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Sea Legends: historical sources for inspiration


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On smuggling in the 18th century in England, I found interesting sources: 

- E.K. Chatterton, 1912. King's Cutters and Smugglers, 1700-1855, George Allen & Company, London, 425 pp., free e-book online: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/17563

- Julian Stockwin's Kydd series "The Admiral's Daughter" (Commander Kydd is trying to bring down smuggling in Cornwales with his sloop HMS Teazer; very detailed descriptions and breath-taking novel)

- a PhD thesis (1996) online (well, a bit harsh to read ;-): http://oro.open.ac.uk/57643/

https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/guides/z2cqrwx/revision/3 : summary 

http://www.smuggling.co.uk/history.html : detailed website on smuggling's history, mainly based on the following book: 



Binding: paperback

Extent: 224 pages

Publisher: The History Press

ISBN: 978-0-7524-6359-9

Price: £12.99




A Revenue cruiser chases a smuggling lugger. Before firing on a smuggler the cruiser was bound to hoist his Revenue colours—both pennant and ensign—no matter whether day or night.
From a painting by Charles Dixon that appeared in Chatterton's King's Cutters & Smugglers 191912(http://www.smuggling.co.uk/history_crossing.html)


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  • 1 month later...

Hi everybody,

Can't wait for the first insight in the game...

I gathered some interesting elements from historical facts on (British) privateers which could inspire Admin to simulate a privateer’s career.

Game limitations and fun requirements of course do not allow to simulate in detail all of those elements (especially the management aspects before and after cruises at sea). But some aspects could be introduced in a simple way for better immersion: through animations (like in FIFA (career), KCD, etc.), pictures (reproduction of a letter of marque, period paintings and engravings of ships, battles, ports, famous captains, etc…), through the user interface or through simple AI calculations (eg prize court proceedings and (chance) results, like rolling the dice in a boardgame).

As regards my sources, I have not made intensive research and I guess Admin already has most of the info, as the SL website suggests. So don’t hesitate to signal approximations or to complete the info !

My sources are mainly : Wikipedia, v° “Privateer”, “Letter of marque”, “Prize law”; Commander Statham, 1910. Privateers and privateering, London, Hutchinson and co, free (old) e-book online on https://www.gutenberg.org/files/36475/36475-h/36475-h.htm) (fascinating straight historical account of (British but also French and American) privateers’ life and actions, with many anecdotes; ); Julian Stockwin’s Kydd serie, volume “Treachery” (excellent and very documented novel on the short Kydd’s career as a privateer based in Guernsey; with many interesting details on early XIXth century privateer’s cruises and prize law); [EDIT: A. Konstam & A Mc Bride, Privateers and pirates 1730-1830, Osprey Military n° 74, 2001, 64 pp. (concised but very detailed and interesting account on privateers in XVIIIth and early XIXth century)]. I also ordered Petrie, Donald A., 1999, Prize Game, The: Lawful Looting on the High Seas in the Days of Fighting Sail. ISBN 0-425-17829-3

A fascinating source of merchant and privateer ship drawings is the famous Chapman’s Architectoria Navalis Mercatoria (Stockholm, 1768), which has been digitalized by the Stockholm Maritime Museum and indexed in an excellent german website, with a long list of ships of the period, with info on ship's rigging, length, breadth, draught and loading capacity in tons, the number of guns in warships and privateers, their crews, and the number of oars in small boats (Admin might already know this site from NA ?). Each type of ship is illustrated by a plan available online (https://www.finemodelships.com/ship-plans/Chapman_Architectura_eng.htm). The same website also indexes all the plans (more than 1000 !) published in the Atlas du Génie maritime (index translated in English)(https://www.finemodelships.com/ship-plans/plans-Atlas-du-Genie-Maritime.htm), but most ships illustrated were launched later in the XIXth century.

Sorry, it is a very long post, so I will it divide in several posts.



