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Thread: September 2015 Solo Mission - Fishermans Shoals: By Vagabond Mar 2021

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    Default September 2015 Solo Mission - Fishermans Shoals: By Vagabond Mar 2021

    Ahh it’s good to see you Baptiste, it’s colder than the grave outside, come and pull up a chair, we can chat a little and pass the time. No I’ve not finished my drink, to be honest I was so exhausted by the climb up the hill to the bar that I needed a rest but if you would be so good, I would appreciate a restorative Brandy, yes quite correct the 98 as you know is my favourite and I feel tonight the dread weight of the angel of death on my shoulders so maybe a double or perhaps even a treble will keep him at bay. I’ll just sit here a minute and get my breath back, if you don’t mind.

    Well thank you Baptiste, that is kind of you, I much appreciate your attention. Are you on your own tonight, no Hermione? Yes I understand, looking after her Mother must come first, but you say she will be along later. That cheers me up no end, it encourages me that she has such appreciation for the history of our Navy, no I don’t think so, how could she find the tales of an old man such as I entertaining. Well if you say so I will accept it but I’m feeling weary tonight, not my normal self, so I hope you will bear with me if I’m a little maudlin. Maudlin, yes it’s an English word, I’m not sure we have an equivalent in French, we are not such dour creatures as the Rosbifs but it is a word that suits me this evening.

    Well that feels a little better, the 98 has that effect on me, what about you Baptiste? What do you mean you can’t afford it for yourself, don’t be silly and I’m afraid that one didn’t stay the course and is all gone, would you stop moaning about money and fetch me another, I feel much better now.

    Good – here comes Hermione, oh she is with that fool Pierre.

    Welcome Hermoine it’s a pleasure to see you tonight, I’ve been thinking about our last discussion regarding Sibylle when I was a 3rd Lieutenant and I wondered if you would like to hear about my escape through Fisherman’s Shoals in the Caribbean. Of course you would and here’s your father with my Brandy, I will commence then if you are comfortable.

    This took place a few years later, I’m not sure how long but by this time I was now 1st Lieutenant on the Sibylle and looking forward to a Command of my own. We were carrying urgent dispatches for the Admiralty in France and our instructions were not to be delayed for one second but to break every rule to get there urgently.

    Capitaine de Fregate Robert Auclaire was still in command of Sibylle but he was past his prime and a sick man, the Rosbifs call it The Yellow Jack an apt description, he had caught it in the Caribbean and was laid low in his cabin, so the sailing and day to day command of Sibylle fell to me.

    We were being shadowed by one of the Rosbif’s ships, a frigate, from a distance she looked smaller than Sibylle, but she was fast and kept up with us. I had been improving the men’s sailing skills while the Captain was in his berth and if I say so myself we were a crack sailing frigate, that and the fact that we had a clean bottom meant our pursuer could not close the distance between us, but try as I might I could not break the invisible cord between us and leave her behind.

    I determined we would need to take a big risk to lose him and so I decided to sail through Fisherman’s Shoals. It was a dangerous place, you understand from the name that this was an area of shallow seas, sand banks, treacherous winds and because of the shifting sands our charts were vague and incomplete. I could gain or lose all and to a man such as I, Hermione this was butter to my bread, Hollandaise Sauce to my Asparagus, brandy to my tongue, and now I think of that Baptiste, did you make that last glass a small one because it’s all gone now?

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    I could draw you the layout of the shoals, I can see the chart now but after the last contra temps with Madame over drawing on her table tops I will just describe them for you. At the centre of the shoals was a small island, unusually called Fisherman’s Island, they are not very imaginative in the Caribbean. There is a narrow gap between most of the sandbanks and they are not much above sea level so if a ship was to run aground it would be more of an inconvenience than a danger. To the East are a few rock pinnacles that rise high, straight out of the sea but they are easy to see and so avoid.
    The biggest danger in the area is the wind, it usually blows from one direction in the West of the area and a different direction in the East. One never knows where it will come from and in tight sailing this can make things very difficult and believe me this was a tight sailing situation, it could only be worse if there was a Dobbs current flowing.
    You’ve never heard of a Dobbs current before Hermione? Well I could explain it and maybe sometime I will tell you of my first command, the Brig Marianne and the treacherous waters off the west coast of France, The Raze de Sein, and the other one who’s name eludes me right now. You need to catch the tide at the right time or the Dobbs current will see you on the rocks, either on the off shore islands or the west coast of France.
    Ah I remember now, it is the Channel du Four, I don’t know why my memory plays such tricks on me, it never used to, but to press on with my story or we will be here all night.

