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Thread: AAR: Oct - A Clean Pair of Keels

  1. #1
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    Default AAR: Oct - A Clean Pair of Keels

    Johan Puke looked at the coast of the island Ösel in Livland. Having crossed the western entrance to Rigabukten, HMS Venus sailed northeast close to the northwest corner of the large island. These were enemy waters, rich of prey on their way to the important natural harbour of Riga, but that also meant a heavy presence of enemy naval ships. Johan raised his looking glass to his eye and studied the horizon of the sea, searching for ships. It surprised him when the lookout shouted "Skepp i sikte! Styrbords bog! Fregatt!" That was between themselves and the coast. Running over to the other side of the quarterdeck he saw the frigate. It was a Russian frigate of roughly the same size as HMS Venus, beached on the shore. The name "Архангел Гавриил" was clearly visible on the stern. There was activity around the ship, officers trying to organize the men for a fight but they only had muskets and pistols. Quick orders made the Venus heave to and present the broadside to the men on the beach. It was enough to get the stranded crew to surrender.

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    Talking to crew members of the Russian frigate a strongly built man who was a carpenter's mate told Johan that he was drafted locally and he even spoke good but a little old Swedish. The beaching had been intentional and was due to an unusually troublesome leak. It had been repaired as well as could be done outside a dry dock and they were just waiting for the tide. Johan also learned that due to some sickness among the Russian seamen many local fishermen and craftsmen had been drafted even though their allegiance were rather to Sweden than Russia. It turned out that more than 20 men were willing to sign on with him and with twice that from HMS Venus, Johan thought "Ärkeängel Gabriel" could even be fought.

    Just before the turn of the tide Ärkeängeln Gabriel was warped off and both ships were ready to set sail. The wind had turned to westerly which was a little worrying. Johan had always been weary of a leeward shore. He did not want to get trapped. HMS Venus and Gabriel, now with a small Swedish crew, were weighing anchor and setting sail as the lookout reported "Skepp i sikte! Nära på styrbord."

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    Looking, Johan immediately saw the approaching ship, a 74 gun ship of the line.
    "Faan!" Johan shouted and continued, "Sätt segel!" Turning to the captured frigate Gabriel he roared "Gå babord! Tag skydd bortom oss! Tag inga onödiga risker! Vi tager fördröjningsstrid!" The two frigates gathered speed and followed the coast with Gabriel closer to land. Johan ordered a starboard turn laying HMS Venus with her starboard broadside towards the much larger enemy ship.

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    The enemy got closer and closer, steering straight at the Swedish frigate. Without taking his eyes off the Russian ship, looking for any sign she would start turning Johan gave the order to prepare for tacking, "Klart att vända genom vind". HMS Venus was close-hauled when the range finally had shrunk enough and Johan gave the order "Öppna elden!" The gun captains shouted "Fyr!" one after the other causing the big 24 pound guns to roar out and jump back sending their carefully aimed raking cannonballs at the massive Russian ship.

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    As soon as the last gun had spoken, "Lofva!" was ordered and the nimble frigate turned through the wind, away from the approaching ship. The crew showed how much they had improved during the last few months at sea. Studying the Russian ship Johan noted smoke drifting towards him from the enemy ship. The raking fire must have struck a bucket of fuses that caught something flammable. She was on fire.

    "Ställning till babords kanoner!" Johan ordered. He realized that the Gabriel had turned high into the wind and was coming towards him almost cutting him off.

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    Before passing each others both frigates broadsides spoke out and both raked the Russian ship. It was a murdering fire. Not even a ship of the line could stand for that kind of fire for very long, Johan thought to himself. The fire seemed to have started again and the fore topmast came tumbling down.

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    When the frigates passed each others HMS Venus had to keep her course instead of going hard over on the rudder to avoid colliding. This made her get within the reach of the Russian ship's broadside, albeit only the most forward guns. On the other hand they were close, much closer than Johan ever wanted to be to the big ship of the line. Thankfully it had lost much of it's power from the raging fire and multiple rakings but still hit hard, piercing the hull of the Swedish frigate more than once, thankfully above the waterline.

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    Both frigates turned away from the Russian ship that was close to getting between them. As they got before the wind they gained on her almost avoiding her broadsides while showing their own. The broadside fired by his frigate disappointed Johan. It was fired too low. Some cannonballs struck the sea between the ships sending up plumes of water but most skipped on the water before hitting the stout side of Russian ship of the line, not doing much visible damage. The Gabriel had better effect, making her enemy loose another topmast and causing much splinters flying over the deck. The answering few forward guns struck HMS Venus high mostly making holes in the topsails.

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    HMS Venus passed the bow of the large ship of the line. Should he have held his broadside? If he had been sure of gaining this position he most certainly should have. Ärkeängeln Gabriel passed close by and Johan ordered her to head south and then let him catch up. He once more ordered the wheel hard over preparing to finish off the crippled enemy stumbling about just to windward of him.

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    Being very close he could hear orders being shouted in Russian. He gave orders himself, "Ställning till babords kanoner!" once more ordering the larboard guns to be ready. The severely damaged ship of the line were more drifting than manoeuvring by now. She was low in the water and her bow was much damaged, the figurehead almost completely shot away. HMS Venus came round, her full larboard broadside catching the Russian ship of the line in a raking fire.

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    It wasn't a very effective broadside, but it was enough. The Russian colours came down in surrender.

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    Johan had captured a frigate and forced the surrender of a ship of the line. If this didn't catch the attention of the Admiralty and the ear of his Majesty himself, Johan knew not what would.
    Last edited by TexaS; 01-28-2018 at 10:58.

  2. #2
    Admiral of the Blue.
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    Well Jonas that one should be worth a gong from the King at least. If you are not careful you will be getting promoted to Commodore. Ship handling was superb on both vessels.
    Rob.
    The Business of the commander-in-chief is first to bring an enemy fleet to battle on the most advantageous terms to himself, (I mean that of laying his ships close on board the enemy, as expeditiously as possible); and secondly to continue them there until the business is decided.

  3. #3
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    Well... The Swedish royal navy was a little inconsistent with ranks. At the Gustav III war with Russia (1788-1790), the blue water navy used the same ranks as the archipelago fleet which used army ranks, perhaps due to officers being moved between them. Johan is a major in the stories so far. To my memory the navy was reorganized when the king did his coup d'état in 1772. We still had the Schoutbynacht which was rear admiral though. I really like that title.

    I don't know if I had boring die rolls but the big Russian sailed a little too straight I think only making quite small turns. In the last few turns it had lost two masts if I recall correctly and so wasn't that maneuverable but a 74 can turn very tight in Sails and this didn't. Little of a pity. It would have made things more interesting.

  4. #4
    Admiral of the Blue.
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    Believe me Jonas when you are facing off against a ship that size you don't want things to get too interesting....
    Rob.
    The Business of the commander-in-chief is first to bring an enemy fleet to battle on the most advantageous terms to himself, (I mean that of laying his ships close on board the enemy, as expeditiously as possible); and secondly to continue them there until the business is decided.

  5. #5
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    Very true, Rob.

  6. #6
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    A lovely action of maneuver and skill. Johan's story is expanding with every AAR. Well done on another excellent story. Love the terrain too.

  7. #7
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    Thank you, and thank you for the reputation!

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