East Indiaman Kent battling Confiance, a privateer vessel commanded by French corsair Robert Surcouf in October 1800, as depicted in a painting by Ambroise Louis Garneray. (source: http://www.wikiwand.com/en/Privateer)


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1        1. Career overview


a.       The privateer’s colourful life included:

-          negotiations with a ship owner (not always the investor) and the authority to allow a ship to cruise and attack enemy merchant vessels,

-          planning and operating independent cruises in the area and against the nation indicated in the letter of marque;

-          returning captured vessels (with a prize crew) to port,  

-          bringing captured vessels and cargoes before prize court to get it  ‘condemned’ (as enemy ship and cargo) and sold at auction, the benefit of it being shared between the authority, the ship owner, the captain and his crew (see infra),

-          expending and investing the money earned in more or less profitable projects. 



b.       Motivations for privateering :

Each protagonist of privateering had his own motivations:

                                                               i.      Authority delivering the commission : to create an auxiliary force aside its navy to destroy the enemy trade and to get income

                                                             ii.      Private investors: profit, return on investment; reduce competition with foreign traders

                                                           iii.      Captain: personal fortune and/or reputation ; living an adventurous life, perceived as ‘romantic’, of ‘lawful piracy’; contributing to the effort of war, etc. (these should be the final rewards of a captain’s career)

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1           2. Negotiations and cruise preparation

[EDIT: When war was declared, the government passed a General Prize Act or a similar form of legislation to legitimize privateering (Konstam & Mc Bride, 2001).] Privateers were hired by a private sponsor for specific cruises, under a letter of marque issued by a competent authority. Cruises had to follow different steps and were subject to negociations between several stakehoders before going to sea:

a.       Agreement [EDIT: or contract] (‘memorandum and articles of association’) between a private investor or a consortium of investors (commercial companies, individual investors (merchants of a city,…), rich privateers going independent, etc.), the ship owner if he is different, and a captain to finance a cruise, including provisions as regards, for instance[1]:

                                                               i.      Captain’s wage

                                                             ii.      Shares in prize money (see infra)

                                                           iii.      Rules on the conduct of the voyage (as there were no Admiralty regulations nor articles of war applicable), binding for seamen who had to sign them:

1.       Obeying lawful orders

2.       Refraining from insolence and disorderly conduct

3.       In combat, cowardice or flinching in action implies the loss of share in the prize; on the contrary, the first man to board a resisting prize was rewarded; no pillage tolerated

                                                           iv.      No extra privileges to officers other than the captain

                                                             v.      ‘Insurance’ (financial compensation) for injured seamen: in Stockwin’s Treachery: none to suffer loss of wages or prize money if put ashore with illness or injury caused in the line of duty

                                                           vi.      Payment: all monies due a seaman to be payable within 3 months of the end of the voyage

b.       Selection of the ship for a cruise: either by the ship owner only or by the captain himself, provided ship owner’s approbation 

c.       Letter of marque : the ship owner applied for a letter of marque:

                                                               i.      the letter of marque [EDIT: or letter of reprisal] was the official Government commission of war (granted to a ship rather than to a captain; in Britain, it was issued by the High Court of Admiralty) that allowed the privateer to attack and capture a vessel from an enemy nation without being considered as a pirate; it had to be produced  to the prize’s captain to legally capture the ship;

                                                             ii.      the letter of marque indicated [EDIT: the names of the ship owner(s) (and their town of origin) and the names of the captain and the senior officers; the name of the vessel, tonnage, crew size and armament (making the documents uniquely tailored for one ship: Konstam & Mc Bride, 2001],  where and when and against which nations the cruise could proceed (interesting as limited time for cruise is an incentive to intensify activity and introduces a thrilling pace to the game);

                                                           iii.      to get a letter of marque, the ship owner [EDIT: or a consortium of ship owners] “would send in an application stating the name, description, tonnage, and force (armaments) of the vessel, the name and residence of the owner, and the intended number of crew, and tendered a bond promising strict observance of the country's laws and treaties and of international laws and customs” (Wikipedia, v° Letter of marque); [EDIT: in France and Britain, the application was made to the Admiralty; in America, to the state governor].

                                                           iv.      According to J Stockwin, it was necessary for the ship owner to provide for sureties on the commander against his good conduct (1500 £!) (p. 216)[; EDIT: according to Konstam & Mc Bride, 2001,  "in addition to the application for the letter, the government almost always established rules under which privateers were required to operate. Ship owners or investors were usually required to post a bond with the government to guarantee the good behaviour of the privateering crew. In 1812, this was set at between $5000 and $10000 in the United States, or between £1500 and £3000 in Britain or Canada, depending on the size of vessel and crew". Those letters of marque and government instructions "were vital parts of the waging of maritime war by the late 18th century, and the system was recognised through the maritime world".]