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    The ship chasing us had drawn closer as we approached the shoals and I could now make out she was a frigate, an Amazon class I was sure of it. Fine sailing vessels but in a straight fight we would defeat her.

    How do I know, well Hermione it is simple mathematics. We can throw a broadside of shot that is heavier then she could throw. If we fired at the same rate per minute we would throw a greater weight of iron at her than she could throw at us. There are various other imponderables, training, ship handling, strength of the ship even luck but I was confident that we would win in a straight fight.

    Ah, yes Hermione you have hit the nail on the head, we could not afford the time to fight, our mission was one of speed and so this was all irrelevant.

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    I did have some anxiety though, as we entered the shoal area, the lookout shouted down, “sail ahoy” in French you understand, but the sail immediately disappeared behind one of the rock pinnacles at the east end of the shoals and he could not identify the ship.

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    I needed to take us out of the Shoals at the north east side which meant I could chose to go south around Fisherman’s Island or north.

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    I had originally decided to go north of the island and so turned to larboard around one of the great big sandbanks. This would give me an advantageous position and I could see the crew’s eyes brighten when they realized my plan.
    They were like crouching tigers, a feral gleam in their eyes. What Pierre, you ask what a tiger is, you are such a stupid boy at times, it is a huge cat, like Mrs Tibbles there under the chair, they are a brown colour and have a great big mane of hair around their neck and eat antelope and stupid boys. Do not interrupt me again.

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    The slow matches came down to the touch holes and there was a sound like rolling thunder as the canons fired at my command. I’m sorry to say that I had exercised the men hard in the art of sailing, they could hand and reef quickly but we didn’t have the store of powder and ball to practice as hard with the guns, and many of our shots fell wide of the target.

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    The lookout shouted down that he could see the far sail again and she was almost certainly a Frigate but he couldn’t describe her further before she was again out of sight.
    Was she a friend or foe, I could not tell yet but it was better to be prepared and assume she was an enemy ship so we should not be caught napping as the Rosbifs like to say, when they are sound asleep.

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    Pass me the beer bottles again Baptiste and I will show you the overall position of the 3 ships.

    These pretzels are the wind direction and you can see the problem I had. Yes Hermione, we had a favourable wind in the west but I could see by the whitecaps that the wind would be against us once we moved more to the east and what ever ship we faced there would have the wind in their favour.

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    Our chasing angel of death was only able to bring her starboard bow battery to bear and her shooting was even worse than ours one or two balls hit and caused little damage. The ship in front of us could be seen clearly now, she was an enemy and had all the advantages of the wind.
    In situations like these my mind runs at such a speed, calculating angles, wind speed, sail settings, a hundred different things can be computed instantly by a sailor of experience and wisdom.
    By this time I knew that to go north around the island would be folly and so I decided to run in a south easterly direction keeping a long low sandbar between the new enemy and ourselves, then tacking around behind him and making our escape to the north east.

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    As our guns came to bear we fired on the new ship, who was almost certainly another Amazon Class Frigate, but the most amazing thing happened. A lucky ball hit her foremast and it fell, oh so slowly at first but then gathering speed before it hit the water with a tremendous splash and she slewed around with the drag of it acting just like a drogue anchor in the water.

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    The mast had fallen over her starboard bow and consequently she slewed that way, it meant she could fire her full broadside at us which caused great distress to both the men and my ship, but I knew we were safe from her at least and so we just had to play cat and mouse with our original pursuer.

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    I was watching her closely and was cheered by the sight of a wind shift that pushed her hard in the direction of Fisherman’s Island, it looked as if she would almost certainly run aground and this would be much more serious than running aground on the soft low sandbanks of the shoals.

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    The crew cheered when they saw both the Rosbifs ships run aground on Fisherman’s Island and of course I issued a large tot of rum (What did the French Navy drink, Brandy, Calvados, Grappa, Rum?) to celebrate.

