HMS Pickle’s South Coast tour, summer 2019

On the 30th June HMS Pickle left Hull Marina, turned South East at the mouth of the Humber, and then south past the Wash and into the River Stour at Harwich.

On departing Harwich, HMS Pickle will cross the Thames Estuary and the London Array wind farm bound for the Dover Straits, where she’ll pass the White Cliffs and onwards down through the English Channel.

After an overnight stop at Brighton, she’ll head west to the Isle of Wight and the Solent, where her first official port of call will be Lymington for the 1805 Club’s weekend of celebration for Admiral Cornwallis who was a friend of Lord Nelson and commanded the Channel Fleet during the Napoleonic Wars.

Departing Lymington, it will be a short sail to the Beaulieu River and Bucklers Hard where some of the vessels that fought in the Battle of Trafalgar were built in the 18th century.

HMS Pickle will be berthed at the jetty and will be open to visitors. During the weekend , subject to weather conditions, model vessels representing the Trafalgar Fleet will be making sailing demonstrations.

Her next official port of call is the Portsmouth Historic Navy Dockyard, where she will be moored next to HMS Warrior, the first armour-plated iron-hulled warship built for the Royal Navy.

During the weekend she will be hosted by the Royal Navy and the Royal Marines from HMS Victory.

Since HMS Pickle will be moored in a public access area, she will be open for visitors during the weekend, working with the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity.

HMS Pickle will also play host to Kingston Upon Hull’s Sailors Childrens Society and welcome local Portsmouth families.

After Portsmouth, little Pickle will sail for Portland Harbour with crew from HMS Victory Senior Rates aboard and then Weymouth for her fourth official port of call, the RNLI Parade of Sail on Sunday 28th July to celebrate 150 years of the RNLI at Weymouth.

From Weymouth, HMS Pickle will go on to visit the Britannia Royal Navy College at Dartmouth, call at Poole and then at Port of Dover for a banquet for HMS Pickle’s crew before sailing back to Kingston upon Hull. 

The Navy clearly loves the HMS Pickle, which is said to be modelled on the original small schooner Pickle that brought the news of the victory of Trafalgar back to England.

Here’s a video of an amazing ceremony to commission the ship’s new bell:

Some of the events on Pickle’s summer tour are supported by Teamac Marine Coatings long-standing experts and sponsors of Historic Motor and Sail (HMS).

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Slavery, piracy and a hanging: the unforgettable tale of The Flying Cloud

This mighty and horrifying ballad is packed with journeys: first, the butcher’s boy runs away to sea and sails to Bermuda; second the young lad joins a brutal get rich quick slaving voyage to Africa and Cuba; third he becomes a merciless pirate and sails for the Spanish Main; and fourth he is captured and taken to London to be tried and hung on the gallows.

And I suppose the fifth is a mental and spiritual journey in which this adventurer becomes contrite, and bitterly wishes he’d never done any of it.

I guess all of this may well have happened in some genuine cases, but I suspect this ballad was written in a later era, and packed with adventure in order to sell printed ballad sheetsy. The earliest date it was collected as a song was in 1906.

The astonishing story of Mary Read, soldier and pirate

If you don’t know it, clock the story of Mary Read, who spent much of her life passing as a boy or a man – and had careers in soldiering and two spells of piracy, one of which was as crew with pirate captain John ‘Calico Jack’ Rackham.

She became friendly with Calico Jack’s lover, pirate Anne Bonny. The pirate captain became suspicious that they were lovers, and had to be let into the secret of Mary’s true gender.

Then Mary fell in love with a captured sailor, saved him from probable death in a feud, then got captured and tried, and finally died of fever in jail…

It’s scarcely credible, particularly when you think of the sleeping and toileting arrangements on ships in the old days, but it must be true…

My thanks to Museum Ship Fountain for pointing this out.