                                                             v.      it was a common practice for non-scrupulous privateer captains to cruise under a letter of marque of dubious validity (issued by small nations under flags of convenience for instance, by non-competent authorities or received thanks to bribery); the difference btw privateers and pirates was sometimes very thin;




British Letter of marque – 1813 - Dated 22 October 1813, London. To John Banner, Commander of Swiftsure. To "seize and take the ships, vessels and goods belonging to the United States of America." (Folio document (63.5 x 58 cm.) with the seal of George the Third attached.) This document has not been transcribed in full, but may be viewed in the Navy Department Library. (online at https://www.history.navy.mil/research/library/manuscripts/k-l/british-letter-of-marque-1813.html)

[1] From the extremely documented novel of J. Stockwin in his Kydd’s serie, Treachery, p. 211.

Edited by Bonden
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       3.    Investment needed for a cruise

The investor had to provide funding (= budget for the player) for :

a.       Ship’s purchase

b.       Rigging and fitting out ; prettying the ship (decoration, paint scheme,…)

c.       Armament (guns and/or carronades ; boarding weapons) and boats

d.       Navigation instruments (sextant, barometer, chronometer, watch, compass,…) and charts or maps (French charts were expensive but precious for British coastal privateers), indispensable to plan missions on coasts

e.       Food and drink for the cruise

f.        Repair and maintenance, harbour dues, wharfage

g.       Hiring crew (including experienced pilot, gunner, …)

h.       “Insurance” for the crew if injured or dead (for the widow/kids).

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1      4.   Ships involved in cruises

a.       Types of cruise (inducing different types of ship)(my distinctions)

                                                               i.      Coastal privateer: shallows, coastal navigation; prey on small fry

                                                             ii.      “Blue-water” privateer: deep sea, high sea navigation; prey on bigger merchantman, treasure ships

b.       Criteria to select and to arm a ship [EDIT:or to build a specially-fitted ship for privateering] (according to type of cruise):

                                                               i.      Maneuverability, speed (for chasing and fleeing), close-hauled performance, [EDIT: all-weather performance, especially in strong breezes, was also vital, as the ship would carry as most sail possible, so a compromise had to be found between a slim and sleek hull and strength/robustness of frames and masts to withstand with pressures imposed by a large spread of sail; as only a small ordnance was used, the stress by gunfire was less important]

                                                             ii.      Limited crew necessary for maneuver and guns (the more seamen, the more expensive for the investor and the less prize money for all parties…; square-riggers required more crew than fore-and-aft ships); [EDIT: however, privateers had a comparatively large crew compared with the merchantmen and needed crew to man prize vessels

                                                           iii.      Holding capacity for prize-crew and cargo; [EDIT: according to Konstam & Mc Bride, 2001, however, there was little requirement for extensive hold space for stores or provisions as cruises were extending only on a short period and as most cargoes were shipped with the prize vessel to port, rather than transferred to the privateer herself; only particularly valuable cargoes would be transferred]

                                                           iv.      Shallow draught (for coastal privateers)

                                                             v.      Similarity to a merchant ship (for deception tricks)

                                  [EDIT: Armament was less important, although firepower was necessary to overawe any merchant ship it came across. The idea was not to fight enemy warships or well-armed merchantmen in conventional sea battles, but to capture ship by intimidation, preferably without damaging her hull or cargo (Konstam & Mc Bride, 2001)]

c.       Types of ship used by privateers (the following distinctions are mine):

                                                               i.      Coastal privateer, preferably with shallow draught : lugger, cutter, brig, chasse-marée, xebec, other refitted coastal merchant ship.

                                                             ii.      ‘Blue-water’ privateer : schooner, brigantine, snow, ketch, brig, barque and other refitted bigger merchant ship; corvette or frigate; [EDIT: sometimes, especially during the War of 1812, American shipyards produced a range of specially-built "super-privateers" (mostly schooners), bigger and more armed than usual privateers. One of the most famous was the Prince de Neufchâtel, built in NY following the designs of contemporary French privateers. She was about 130 ft long, carried 18 guns (mostly carronades), with long 18-pdrs as bow chasers. She used the French port of Cherbourg as her base. She was considered as one of the best of her period, combining power, speed and superb handling qualities. She was captured off Nantucket Shoals in 1814 - Konstam & Mc Bride, 2001]

