Febuary: A Matter of time

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Johan Puke was wearing his big woolen coat with the large collar turned up. He was standing on the quarterdeck of his frigate HMS Venus somewhat 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 great at sailing. Her maneauvrability and speed was 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. He suspected these orders had been made out to keep him occupied while political considerations were made about how to reward him for his past success. He didn' care for riches or titles, but a promotion... He really wanted to be captain of a ship of the line. But now he was cruising the Baltic in his frigate, between Finska Viken and Rigabukten, an area where just about anying he would encounter would be Russian or trading with Russia, including Riga and S:t Petersburg, but there would also be a high risk of Russian naval ships.

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, stepped 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 blurr where the gray skies met the cold gray sea while readying his looking glass. There was a yellowish gray spot that in the looking glass could be identified as a ship in roughly the same size as his own. Returning to the quarterdeck he made a small correction to the course, heading for the unknown ship.

Johan made sure that he would engage the other ship from the windward. The other ship had not shown any signs of competing for the wind or turning away. This made Johan cautios 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 merchantman preparing to fight. Venus started turning into the wind to get her most forward guns to bare. Johan told the ansvarsstyrman, "Nedteckna tiden för bataljen." and with a loud shout commanded "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 and as the cannonballs started hitting the target it turned out that the enemy was not quite as brave as it had seemed. Олег quickly hauled down the colours.

The order to heave to came as soon as the colours came down. The boats were already in the water trailing behind. One was brought alongsides to accomodate the small crew of eight and an officer taking possession. Johan hated to loose crew for captured ships. He ordered them to keep close and if they didn't he would take that as a sign that Oleg needed to be retaken. As soon as HMS Venus was slow enough for the boat to be loaded the men started climbing into it, dragging it alongsides. Johan used the time to look closer at the other ships. Upwind there was a smaller frigate of perhaps 30 guns and Johan identified the downwind ship to be a two-decker, also a smaller one of perhaps 50 guns, but still a two-decker.

Soon the rowers were heaving and Venus once again had wind in her sails, sailing close hauled to meet the oncoming frigate. As it turned Johan counted to 32 guns. Perhaps an Astafii-class frigate.
The Merchant set full sails to try to stay on the far side of Venus from the two-decked ship.

Merchant Oleg Олег
Nataliya 32 Наталия
Aziya 54 Азия

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Updated 07-03-2018 at 02:32 by TexaS



  1. Bligh's Avatar
    A most entertaining encounter. At first I was not sure if it was a historical report so well was it written.
    This really strong story line, I trust will be the first of many such for us to enjoy.
    Thanks for the effort you have made Jonas.
  2. TexaS's Avatar
    It was a work in progress version of the first AAR for the Letter of Marque of 2016.
    Updated 06-05-2018 at 02:35 by TexaS