Wednesday, July 11, 2007

HMS Warrior and HMS Victory visit

The Warrior
I've visited an old ship before, in Boston, that was nicknamed Old Ironsides (can't remember the real name). The Warrior is iron-sided as well, but way cooler. The ship in Boston wasn't all kitted out like the ships in Portsmouth are, so yesterday I really saw how the ship functioned and what a sailors life was like. I am really not eloquent enough to describe how wicked it was, so I'll leave it at that and put up some pictures (I have loads of pictures, so more can be made available upon request).

To try to imagine the scale of this deck, notice that in the upper right of the deck there are two people clothed in black standing to the right of that white lifeboat. The ship is huge. It carried a crew of over 700. (Just noticed the photo is slanty again. I think that's my habit of putting most of my weight on my right leg).

A rope ladder, but quite stiff and with wooden crosspieces, so better than any rope ladder I've ever climbed.

Swords hanging on the ceiling and cannon cleaning and packing equipment hanging in behind. There were guns and swords on racks everywhere. The swords were all locked in, unfortunate since I wanted to hold one to see what the weight of it would be like. I looked around at the staff to see if one was dressed as an officer complete with sword, so that I could ask politely if I could just hold his sword for a moment, but no luck. I could tell just from pulling on a sword while it was in the rack that it's heavier than my fencing sabres, but that's sort of obvious given that the blade's a lot thicker.
Chain for the anchor, and my hand to show you how big it actually is. I could just lift one of the links with one hand. Considering that I picked up a 12 pound cannon ball up with one hand no problem, these have got to be heavier.

A fancy way to coil up your rope. I feel ashamed of all my coils, or piles, of rope now.
Largest gun on the main deck with the metal stripping allowing it to be slid to face pretty much any direction I'd say. Pretty slick.

On to the Victory!
So I finally got to see the famous ship from the battle for which Trafalgar Square is named, and whose admiral, Nelson, has monuments in his honour all around the UK. I didn't know these things prior to visiting the ship, but I finally put it all together. I'd been wondering who this Nelson dude was, and why a square in London had a Spanish name.
I like the colours on this ship. The old sailing ships are incredibly beautiful. The contrast between the Victory and a modern aircraft carrier that was docked nearby was stark to me. Modern naval ships are impressive, but I wouldn't call them beautiful or elegant. The Victory is all three (it's still a commissioned ship if you didn't know, in order to honour Nelson).
Speaking of Nelson, this is his "cot" aboard the ship. I think I would have opted for one of the bunks like they had in some of the cabins below so that my bed wouldn't have been swinging so much. The style of this doesn't exactly match up to the rest of his quarters, with leather chairs and well-made wooden dining sets.

Squeeze everything together: this is the sick ward, a dining area, and that's a cannon in the background. Healthy crew lived in similar circumstances, except that there hammocks were not boxy like these. The mugs on the table are made of horn, just as are the powder horns hanging about the ship.

It takes a lot of ropes to rig sails.

Here's some freakin' huge ropes. They were fenced off, so to give you the scale, imagine this: if you took my torso and squeezed it so that it were round insteead of the flattened off shape that I have, it would be about the same circumference as the bottom rope. So about 28 inches, give or take an inch.

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