Gunboat 81 UpdatedJeffersonian Gunboat 81 built in Newburyport MA 1807. Scratch Model 1:64.
On September 18, 1813, the US Sloop of War Wasp was launched from Merrill’s shipyard in Newburyport; she was rated as a 20 gun ship. Captain Johnston Blakeley who had commanded Enterprise was now in command of Wasp . From the first day he arrived in Newburyport, Blakeley noted the great vulnerability of his ship and the port in general. Secretary Jones ordered Bainbridge to send two of his gunboats to the Merrimack to protect Blakeley’s ship from the enemy, and to assist in fitting out and equipping it.
Gunboats No. 81 under Sailing Master (Captain) Cushman and No. 83 under Captain Brown arrived and anchored abreast the sloop of war Wasp at Horton’s Wharf in Newburyport. Each was armed with a long 24-pounder and a 12 pound carronade and had a crew of 16 men. Cushman was, apparently, happy to be relieved of the boring duty of guarding Boston and finally free to cruise for contraband.
Many British armed vessels were, from time to time, seen hovering on the coast. One, the Majestic , a 56 gun razee continued watching the harbor for some time while Wasp was lying at Horton’s wharf. It was supposed that the crew of Majestic had in mind the capture of Wasp and the gunboats. It was rumored in town that she had landed a party of thirty men at Plum Island on November 23, 1813, and tried to bribe the keeper of the lights to pilot her up to town. Although the bar was far too shallow to allow Majestic to enter the Merrimack River, it possessed more than five hundred well-armed sailors and marines. Majestic had captured a schooner on the day of the alleged landing on Plum Island and could have used it for an attack.
On the evening of November 24, 1813, gunboat No. 81 prepared for action. From Cushman’s log: “at 10 P.M. fired and scaled the Great Gun, Cannonade & Swivel reloaded the guns and got them in readiness for immediate service.” Cushman took on board four of Wasp’s best men and then “dropped further to the eastward” down the Merrimack to receive the attack alongside its twin No. 83. Majestic subsequently made off without crossing the bar and the schooner was left anchored off the beach.
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USS Flying Fish UpdatedScratch built USS Flying Fish on the US Exploring Expe dition 1838 - 1842. Plank on Frame 1:64 scale.
In 1838 the New York pilot boat “Independence” was sold to the US Navy and renamed USS Flying Fish. It was a replacement for one of two survey vessels found unfit for use in the US Exploring Expedition. It stayed with the fleet of the expedition and went south to the Antarctic. In 1842 it was found incapable of the return and was sold in Singapore to become the opium runner Spec.
HMS Beagle UpdatedScratch built (some bought fittings) HMS Beagle 1:64 from the Anatomy of a Ship Book. Construction was plank (basswood) on bulkhead (poplar).
Extracts from the Admiralty Survey Instructions 1831
"A considerable difference still exists in the longitude of Rio de Janeiro, as determined by Captains King, Beechey, and Foster, on the one hand, and Captain W. F. Owen, Baron Roussin, and the Portuguese astronomers, on the other; and as all our meridian distances in South America are measured from thence, it becomes a matter of importance to decide between these conflicting authorities. Few vessels will have ever left this country with a better set of chronometers, both public and private, than the Beagle; and if her voyage be made in short stages, in order to detect the changes which take place in all chronometers during a continuous increase of temperature, it will probably enable us to reduce that difference within limits too small to be of much import in our future conclusions."
"The track he should pursue in executing this important duty cannot well be prescribed here, without foreseeing to what part of the coast he may have pushed the survey, and at what place he may find it convenient to take in his last supplies. If he should reach Guayaquil, or even Callao, it would be desirable he should run for the Galapagos, and, if the season permits, survey that knot of islands."
Charles Darwin at 22 was a passenger on HMS Beagle and had a bunk in the chartroom which was at the rear of the upper deck.