Sailing at early 1800’s – Napoleonic War Period

USS Constitution at Boston

Spectacular videos of the USS Constitution History and Rebuild


Photos below are from personal visits

Two photos above in 2013, by W. Benjamin Bray.

in dry dock 2016, photo by W. Benjamin Bray

During the dry dock 2016 visitors were asked to inscribe names and messages on the copper sheathing common for the wooden hulled ships. Here is what Ben inscribed, which I appreciate.  Photo by W. Benjamin Bray 2016

Patrick O’Brian 

Patrick O’Brian is a master story teller of historical nautical, fiction. His stories centered on the perils of the Aubrey Maturin voyages in the Napoleonic wars  in the early 1800’s and generally were tied to actual events. Only one voyage, Desolation Island, contained actual positions of the ship, the HMS Leopard, with celestial sightings that could be tied to specific times. The website  has undertaken a recreation of all of the Aubrey Maturin voyages based on various inputs.

Below is a reconstruction based on the celestial sightings and other time events in the book.  Obviously, this is a recreation of a fictional voyage. It is started at a precise time in the Bay of Biscay. This start was chosen to be 26 April 1811, based on the position of Antares and the Moon. This was simply the midpoint of when those were a visible. Beyond that, there is reasonable agreement between celestial sighting and voyage events. Enjoy.

DesolationIs062013A.key                        DesolationIsland062013A pptx

Desolation Island


Map of actual battle of HMS Java and USS Constitution off of Recife, Brazil, 29 December 1812, as reported in Fortune of War, pp.  120-124. from USS Constitution Museum, photo by W. Benjamin Bray

Photo below of Massachusetts Bay was taken from Deer Island by W. Benjamin Bray during the Boston Tall Ships 2017 event (  This view would be exactly, except for time related differences, of the water where the battle of the USS Chesapeake and HMS Shannon occurred 1 June 1813 (King, Dean, Harbors and High Seas. Third Ed., 2000, page 101. The ship shown is the Oliver Hazard Perry


Comments are closed.