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Thread: Fans of Hornblower and the Aubrey-Maturin books

  1. #1
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    Default Fans of Hornblower and the Aubrey-Maturin books

    Just finished this book, which I happened upon in my local library, the Providence Athenaeum.
    unnamed.jpg

    It's quite good, more like Hornblower than the O'Brian books, but I recommend it if you're looking for something along those lines.
    Not sure how easy it is to find. The Athenaeum is a bit of a time capsule. I recently checked out a book that had last been checked out in 1961! All those years sitting on a shelf waiting for me.

    Fair winds,

    Mike

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    Default Re: Fans of Hornblower and the Aubrey-Maturin books

    Thanks. I'll see if I can find it although my local library purges the shelves every few years of books rarely taken out.
    I was born on a wooden boat that I built myself.
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    Default Re: Fans of Hornblower and the Aubrey-Maturin books

    I'll look for that too, though the local libraries also furiously purge their shelves. Have read the Patrick O'Brian books umpteen times, They are so rich in information and story that there is always something new.

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    Default Re: Fans of Hornblower and the Aubrey-Maturin books

    Quote Originally Posted by Toxophilite View Post
    I'll look for that too, though the local libraries also furiously purge their shelves. Have read the Patrick O'Brian books umpteen times, They are so rich in information and story that there is always something new.
    The Portland Library regularly has a "Used Book Sale". We usually volunteer to help set up which gives both a preview of what's there and an "early in" on sale day. I've picked up any number of great books for pennies on the dollar.

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    Default Re: Fans of Hornblower and the Aubrey-Maturin books

    Thanks for the tip. It appears to be in print in paperback and available as an e-book.

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    Default Re: Fans of Hornblower and the Aubrey-Maturin books

    Hmm. Ebook available for only $2.99, and a preview that reads quite well! Thanks for the pointer!

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    Default Re: Fans of Hornblower and the Aubrey-Maturin books

    If you like that, you might like the books of Captain Frederick Marrayat. He was a midshipman at Trafalgar, and his books pretty much started the square-rigged adventure category.

    He wrote Frank Mildmay, sent it off to a publisher before embarking on a two-year voyage, and returned to find out he'd become a best-selling author. I recommend that book, Mr. Midshipman Easy, and Snarleyow, or the Dog Fiend.

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    Default Re: Fans of Hornblower and the Aubrey-Maturin books

    Great thread. Always need a good read to hand.

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    Default Re: Fans of Hornblower and the Aubrey-Maturin books

    I ran across Alexander Kent's series of novels about 18th Century Richard Bolitho RN when I found some in a little free library. I have gotten the early books of the series from the Seattle Public Library. They're enjoyable
    What's not on a boat costs nothing, weighs nothing, and can't break

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    Default Re: Fans of Hornblower and the Aubrey-Maturin books

    Thanks for all these recommendations! I am on perhaps my fourth circumnavigation of the Aubrey / Maturin books, this time as read aloud by the excellent Patrick Tull. I read a Hornblower novel a few years back but found that I could not take the main character nearly as seriously as he took himself, or as I suspected the author intended for me to take his character. I once heard someone say that the problem with the O'Brian books is their finitude - once you finish them, you're forever looking for more and never quite finding their equal.
    I ordered a copy of The East Indiaman - I'm looking forward to it.

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    Default Re: Fans of Hornblower and the Aubrey-Maturin books

    I found Kent unreadable and loved the Hornblower books. No accounting for taste.

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    Default Re: Fans of Hornblower and the Aubrey-Maturin books

    Agree with you on Kent. I'm well into the Julian Stockwin "Kydd" series and find it engaging. Good audio books for the long drives.
    -Dave

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    Default Re: Fans of Hornblower and the Aubrey-Maturin books

    Huh. I found the Maturin books overblown & tedious, while Kent's books were far more interesting - though the last 5 or so were not as good as earlier ones.

    Anyway, The East Indiaman is a good read as are the above-mentioned Marrayat books.

    Dewey Lambdin's Alan Lewrie series is fun - in fact probably my overall favorite of the genre.
    "If it ain't broke, you're not trying." - Red Green

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    Default Re: Fans of Hornblower and the Aubrey-Maturin books

    Sam Llewellyn's seafaring series are good: https://www.samllewellyn.com/
    "Be curious, not judgmental." - (Misattributed to Walt Whitman as recalled by) Ted Lasso

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    Default Re: Fans of Hornblower and the Aubrey-Maturin books

    Anyone here read Jim Nelson's books? Doesn't he post here?

