View Full Version : AAR. September Solo Mission 9 - Fisherman's Shoals. Bligh.

10-01-2015, 02:43

It had been a long stern chase across the Caribbean, but it looked as if the Amelia carrying her dispatches for England, had managed to outrun the French 74 for the time being. Although driven well off her intended course, at least now only the Frigate was in view, and he was about to get the surprise of his life. Captain James Roberts smiled inwardly.


He was entering an area of sandbars just off the American coast where as a young man, before the war, he sailed with his Uncle in his Trading Sloop "Lady Violet." He knew every inch of these treacherous waters like the back of his hand or so he hoped, and was sure that he could navigate this large Frigate through them, as long as he used minimum sails in the narrows, and took soundings.


He hoped that the Frenchman was not so good, but at any rate once on the other side he would have ample time to deal with the French Frigate, before the 74 could come up. With its greater draught It needs must take the more circuitous route around the sand banks.


"Lay me in a course to take us North of that Island known as Fisherman's Isle, if you please Mr Moffet," he said to his Third, "And have the Master's Mate take soundings as we go."
"Aye-aye sir replied Moffet.
As the Amelia nosed between the first two sandbanks, James wondered if his memory would serve him well after all this time. He remembered the capricious nature of tides and fluctuating wind amongst these dunes, the undoing of many an incautious seaman as the old ships ribs protruding from the nearest bar reminded him.


"By the mark nine, and a firm sandy bottom" came back the cry from Billings, the Masters Mate, followed by a splash as the Lead was swung out once more.
Glancing across the bar at the chasing ship, James noticed a flurry of sailors as they hurried to shorten sail.
"Well we did not manage to lure them onto the bar then." He thought to himself disappointedly.


His reverie was broken by a hail from the Foremast lookout. " Sail ho! Fine on the Starboard Bow."
A sudden movement among the Midshipmen, rushing to be first to get their glass on the new comer was the immediate result.


As usual Bowyer the First beat them all to it." Another Frigate sir, flying French colours."
"Drat! How the devil did he get there? Full square across the best exit from the Sand bars."
Out loud James proclaimed. "Humbugged by a Frenchie, but we'll give him best yet lads. Beat to Quarters, and run out the guns."

A low growl of agreement went up from the crew that were in hearing distance as they hastened to their duties.

"By the mark eight, and a sandy bottom." Intoned the Masters Mate.

As he watched the French chasing Frigate closing, James suddenly gave the order,
"Hard a port, and fire as you bear."
As the Amelia swung across the bows of what could now be seen as the French ship Dryade from the name painted on its bow, the first broadside of the battle resounded across the sands.


As the smoke cleared the devastation could clearly be seen.
On the Dryade's Quarterdeck, her Captain Camille St-Saens uttered a single word. "Merde!"

Meanwhile at the South Western end of Fisherman's Shoals Captain Francoise Bazin of the Frigate L'Inconstante had managed to negotiate the outlying group of rocks known as The Giant's stepping stones, but with a fitful wind and no knowledge of the sandbars was inching his way towards the North western channel.


With many deck crew wounded, and taking on water in the hold Captain St-Seans also turned to port, but a sudden squall forced his ship to heel too far and scrape along the rear of the Amelia for several seconds.


Iin this time The Marines had a heyday shooting at each other from the tops and creating even more confusion on the Dryade's deck.


Breaking free with a turn to Starboard, James again pummelled the fore- quarters of the French ship with his aftermost Carronades.


Unfortunately for the Amelia, the turn now placed her bow on to the L'Inconstant which had weathered the South Western shoal,
As Amelia rounded the Fisherman's Island and came into view she was treated to a long range rolling broadside which sprang her bowsprit, and killed several Marines on the Foredeck.


As the men fell, the Masters Mate sang out." Two Fathoms beneath the Keel an a rocky bottom.

Bringing his ship around even further to avoid the shelving bottom, James was very aware of the Dryade still close astern.


He was also aware that L'Inconstante's Captain had put her on a course to run close along his Starboard side in order to deliver a devastating Broadside with its now reloaded battery.


Between the Devil and the deep blue, James reflected ruefully. His ploy of running the shoals had backfired. Instead of giving the French the slip they had run him out of sea room, hemmed in on either side by sandbanks, and with an enemy Frigate to the Fore bearing down on him under full sail, and another closing from aft.

