Tag Archives: sailing ship

1812 style warship will set sail this summer

New 1812 style warship to be launched this year Oliver Hazard Perry

There’s a new tall ship on the block – the Oliver Hazard Perry. Read all about it here.

Folks on my side of the pond may not know about Perry, and might even find it hard to believe that there has ever been serious naval combat on the Great Lakes – history being written and celebrated by the victors, not the losers.

Nevertheless, Perry was a US naval officer whose small fleet won a decisive victory against the Royal Navy on Lake Erie during the War of 1812.

The new steel-built ship was originally built as a kind of replica of a British warship captured by Perry and his men, but when the group behind the project ran out of money, folks from Perry’s native Rhode Island bought the unfinished 138-foot-long hull, named it after him and six years later, the three-masted, 20-sail 1812 style warship will set sail this summer from the Newport Shipyard.

In future, high-school, college and adult students can join expeditions to study underwater archaeology and maritime history, while working the ship under the direction of a permantent crew.

There is to be, however, one iron rule that students must observe: they are not permitted mobile phones. In this day and age, I’m not entirely sure I could live with that myself!

My thanks to Chris Brady for spotting this one!

A Seafarer’s Christmas Poem

1280px-Clement_Drew_-_A_three_master_in_a_storm

This piece by Robert Louis Stevenson was first published in the Scots Observer in 1888 – and I’ve republished it here because I think it will give most readers goosepimples, as it did me when I first read it.

My thanks to the Facebook group Down to the Sea in Ships for pointing it out.

The evocative image above comes from the wonderful Wikimedia, and is a painting by the 19th century artist Clement Drew.

And of course Happy Holidays and Merry Christmases to all our delightful readers and wonderful contributors.

The sheets were frozen hard, and they cut the naked hand;
The decks were like a slide, where a seaman scarce could stand;
The wind was a nor’wester, blowing squally off the sea;
And cliffs and spouting breakers were the only things a-lee.

They heard the surf a-roaring before the break of day;
But ’twas only with the peep of light we saw how ill we lay.
We tumbled every hand on deck instanter, with a shout,
And we gave her the maintops’l, and stood by to go about.

All day we tacked and tacked between the South Head and the North;
All day we hauled the frozen sheets, and got no further forth;
All day as cold as charity, in bitter pain and dread,
For very life and nature we tacked from head to head.

We gave the South a wider berth, for there the tide-race roared;
But every tack we made we brought the North Head close aboard:
So’s we saw the cliffs and houses, and the breakers running high,
And the coastguard in his garden, with his glass against his eye.

The frost was on the village roofs as white as ocean foam;
The good red fires were burning bright in every ‘longshore home;
The windows sparkled clear, and the chimneys volleyed out;
And I vow we sniffed the victuals as the vessel went about.

The bells upon the church were rung with a mighty jovial cheer;
For it’s just that I should tell you how (of all days in the year)
This day of our adversity was blessed Christmas morn,
And the house above the coastguard’s was the house where I was born.

O well I saw the pleasant room, the pleasant faces there,
My mother’s silver spectacles, my father’s silver hair;
And well I saw the firelight, like a flight of homely elves,
Go dancing round the china-plates that stand upon the shelves.

And well I knew the talk they had, the talk that was of me,
Of the shadow on the household and the son that went to sea;
And O the wicked fool I seemed, in every kind of way,
To be here and hauling frozen ropes on blessed Christmas Day.

They lit the high sea-light, and the dark began to fall.
‘All hands to loose topgallant sails,’ I heard the captain call.
‘By the Lord, she’ll never stand it,’ our first mate, Jackson, cried.
. . . ‘It’s the one way or the other, Mr. Jackson,’ he replied.

She staggered to her bearings, but the sails were new and good,
And the ship smelt up to windward just as though she understood.
As the winter’s day was ending, in the entry of the night,
We cleared the weary headland, and passed below the light.

And they heaved a mighty breath, every soul on board but me,
As they saw her nose again pointing handsome out to sea;
But all that I could think of, in the darkness and the cold,
Was just that I was leaving home and my folks were growing old.

There’s a very amateur MP3 podcast of me reading it here: