Captain's Log, HMS Golden Harp, 2 August '07
- It has been a seemingly endless commission, this past year. Beginning in Portsmouth in Summer 06, HMS Golden Harp (44), having been refurbished and refit, seemed a new ship to me. In many ways it was, especially with so many of her original crew having gone to other ships or to the wind. I count myself highly fortunate that those closest to me returned when I was able to regain her captaincy.
The first few weeks into the Atlantic, I began fearing that the new men would never meld together into the happy band I remembered from HM Sloop Firefly (16), HMS Erie (38) and my first commission on the Golden Harp. Fortunately (from the view of training), unfortunately (from the view of prizes), there was little to see in the Atlantic crossing, save several ships that turned out to be American. From the smell of one, I knew her to be a blackbirder, but her paperwork was in order and there was little I could do but send her on her way.
Arriving in Antigua, I duly reported to Vice Admiral Sir Alan Burkhead. I counted myself lucky to be traveling under Admiralty orders to join Admiral Sir Robert and the squadron in the Indian Ocean. I know Sir Alan would have dearly loved to have Golden Harp under his command, but his reputation precedes him and I was happy to be able to re-provision and be on my way.
I was hopeful of reaching cooler latitudes in the south before hurricane season began in earnest and in this hope, I was fulfilled. We did run into one rather severe blow off the coast of Brazil but the crew, now acting as a unit, more or less, responded brilliantly and we weathered the storm with little damage.
The real challenge, though was rounding Cape Horn, it being winter in the southern hemisphere. The Cape and Straits of Magellan were as fearful as their reputation. For days on end, we saw no hint of sun and only lashing winds, driving rain, sleet, snow and ice. After seven endless days, the sun finally broke through and OBrien was able to steer us northerly. The sun notwithstanding, it was still cold, but at least we had broken into the Pacific. I laid in a course for the Galapagos Islands where we would take on water.From the Galapagos, we headed across the Pacific, touched in Australia for supplies then made for Bombay. When I reported to Rear Admiral Kimberley, I learned that I had just missed seeing Captain Brad. The admiral informed me of his misfortunes. He presented me with orders to escort a convoy of the Honourable Company, despite being under Admiralty Orders. Convoy duty. I might have felt sorry for myself had I not known of Captain Brad's fortunes.2 August '07, Portsmouth'Tis a pleasure to finally part ways with the damnable donkeys and their even more damnable captains. Captains! I consider that to be strictly an honorary title when it comes to dealing with merchant ships. Lord knows we have enough fools in the Service, but I'd take the worst of them over most merchant masters. How many times did I consider crossing the T of several of the ships in my convoy and letting fly a volley?One thing that can be said, however, is that the crew of the Golden Harp has circumnavigated the world, tasted storms and shot and now functions as well as any crew I can name.I gathered together my papers, donned my best unform and had Matuszak and my boat crew bring me ashore to report to the powers that be.Captain Mark G.HMS Golden Harp (44)