By Dean King
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Additional resources for A Sea of Words, Third Edition: A Lexicon and Companion to the Complete Seafaring Tales of Patrick O'Brian
It was this order that sent Admiral Lord Howe in search of French Admiral Villaret-Joyeuse, then convoying American grain from the Chesapeake Bay. Engaging him on the “Glorious First of June” in 1794, Howe’s line of battle sliced through the French line and engaged it from leeward, capturing six ships and sinking one. But Howe paid little attention to the merchant ships, which reached France with the much-needed grain. In the West Indies, Vice-Admiral Sir John Jervis with Lieutenant-General Sir Charles Grey set about capturing French colonies.
In 1786, the growing Admiralty bureaucracy expanded into a new yellow brick building joined to the Admiralty on the south. Here on the ground floor were three large state rooms for the First Lord’s official entertaining. Above that, two floors housed mainly the private apartments of the First Lord but also the Admiralty Library. The Admiralty was not the only office that managed naval affairs. There were a variety of other boards and offices in London that dealt with specific aspects of the Navy.
You build with each new term, and before you know it, it all crystallizes. You have ascended through the morass of rigging to the maintop, and as you look down, the ship becomes a coherent organic entity. At that point the vocabulary becomes manageable. The act of, say, “hauling in the cable and fishing the best bower at the starboard cathead” is easily recognizable as pulling in the anchor and hanging it on the bow, indeed, a specific anchor on a specific part of the bow. Third, O’Brian uses a variety of spellings and hyphenations for many words, so it pays to be a little flexible when searching for a term in A Sea of Words.