                                                           iii.      Armed merchantman (also called “ letter of marque”); only for occasional (legal) capture of an enemy merchantman (these ships were commissioned under the East India Company for instance); I guess it won’t be simulated here

d.       Prize/target ships (enemy nations vary according to state of war and nation)

                                                               i.      Coastal merchant ships (important regional variation in size and rigging: barques, feluccas, brigs, tartanes, trabaccolo, luggers, …)

                                                             ii.      Deep blue (bigger, sometimes armed) merchantmen, indiamen and treasure ships

e.       Enemy privateers and warships, gunboats near port

f.       British warships, interested in pressing privateers’ crew (even at sea)




                                                                            Ship "le Renard", replica of the privateer cutter of Robert Surcouf in 1813. © Photo Eugène Le Droff (source : FuturaSciences)


                                                                US Privateer Lynx (Source: Lynx Educational Foundation - Youtube)



                                           Chasse-Marée engraving by Baugean


Trabaccolo (by Baugean) (Adriatic sea)


Thomas Whitcombe

A merchantman in two positions off the South coast oil on canvas 24 x 36 in. (61 x 91.4 cm)

(source: Rountree Ryon Galeries)


John Cleveley Snr The East Indiaman Princess Royal at the Downs on her maiden voyage to and from China, 9th July 1771 oil on canvas 31¼ x 44½ in. (79.4 x 113 cm) (source: Rountree Ryon Galeries)


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                   6. Crew recruitment and management

a.       Cruises were advertized in newspapers, [EDIT: in taverns] and on billboards in port

b.       Crew included, in variable number according to ship’s size and type:

                                                               i.      Officers : ‘lieutenant’, boatswain, gunner,  master/pilot; some of them were designated as ‘prize-captains’ [EDIT: actually, it seems that more officers than usually required in a similar merchant ship were hired for privateering, precisely to allow them to become 'prize captains' or 'prize-masters' and bring back the prizes]

                                                             ii.      Artificers and artisans (carpenter, sailmaker, armourer), cook

                                                           iii.      Seamen

                                                           iv.      Ship’s boys

c.       Crew was needed to manoeuver the ship, operate (small) guns and bring prize home; so, privateer’s crew was more numerous than in a comparable merchant ship; that said, privateers ships were chosen, a.o., to reduce the need in seamen (supra);

d.       Recruitment  : [EDIT: a) officers would be selected "through reputation as sea captains, or occasionnally appointed because of family connection or because of their own financial investment in the privateering venture (...) It was not in the owner's interests to appoint captains who did not ave the experience needed to undertake the challenging tasks required of them, or to have men who lacked the respect of the crew"; in place of midshipmen, some 'gentlemen volunteers' were hired (toact as marine guard, to maintain order in the ship, to act as sharpshooter, to lead a boarding party or even to return a prize back to port, although there was no requirement to train them to become officers (Konstam & Mc Bride, 2001);  b)] seamen availability varied according to zone, period (later in the war, (unprotected) seamen were rare as they were pressed), captain’s reputation and financial opportunity (prizes’ abundance in the cruise area, share in prize money)[; EDIT: most government instructions specified the hiring of a certain percentage of landsmen, "a device used to expand the available pool of labour. The crew were usually recruited for a specific duration, or for a single voyage, and paid off when the ship returned to port" (id.). Around 2/3 of the crew were experienced seamen, 1/3 were landsmen, as it was required by the government instructions. Most were in their 20s, few were older than 40].  

e.       Morale : function of the cruise potential in prize, the captain’s success, luck and reputation, the food, the level of ‘insurance’ for seamen in case of wound or death and of course the share in prize money;

f.        Discipline : no Articles of war were applicable in privateer ships ; the articles of association provided some simple binding rules signed by the seamen (supra); otherwise, discipline was ensured mainly through respect / reputation ; without it, difficult (risk of mutiny)

g.       Organization of prize crew: need for extra crew to send prize crew (à increased cost for investors); means that the ship was overcrowded at the beginning of the cruise;



Bermuda Gazette of 12 November 1796, calling for privateering against Spain and its allies during the 1796 to 1808 Anglo-Spanish War, and with advertisements for crew for two privateer vessels. (Source: Wikiwand, v° Privateer)

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                     7. Missions


a.       Individual and independant cruise chasing enemy merchant ships in a designated area for a limited period of time (this was negociated by the captain and/or the ship owner); included:

                                                               i.      Contact and identification of the enemy ships (tricky task, as many ships were sailing under false colors or without any flag; sometimes, bad surprises, as some warships also used deception as war trick !)[EDIT: a look-out in the mast of a typical privateering schooner of the period could expect to see about 15 miles in good visibility; look-outs were rewarded with a financial bonus, to encourage them to maintain a sharp watch - from Konstam & Mc Bride, 2001].

