Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Sailing the Half Moon

I spent the weekend at the School of the Sailor on the Half Moon. This is a reconstruction of the ship Henry Hudson used in his 1609 voyage. Some of the photos I took are here. The official web site for the event is here.

I got to do some things that most pirate reenactors never do - I spent a weekend living on a 17th century ship, working the sails, and taking the helm (I spent two 1-hour shifts at the whipstaff).

In addition to sailing, we also did some live fire. I shot a dog-lock musket and an English-lock pistol. There was also a matchlock but I've live-fired my own. We also sang sea shanties and broke into smaller groups to concentrate on specific skills like navigation and knot work.

The event was educational.

The Half Moon is rated at around 100 tons (the size of the cargo hold) which is similar to the Santa Maria but it felt a lot smaller. The difference must be in the depth of the hold. I'm sure that the main deck on the Santa Maria is much larger than the weather deck on the Half Moon.

On the other hand, the Half Moon has an orlop deck which is where we slept.

The Half Moon would make a fairly decent pirate ship. It is fairly handy. It would require more guns. It only have a pair of 2-pounders and a pair of swivel guns.

It would also require cleaning up the ship's lines. The captain pointed out that the cabins present as much surface area to the wind as most sail boats. This makes it harder to steer. The wind can catch the rear of the ship and blow it sideways.

This part of the ship is there so that the captain and crew can live in some comfort. Pirates often removed these structures to improve their speed and maneuverability.

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