    The men deserved the reward, they had fought and sailed well. We made a fast passage and I was warmly commended when we arrived in La Rochelle with our despatches.

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    Well talking of Rum or Brandy, it would be a nice gesture Baptiste if you would ask Madame for a parting glass of the 98 for me and then I will wend my way to bed.

    Thank you for your company tonight Hermione, I came here maudlin, yes ask your Father for it’s meaning and I leave a much happier man for having your company tonight and being allowed to reminisce of past glories.

  2. #2
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    Played another blinder John.

    A lot of these games were set up with a degree of difficulty to test the unwary, but not with Dobb's extra realistic sailing moves in mind which were developed much later, so you were wise indeed to avoid his special sailing rules for this one.

    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.

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    Well sailed, John. One wonders, if as the story progresses if the proprietor isnít tempted to dilute or, saints preserve us, substitute the 98. I hear the stores are getting quite low on the 98.

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    A nightmare to navigate around the islands and shoals and still wage war! Well done John. A very enjoyable AAR.

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    Another delightful tale, John! I really want to try my hand at storytelling the way you do it!

    Here's a link to the real-life application of the Dobbs' current.

    https://waldenrigging.com/sailing-gr...ston/22/3/2019

    Off to the right of the video of reaching in Charleston harbor is Fort Sumter. It was my intention to get pictures of Fort Moltrie, which was around during our period, but the wind got spicy and a cargo ship showed up at an inappropriate time. Fort Moltrie would have been off to the left if it had been visible.
    Last edited by Dobbs; 03-15-2021 at 19:00.

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    Thanks for posting this Dobbs.
    It was most interesting to see those famous sights from out at sea instead of from the landward side.
    Rob.
    Last edited by Bligh; 03-16-2021 at 02:11.
    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bligh View Post
    Played another blinder John.

    A lot of these games were set up with a degree of difficulty to test the unwary, but not with Dobb's extra realistic sailing moves in mind which were developed much later, so you were wise indeed to avoid his special sailing rules for this one.

    Rob.


    Rob thanks for the Rep, glad you enjoyed it.

    I think this would be a pretty good layout to try Dobbs current rules as a sailing test but not necessarily as a fight unless against an opponent. I actually made the moves for the enemy, dicing for decisions on which way to go. I keep looking at the pictures where the chasing ship runs aground trying to work out how that happened. I think the move I was intending was with the wind in the green area and she would have travelled further and on a tighter turn, but the wind shifted into the orange and by not getting such a tight turn she hit the island.

    Either that or the Calvados affected my judgement - but I don't believe that can be true.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ShadowDragon View Post
    Well sailed, John. One wonders, if as the story progresses if the proprietor isn’t tempted to dilute or, saints preserve us, substitute the 98. I hear the stores are getting quite low on the 98.
    She's tried to substitute with Brandy from a different coloured bottle once but we came to the understanding that she wouldn't do it again if I stopped drawing on her table tops.
    Cheers and thanks for the Rep

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    Quote Originally Posted by Continentaleye View Post
    A nightmare to navigate around the islands and shoals and still wage war! Well done John. A very enjoyable AAR.
    Thanks Anthony, both myself and ShadowDragon have been playing through the old campaign scenarios over the last few months and there are some excellent ones that are as much about sailing as about combat and I've thoroughly enjoyed them. The guy's here have been very imaginative with what they came up with.
    I would strongly recommend having a look at the sticky post that describes the scenarios because you can pick and chose ones that suit your expectations from the game.
    Cheers

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dobbs View Post
    Another delightful tale, John! I really want to try my hand at storytelling the way you do it!

    Here's a link to the real-life application of the Dobbs' current.

    https://waldenrigging.com/sailing-gr...ston/22/3/2019

    Off to the right of the video of reaching in Charleston harbor is Fort Sumter. It was my intention to get pictures of Fort Moltrie, which was around during our period, but the wind got spicy and a cargo ship showed up at an inappropriate time. Fort Moltrie would have been off to the left if it had been visible.
    Thanks for the Rep Dobbs, as for the story just go for it, I always enjoy a game report.

