Sunday, November 7, 2010

THE MAKING OF A CAPTAIN

Restoration British Royal Navy Ensign

Even for those of us born and raised in coastal towns and spending summers in fishing villages there is still much to learn to become a seaman. No less important than the nautical science are the traditions of the sea and its history.

In 1948 while staying with family friends at a wonderful house, "Bella Vista" Priest Road, Tramore, Co. Waterford, Ireland NAUTICAL LOG was introduced to sea stories. The family had an extensive library which included a nautical section of books from "Browns Flags and Funnels" 1934 3rd. edition to works on Samuel Pepys and his Diary. While Pepys is not easy reading for a 12 year old boy that "Browns Flags and Funnels" is in my study bookcase. Also there was a real seagoing long glass - telescope - which on taking up to a top floor window, some five stories above the town, one could examine a large section of Tramore Bay lying between "The Metal Man" with its three white towers and Brownstown Head with two black towers. So in this area of British Admiralty Chart 2049 -Ireland, South Coast, Kinsale to Wexford- both NAUTICAL LOG and Matthew Quinton started to learn to become sea captains.

Who is Matthew Quinton? Well he is the character of J. D. Davies an expert on Samuel Pepys, the 17th. Century British Royal Navy, Chairman of the Naval Dockyards Society and a vice-president of the Navy Records Society. He is a British historian and author who has written a novel called "Gentleman Captain".

Without spoiling the story for the reader it takes place in the latter part of the 17th. Century after the Restoration of the Monarchy. This followed England's flirt with Parliamentary Republics and the Puritans. It was during this time that Samuel Pepys was appointed the administer of naval affairs for the new monarch Charles the Second and his Lord High Admiral Prince Rupert of the Rhine. A young aristocrat is placed in command of a naval vessel in spite of not knowing his larboard from his starboard - he learns - and thus the story of his mission, in HMS Jupiter, from his King.

The story "Gentleman Captain" is a wonderful balanced mixture of a young mans development at sea, life in the class society of the 17th. Century and history. All told an outstanding sea story not to be missed. There is a Historical Note which puts the 'life and times' in perspective and for those of you not so familiar with that period of English history all is explained. Remember also that it was a group of these same Puritans that boarded the Mayflower and founded what has become our own United States of America - a Parliamentary Republic.

Good Watch.

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