                                                             ii.      Chase and interception (whatever the flag hoisted or even if there was no flag); must hoist the true flag before any shot was fired[1] [; EDIT: most attacks occured at night or in bad visibility (fog,...), and if possible by surprise, lurking behind a land mass or an island. After interception and a shot over the bows, most merchant ships would surrender without fight ; sometimes, boarding was necessary; the use of guns as limited as possible to avoid to damage the cargo or to sink the ship - id.; EDIT : attacks could also occur by boat from a disguized privateer (like in Hornblower and the Atropos, chap. 8, where a French trawler is masquerading as an English fishing boat, anchors in the fog in the Downs among British ships and captures a merchant brig by sending a boat with boarders and a prize-master)]

                                                           iii.      Boarding followed either by the control of the legal protections (if neutral) or a combat/capture of the ship (if identified enemy or neutral running blockade) [EDIT: a financial incentive was rewarded to the volunteers for boarding]

                                                           iv.      Prize crew allocation to bring back the prize in port

                                                             v.      Prisoners management (under the law of war)

                                                           vi.      Prize’s return to port (by a prize-captain and a limited crew)

                                                          vii.      Possible combat with (or, in most case, fleeing from) enemy warships or privateers [EDIT: action between privateers or with Navy ships was rare, and only attempted when the prize was especially valuable - Konstam & Mc Bride, 2001]

                                                        viii.      End of the cruise (return to port with prizes; prisoners handling; proceedings before the admiralty court)

b.       Occasional capture of merchant ship (by armed merchantman)

c.       Cruise in teams of 2-3 privateers

[EDIT: d. Convoy attacks: most attacks on convoys were made at night, so during darkness hours, the convoy would reduce sail and cluster as close together as possible. Privateers had more chance if several vessels attacked as a group of 2 or 3, sometimes more (like Uboats in WWII), most often during the night, fog or in bad weather (as then ships could not cluster in tight formations). One would lure the guarding warship(s) and the others would board and capture some merchant ships - from Konstam & Mc Bride, 2001]



Boarding of the Triton by Surcouf


"Le retour des corsaires - 1806", par Maurice Orange, fin XIXe siècle. Musée du Vieux Granville, Granville, Normandie. © Wikimedia Commons, domaine public. 

[1] According to Wikipedia, “Firing under a false flag could cost dearly in prize court proceedings, even result in restitution to the captured vessel's owner”.

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                 8. Prize management under prize law (for detail see Wikipedia, v° Prize Law)


a.       To be sold, the captured vessel and its cargo had to be brought before an Admiralty court in a proceeding, sometimes very long, aiming at the ‘condemnation’[1] of the ship and its cargo (which occurred only if the letter of marque was valid, if the cruise was compliant with this document and if the captured vessel was an enemy vessel, as indicated in the letter of marque). If the vessel and its cargo were condemned, it was put for sale at auction (imo, it would be nice to simulate the possible delay in prize condemnation (especially if the prize was neutral), as it has consequences on cash flow for the captain and payment to seamen)


 Advertising for the auction of the prize Chelmers of London, brig captured by the French privateer Junon in 1810 (Source: Wikipedia)


(source: http://www.articles1781.com/Prize Courts.html)

                                                               i.      The price obtained was shared according to articles of association, save the share for the government (1/10 for the authority issuing the letter of marque in France at least; in Britain, I did not find the info)

                                                             ii.      in Kydd’s Treachery (p. 211), the articles provided:

1.       5/8 for the investors

2.       3/8 for the crew

a.       60 shares for the captain

b.       30 shares for the officer(s)

c.       15 shares for  the boatswain, the gunner and other valuable members

d.       12 to 2 shares for the seamen.

b.        if the court refused to condemn the vessel, it could be reclaimed by its original owner together with financial compensation, making the cruise less profitable or even a financial disaster;

c.       if the letter of marque was considered invalid, the captain could be considered as a pirate and hanged as such (it was the case of Captain William Kidd in 1701); 

d.     If prize could not be brought to court for practical / technical reason (shortage of crew, bad weather, etc.), it was an accepted and lawful practice to ransom the captured ship (rather than destroying it) and ask the ship’s master to sign a document acknowledging debt (IOU, scrip).

