Francis Liardet: Professional Recollections on Points of Seamanship, Discipline, &c., 1849.

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On keeping a ship's head the right way in light airs, or calms, &c.

So much are the best seamen impressed with an idea of the necessity of keeping a ship's head the right way, that whenever they have any object to gain, they are always most particular on this point. See Capt. Brenton's Naval History, vol. 1, page 379, Lord Bridport's Action off Ushant. "Sir Andrew Douglas, the captain of the Queen Charlotte, with becoming zeal for the Service, and that constant attention to his duty by which he had risen in his profession, used the utmost exertion during the night, to keep the ship's head directed towards the enemy, well knowing, that with the motion of the sails, occasioned by the swell of the sea, a ship will forge ahead. In consequence of this, at daylight, he was one of the nearest ships, when a breeze springing up, he very soon had the distinguished honour of being again closely engaged on both sides." Every seaman knows, that even in calm weather, with the least swell, if you put two ship's heads in opposite directions, they will soon separate, and continue to do so, until both their heads are put in the same way. This does not appear to me to arise so much generally from the flapping of the sails, as Capt. Brenton observes, as it does from the formation of a ship's bottom. We have often seen ships, with all sail taken in at sea, in calm weather, with little, if any difference, in their forging ahead. Even dismasted ships continue to forge in the direction you place their heads, which we think goes far to prove that much of a ship's forging ahead in calm weather depends on the formation of her run and counters. We most perfectly agree with Capt. Brenton, about the sails of the Queen Charlotte having helped to forge her ahead, but we merely wish to point out that on many occasions, the formation of the hull of a ship might also be made most useful by keeping the ship's head the right way after a ship is dismasted in action, or dispersed from the fleet. For the want of some precaution of this kind after a general action, ships are much separated. If a ship's head cannot be got the right way, why not put some kind of drag or stop-water, overboard, rather than increase her distance in direct opposition to the body of the fleet. If all dismasted ships, that could not keep their heads to the body of the fleet after a general action, were obliged to bring them head to the wind or swell, by a stop-water of some kind or another, the fleet would sooner be in a position to carry out the Admiral's orders.
Francis Liardet: Professional Recollections on Points of Seamanship, Discipline, &c.
William Woodward, Portsea, 1849. 8vo, frontisp., (6), x, 319 pp, 1 col. plate of signals.

Transcribed by Lars Bruzelius

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