View Full Version : Febuary: A Matter of time

10-14-2018, 05:50
Johan Puke was wearing his big woollen coat with the large collar turned up. He was standing on the quarterdeck of his frigate HMS Venus protected by the poopdeck from the icy cold wind. Being armed with 26 guns of 24 skålpund and 14 of 6 skålpund giving her a broadside of 354 skålpund (332 lb) she could hit hard, her heavy guns being very powerful, but she was still fast and manoeuvrable, fully comparable to much smaller frigates. The design had been made by Fredrik af Chapman and as most of his designs it was very successful. HMS Venus was very much the queen of her own destiny. Johan's orders were to take, sink, or burn any ships he could reasonably match without taking any unnecessary risks. It was very much up to himself to interpret them and decide what to do. There had been rumours of a ship carrying the payroll to all the Russian soldiers now advancing into Sweden.

He wondered how come he had gotten these orders. Not many frigates, or other vessels for that matter, was not used for the fleet, fighting the Russian naval vessels. He wondered if this was to his benefit or if it was a banishment, far from the glory of fleet actions. He didn't care for titles, but a promotion... He really wanted to be captain of a ship of the line. In his mind he could see himself as the commander on the quarterdeck looking over a large and crowded deck, lined by heavy guns. His vision faded and he was back on his frigate, cruising the Baltic, between Finska Viken and Rigabukten, an area where just about anything he would encounter would be of the enemy Russia's navy or merchants trading with Russia, going to or from Riga and S:t Petersburg. Far from any Admiral to impress.


10-14-2018, 08:57
HMS Venus was running with a good, steady wind doing six, perhaps seven knots, when the look-out called out "Skepp i sikte!" Johan hurried forward, climbed up on the larboard railing and was up in the ratlines in no time. Below the futtock shrouds to the foretop he stopped and hooked his right arm around the foremost shroud and searched the gray blur where the gray skies met the cold gray sea, while removing the protective leather caps off his looking glass. He saw a yellowish gray spot with his bare eye that in the looking glass could be identified as a ship not much bigger than his own. No more could be made out as it was heading his way. Returning to the quarterdeck he changed the course, intercepting the unknown ship to the windward.


The other ship had not shown any signs of competing for the wind or turning away. This made Johan cautious and thoughtfully he turned to the tops and shouted "Kan ni se något annat?" Soon two more sails were pointed out on either side. "Så de förbannade ryssarna tror att de kan lura oss i en fälla. Sätt fulla segel!" Johan shouted, adding "Vi ska nog ta den fan." It soon turned out to be a brave merchantman that prepared to fight. Bearing up HMS Venus got her most forward guns to bare. Johan told the ansvarsstyrman, "Nedteckna tiden för bataljen." and continued by shouting "Öppna elden!". The drum roll started and the orders came from the gun captains one after the other moving aft, "Fyr!". The guns spewed out fire and smoke hiding the target. It soon turned out that the enemy was not quite as brave as it had appeared. Олег quickly hauled down the colours.


Johan gave the order to reduce sails and prepare a small party to take possession. He decided on twelve men led by a young lieutenant, Andersson, that had just been assigned to HMS Venus straight from his graduation. Johan hated to loose crew for captured ships, but thought that it wouldn't be much trouble sailing the Oleg. Neither the Russians or themselves had many crew on merchants in the times of war. While approaching the Oleg he looked closer at the two other ships. To the north there was a smaller frigate of perhaps 30 guns.


Adjusting his looking glass the image of the southern ship appeared. Johan immediately identified the downwind ship to be a two-decker, but a small one of perhaps 50 guns, but still a two-decker. "Faan!" he exclaimed, continuing "Det blir en hård nöt att knäcka."


HMS Venus slowed and turned as close as possible to the merchantman. Johan did not want to waste any time. The two-decker to the south would be a hard fight he did not know if he would win. The ship's boats were already in the water trailing behind. One was brought alongside to accommodate the small party taking possession. He ordered them to head straight west for Sweden and if they didn't he would take that as a sign that she needed to be retaken, but he didn't think the crew would try anything, at least not until the engagement had been decided. Even before HMS Venus came to a stop the men started climbing into the boat being dragged alongside.


