Lost at Sea Part VII

Friday, August 4, 2017 0 comments

Drifting astern...

Here is the next part of my serial story from our Role Play group The Airship's Messdeck.

You can start from the beginning here.

Previously Max and his shipmates from the HMAS Velvet Brush, are struggling to keep the aged steam trawler Argo from being driven against the iron bound coast of Norway, following one of the greatest storms ever recorded.  The ship has been damaged and even though the storm is finally releasing them from its grip the swell is driving them relentlessly astern towards the breakers.

Enjoy Part VII.

Keep your sightglass full, your firebox trimmed, and your water iced.

Lost at Sea
A serial story from The Messdeck.
Part VII
  by Kevin Jepson

   *Another hour and a very welcome mug of Miss BB's hot tea later, sans medicine unfortunately, and the sky has become lighter. There is a definite horizon now.
    *For Max, the view out the shattered front of the Argo's pilot house is anything but encouraging however. As the light grows the long serried ranks of rollers can be seen looming up in front of the Argo. Their crests blowing spray and cascading in foam down their steepening fronts.*

   Grimly holding the broken wheel, he mutters to himself, "Like being in front of a bloody cavalry charge that is! Still as long as we can hold our position we may be able to get off this shore now that the wind is dropping."

    *The wind has indeed begun to drop away and the brightening sky shows spreading dark blue spaces with only the brightest stars still shining to the West. Now that the wind is no longer screaming, Max can feel the steady thump of the Argo's engine beneath him and hear the terrifying bass notes of the surf astern.*

    *It is a struggle to keep the Argo's bow pointed directly into the waves. For a while, after the mast had collapsed, it had actually been easier as freed of the resistance up forward the wind had helped to keep the Argo pointed correctly. Now it takes both Max and Mr Angus to hold her as she exhibits a frightening tendency to turn broadside to as she charges down the wave fronts into the troughs. Even a moments carelessness would cause them to broach and roll broadside to the waves. They would be swept helpless into the breakers as the Argo's engine would not be powerful enough to correct their course against the surf in time.*

    Mr Angus, stolidly guiding his labouring ship, along with Max at the wheel, suddenly lifts his head, like a hunting hound who smells the stag on the wind.

    "Something's wrong with the engine!"

    Max listens carefully to the steady thumping. "Maybe running a little slower but..."

    "No Laddy, I know my ship like I know me own hands and I tell ye something is amiss"

    *There is definite change in the engine vibrations now, a subtle slowing without the engine actually seeming to slow down. *

    Iveta scrambles up the ladder from the cabin. "We are loosing ground Sir! Last quarter of an hour we have definitely gotten closer to the line of breakers."

    "Blast! How long before we are in them? Can you tell how fast we are moving astern Lieutenant?"

    "Hard to tell Sir. The shoreline is still in shadow but the ground rises sharply beyond, I would say at our current rate maybe an hour at most."

    "That low patch in the surf, can you tell what is beyond it?"

    "Not really Sir, the shoreline seems to swing away to the east at that point. There is a slight north set to the tide though, so we are moving towards it."

    "Right, see if you can get a better idea what's beyond that patch and try to estimate if we will be abreast of it before we are in the breakers."

    "Aye aye Sir!" Iveta drops down the ladder.

    "And what bloody Navy foolishness are ye planning now Laddy?"

    Max gives a grim smile. "I'm not sure yet Mr Angus, depends on what the Navigator can tell us."

    *The engine vibration is harder now, a slight knocking can be felt through the deck.*

    Simpson scrambles up the ladder drenched in sweat and covered in grease and coal dust. "Sir! The sea water has gotten into the oil and the bearings are overheating. I tried to rig up a secondary oil supply but the bearings are mostly shot. We're going to steadily loose power until they seize."

    Max shakes his head. "God Dammit! Somebody really doesn't want us to get back to Scapa! How long?"

    "Half an hour maybe three quarters, she's working damn hard, something could let go as the vibration gets worse and that would be that."

    Mr Angus swears loudly then shakes his head sadly. "She's done well to keep going this long, we should have been retired years ago."

    "Well she hasn't quit fighting yet, and as long as she keeps swimming we don't have to! Simpson get below and have the boys stoke the boiler as best they can to be able to run unattended for an hour or so then get them up out of the stoke hold."

    "Aye aye Sir!"

    "Lieutenant Bueckert!"

  Miss B.B. climbs up the ladder clutching a teapot in her hand. "Yes Sir?"

 "Get the Navigator and come back quick as you can."

 "Ok...er.. Aye Sir"

  "Mr Angus I'm afraid we are going to have to put your fine ship ashore. Without power we'll be on the rocks anyway, least ways we can maybe choose where while we have some control."