[1] The proceeding was directed against the vessel itself and its cargo (‘in rem’ proceeding), which were condemned as an enemy vessel/cargo.

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                   9.  Fortune of war : risks and opportunities


a.       Risks :

                                                               i.      Unsuccessful cruise (no merchant ships present in the area at the moment of cruise  – ‘no sport’; linked to seasonal factors like trade winds etc.)

                                                             ii.      Wrong identification or qualification of a prize as an enemy ship or equivalent  (in case of neutral nation: neutral vessels could be captured only if they ran blockades or violated neutrality rules – eg transporting enemy goods; the legal status of captured neutral vessels was complex and subject to intense discussions in court) ;

                                                           iii.      Loss of the ship/cargo or damage from

1.       Combat (enemy frigate or brig, gunboats near enemy port, heavily armed merchant,…)

2.       Bad weather / grounding / shipwreck 

3.       Mutiny



Nicholas Pocock

Captain Jeremiah Coghlan's ship the 'Renard' engaging the French privateer the 'General Ernouf' off Haiti, 1805; The destruction of the 'General Ernouf' by the 'Renard' (oil on canvas 19½ x 29½ in. (49.5 x 75 cm), a pair)(source: Rountree Ryon Galeries)


                                                           iv.      Loss of the crew from

1.       Operation, combat or capture by an enemy ship; the crew of privateer ships could claim to be treated as prisoners of war and not as pirates

2.       Press from Royal Navy (at sea or in port) (unless crew members are legally protected against press)

3.       Recapture of the prize (prize crew loss)

4.       Mutiny

                                                             v.      Captain’s death, illness and injuries or capture during operation and combat

                                                           vi.      Loss of the prize or its cargo during chase or combat (shot through the hull, fire,…) or during its return to port (recapture, shipwreck,…)

                                                          vii.      Contestation of legality of the capture (esp. for neutral ships) or of the validity of the letter of marque in court, which, at best, could lengthen the proceedings and the payment or, at worst, could lead to the dismissal of the claim  (with important financial consequences, or even death if the letter of marque was considered as invalid by the court, see infra)

                                                        viii.      Dissolution of the agreement with the sponsor/ship owner (because lack of success, ship loss or financial problems in court), end of validity of the letter of marque (including if a peace treaty was signed) and no cruise perspectives

b.       Opportunities:

                                                               i.      Possibility of amassing a fortune in few cruises

                                                             ii.      Possibility of getting fame and reputation as privateer’s captain (see famous privateers like Surcouf etc.)

                                                           iii.      Significant contribution to the effort of war

                                                           iv.      Adventurous life

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                   10. Prize money management by the captain (or a bank/agent for him):


a.       Investing in the ship (upgrading, beautify it or buying a new one) and her crew (experienced pilot or gunner,…)

b.       Funding his own cruise and hiring privateers (= becoming an investor)

c.       Investing in industry, stock exchange and other more or less profitable projects

d.       Expending money on real estate (big mansion, etc.) or on more futile (but good for morale) shore’s pleasures...




Saint Peter Port, Guernsey Hauteville House at 38 Rue Hauteville, built in 1800 by an English privateer and Victor Hugo’s home during his exile from France

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                  10. Important Captain’ skills for a successful career:


a.       Leadership (as discipline was much more difficult to enforce than in Navy ships)

b.       Courage, daring, intelligence and creativity (eg to get close to merchant ships unnoticed, using false flag, etc.)

c.       Physical strength, stamina

d.       Seamanship, naval combat and tactical skills and experience

e.        (Coastal) navigation skills and experience in the area

f.        Organizational and management skills (missions, crew, prizes, ship, money, etc.)



