Author Archives: admin

Fiddler’s Green

Stan Rogers, the late Canadian folk sing/songwriter, sang a song about an ill fated privateering voyage during the American revolution called “Barrett’s Privateer’s“. He was often asked where he learned the song. Most assumed that it was a traditional folk … Continue reading

Posted in Lore of the Sea, Songs | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Sailing on the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater

Hudson River Sloop Clearwater from Rick Spilman on Vimeo. The Clearwater is a Hudson River sloop modeled after the distinctive trading sloops that sailed up and down the Hudson in the 18th and 19th centuries.  The Clearwater was conceived by … Continue reading

Posted in Current, Lore of the Sea, Ships | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Review – Joan Druett’s Shark Island, a Wiki Coffin Mystery

I recently read Joan Druett‘s Shark Island, the second in her Wiki Coffin series of mysteries. A brief review: What makes a mystery work for me is the detective – the knowledgeable outsider, living between two worlds, who can see … Continue reading

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Old Salt in The Huffington Post

I was recently published in The Huffington Post. An excerpt: “The Golden Age of Piracy” or Long John Silver in a Tank   This morning I was struck by the odd juxtaposition of an announcement for a festival and a … Continue reading

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Happy 250th Anniversary of the birth of Nelson

Happy 250th Anniversary of the birth of Horatio Nelson. Nelson bust unveiled on birthday “A bust of naval hero Lord Nelson is being unveiled in Portsmouth to mark the 250th anniversary of his birth. The life-size bronze model was commissioned … Continue reading

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Pirate Stand-off in the Indian Ocean

The real life pirate saga, which began Thursday night when Somali pirates seized the Faina, a Ukrainian ship loaded with a cargo of ammunition, grenade launchers and 33 refurbished Russian T-72 battle tanks, has turned into a stand-off between the pirates holding the crew hostage … Continue reading

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From Lord Cochrane to the Wellington Hurricanes – the Evolution the Nautical Hero Part 1. The Founder of our Feast – Thomas Cochrane

Joseph Campbell wrote in his The Hero with a Thousand Faces that all stories follow the ancient patterns of myth and legend. Whether the heroes of nautical fiction quite fit Campbell’s monomyths is open to question but there is no … Continue reading

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Jackass Frigate by Alaric Bond

Jackass Frigate is Napoleonic naval fiction set during the Revolutionary wars.  The Jackass Frigate differs from the normal Hornblower/Aubrey sagas in that there is no “hero who becomes an admiral”, rather characters from all divisions of the ship are featured, … Continue reading

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Peter Wicked: A New Matty Graves Novel by Broos Campbell

Ok, I am about a month behind. The new Matty Graves novel has been out since early September. Then again as this blog has only been up for a few days perhaps I can be forgiven. A review from Publisher’s Weekly: Nautical … Continue reading

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C. Northcote Parkinson gets it right

Of the some sixty books written by C. Northcote Parkinson, his Richard Delancey series of nautical adventures is still a favorite among many aficionados of Georgian nautical fiction.   Of course, Parkinson is best known for his “Parkinson’s Law” – that “work expands … Continue reading

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My Quest for Catharpins

“Ignorance of the crosscatharpins is not necessarily fatal. Explanation almost certainly would be.”
Patrick O’Brian.

The cliché goes that there are two types of people – those who believe that there are two types of people and those who don’t. There are no doubt many more than two types of types of readers of nautical fiction. Nevertheless my guess is that as it applies to jargon, there may indeed be only two types.

The first type, and probably the smarter of the two, are those who read the jargon and let the words wash over them like a breaking wave, catching what they can in context but not caring too very much if they understand the finer points of rigging an eighteenth century ship, or, as is often the case in Patrick O’Brian’s books, the lost art of English suet puddings with exotic names like “drowned baby” and “spotted dick”. Their approach is like that of reading the more technical sub-genres of science fiction, where one need not necessarily understand quantum physics to enjoy the story. (Indeed, I suspect too much understanding of the science might get in the way.) Continue reading

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Raise a Glass to Doctor Dogbody

“ON A DREARY AUTUMN EVENING when the clouds hung low in the heavens and the masts and yards of the tall men-of-war in the harbour were obscured by a chill drizzle of rain, there was no more inviting spot in … Continue reading

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Tall Ship Elissa – 1877 survives Hurricane Ike with little damage

ELISSA is a three-masted, iron-hulled sailing barque built in 1877 in Aberdeen, Scotland by Alexander Hall & Company.  Under various names, rigs and owners she had a 90 year carreer carrying cargo. She was purchased by the Galveston Historical Foundation 1975. She … Continue reading

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Barometers, Erasers and Edward Nairne – the pleasure and pain of researching historical fiction

In working on my book Evening Gray, Morning Red, I found myself using metaphors referencing barometers.  “The glass was falling”, suggesting a storm, or a “rising glass” suggesting clear and dry weather, seemed perfectly apt language for a nautical novel.  The problem … Continue reading

Posted in History | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

HMS PICKLE is For Sale!

Archival Post: For the most recent news on HMS Pickle click here.  HMS PICKLE is For Sale! OK, not the original HMS Pickle but a replica built in 1995. For only £350,000.00 (US$626,640) you too could own a replica of the historic … Continue reading

Posted in Current, History, Ships | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

HMS BOUNTY GALLERY

Photos from a cruise on HMS Bounty a number of years ago.

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Thank You for Not Talking Like A Pirate

If by good fortune you missed the “International Talk Like a Pirate Day”, just as well. If you managed to pass the day without a single “Aargh” or “Shiver Me Timbers” congratulations. I have a rather good sense of humor … Continue reading

Posted in Current, Language | Tagged | 1 Comment