Then in an instant everything changed.

With a grinding of copper on sand, and a crash of falling spars, L'Inconstante ran her Port side aground at full tilt on the sandbar.
There was just enough sea room to get through and James ordered a change of heading, and made for it.


He treated the the L'Inconstante to a whiff of shot from his forrard Carronades too, just to help keep her crew off balance as he sped past.


One Fathom beneath the Keel, and sand Captain, intoned the Master's Mate.

The return fire from L'Inconstante was feeble, and then they were through the gap, and steering hard to port , to round the bar, and avoid the Giant's stepping stones.


Amelia, however, could not shake off the Dryade. Captain St-Saens was playing a cleaver game and shadowing every move that James made so as to get through the narrows without mishap.


"Well once clear of the rocks and the narrows, with more sea room we will see what this French captain is really made of." James said to his First.


Even so he ordered a rear action from any guns which could be brought to bear on the French ship.


The musket fire between the tops had now slackened and did little real harm.



L'Inconstante now took another hand in proceedings, as Amelia passed up the farther side of the bar. Another long range Broadside doing further damage to the British Frigate.



With a fair wind at las and an ever widening channel. James ordered more sail set and began to run away from Dryade for the first time since entering the shoals.


Leading her a merry dance, James attempted to lure her onto the Port side bar without success.


As the Dryade followed him around he did give her a play with his Starboard rearmost guns once more.


Then he suddenly put up his helm and turned directly into the wind.
Dryade had no option but to follow him, and put over her helm.


With both ships now taken aback, they exchanged now vastly weakened Broadsides once more.


Getting out of Irons both ships started to beat North as the wind started to veer.


With the sea room he now needed, and the L'Inconstante a mile behind and on the wrong side of the bar, Jack decided to end the farce by coming about onto the opposite tack, and boarding the weaker Frenchman.


"Make ready the Grappling Irons. Boarders to the Port rails." He shouted above the din of voices.

As he ported his helm both ship fired any guns still in action in a ragged broadside.


Suddenly a cheer erupted from Amelia, as Dryade's foretopmast went by the board.
James now started to close with the French frigate preparatory to boarding.


A final flurry of Musketry was exchanged, and suddenly Dryade's colours came fluttering down just as the Boarding party was readying itself.


Unbeknown to the Amelias, Captain St-Saens had been wounded in the musket fire, and with the ship a floating wreck, his First Lt. had no option but to strike to the British ship.

With a prize crew aboard, and L'Inconstante still languishing on the sandbar waiting for high tide to float her off, the Amelia and her prize made off to the North East before the French 74 could finally come around the sand bars and rain on their parade.


10-01-2015, 02:53
The Butchers Bill.

The HMS Amelia, Captain James Stewart. Returned to port with one prize.
Sustained moderate damage.


French ship Dryade, Captain Camille St-Saens. Ship struck to
Amelia. Captain wounded and made prisoner of war. Ship seriously damaged.


French ship L'Inconstante, Captain Francoise Bazin. Ship run aground. Minor damage.



Union Jack
10-01-2015, 10:53
Do I see Dryade with a mast down Rob? Great rendition of the mission. How I envisaged it panning out.

10-01-2015, 12:44
Yes Neil! Dryad is one of my ships with removable masts for just such an action.
What astounded me was the way she could follow me through the maze of channels on AI alone. Each dice roll brought her around almost in sinc with Amelia. The only time it went wrong was at the beginning when she ran into Amelia's stern but luckily did not entangle. Then when she was a bit sluggish on the turns and Amelia got off a shot from her aft battery. This was in fact what wore down the Dryade in the end. Traded broadsides and musketry did little but level damage.
Fortunately, L'Inconstante suffered from being too far away to get the benefit of tailing, and once she was within two rulers tried to make straight for Amelia, instead of standing off and firing. This led to her grounding, and the dice roll went against her so she answered Amelia's fire rather than waiting to get in a broadside, which may have altered things considerably.
One liberty I did take, was to allow ship movement with topsails alone otherwise when the wind was aft they would never have managed to negotiate the sharper changes of course needed.
I enjoyed playing it and I hope you think my story line did your excellent game design justice.

Union Jack
10-01-2015, 13:51
Of course it did Rob. Fantastic game. As always games are there to be tweaked here and there for playability and you did great work , which I took a few amendments off for the game mechanics which I had not thought of until I played it myself too.