                      French privateer Robert Surcouf


                                                Commodore George Walker (before 1700 - 1777), ca. 1750 (source: Wikipedia)

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5 minutes ago, Bonden said:

PS: sorry I realize that many illustrations are too big files for be accepted (I will try to reduce the size)

It is weird, some images are very light (80 ko) and cannot be uploaded

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1 hour ago, admin said:

please use imgur.com and then you can just link any image size here


Thanks. What I see is that the max total size left to attach a new file Under the last posts is …0.02 MB

And I a bit of an ignorant as regards IT… I don't understand how to use Imgur.com for that purpose




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5 minutes ago, Bonden said:

Thanks. What I see is that the max total size left to attach a new file Under the last posts is …0.02 MB

And I a bit of an ignorant as regards IT… I don't understand how to use Imgur.com for that purpose




just drag and drop the image to the main page or use this guide


once uploaded it will offer you several options (like bb link for the forum) 
copy it and paste into your post here

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Hi everybody

I guess Admin is working on modelling our future ships 😉

Nice sources are certainly the monographs 1:48 for modellers (I guess that Admin already has a bunch of them for modelling the ships in NA). 

Famous ANCRE publisher has published many monographs - with beautiful plates at 1:48, many details on gunnery, decks, etc - interesting for SL, including

(NEW) Lugger Le Coureur (1776) : https://ancre.fr/en/monograph/50-monographie-du-coureur-lougre-1776.html

monographie-du-coureur-lougre-1776.jpgAnd also an older nice one : - Cutter Le Cerf (1778) : https://ancre.fr/en/monograph/34-monographie-du-cerf-cotre-1778.html


And I am the happy owner of the monograph on the beautiful brick Le Cygne (1806)  : https://ancre.fr/en/monograph/35-monographie-du-cygne-brick-1806.html

monographie-du-cygne-brick-1806.jpgAll are available in English 

Sail hooo 


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To understand how does rigging works on a square-rigger, the best I found is imo the excellent Lennarth Petersson's book "Rigging period ship models". It gives very clear drawings of all parts of the standing and running rigging, without boring texts… 

Rigging Period Ships Models: A Step-by-Step Guide to the ...

Edited by Bonden
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Hi everybody

As SL will focus on the representation of the interior of a ship, where the captain will pace around and give orders, attention could be given to details for better immersive feeling, without, I guess (maybe I am wrong), too much coding effort and cost in fps, as such details are crammed into a very limited space.  

It is not that easy to represent with realism a functional warship of the Age of sail, a very complex system made of wood, rope, tar, canvas and metal. The most complex but quite well studied part of it is certainly the standing and running rigging, which is well described in model ship books (see former post).

The interior equipment of the ship is also difficult to recreate, as we don’t have as much iconographic sources as for the external aspect of period ships. Some contemporary drawings and sketches, published in books on Nelson’s Navy, give very interesting views (infra).

Detailed naval architecture monographs (Boudriot, Lavery, etc) also give detailed drawings of guns and sometimes cabin, decks and hold (supra).

One comic strip by François Bourgeon – Les Passagers du vent, T. 1, La Fille sous la dunette, Casterman/Glénat – gives a fascinating reconstitution of the life aboard a French 74, based on the monograph of Boudriot (the whole series is a must for any fan of the period) (https://www.amazon.co.uk/Passagers-Vent-Fille-sous-Dunette/dp/2356480552/ref=sr_1_14?dchild=1&keywords=bourgeon+fran%C3%A7ois+passagers+du+vent&qid=1593561790&sr=8-14).

Les passagers du vent , Tome 1 : La fille sous la dunette: Amazon ...


Here are some striking examples of scenes: 


However, museums showing original artefacts of the period (like Dockyard Museum with many items from the wreck of HMS Invincible, 1758) and, of course, the very few surviving ships of the period (mainly HMS Victory, HMS Trincomalee and USS Constitution), restored in their original appearance with all their equipment, are the best witnesses of this lost world. I bought some very useful books in this regards:

-          Detailed photographic accounts of the most spectacular witnesses of the period:

o   W Davies and M Mudie, HMS Trincomalee, 1817, Frigate, Seaforth Publishing, 2015 (https://www.amazon.co.uk/Frigate-HMS-Trincomalee-1817-Seaforth/dp/1848322216/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?dchild=1&keywords=davies+HMS+Trincomalee%2C+1817%2C+Frigate%2C+Seaforth+Publishing%2C+2015&qid=1593560948&sr=8-1-fkmr0)