    I like your idea of going backward to stem the current, it would have been interesting to see the faces of the guy's in the power boat. With having a longish fin keel we always kick to port and I don't seem to be able to do anything about it, without more than a modicum of luck and a bit of wind from the right direction, but I'm always too out of control to risk it.
    4 Kts of current is an interesting experience

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    What I would give for a long fin keel! We have a 3'draft full keel. Grace doesn't back reliably at all, or at least I should say she has her own rules.

    We were in forward while going through the cut. It was just that the bow was pointing the way that we'd come, not the way we were going. I figured that I could let the current sweep us along with only little nudges to maintain position. If need be, could bring the boat to a complete stop relative to the land by running the engine at full power in forward. If I had gone in facing with the current, we would have been traveling like a dart with no room to maneuver, practical reverse not being an option.
    Last edited by Dobbs; 03-16-2021 at 13:55.

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    Out of what did you make your shoals, John? They look very nice in the pictures. I've been considering all kinds of things to make thin shoals that won't slide around, like 0.020 plastic sheets and buttering the backs with rubber cement.

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    My shoals were made from a wargames accessory. A rubberized sand dune. I just cut it up into strips and it works very well.
    I will post pictures tomorrow. It's a bit late at night here for starting to get things out of boxes.

    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.

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    Here is my sand dune Dobbs.
    Attached Images Attached Images  
    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.

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    And these are the shoals I produced by cutting it up.
    Attached Images Attached Images  
    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dobbs View Post
    What I would give for a long fin keel! We have a 3'draft full keel. Grace doesn't back reliably at all, or at least I should say she has her own rules.

    We were in forward while going through the cut. It was just that the bow was pointing the way that we'd come, not the way we were going. I figured that I could let the current sweep us along with only little nudges to maintain position. If need be, could bring the boat to a complete stop relative to the land by running the engine at full power in forward. If I had gone in facing with the current, we would have been traveling like a dart with no room to maneuver, practical reverse not being an option.
    That's a really interesting idea, quite a scary idea as well. I can understand the theory of it but it's a bloody bold thing to do the first time to see if it works. Hats off to you.

    Don't you be so happy about a long fin keel, our previous and first boat was a long keel with a cut away fore foot and I could reverse her. She was 31' and tiller steering and with full rudder we would go to port and with full opposite rudder we could go to starboard, so I could steer like a snake in reverse curves but reasonably confident over a distance I would end up where I was going. With our current boat she just goes to port. I've seen a guy reverse and then power forward to straighten up and the reverse again ad infinitum, eventually making it the the wall. This was in Greece with a bow anchor out and stern mooring to the wall, he was good and it wasn't easy.

    The shoals were just yellow paper cut to shape, strangely when I retired a few stationary bits and pieces got stuck to my fingers. Cheap and easy. I don't have any draughts in my room so they stayed still.

    Rob yours look very professional, but I wouldn't expect anything less.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vagabond View Post
    Rob yours look very professional, but I wouldn't expect anything less.
    Not really most of the work was already done. I only wish I could find the supplier I got them from. It was at Hammerhead one year.

    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bligh View Post
    Not really most of the work was already done. I only wish I could find the supplier I got them from. It was at Hammerhead one year.

    Rob.
    If you knew which year you could probably find their name from the organisers but if like me one year seems to slide into the next it might be harder than it sounds.

  19. #19
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    Exactly John.
    It may have even been at Partizan. They are both at the same venue! Then who is to say that the firm is still going?
    Rob.
    Last edited by Bligh; 03-20-2021 at 13:36.
    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.

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    The last time I went to Partizan was when it was still in the Stately Home, beautiful building but a poor venue. The Newark Showground is an ideal venue, light, airy, plenty of parking and when Hammerhead has been on theres a dog show as well. I usually call in there before going on to Hammerhead, mind I've probably only been there 3 or 4 times and still have most of the unpainted lead fron each visit.

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    Partizan at Newark Leasure Centre was the first game that our school club put on. That was way before it moved to Kelham Hall and we did the Brandywine. Laurence Baldwin who ran it had his son at our school and that was how we got in on it, and where I first met Duncan McFarlane when he came to photograph the game for Miniature Wargames. I did the only write up that I have ever had published for that photo, and Duncan not only paid me for it but supported our club activities for years after when we started our own show as the Fife and Drum Wargames Club.

    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.

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