Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Hearts of Oak!

I was visiting Holyhead for yet another cruise ship arrival and came across a historical re-enactment group, see www.hearts-of-oak.wix.com. An enthusiastic group of people interested in the times when Britain ruled the waves and Welsh sailors were a common sight in Nelson's Navy.

The group preparing the cannon outside the excellent Maritime Museum in Holyhead.

Preparing the powder.

Keeping the flame burning on a rope wick.

Stand back and cover your ears!

This was a serious noise from a very small cannon. I can hardly imagine what it must have been like on a Man of War, with perhaps a hundred guns firing out and a hundred guns firing in!

This is a wooden square plate which made stacking ye olde dishwasher much easier! And made them easier to store aboard ship for rough weather. Despite all the tales of scurvy and worm ridden biscuits, sailors were among the best fed of all the fighting services. They needed to be because constantly climbing the rigging and hauling ropes was exhausting work. Hence the expression "a square meal". See also the limes, which helped to prevent scurvy - hence the British sailors were often described as "Limeys" by the rebel colonists.

 The team were able to demonstrate the use of side arms and telescopes.

Close quarter fighting aboard ship was often fierce, and sailors would board enemy ships well prepared, but would sometimes discover that nearly everybody aboard ship was dead already, blown to bits by the guns, whose cannon balls would create a deadly cloud of splinters.

The team really new their stuff about cooking in the days of Jack Tar, and had a side of salted beef, which did not look appetising.

This is the 24 hour watch schedule which would have been familiar to Welsh sailors in times gone by.

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