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    Default Re: Fans of Hornblower and the Aubrey-Maturin books

    I too found Kent a bit much a short way in. Became very formulaic. O'Brian is brilliant, depth and adventure. I like Kidd stories as well and Forrester's stuff.
    Not nautical but similar time frame. Anyone read the Flashman series?

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    Default Re: Fans of Hornblower and the Aubrey-Maturin books

    O'Brien didn't know how to sail or steer.
    A compass course was an infinite mystery to him

    Good enough stories as an assemblage of words but who needs a novel to explain some esoteric nautical detail or two found in an old tome?

    "Books for the nautically challenged" I couldn't get through even one of them.

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    Default Re: Fans of Hornblower and the Aubrey-Maturin books

    Quote Originally Posted by Toxophilite View Post
    I too found Kent a bit much a short way in. Became very formulaic. O'Brian is brilliant, depth and adventure. I like Kidd stories as well and Forrester's stuff.
    Not nautical but similar time frame. Anyone read the Flashman series?
    Yes, I'm a big fan of the Flashman books. He's a perfect foil for examining the seamy underside of history.

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    Default Re: Fans of Hornblower and the Aubrey-Maturin books

    He actually could hand reef and steer.

    "The disease that racked my bosom every now and then did not much affect my strength and when it left me in peace (for there were long remissions) sea-air and sea-voyages were recommended. An uncle had a two-ton sloop and several friends had boats, which was fine, but what was even better was that my particular friend Edward, who shared a tutor with me, had a cousin who possessed an ocean-going yacht, a converted square-rigged merchantman, that he used to crew with undergraduates and fair-sized boys, together with some real seamen, and sail far off into the Atlantic. The young are wonderfully resilient, and although I never became much of a topman, after a while I could hand, reef and steer without disgrace, which allowed more ambitious sailoring later on.[8]"

    Not sure where you got your information.

    He didn't write his books for nautical enthusiasts. He wrote them for everyone so he uses the doctor's ignorance to explain nautical things to the uninitiated reader.

    The sign of a good work of any sort is the passion, both positive and negative, it inspires in others.

    Flashman cracks me up. I like how he's always sensibly running from battle and always ends up looking like a hero.


    Quote Originally Posted by Canoeyawl View Post
    O'Brien didn't know how to sail or steer.
    A compass course was an infinite mystery to him

    Good enough stories as an assemblage of words but who needs a novel to explain some esoteric nautical detail or two found in an old tome?

    "Books for the nautically challenged" I couldn't get through even one of them.
    Last edited by Toxophilite; 11-03-2022 at 05:50 PM.

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    Default Re: Fans of Hornblower and the Aubrey-Maturin books

    "An acquaintance who is a professor of literature at Stanford brought Patrick O'Brian to my attention, claiming him to be the finest living author writing in the English language. Being an avid reader who had consumed about everything including, of course, all of Forster's Hornblower books, I had my doubts. But after an increasingly mesmerizing reading of all of the sixteen O'Brian Aubrey/Maturin novels then in print with ever mounting captivation and awe, I wholeheartedly concurred. After a second reading of the entire series which revealed to me previously undiscovered depths and glories I felt compelled to pay down the debt I owed this author for the wonderful, life-enriching experience he had given me. Since O'Brian obviously loved the sea, it occurred to me to write offering him a fortnight's cruse aboard my Perini ketch, the 154 foot Andromeda la Dea,for himself and his friends without any interfering presence from myself.

    I asked Danielle Steel if she thought O'Brian would be offended by receiving such a letter and her interesting reply was, "I get about 20,000 letters per year from readers and I have yet to receive a single one offering to do anything for me - he will be delighted even if age and circumstances prevent him from accepting." So I wrote via his publisher, having literally no idea where in the world he lived, and after some forwarding delay I received his handwritten reply, in his fine and precise penmanship, saying "I accept your kind offer with perhaps obscene haste."

    As Mr. O'Brian was to give a lecture tour of the United States in early 1995 that included San Francisco, I invited him to dinner the week of his visit and I first saw him in person when I attended his lecture in Herbst Hall. His host was the poet laureate of America (Robert Haas). I was both charmed and alarmed when introduced to O'Brian's lightening quick wit and rather acerbic manner.