Lieutenant Andersson saluted Johan and said "Tack för möjligheten att få visa mitt mod, Kapten!" Johan just returned his salute and watched him climb down into the boat. Andersson almost lost his hat when stepping into the boat and grabbing his hat he fell over and lay sprawling on the legs and feet of his men in the boat. Johan shook his head and turned his back to the boat. Returning to his ordinary place on the quarterdeck he ordered, "Sätt segel!"

The turn to close with the Oleg had put HMS Venus with a heading to the south, straight for the two-decker. To give the captured merchant a good chance of getting away the faster small frigate would have to be disabled. Johan doubted that the two-decker would catch up as long as Andersson didn't make a total mess of himself. Again. Considering it he decided to at least delay the old ship of the line.


Soon the rowers in the boat were heaving and HMS Venus once again had wind in her sails, rudder hard starboard to turn north. As she gained steerage way she started turning while Johan studied the unknown frigate. He counted to 32 guns. Perhaps an Astafii-class frigate.


As HMS Venus gained speed the smaller frigate approached quickly, sailing on broad reach. It carefully avoided getting raked, but was still caught by the full broadside of Venus without being able to respond with more than a few of the foremost guns.


Johan studied the effect of the broadside on the enemy. There were much damage to the hull but he didn't see any holes below the waterline. There were however several guns disabled and gun crews mauled. He knew he would not be able to knock the frigate out of the fight before the two-decker would reach them. He would have to fight them both. He just had to make sure they couldn't gang up on him.


Johan gave the order to tack to go after the frigate, fully knowing he would leave the Oleg to fend for herself against the 50 gun two-decker while he hunted for the frigate. Oleg was under sails heading due west. As she gained speed she was lined up to perfectly rake the oncoming two-decker. As the guns started to go off one by one, it was apparent to Johan that the prize crew cast loose the guns and fired them, moving from one gun to the next, without making any effort to reload them.


As HMS Venus tacked through the wind the frigate passed and the name on her stern could be read, Наталия. Looking south Johan studied the 50 gun ship. He knew he was too far away to support Oleg at the moment. He could only watch as the Russian guns on the two gun decks started go off. At least it wasn't a full broadside. Only the foremost guns could be made to bear.


Nataliya bore up but Johan headed south west to assist Oleg in drawing the attention of the heavy ship. He was too late as it fired again at the merchantman. Venus turned starboard, giving a heading straight for the two-decker but at the same time lined up larboard broadside for Nataliya. The guns of HMS Venus spoke out drowning out the guns of the two Russian ships for Johan.


The heavy guns of HMS Venus hit the light frigate hard, causing much damage to the hull and some to the rigging. Only the aft most guns of Nataliya had returned the fire. They still caused trouble hitting the wheel, killing the helmsman, and damaging the rigging.

The two bigger ships were on collision course. Johan ordered men below to steer by moving the tiller directly and put the rudder hard starboard. The Russian ship passed very close to the stern gallery of HMS Venus, unable to use her unloaded guns to rake the Swedish ship after having fired them at Oleg, with little effect, just before. Johan got the name of the two-decker, Aziya.


Johan ordered "Redo styrbords bredsida!" and to the men below to ease off the starboard turn. Both ships turned into the wind and fired their broadsides. The most forward guns of HMS Venus couldn't be trained round far enough, but all the Russian guns bore. Johan knew that he couldn't afford loosing any more exchanges with Aziya.


A sudden gust had made both ships broadsides mostly miss their targets but the heavier Russian ship hadn't been as effected and some cannonball struck home. Johan saw an overturned gun on the gun deck and two more guns being tied down due to a part of the bulwark being destroyed. "Timmermän!" he shouted, calling for the carpenters. He ordered repairs to be made and crew not otherwise engaged to help out. He needed to keep HMS Venus in fighting trim as long as possible. Both ships completed their tacks only for Johan to order to immediately tack again.


