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RSGII has posted 38 annotations/comments since 30 December 2015.

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About Saturday 6 May 1665

RSGII  •  Link

Yes, I hadn’t realised the importance of spare masts, sails, and cordage to the warfare of the day until I read the Davies book “Pepys Navy”. Or that the Carpenter and his crew were as important as the Gunner and the Master to success.

Some of those mast and spares were huge pieces of timber. A first rate ship, the largest, had a lower main mast 3 foot in diameter at the base and over 100 ft high. And the spars were nearly as big. Moving this stuff around required a lot of men and skill. And this explains the concern of Pepys and others about the supply of good masts (Baltic, New England), sails (France), and hemp (Baltics).

About Saturday 6 May 1665

RSGII  •  Link

I do understand him. He is working most nights to midnight to help keep those 105 ships at sea. England in those days did not have enough mast trees and had to import them. They had to be properly stored in water so that mast dock was crucial.

Spare masts were critical to warships of the day as they were usually damaged in battle. It is why one of the most important officers on the ship was the carpenter. He was responsible for repair during and after battle. One of the Dutch’s favorite tactics was to shoot chain connected shot at the masts to disable an enemies ship. (See the Davies book).

John Evelyn has the critical assignment from the King to organize care for wounded seamen, both British and Dutch, who were already flowing ashore. Pepys had sought his help and vice versa and they worked together for years. He was trying to see him because he lived at Deptford.

Hardly frivolous stuff.

About Friday 21 April 1665

RSGII  •  Link

Like JWB some years ago, I read this as Sam making a risky “bottomy” loan, a loan with the ship as collateral. If the ship is lost, the loan is not repaid. Hence his not wanting to risk more of his limited capital, but still wanting to play with the big boys. Risky business in peacetime, let alone when at war. The old fear versus greed quandry of investors since the begining of time.

About Saturday 25 March 1665

RSGII  •  Link

Re Penn and Halsey: No one ever questioned Halsey’s courage-his judgement/rashness maybe but not his courage. “The World wants to know” was code filler that was never intended to be included in the delivered message.

About Friday 24 February 1664/65

RSGII  •  Link

As the Navigator of a Destroyer in the 1960’s, I used both dead reckoning and celestial navigation. DR is simply laying out on a chart (in pencil so the chart can be reused) your ships track using your starting point, course, speed and elapsed time to establish your current position. You do not attempt to correct it for tides or currents. And yet it can be remarkably effective and is still used today as a check on electronic charts.
Celestial navigation tries to give you a fix of your current position at the time of measurement, but it requires you to be able to see both the stars and the horizon during a brief period at sunrise and sunset. It is difficult or impossible in cloudy conditions, which are frequent in the tropics. At best you have a probable error of 5 to 10 miles. A noon sun line gives you only your latitude, but in the old days was a useful way to travel East or West along a known latitude.

About Thursday 23 February 1664/65

RSGII  •  Link

A toast to you Mr Pepys and your many accomplishments and extraordinary network of friends and associates. And for your willingness to candidly share your faults and weaknesses. Cheers also to Mr Gyford for doing this for us. I try to read this day by day to experience your life as you did. We may be better educated than you were but few, if any, can match your accoplishments by Thirty Two.

About Thursday 16 February 1664/65

RSGII  •  Link

It seems like such an extraordinary request to modern eyes- for a former neighbor to show up for dinner with a daughter in tow and a letter requesting you take her as your own. Was this accepted behavior in the 17th century? I gather from his reaction that it was not. One can only imagine what Elizabeth’s reaction might have been.

About Thursday 16 February 1664/65

RSGII  •  Link

I fail to see why a Naval official should be expected to take in and raise the child of another man, seaman or not. He is not running an orphanage, although (spoiler), he supported John Evelyn in establishing Chelsea Hospital for veterans after the diary period (Willes book).