    The following evening he and his wife, Mary, came to my house in Belvedere for a 'literary' dinner with admirers and one or two other authors. Mr. O'Brian was utterly charming, if perhaps a little aloof. He took tremendous interest in an Admiralty Board (dockyard) model I have of an English First Rater of 1702. He understood everything about that ship and greatly augmented my own knowledge. After the other guests departed, we settled into a series of brandies by the fire and I discovered: 1) his capacity for serious drinking greatly exceeded my own; 2) his reserve only eased very slightly in the presence of this unknown American (me) and; 3) his knowledge of the practical aspects of sailing seemed, amazingly, almost nil.

    After a half liter of cognac had vanished (and we were still calling each other Mr. O'Brian and Mr. Perkins), I produced a chart of the Mediterranean and we began to discuss the agenda for his cruise.

    I had learned that the O'Brians' home was in Collioure, a village on the Mediterranean coast of France just north of the Spanish border, in Basque country. The harbor of Port Vendres lies nearby, where Andromeda could pick all of them up. O'Brian then suggested a cruise circumnavigating Sicily, a stop in Greece, dropping by Beirut and winding up with a comprehensive tour of the Balearic islands. I was stunned! How, I wondered, could this old salt possibly comprehend a tour of over 3,000 nautical miles with numerous port calls, in only 14 days in a yacht capable of only about 12 knots?

    As I began to explain the physical limitations of time and space he added a desire to drop the hook in Naples, Capri and Tangiers as well. While I could not reconcile this plan with reality, I assumed it was the wine in control and then I was both startled and pleased when he added at the evening's end that he had a major non-negotiable condition to accepting my offer; namely that I personally would join him, Mary and their guests aboard my yacht.


    In May 1995, as the departure date appoached, I had a rough time getting Andromeda to the tiny and picturesque Port Vendres in time to pick them up. Every time I have been in the Gulf of Lions, I have been pasted and this was one of the worst. Andromeda broke her inner forestay and lost all telecommunication as well, but after a real dusting we made it and O'Brian and Mary showed me around the village and offered a lunch at their modest and charming home. He took tremendous pride in his wine made from his own grapes, pressed and fermented in barrels in his cellar. I was fascinated by his office, where the books were written. It was lined floor to ceiling with reference works on an array of subjects (botany, geography, zoology, medicine, etc.) in several languages, but not a single volume dated later than 1820. He was literally immersed in the period of his work.

    The following morning we were joined by his close friend, the scholar (and foremost authority on Peeps) Richard Ollard, his publisher Stuart Proffit and his agent Vivien Green. We finalized our itinerary with the decision to visit all the Balearic islands and O'Brian, somewhat wistfully, asked if an additional stop in Istanbul would not be possible? Told it was not, he boarded radiating the impression that I was something of an Indian giver, short-changing him on his yachting holiday.

    Underway to Menorca beneath a sunny sky with a twenty knot following wind, the sailing was marvelous and O'Brian was delighted. I introduced him to the helm, but he seemed to have no feeling for the wind and the course, and frequently I had to intervene to prevent a full standing gybe. I began to suspect that his autobiographical references to his months at sea as a youth were fanciful. He had no idea of the limitations of even a big yacht like Andromeda in terms of the handling and actual distance we could cover in a day. However, he and Mary adapted quickly to the yacht with no trace of seasickness. Mary, quiet, kind, interesting and interested, was wonderful to have aboard. However, she was very frail. They were both nearly 80 and I constantly feared she would take a tumble with the ship's motion, but thankfully this never occurred.

    Before dinner O'Brian asked me if I was familiar with an American drink called the martini and he tested my composition of two such killers with relish. All the conversations at the table were spirited and he was the center of the talk and controlled its direction totally. I found the level of sophistication and erudition of these people to be greater than any I had ever experienced, and when they turned to literary or historical contexts I was left far behind. My MIT engineer's degree had, alas, not prepared me for cultivated discourse at such a level. It was literally exhausting, but a marvel to follow.