The second tack by HMS Venus had not been expected by the Russians. Aziya was out of range and Nataliya was busy repairing when Johan closed in on the smaller frigate. He laughed to himself, "De måste tro att Venus är lovgirig som faan..." and added "och rorsman full." commenting on the tacking.


Johan was sure. The smaller frigate was taking in water. She was slower and sluggish in her moves and not the agile sailer she had been. He was confident that single broadside would take her out of the action. His situation wasn't as bad as it looked, being out matched and outnumbered. His own Venus wasn't that badly hit, but the damage to the sails would make it hard to outsail the Russian two-decker. He had to fight her and she had not suffered much.


He had been right. Nataliya hauled down her colours and heaved to. Johan wanted to put a prize crew on her and keep her as a prize. He wasn't sure how quickly her damage could be fixed, though. Was she sinking or had the holes been plugged? "Jag ämnar sända aderton stabila karlar att borda fregatten. Minst häften båtsmän och en timmermanslärling." he ordered composing the prize crew. "Minska segel!" came soon after, ordering Venus to take in sail. Far away the Russian two-decker tacked.


As the prize crew was climbing down into the boat Johan gave his orders to take possession of the small frigate, make necessary repairs and as soon as deemed safe to set sails for Sweden. They should try to catch up with Oleg and escort her. Johan had no hope of the frigate aiding in the ongoing action, but it's presence may well discourage an attack on Oleg if Venus couldn't catch up. Soon HMS Venus came under sails again. "Styrbord! Styrbord för böfvelen!"


As Aziya headed towards him Johan ordered "Roder två streck styrbord midskepps. Redo kanoner! Vänta..." ordering an easy starboard turn and the gun crews to wait for the right opportunity. It was as if the whole ship held it's breath for a minute until the order came. "Fyr!" The guns roared almost at the same time. The ship shook with the force and the smoke blinded them for a few seconds until the twirls had been blown past them in the brisk wind.


The raking broadside hit home hard, causing damage to the hull and crew.


The crew of Venus worked hard to reload the guns. Johan saw the Russian ship with it's two rows of loaded guns turn hard starboard to line up it's broadside. He noted the gaping holes and missing guns in the rows. It couldn't hit as hard any longer, but Johan still said "Håll i er! Nu brakar helvetet lös."


Aziya wasn't as close as he had thought and the effect was negligible. "Roder babord!" Johan ordered. He wasn't comfortable fighting the heavier ship in close quarters. Venus fell off but Aziya was followed with a tighter turn. The words came, "Kanonerna redo." announcing that the guns were ready. It was answered by an immediate "Fyr!"


Perhaps half of HMS Venus original guns were still working, but the short range made that last broadside really hit home. There were several holes in the hull large enough for a man to walk through and several bodies could be seen. There was also a bright flame from burning gun powder on the lower gundeck. Johan could see dark shapes moving in front of the bright fire. It wasn't an explosion, yet, but some powder must have been spilled and was now burning. Johan wanted to get a bit of distance between the ships if that flame found it's way to prepared charges. Venus kept her larboard turn while Aziya eased up on her turn lining her up for a parting shot.


The broadside was half hearted, perhaps as much to empty the guns to lessen the risk of them exploding in the fire as to inflict damage to Venus, but every ball hitting the side of the frigate still caused damage and she had already taken much. Johan ordered the turn to be widened and to put some distance to the larger Russian ship. "Låt elden göra sitt." he said, continuing "...och om de far åt helvete så går vi fritt." He hoped that the fire would do his work for him.


"Borde vi verkligen giva dem denna respit." was asked by the Lieutenant questioning leaving the Russians time to fight the fire, and Johan replied "Du vill leka med elden, du?" asking if he wanted to play with fire. He walked over to the larboard bullwarks and said confidently "Nej du, låt dem komma till oss när vi är redo. Deras tid är ändå räknad."


