 12ft version designed and being built to commission.

The company’s range of plans has been significantly expanded this year with six boats now available. Details of each plan pack are on the website.

John Gallagher who built the 12ft sailing dinghy Frolic on our first dinghy building course received an award at the Plymouth Classic Rally for the best new build of 2010.

On their 25th anniversary the South West Maritime History Society awarded four prizes in recognition of significant contribution to maritime history. Will was honoured to be selected for his ‘exceptional research and boatbuilding’ during the Alert and HMS Victory yawl projects.

The National Historic Ships photography competition has shortlisted a Stirling & Son photograph of the interior of the 17ft Tamar salmon boat completed in January of this year. Those shortlisted are to be judged on the 6th of October.

Despite all this activity, Will has also found time to go sailing – and has recently returned from his fourth Arctic voyage. This year, aboard the pilot cutter Dolphin, Roger Capps led a team of three including Will to the far east of Svalbard, making a landing on the particularly remote Storoya, before sailing north west to 80 51N, which is 550 miles from the North Pole. Unlike last year, there was little ice this year. We were able to visit small islands that in 2009 had been visible from a distance of 50 miles, refracted above the pack ice that surrounded them.

The lack of ice may explain the large number of polar bears seen in the area in comparison to the previous year. A circumnavigation was completed by passing through the Hinlopen Straights. We crossed the Barents Sea at an average speed of 3 knts, permanently close hauled, trying to make southing without going too far east, in order to avoid Russia. This resulted in the crew working to windward in F8 winds with waves to suit. They were pleased to reach Hammerfest and the dramatic fjords of the northern coast of Norway.

The next adventure will begin on the 10th of September when Will goes to Galway, Ireland in order to collect a Falmouth quay punt built before the Great War. The boat will receive working repairs before being sailed back to Plymouth where she will be hauled out for a more thorough restoration – she’s destined to become the Stirling family boat for estuary and coastal sailing.

Stirling & Son are based at Tavistock, Cornwall, and can be reached via their website or by phone on 01822 614259.