    The weather continued to be fine and the next morning we were off Menorca. O'Brian suggested that we sail (sail, not motor) into the long narrow channel leading to the port of Mahon, the location of the first meeting between Aubrey and Maturin. This was pretty tricky for a boat of Andromeda's size, but I carried it off, happily, without mishap. We had an interesting afternoon ashore with O'Brian showing us about the old city with intense enthusiasm while also demonstrating his fluency in Catalan, the local tongue. That evening, while at dinner back aboard the yacht, he suggested for the first time that I call him Patrick and he would use Tom for me.

    And so our cruise continued, with Patrick showing keen interest in everything; we fished with some success; we sailed every day; we visited the port of Ciudadela on Menorca and we sailed past the majestic Cape Formentor on the northeast tip of Mallorca where Patrick was entranced by the thousands of sea birds. Ornithology was his true passion as it was for his character Stephen Maturin, who is clearly modeled on Patrick's physique and personality."

    https://www.latitude38.com/features/O'Brian.htm




  21. #21
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    Default Re: Fans of Hornblower and the Aubrey-Maturin books

    "O’Brian was a fresh intellect, a literary genius. Despite King’s efforts to be evenhanded and his warning at the outset that the biography does not directly present O’Brian’s side of things, what King found as he researched the biography often tarnishes this image of O’Brian. He appears to have been cruelly cold to his family, prickly, curmudgeonly, and egotistical. In addition, he perpetrated a fraud on his fans: Contrary to his claims, he was not born Patrick O’Brian, he was not Irish, and he had never been to sea in a sailing ship.
    Patrick O’Brian was born Richard Patrick Russ in rural Buckinghamshire County, England, in 1914. His parents were both English, although his father, a physician and inventor, was the grandson of a German immigrant. The next-to-youngest of nine children, young Patrick was asthmatic and lonely. His mother died when he was four, his father was distant to the children, and although he eventually acquired an attentive stepmother, he was often left to his own devices. He developed a lasting interest in nature; he also turned to reading and, later, to writing stories of his own. These were not puerile efforts, even though the main characters were animals; he began selling short stories to magazines in his early teens and published a book at fifteen. King frequently points out aspects of O’Brian’s childhood that turn up in his mature fiction and especially likes to describe places where the boy lived that are featured in the Aubrey-Maturin novels. In fact, the biography often treats O’Brian’s life as if it existed solely to prepare him for the nautical novels."

    More here: https://www.enotes.com/topics/patrick-obrian/in-depth

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    Default Re: Fans of Hornblower and the Aubrey-Maturin books

    I could never make any sense of O'Brian's descriptions of battles, but that's not really what his books were about, so it wasn't a deal breaker. Forester was far better at that stuff.

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    Default Re: Fans of Hornblower and the Aubrey-Maturin books

    If you tried to keep track of a situation (in the book) where the wind and tide/current or direction play a part, O'Brien is unreadable.

    Forester nails it, whether his description of a fleet making an Atlantic crossing using zig zag tactics during ww2, or an 18th century battle under sail. There is no question that Cecil was a boatman. Who else takes their honeymoon down the river (Loire) in a rowboat? (Maybe John A Noble)
    http://france2wheels.com/route-5-dow...-on-the-loire/
    Cecil also "gets it" in the African Queen...

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    Default Re: Fans of Hornblower and the Aubrey-Maturin books

    I stand corrected, Interesting to know.

    However I don't read his books as nautical education anyway, nor are they really written that way, so it doesn't detract from my enjoyment.

    It's like many creative types. What they produce is what they are to their consumers and sometimes has little to do with who they really are as people. Most you wouldn't want to know what they're like.

    I do fully understand that you don't like his work though.

    Quote Originally Posted by Canoeyawl View Post
    "O’Brian was a fresh intellect, a literary genius. Despite King’s efforts to be evenhanded and his warning at the outset that the biography does not directly present O’Brian’s side of things, what King found as he researched the biography often tarnishes this image of O’Brian. He appears to have been cruelly cold to his family, prickly, curmudgeonly, and egotistical. In addition, he perpetrated a fraud on his fans: Contrary to his claims, he was not born Patrick O’Brian, he was not Irish, and he had never been to sea in a sailing ship.
    Patrick O’Brian was born Richard Patrick Russ in rural Buckinghamshire County, England, in 1914. His parents were both English, although his father, a physician and inventor, was the grandson of a German immigrant. The next-to-youngest of nine children, young Patrick was asthmatic and lonely. His mother died when he was four, his father was distant to the children, and although he eventually acquired an attentive stepmother, he was often left to his own devices. He developed a lasting interest in nature; he also turned to reading and, later, to writing stories of his own. These were not puerile efforts, even though the main characters were animals; he began selling short stories to magazines in his early teens and published a book at fifteen. King frequently points out aspects of O’Brian’s childhood that turn up in his mature fiction and especially likes to describe places where the boy lived that are featured in the Aubrey-Maturin novels. In fact, the biography often treats O’Brian’s life as if it existed solely to prepare him for the nautical novels."

