The frigate in literature

A little while ago someone asked me what kind of ship a frigate was. When you’re as immersed in naval culture and terminology as you become when writing a novel on the subject, it’s easy to lose track of terms that many people might not be familiar with. These aren’t necessarily things you need to…

Daedalus and the Deep – the real sea serpent mystery

Daedalus and the Deep has its roots in real events. HMS Daedalus was a real ship, a Leda-class frigate built in 1820 and later re-rated to corvette. HMS Daedalus was best known in Victorian Britain, for the sighting of a sea-serpent between the Cape of Good Hope and St Helena in 1848 – 165 years…

Daedalus and the Deep pictorial Guide 1 – Sailing

Frigates and corvettes – HMS Daedalus was originally a frigate, and under sail in the 1840s would have looked very much like HMS Raleigh as pictured here. A frigate has a single gun deck (shown here by the single row of gunports along the white band running the length of the hull). In 1844 she…

Daedalus and the Deep pictorial Guide 2 – Fighting

Weaponry of one form or another is quite important in Daedalus and the Deep, as with much historic naval fiction. HMS Daedalus had a broadside battery of twenty heavy 32-pounder cannon, as well as carronades (a short-range, lightweight cannon) and smaller weapons. The following images of the gundecks on HMS Warrior (5), built 1860 and…

Daedalus and the Deep pictorial Guide 3 – Living

Even on a small vessel such as HMS Daedalus, the living space occupied by officers and men was strictly divided. Officers (and senior warrant officers) had small, hutch-like cabins in the wardroom, which was the general space where they lived and dined. Wardroom – the wardroom was for commissioned officers and senior non-commissioned officers such…

Sea Serpent Day

Tomorrow, 6 August, will be the 165th anniversary of the enigmatic HMS Daedalus sea serpent sighting that inspired the novel Daedalus and the Deep. Check back to AirAndSeaStories.com for more information about the historical reality, and a visual guide to the world inhabited by Midshipman Colyer and the crew of the Daedalus

To glossary or not to glossary?

One of the potential difficulties with writing sea fiction of any kind is how much to explain the technical business of working and fighting a ship to an audience who might not have a great deal of existing knowledge to help them through. This is also true of historical fiction, where an audience might not…

Daedalus and the Deep glossary – part 1

The following is a glossary of some of the main technical terms used in Daedalus and the Deep, roughly in the order in which they appear. I would recommend trying to get by without it – most of the meaning should be apparent from the context, and in some cases terms might be explained later…

Shipping forecast stories

The short series of stories about the shipping forecast were originally written for the monthly competition on the Word Cloud writing community. There are three so far, but another is on its way. The first, ‘German Bight’ is based around the Battle of Heligoland Bight, one of a series of clashes between German and British…

FitzRoy – a story of the weather

The black clouds had returned. They swirled around Robert Fitzroy, battering him. He struggled to breathe, assailed by rage and confusion. Somewhere, crystals were forming, delicate, feathery, in the storm glass that bore his name. The reports which would enable his office to produce the forecast would be ready by now, sitting on his desk….

German Bight – a story of WW1 at sea

“Dogger – Cyclonic four or five. Moderate. Fog banks. Poor or very poor. German Bight…” “It’s not the German Bight! Because we kicked them out of it!” The only time I saw my Grandfather angry was in 1956 when someone accidentally left the wireless on long enough for him to hear the shipping forecast. I…