Seven days after the Battle of Trafalgar, HMS Victory was towed into Gibraltar Bay for sufficient repairs to be undertaken to enable her to return to English waters. The first-rate was in a sad and sorry state, but at least she was still afloat.
"The hull is much damaged with shot in a number of places, several along the water line. Several beams and riders, knees shot through, and a broken starboard cathead. Timbers of the Head and Stem full of shot with lots of parts damaged. Chains and Channels shot away, the Mizzen mast shot away nine foot above the deck, bulwarks shot away, the main mast was full of shot and sprung, the Main Yard gone, the main Top-Mast cap shot away. The Main Topsail mast yard shot away. The Foremast shot through in many places, the Foreyard shot away, Bowsprit, Jib Boom and cap shot-away. Spritsail yards and Flying-jib boom gone. Fore and Main Tops shot away and the ship taking in 12 inches of water an hour."After a difficult journey, Victory arrived back in Portsmouth on 4th December. From here she was destined to sail to her birthplace, Chatham Naval Dockyard for the second major refit of her long career.
Victory’s fore topsail accompanied the ship home and had been preserved to this day. (see The Trafalgar Sail blog post)The wheel, which was shot away during the battle, was replaced with one bearing the words of Nelson's famous signal: ENGLAND EXPECTS THAT EVERY MAN WILL DO HIS DUTY.