    More here: https://www.enotes.com/topics/patrick-obrian/in-depth

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    Default Re: Fans of Hornblower and the Aubrey-Maturin books

    O'Brian has given me uncounted hours of pleasure over the years, while the gales whipped the trees outside or the oil lamp swung wildly in a lonely anchorage.

    Thank you for the other recommendations. After 50 knots of wind and three inches of rain yesterday, we have certainly arrived at the long, dark winter reading season.
    1960 LeClerq 36' Commercial Salmon Troller F/V Alcor

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    Default Re: Fans of Hornblower and the Aubrey-Maturin books

    Quote Originally Posted by Garret View Post
    Huh. I found the Maturin books overblown & tedious...
    So did I, the first time I tried. Now they're among my favorite novels of any fiction, not just sailing-related. In fact, the sailing isn't the point at all--it's the relationships between characters, and even more, O'Brian's perfect rendition of 19th-century prose. "Jane Austen of the sea" is how I think of them now, and I love them. Might be worth another try?

    Tom
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    Default Re: Fans of Hornblower and the Aubrey-Maturin books

    Quote Originally Posted by johnw View Post
    I found Kent unreadable and loved the Hornblower books. No accounting for taste.
    I was gifted a set of the Hornblower books when I was ten and have lived them ever since. Those original books have been re-gifted and re-read many times I understand. I've not tried the Kent books but enjoy the heck out of the Aubrey/Maturin series although I don't have the full set...working on it

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    Default Re: Fans of Hornblower and the Aubrey-Maturin books

    I read all the Hornblower books as a teenager and dip back into them on occasion. I had to read the first Aubrey/Maturin book twice until it clicked and I understood how the nature of O'Brian's writing. I like the series, but think they are overrated.

    I am working my way through the Kent series and losing steam. The books tend to run together as they are formulaic
    What's not on a boat costs nothing, weighs nothing, and can't break

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    Default Re: Fans of Hornblower and the Aubrey-Maturin books

    Quote Originally Posted by WI-Tom View Post
    So did I, the first time I tried. Now they're among my favorite novels of any fiction, not just sailing-related. In fact, the sailing isn't the point at all--it's the relationships between characters, and even more, O'Brian's perfect rendition of 19th-century prose. "Jane Austen of the sea" is how I think of them now, and I love them. Might be worth another try?

    Tom
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    Default Re: Fans of Hornblower and the Aubrey-Maturin books

    O'Brian writes as if he was in the early 19th century. It took me awhile to figure that out. Also events, even major events, occur off stage; we learn about them from the characters talking about the events. A bit obscure
    What's not on a boat costs nothing, weighs nothing, and can't break

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    Default Re: Fans of Hornblower and the Aubrey-Maturin books

    Quote Originally Posted by Bobcat View Post
    O'Brian writes as if he was in the early 19th century. It took me awhile to figure that out. Also events, even major events, occur off stage; we learn about them from the characters talking about the events. A bit obscure
    Exactly. He inhabits the prose style (and the mindset) of the 19th century more comfortably than any other contemporary writer I've ever run across. Utterly convincing. But you do need to slow down to the rhythms and formalities of that style to enjoy it. Once you do, you can recognize just how masterful his writing is. Truly a great writer. The sailing is almost completely beside the point. It's the writing that I enjoy, and the indirectness and formality of that era's mindset. Language used artfully rather than as a merely utilitarian medium for transmitting knowledge.

    Tom
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    Default Re: Fans of Hornblower and the Aubrey-Maturin books

    A book I have enjoyed is "Life Befor the Mast " sailors eyewitness accountsfrom the age of fighting ships" edited by Jon E Lewis . I mention this book in part as you will see this was a primary source for some of O'Brians stories . More incredible hardships than adventure tails .The appendices include 'Naval stratagy and tactics at the Time of Trafalgar ".This helped me better understand the blocadeing and deployments in Obrian's books .

