View Full Version : Sailing Ship Info Needed

Mike Martyn
06-13-2007, 02:39 AM
I'm writing a novel that takes place at sea in the 1750's aboard a Royal Navy ship of the line. I'm mindful of some advice I picked up on this board (probably Uncle Jim) that the three things writers get wrong are guns, horses and sailing ships. I know far more than I ever cared to know about the oar propelled navy cutters (port stroke of the cutter St. John, that's me) but not a lot about frigates or ships of the line of that era. Any suggestions of sites I could check out?

I can visualise the deck just fine. Movies like Pirates of the Caribean are fine for that but what were the below decks like? A ship of the line might have as many as 800 crew members so they must have been awfully crowded.

06-13-2007, 03:22 AM
Wikipedia? Actually you might try posting this in the ask the experts forum. I asked about guns and got tons of great answers.

Oh, also, does Jane's have that kind of info, or is that just for modern stuff?

06-13-2007, 04:14 AM
Have you read C.S. Forrester's series of books 'Hornblower' ? They're a great read.

06-13-2007, 04:32 AM
Try reading some Patrick O'Brien and if you live near the coast, find out when there might be some tall ships in town, they make the rounds quite a bit. Let them know what you are researching and they'll likely give you a tour. Those guys love to talk about their ships :)

06-13-2007, 04:34 AM
This is the site of the Rose, which became the HMS Surprise when they filmed Master and Commander. It's a neat site because they have specs for the ship, as well as a lot of fun facts and links to a ton of other historically accurate ships.


Jersey Chick
06-13-2007, 05:10 AM
Try checking out maritime museums' websites - they offer a lot of info and links. You also might want to check this out - http://www.royal-navy.mod.uk/
It's the Royal Navy's site, they've got history broken down by periods. It might come in handy.

06-13-2007, 05:16 AM
Patrick O'Brian's site http://www.patrickobrian.com/
will give you links to everything you need.

06-13-2007, 07:55 AM
Ask Scott Vee, who is a member here. He trained on the Rose and appeared with her in Master and Commander, the Far Side of the World. He's knows the layout firsthand.


06-13-2007, 04:33 PM
Dorling Kindersley do the sort of books which take a cross-section of a skyscraper, or a sailing ship etc, which gives quite a good idea of how everything was crammed in.

06-13-2007, 05:54 PM
This is the site of the Rose, which became the HMS Surprise when they filmed Master and Commander.

Rose/Surprise is currently docked at the San Diego Maritime Museum. While the outside is pretty authentic, belowdecks is not at all authentic, and is quite modern, including GPS and a diesel engine.

Cav Guy
06-13-2007, 06:07 PM
There's a whole sub-genre of "captains of the Royal Navy" books out there in addition to the Hornblower stuff. Also, take a look at "Treasure Island" and "Moby Dick" (at least parts of it) for some interesting snapshots of life at sea. Not military, but the routines of sail-handling and the like are common to all larger vessels.

06-14-2007, 08:52 AM
going down to the Genre writing section nearly at the bottom of this board. Look in Historical and we have resources about sailing ships there. There is a resources sticky at the top of the message board, but there are more resources about sailing ships on page 2 where there is a discussion about resources and you will find that I posted all the resources in sections, one of which is Sailing Ships.

James D. Macdonald
06-14-2007, 04:40 PM
Another place: http://www.bruzelius.info/Nautica/Nautica.html

The Mariner's Museum: http://www.mariner.org/
Mystic Seaport: http://www.mysticseaport.org/
USS Constitution: http://www.ussconstitution.navy.mil/
(Virtual tour of the Constitution: http://www.ussconstitution.navy.mil/VirtualTour.htm )

See also The Seventy-Four Gun Ship by Jean Boudriot (I have all four volumes, but I'm not lending them out....)

Plot Device
06-14-2007, 05:14 PM
Gun horses and ships?? How about airplanes?

ink wench
06-14-2007, 09:20 PM
Not sure this is what you're looking for, but I found this book to be a fabulous resource: Nelson's Navy: The Ships, Men, and Organization, 1793-1815. Amazon carries it for a lot less than list price.

Mike Martyn
06-14-2007, 10:35 PM
Thanks everyone. This site is just such a wonderful resource