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HMS Pickle ha llegado…


I was really pleased to see  HMS Pickle (replica) pull in to A Corunna – what a beauty. Presumably to avoid the F8 gale forecast for the weekend. Unlike the original HMS Pickle that withstood F12 gales after the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. The new owner and the master are to be admired for their resolve in trying to restore this lovely replica – a true labour of love. They are en route to their home port Hull, in the UK. I wish them fair winds and every success.

The original HMS Pickle saw a lot of action during its period of service and was involved in the famous race back to the UK with HMS Nautilus to bring news of Nelson’s victory at Trafalgar to the Admiralty.

Commander John Sykes of the 18-gun sloop HMS Nautilus had been ordered by Nelson to patrol off Cape St. Vincent in southwest Portugal. He met the Pickle as she sped homewards on 28 October 1805 and, having heard the news of the battle from the Captain of the Pickle, he appears to have elected to abandon his ordered station and escort the Pickle “for her safety”, most likely he wanted to get the acclaim, and financial rewards, that would be given to the captain that delivered the news to the Admiralty! However, both ships lost sight of each other in very heavy weather. When Nautilus made Plymouth late on 4 November Sykes reported to Admiral William Young, who feared that the Pickle might be missing.

As a precaution the Admiral therefore ordered Sykes to travel to the Admiralty to report the sketchy details of the battle that he had learnt from Captain Lapenotiere at sea. As he reached Exeter, neither Lapenotiere nor Sykes were aware that they were now only a few miles apart on the same road in an involuntary race for London. Sykes reached the Admiralty at 2 a.m. on Wednesday 6 November, about an hour behind Lapenotiere.

I love this entry in the Pickle’s history:

“During the Battle of Trafalgar, Pickle and the other small vessels kept well back from the fighting, since a single broadside from a ship of the line would have sunk her instantly.Pickle herself was stationed to the north-west of the weather line, where Nelson was leading HMS Victory into battle. In the later stages of the battle, Pickle, Entreprenante, and the boats of Prince and Swiftsure went to the rescue of the crew of the French ship, Achille, which caught fire and subsequently exploded. Together they rescued two women and somewhere between 100 and 200 men French guns cooking off as they became heated killed two or three seamen in other boats.

One of the women was floating, completely naked, holding onto an oar; she was brought on board the schooner wearing a pair of seaman’s trousers that a seaman, on the boat that picked her up, had taken off and given to her. Later she recounted how she had had to fight off a number of men that had tried to take her oar !!

The prisoners in Pickle outnumbered her crew three to one and were heard plotting to take her over to take her into Cadiz. Nothing happened though Pickle’s crew kept a particularly sharp watch over the prisoners.

Pickle was the first ship to bring the news of Nelson’s victory to Great Britain, arriving at Falmouth on 4 November 1805. Vice Admiral Collingwood, who had assumed command after the death of Nelson, chose her to carry his dispatches describing the battle and announcing Nelson’s death. After arriving in Falmouth, Captain Lapenotiere took a “coach and four” to London, spending £46 19 shillings and 1 pence, along the famous Falmouth Way” (the coaching route to London) to deliver the dispatches to the Admiralty. The Admiralty promoted him to Commander for this service. The Committee of the Lloyd’s Patriotic Fund gave him a sword worth 100 guineas…”

Remember when we were a great sea faring nation?.

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