Some excerpts : https://imgur.com/a/ubuAvOt

o   J Eastland and I Ballantyne, HMS Victory, First Rate, 1765, Seaforth Publishing, 2011 (https://www.amazon.co.uk/HMS-Victory-First-Rate-Seaforth-Historic/dp/1848320949/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?dchild=1&keywords=HMS+Victory%2C+Seaforth+Publishing%2C+2015&qid=1593561010&sr=8-1-fkmr0)

Some excerpts: https://imgur.com/a/LxJfLWG

Amazon.fr - HMS Trincomalee: Frigate 1817 - Davies, Wynford - LivresAmazon.fr - HMS Victory - Eastland, Jonathan - Livres

-          A photographic display of many items from museums on Nelson’s Navy (from spyglass, square oak plate and rum barrel to octant, madeira bottle and carronades): JP Mc Guane, Heart of Oak, A Sailor’s Life in Nelson’s Navy, WW Norton & Company, 2002 (https://www.amazon.com/Heart-Oak-Sailors-Life-Nelsons/dp/0393047490)

Some excerpts: https://imgur.com/a/jKXqSCx

bol.com | Heart of Oak, James P. Mcguane | 9780393047493 | BoekenNelson and Napoleon

Another photographic account of items of the period is the nice book edited by M. Lincoln, Nelson & Napoleon, NMM, Greenwich, 2005, with many interesting objects (https://www.amazon.fr/Nelson-Napoleon-Margarette-Lincoln/dp/0948065591).

Some excerpts: tps://imgur.com/a/vtF2aq9

Have a look too to three interesting (but overlaping in some ways) illustrated accounts on the Nelson's Navy, with engravings and sketches by seamen or officers of the everyday life and combats: 

- N Blake & R Lawrence, The illustrated companion to Nelson's Navy, Chatham Publishing, 1999 (https://www.amazon.fr/Illustrated-Companion-Nelsons-Navy-Napoleonic/dp/1861760906) very interesting to read, with many details (eg grog recipes !) in a condensed format and references to naval fiction, although the quality of illustration is sometimes very bad 

Some excerpts: https://imgur.com/a/bDNp60s

- B. Lavery, Jack Aubrey commands. An historical companion to the naval world of Patrick O'Brian, Naval Institute Press,2003 (https://www.amazon.com/Jack-Aubrey-Commands-Historical-Companion/dp/1591144035) : a condensed and lavishly illustrated version of the famous Brian Lavery's  Nelson's Navy

Some excerpts: https://imgur.com/a/8Vs1UaV

- R Morris, B Lavery, S Deuchar, Nelson, An Illustrated History, NMM, Greenwich, 1995 (https://www.amazon.com/Nelson-Illustrated-History-Roger-Morriss/dp/185669061X) focusing on Nelson's life but with interesting illustrations

Nelson: An Illustrated History: Morriss, Roger, Lavery, Brian ...

 Some excerpts: https://imgur.com/a/SIRsZNo


Last but not least, the movie ‘Master and Commander’ is also, of course, an amazing visual source of inspiration – maybe one of the best, as the ship and her crew are represented in everyday life and in combat action with an extraordinary attention to historical accuracy.

Master and Commander : De l'autre côté du Monde - les films que j ...Revisiting Hours: Ships Ahoy -- 'Master and Commander' - Rolling StoneCast and Crew in Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World ...Pin on military figures

Master And Commander - Expo : instants volés sur les tournages d ...RUSSELL CROWE MASTER AND COMMANDER: THE FASTER SIDE OF THE WORLD ...


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Hello Bonden,

Absolutely wonderful thread. It was an enjoyable and educational read. Caused me to buy the book on rigging. He also has one, that I bought, on fore and aft rigging. Keep up the good work and I hope Admin takes more notice of this. Looking forward to the first glimpses of this new game.

Stay safe and fair sailing from Capt. Ed and Seadog First Class Wade.

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16 minutes ago, EdWatchmaker said:

Hello Bonden,

Absolutely wonderful thread. It was an enjoyable and educational read. Caused me to buy the book on rigging. He also has one, that I bought, on fore and aft rigging. Keep up the good work and I hope Admin takes more notice of this. Looking forward to the first glimpses of this new game.

Stay safe and fair sailing from Capt. Ed and Seadog First Class Wade.

Thanks EdWatchmaker this project is indeed exciting ! best regards

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