As Johan had hoped the Aziya turned to follow Venus east and he ordered the ansvarsstyrman to make the heading due north and the larboard guns to be manned. "Sätt kurs rakt norrut och bemanna babords kanoner." As the frigate turned the gun crews adjusted the aim of their guns, closely following every motion and waiting for the order to fire. The wait was not in vane. The order came. "Fyr!" Ten 22 lb guns and a few of the 5 lb guns fired in succession. Almost every ball of the rolling broadside hit home, many penetrating the already damaged stem going down the gundecks killing gun crews and damaging gun carriages.


The Russian 50 gun two-decker Aziya fell off from the wind and hauled down their colours in surrender. Johan gave the order to tack and take position behind the Russian ship. He felt tired and hungry. His purser came on deck and seeing his captain said "Ska vi tända köket?" asking if the stoves should be lit. "Nog faan kan jag äta. Se till att det finns brännvin med!" Johan answered agreeing. He turned to the Lieutenant saying "Löjtnant, tag fartygen i besittning och rapportera till mig." ordering him to take possession of the ships. He retired to his cabin awaiting food and schnapps. Sitting looking out the stern windows he wondered if this action would make any difference. Difference to the war. Difference to his career. Right now he didn't care.


10-14-2018, 09:08
"Hörde du att ryssarna förlorade ett fartyg med hela krigskassan! Det förliste i dåligt väder." Johan looked at the officer in the tavern talking loudly, commenting on how the Russians supposedly had lost their payroll. He thought about how he had fought hard and long to take the ships, a merchantman, a small frigate carrying the payroll, and the 50 gun two-decker that no doubt was there to protect the others. It hadn't helped. He had managed to take them all. No storm or ice had sunk Nataliya as the officer had thought. She had been taken. He had his damaged ship to prove the battle had taken place. Олег lay in the harbour. She had some hull damage that needed to be repaired but not that much. Наталия and Азия had been taken to dry docks. There were much damage to be repaired if they'd ever sail again. Nataliya's cargo had been taken out of Venus as soon as he had reported the action to the admiralty and they understood what he had captured.

Johan drank down the last of the wine in the glass but left a half full bottle on the table. He couldn't decide if the wine had spoilt or if it was that bad a wine. Leaving the tavern he stepped out into the snow. It was dark and a few gas lights lit the streets of Karlskrona. He put on his hat and pulled up his collar against the wind, muttering "Jag hatar vintern!"

10-14-2018, 11:10
What a marvelous action Jonas.
You certainly pulled one out of the hat there.
Beautiful ship handling by Johan and his crew.
A most enjoyable read.
Thank you very much.

10-14-2018, 11:34
Thank you Rob.

I did a lot of mistakes like forgetting all about a broken mast to the Russian 50. I really should play more often.

10-14-2018, 11:39
Well I really enjoyed it thanks.:happy:
And yes it would be great if we got this quality of AAR more often.
I must get another one sailed myself soon.
Still getting over three days at Doncaster.:minis::drinks::minis::drinks::minis::drinks:

10-14-2018, 12:25
I'm writing the next one, but it will be a while until it's ready.


Thank you for the reputation, Rob.

10-14-2018, 13:58
You are more than welcome Jonas for such a great different nation scenario.

Capn Duff
10-14-2018, 14:45
A nice action there Jonas, really enjoyed the write up, nicely done

10-15-2018, 01:16
Thank you Chris. And also thank you for the reputation.

10-15-2018, 16:00
I tried to make a video showing the positions when the merchantman escaped. I'm not sure it worked that well.


10-16-2018, 02:53
Looks fine to me Jonas.
It also makes a nice change to see a motion picture of our game.

Union Jack
10-19-2018, 18:12
Great write up of a nice little action there Jonas. Nice to see you back behind the wheel.

10-20-2018, 02:55
Thank you Neil.