The Unusual Tale of the Professional Pirates’ Adventure in Search for the Answer….
Chapter Two – The Ship
The search was on for a suitable basis ship for our adventures!
After the seven years war (1756–1763 which was the last major conflict before the French Revolution to involve all the great powers of Europe), the Navy dropped its manpower from some 70,000 to 16,000 and laid up or disposed of many ships that were no longer required. The only two vessels that were similar to the ship type that we are interested in and actually in the ownership of the Navy during that war, were French prizes renamed ‘Lurcher’ and ‘Swift’ and of those two, Swift was re-captured by the French. The rest of the cutters used were hired into service and naturally all released at the end of the war.
Smuggling around the British Isles.
Smuggling had become a very serious threat to the economy, so it was that the Admiralty ordered the purchase of some 36 cutters early in 1763 for the purpose of anti-smuggling duties. This ship type was derived from the smuggling ships themselves!
Of these 36, Greenwich has some apposite drawings:
‘Adventure’ 6 Guns 47’6”,
‘Duke of York’ 4 Guns 40’6”,
‘Duke William’ 4 Guns 45’8”,
‘Endeavour’ 4 Guns 42’3”,
‘Fly’ 4 Guns 47’6”,
‘Pitt’ 6 Guns 58’6”,
‘Sherbourne’ 6 Guns 54’6”
‘Winchelsea’ 4 Guns 46’11”
A Cutter Named Hunter.
It was whilst researching possible vessels from this period we found that a Cutter named ‘Hunter’, also a 4 Gun cutter at 50’0” on deck with a crew of 28 was stationed at Yarmouth (Isle of Wight) and used for service off the Isle of Wight. Serendipity perhaps?. In addition to the 4 3lb Guns she also carried 10 1/2lb swivel guns. A pretty feisty little ship! Sadly she was too big for our purposes and we could not find any drawings for her in our searches.
After some considerable deliberation we eventually chose the Endeavour, a cutter with 4 guns. These are her details:
42ft 3in length on deck, 29ft 05/8in length of keel 18ft 101/2in breadth, 7ft 4in height in the hold and with a Burthen tonnage of 53 10/94bm. She had a crew of 24.
With great excitement we purchased the drawings. These consisted the ship before conversion and a very good quality drawing of the ship post conversion. Her first command was Lieutenant Thomas Mainwaring and she was destined for service from Beachy Head. A very fine little ship with lovely lines and a nice clear deck for action! There are no drawings for the spars and rigging for this vessel, however the work ‘Architectura Navalis Mercartoria’ (by the remarkable Naval Architect Frederik Hendrik Af Chapman) published in 1768 give the formulae for spars, and so we are able to faithfully rig the ship.
She has a large hold area which was partially converted by the Admiralty into 6 ft long ‘bed-places’ for roughly half the crew. These took the form of a box type berth. The remainder of the space below decks remained as cargo space for munitions and prizes. You will see that the hull form although very beamy, has very sweet lines. The breadth will allow the vessel to ‘stand up to’ her rig. So, a very powerful sailing vessel indeed.
Where To Begin?
The process has now started of taking off the lines from the drawings to scale and creating a ‘table of offsets’ so that we can generate the 3D hull model. This will then enable us to establish the hydrodynamic properties of the ship, calculate the stability and resistance and from there model the hull structure.
This illustration shows the lines as taken off the original drawings and it forms the basis of the ship model, the body section of which is shown below. A very pretty hull form indeed and one worthy of building anew.
What comes next? I hear you ask. Well we will post updates on the design process and we have also been researching the ships’ boats and have found the very thing. It would seem that we will need two boats for each ship so that we can carry the fight either ashore, to the other ship, or indeed run ashore (to the Pub of course)! We have found a contemporary design in ‘Architectura Navalis Mercartoria’ of a small boat called a Yawl with a length of 11’ 7” and a breadth of 4’10”, 3 pairs of oars and a sailing rig too.
More on that next time……
Alastair (Sir Francis Drake) Hunter