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HM Schooner Pickle Research

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Researching HM Schooner Pickle


Believing that very little information on the ship still existed, the research for Pickle, by our designer, started out as his own personal project for a book. During this research, several important facts were found making the production of an accurate representation of Pickle, in kit form, possible. Although impossible to provide details of all the research and findings, the below information formed the backbone of the kit development. Further details will be available from our designer and an announcement will be made on this website when his book is published.

Although certain sources state that Pickle was built in Plymouth, including Burns, K.V. ‘Plymouth’s Ships of War’, 1972, which states ‘The schooner Pickle was built as the Sting and purchased as an armed tender by Lord Hugh Seymour in 1800’, it is far more likely that she was built in Bermuda. Firstly because the British designed and built Schooners were unpopular, being criticised by Admiral the Earl St Vincent who called them
a plague and bother to all who have them under their orders
going on to say that they were
no more like Bermudian Vessels than they are like Indian Praams; if any more are built … the [Ber]Mudian builders [must be] left to their own discretion”.

Also, it is known that the schooner Sting was one of several vessels seized in harbour when the Dutch island of Curaçoa was capitulated by Captain William Frederick Watkins of the 36-gun frigate Nereide; furthermore it is known that this seized Sting was the schooner purchased by Lord Hugh Seymour in January 1801 and renamed Pickle.

Although no line drawings for Pickle survive (or have currently been found) the master’s log for Pickle, dated 21 February 1802, records a number of her dimensions. With these figures, coupled to the fact that Pickle [Sting] was almost certainly Bermuda built, line drawings for a similar Bermuda built schooner were found and used as a basis for the kit, a comparative table of the stated dimensions for Pickle to the dimensions of the line drawings used now follows:

Stated Dimensions for Pickle
Admiralty Line Drawing Dimensions
Length on Gun Deck
73ft 0in
72ft 4in
Length of Keel for Tonnage
56ft 3¾in
54ft
Breadth
20ft 7¼in
22ft 3in
Depth in Hold
9ft 6in
9ft 8in
Tonnage
127 tons
133 tons


It should also be noted that ‘Tonnage’ as noted in the table above bears no relation to the weight of the vessel, it is actually an arbitrary ship builders figure defined in Lyon, David ‘The Sailing Navy List – All the ships of the Royal Navy built, purchased and captured – 1688-1860’ as follows:

This is Builders Old Measurement worked out according to the naval formula: a measure of burthen (carrying capacity, ie. volume of the hull) rather than of displacement or therefore of weight. It follows that this sort of ton has no metric equivalent. The way in which it was calculated changed slightly in the early eighteenth century. It was based on a formula involving length of keel for tonnage, breadth and depth in hold, the result being divided by 94; which explains the fractions being in ninety-fourths. This is the figure given in contemporary documents and does at least give some standard of comparison for different vessels. Like the dimensions the tonnage figures are normally the design ones for ships and classes built for the Navy; for prizes and purchases they are the specific ‘as taken off’ figures.

As the dimensions for length on gun deck, length of keel for tonnage, breadth and depth in hold for Pickle and the line drawings used are so similar, coupled to the fact that the tonnage figures are also very similar, it follows that the overall hull shape for Pickle would have been almost identical to the line drawings on which the kit has been based.

There is also a contemporary aquatint engraving by the famous marine artist Robert Dodd, well known not only for his ability to capture the atmosphere of a battle but also for his technical accuracy. Robert Dodd lived and worked at 41 Charing Cross Road (now Whitehall), advertised as “six doors from the Admiralty”, and Naval Officers regularly visited him with information or to commission or buy pictures - this is exactly what Lieutenant John Richards Lapenotiere did in November 1805. This one painting, now of the Warwick Leadlay Gallery, is therefore the most accurate representation of Pickle available today, not only because it was painted by Robert Dodd but because he did so with Lapenotiere leaning over his shoulder. The engraving is titled "Victory of Trafalgar in the Rear" and Pickle can be seen on the right, rescuing the crew of the French Achille.

Although the general information and sources are too numerous to list here, the following are a selection of the more important known facts about Pickle:

She was a topsail schooner.
She was coppered to the waterline.
She had seven gunports plus two stern chase ports.
She carried two ships boats.
At the Battle of Trafalgar she carried 6x12pounder carronades.
At the Battle of Trafalgar she was manned by a crew of 40 men.

Further details will be available from our designer and an announcement will be made on this website when his book is published.



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To order, call:
+44 (0)1905 776 073
Or buy online at
www.shipwrightshop.com

To order, call:
+44 (0)1905 776 073
Or buy online at
www.shipwrightshop.com