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    Default Re: Fans of Hornblower and the Aubrey-Maturin books

    Cochrane, Britannia's Sea Wolf', by Donald Thomas
    and
    The Autobiography of a Seaman' , by Thomas Cochrane, Tenth Earl of Dundonald

    These are both pretty good reads if that you find era of nautical history interesting,
    Cochrane was the real deal, and from what I gather a bit eccentric (to put it mildly)
    I did enjoy the books... They read about like a novel, but are non-fiction

    Among other things:

    "Convoys were guided by ships following the lamps of those ahead. In 1805, Lord Cochrane entered a Royal Navy competition for a superior convoy lamp. He believed that the judges were biased against him, so he re-entered the contest under another name and won the prize.[53]

    In 1806, Cochrane had a galley made to his specifications which he carried on board Pallas and used to attack the French coast. It had the advantage of mobility and flexibility.[54]

    In 1812, Lord Cochrane proposed attacking the French coast using a combination of bombardment ships, explosion ships, and "stink vessels" (gas warfare). A bombardment ship consisted of a strengthened old hulk filled with powder and shot and made to list to one side. It was anchored at night to face the enemy behind the harbour wall. When set off, it provided saturation bombardment of the harbour, which would be closely followed by landings of troops. He put the plans forward again before and during the Crimean War. The authorities, however, decided not to pursue his plans.[55][56]

    In 1818, Cochrane patented the tunnelling shield, together with engineer Marc Isambard Brunel, which Brunel and his son used in building the Thames Tunnel in 182543.

    During 1851 - 1853, he filed in England a series of comprehensive patents covering the applications of natural asphalt. These patents were confined chiefly to the use of asphalt as a paving material, as a mastic, as a "hydraulic concrete" suitable for fashioning into water pipes and sewer mains and as an insulating material for electric wires.[57]

    Cochrane was an early supporter of steamships. He tried to take the steamship Rising Star from Britain to Chile for use in the war of independence in the 1820s, but its construction took too long; it did not arrive until the war was ending. Rising Star was a 410-ton vessel adapted to a new design at Brent's Yard at the Greenland Dock at the Thames: twin funnels, a retractable paddle wheel, and driven by a 60-horsepower engine.[44]: 33  Similarly, he suffered delays with construction of a steamship which he had hoped to put into use in the Greek War of Independence. In the 1830s, Lord Dundonald, as he now was, experimented with steam power, developing a rotary engine and a propeller. In 1851, Lord Dundonald received a patent on powering steamships with bitumen.[58] He was conferred with Honorary Membership in the Institution of Engineers and Shipbuilders in Scotland in 1857.[59]"
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thom...l_of_Dundonald


  34. #34
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Blue Hill, ME
    Posts
    1,102

    Default Re: Fans of Hornblower and the Aubrey-Maturin books

    Quote Originally Posted by bamamick View Post
    Anyone here read Jim Nelson's books? Doesn't he post here?

    Mickey Lake
    I've read most of Jim's books and really enjoyed them. He has been called the Patrick O'Brien on this side of the Atlantic. He is the rigger for the Virginia, Maine's First Ship, that was launched this summer and gives rigging demonstrations locally.
    Steve B
    Sjogin IIIa
    PAYTON 13' Pea Pod

    RIVUS 16' Melonseed


    "If a man must be obsessed by something, I suppose a boat is as good as anything, perhaps a bit better than most." E. B. White

  35. #35
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
    Location
    Bay Area, CA
    Posts
    392

    Default Re: Fans of Hornblower and the Aubrey-Maturin books

    Quote Originally Posted by Garret View Post
    Huh. I found the Maturin books overblown & tedious...
    Quote Originally Posted by WI-Tom View Post
    So did I, the first time I tried.
    I also had this experience! Years before I read the entire series, I picked up one of the later novels (I think The Wine-Dark Sea) in a hostel in East Timor. I knew nothing of its context. I was not overwhelmed. I am amazed that I could have read hundreds of pages from my favorite author without feeling much of anything, but that's what happened.
    I think it took me until HMS Surprise to really get hooked. That's book three. I'm not saying you should struggle miserably through the first two if you don't enjoy them, but I'm glad I stuck with it. Taken as a whole they have comprised the greatest reading adventure of my adult life so far.

    - James

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