Friday, November 21, 2014

In 1802 ‘Santísima Trinidad’ was the largest warship in the world.


 
Designed by an Irish naval architect, the Spanish first-rate, Santísima Trinidad (Holy Trinity) was built in Havana, Cuba in 1769. Originally designed with three gun decks she bore 112 cannon. Twenty five years later, 18 more guns were added when a fourth deck was created by closing in the spar-deck between the quarterdeck and the forecastle. 
 
In 1802 her guns were increased and with 4-gundecks bearing 140 guns the ‘Santísima Trinidad’ was reputed to be the largest warship in the world,
Her original armament of 112 guns consisted of 30 × 36 pdrs, 32 × 24 pdrs, 32 × 12 pdrs and 18 × 8 pdrs. She had a displacement of 4950  tons, was 61.3 m long (201 ft) with a beam 16.2 m (53 ft) and  carried a complement of 1050 crew.


When Santísima Trinidad, sailed for Trafalgar in October 1805 with the combined Franco/Spanish fleet she carried more guns than any other ship-of-the line outfitted in the Age-of-sail but ‘due to her great bulk, her helm was unresponsive in the light winds of the day’ and she was targetted by ships of the British fleet.
 
Having lost her mast she eventually surrendered and was taken in tow. In the devastating storm which blew in the day after the battle, she sank.
 
Today a full-size representation of Santísima Trinidad sits on the wharf in Alicante, in Spain. This is not a true replica, but was constructed over the steel hull of a merchant ship.
 
 
The stern galleries are particularly impressive.

 
Today the ship is a popular pub, disco and restaurant.
 
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Ref: Wikipedia and pics in public domain.
1) The Spanish warship Holy Trinity (Santísima Trinidad). Known as "El Escorial of the seas", it was the only ship in the Battle of Trafalgar that had four decks and 136 cannon.
2) Plans of Spanish ship Santísima Trinidad, before conversion to four-decker
4) Infante don Pelayo going to rescue Santisima Trinidad at Battle of Cape St Vincent on 14 February 1797.
Replica/Representation of Spanish ship Nuestra Señora de la Santísima Trinidad (Alicante) by MM (2012)

 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Celebrating World Toilet Day - with a topical post

SH*T - Did you know 19th November is World Toilet Day?

Celebrated in 53 countries the World Toilet Association (WTO) is working towards eliminating the toilet taboo, improving toilet and sanitation conditions and delivering sustainable sanitation worldwide.
 
It was news to me. But to celebrate, I have included part of an appropriate scene from the forthcoming novel, THE UNFORTUNATE ISLES by M.C. Muir (due before Christmas).

 
Being surprised by a mermaid-like apparition while sitting on the ship’s head – here are the responses from some of the crew of His Majesty’s frigate, 'Perpetual'.
 
Excerpt from Chapter 16: The translucent water off the islands of Fernando de Norohna.

A dull thud vibrated from the forward strakes and jolted everyone’s senses.
  ‘What was that?’ Captain Quintrell called, haring up the companion from the gun deck. It was the sound made when a 4lb shot hits the hull, but there had been no calls and he had heard no cannon fire.
  ‘Don’t know,’ Mr Parry replied. ‘It was from the bow.’
  Hurrying for’ard the pair scanned the water expecting to see another ship or submerged rocks, but there was neither. The six fathoms of water beneath the keel were crystal clear revealing a smooth sandy bottom beneath the keel. Bare feet padded along the deck, as sailors ran around the ship peering from the rails to port and starboard, but nothing could be seen.
  ‘Mast head, ahoy. Do you see any ships or boats?’
  The lookout turned a full 360 degrees. ‘No, Capt’n.’
   ‘On your feet, Smithers,’ Mr Tully bellowed after almost tripping over the legs of the sailor sitting on the deck. ‘Get out of the way!’
   ‘You there!’ Mr Parry called to another sailor who had leapt off the head in such a hurry his breeches were still wrinkled around his ankles. ‘For goodness sake, man, attend to your dress. The captain is talking to you.’
 
 
   The captain continued. ‘From where you were perched you must have seen something.’
   Prescott hitched up his breeches but didn’t answer. His face was drained and his hands were shaking.
   ‘What is wrong with him?’ Oliver asked his lieutenant.
   Smithers answered. ‘Stupid dawcock said he saw a mermaid. I told him he was as barmy as Bungs. Then he changed his mind and said it wasn’t a mermaid, it was an angel.’
   ‘Mind your tongue!’ Mr Parry reminded.
   Oliver raised his eyebrows and exchanged a puzzled look with his first lieutenant.
   But Smithers hadn’t finished. ‘The oaf said he heard it knocking like it wanted to come aboard, and when he leaned over to see what it was and it rose up from the water and tried to bite him. If you ask me, I think it was trying to kiss him.’
   The men standing nearby smirked, but Prescott’s expression did not change.
   ‘Thank you, Smithers,’ Mr Tully said sarcastically. ‘We don’t need any of your stupid remarks.’
   The captain turned back to the sailor. ‘Enough of this cock-and-bull rubbish, Prescott, what exactly was it you saw?’
   ‘It’s just what Smithers told you, Capt’n. And it scared the livin’ daylights out of me.’
   ‘Just as well he was sitting on the head!’
   ‘Smithers! Get below this instant!’
   Mumbling and dragging his feet, the old topman left the deck.
   The captain continued. ‘And what did this mermaid do after it popped up out of the water?’
   ‘It sank back down and I didn’t wait around to see if it would come up again.’
   Oliver turned to the other members of the fo’c’sle division who were standing within earshot. ‘Did anyone else see this apparition?’
   Murmurs about mermaids and sea monsters ran round the foredeck, but no one had seen anything, although several admitted to hearing the sound of knocking.
   ‘Sounded like the carpenter in the hold with a wooden mallet,’ one said.
 
   ‘It was no bloody apparition,’ Prescott claimed. ‘I tell you it was real and I don’t ever want to see it again.’
The answer to what Prescott’s apparition is will be revealed when the book is published.
 
 Pics: HMS 'Endeavour' replica, The 'Star of Greece' figurehead is located at the Maritime Museum in Port Adelaide, South Australia. Fernando de Norohna image from Wiki Commons.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Over 9,000 drown when MV Wilhelm Gustloff was deliberately sunk

We remember the tragedy that was the Titanic and the 1,500 casualties - and of the iceberg and the freezing waters of the North Atlantic.
But imagine a liner going down in the ice strewn water of the Baltic. taking 9,400 victims to a freezing watery grave - including 5,000 children.


"The water temperature in the Baltic Sea at this time of year is usually around 4 °C (39 °F); however, this was a particularly cold night, with an air temperature of −18 to −10 °C (0 to 14 °F) and ice floes... covering the surface.
"Many deaths were caused either directly by the torpedoes or by drowning in the onrushing water. Others were crushed in the initial panic on the stairs and decks, and many jumped into the icy Baltic."

It happened in war time and the ship was the MV Wilhelm Gustloff. She was carrying civilian evacuees as well as military personnel.



Was it because the ship was less glamorous than Titanic?

Or that this was an inexcusable man-made tragedy we would rather forget?
Or that the people did not count as much as the rich and wealthy and glamorous who travelled on the White Star Line?

Note: There have been several documentaries made about this event - to read more see Wikipedia page:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MV_Wilhelm_Gustloff