There I was sat up in bed this morning, reading my current bedtime read of Patrick O’Brian, when I came upon a passage that I thought I must share with my Lexican pals, for t’was they – well the Navy guys anyway – it made me think of and smile when I read it:
Picture the time, it is 1812 during the reluctant Britain/America `war that should never have happened` and a British warship under the command of the legendary Captain Jack Aubery (aka “Lucky Jack”) is on the trail of an American warship that has been raiding whalers in the South Atlantic. A sail is spotted on the horizon and crafty Captain Jack reduces sail to remain just below the horizon, plotting a course to intercept the next day.
At first dawn there she lay, placidly holding her course under the low grey sky……. Jack was on deck in his nightshirt……his whole heart and soul had been turned to the chase – he had been engaged in naval war for more than twenty years and he was very much of a sea-predator, perfectly single-minded when there was the near liklihood of violent action – and now in his most natural voice in the world he said, “Good day to you, master gunner. I fear there will be no great chance of expending your stores this morning.” The rising sun proved that he was right: It showed a line of figures leaning along the stranger’s rail in easy attitudes, some with moustaches, some smoking cigars. The United States Navy, though easy-going and even at times verging upon the democratic, never went to such extremes as this; and indeed the chase turned out to be the `Estrella Polar`, a Spanish merchantman from Lima for the River Plate and Spain.
Yes, `easy going verging upon the democratic` is one thing, but leaning along the rail, moustachio’d and smoking cigars? No, not The United States Navy.
I enjoyed that.