    The old fisherman, now grey like the seas boiling around his struggling ship, simply nods and grimly continues to keep her head aimed squarely into the waves.

   *Iveta and Miss B.B clamber up into the wheelhouse*

   Iveta says,"Sir, at our current speed we will be abreast of the smoother patch just before we hit the surf line. It is not a lot smoother though."

   "Our engine power is failing so we will likely loose ground faster. Any idea what the smoother patch is?"

   "Looks like a pinnacle of rocks out front of the shore, at this state of the tide they are awash but I bet they aren't when it is low. Looks like there is a gap in them, though it isn't very wide. The shore beyond is a ways back, could be a bay."

   Mr Angus says "We can't turn and run into that spot. We would be rolled over before we could get around."

   "Then maybe can get there before we loose our engine. As we surf down these waves see if we can angle a bit to the north and maybe gain on that patch. Let's make use of what engine power we have left and back down onto it. We won't have much control but it's better than none at all!"

    "Aye true enough."

*Max follows Mr Angus' lead at the damaged wheel as, gritting his teeth, the old fisherman begins to carefully angle the old Argo to the north slightly as she slides down the back of each passing swell.  The rumble of the surf astern is louder and the knocking from the engine beneath their feet is like the ticking of some demonic clock.*

A Sea of Words

Sunday, July 23, 2017 0 comments

All the words!

In the early 18th C there was a kind of mania for "dictionaries". While often oriented to the rapidly expanding vocabulary of English, they also covered many distinct subjects.
Many Victorians in the 19th C would recognize these subjects.
Some persist to this day others have faded from the main stream of academic pursuits.

This is from "The New World of Words: or a Universal English Dictionary" by John Philips, first published in 1706, (edited by John Kersey 6th edition). The 6th edition included, "A brief Explication of all terms that relate to the Arts and Sciences, either Liberal or Mechanical, viz."

Here is the list:
Grammar, Rhetorick, Logic, Theology, Law, Metaphysicks, Ethicks, Natural Philosophy, Natural History, Physick, Surgery, Anatomy, Chymistry, Pharmacy, Botanicks, Arithmetick, Geometry, Astronomy, Astrology, Cosmography, Hydrography, Navigation, Architecture, Fortification, Dialling, Surveying, Gauging, Opticks, Catopticks, Diopticks, Perspective, Musick, Mechanicks, Statics, Chiromanct, Physiognomy, Heraldry, Merchandise, Maritime and Military affairs, Agriculture, Gardening, Handicrafts, Jewelling, Painting, Carving, Engraving, Confectionery, Cookery, Horsemanship, Hawking, Hunting, Fowling, Fishing, etc.
I suspect there was still a lot included under "etc"

Keep your sightglass full, your firebox trimmed, and your water iced.

Lost at Sea Part VI

Thursday, May 11, 2017 0 comments

An iron bound coast

Here is the next part of my serial story from our Role Play group The Airship's Messdeck.

You can start from the beginning here.

Previously Max and his crew are trapped, aboard a labouring steam trawler, in a massive storm raging across the North Sea. They have been battling the storm for days, the old Argo unable to steam through it and unable to run without being swamped by the merciless storm.
A great wave breaking across the bow has broken the mast and smashed the front of the wheelhouse.
Max orders Iveta and Simpson to lash the remains of the mast to the rail to keep it from smashing in the hatch cover...

 Enjoy Part VI

Keep your sightglass full, your firebox trimmed, and your water iced.

Lost at Sea
A serial story from The Messdeck.
Part VI
  by Kevin Jepson

    "Breakers Astern!"

    *Words to chill the heart of any sailor, especially in the dark of a subarctic night and close to an unseen lee shore!
    Max and Angus, teeth chattering and skin blue from the icy sea water blasting across them through the wreck of the pilothouse wall, struggle to keep the Argo's head into the massive Atlantic rollers.*

    Max, spluttering out sea water calls below "Lieutenant Bueckert!"

    Miss B.B. climbs quickly up the ladder from the cabin below "Yes? Sir"

    "I need you to  tell the Navigator to go aft and see if she can get an estimate of how far off the shore we are. Also, and this is important, unless the breakers are right under our ass... er stern... she is to take her time and try to determine if we are getting closer or we are holding our ground. Understood?"

    "I'll tell her."

    "Thank you and send Simpson up!"

    *As miss B.B. heads down the ladder Max can hear the hatch slam shut and soon Simpson is climbing up into the wreck of the wheelhouse. Seawater pours off his jacket and pools around him, his hands are shaking from the cold*

    Christ if we don't get out of this soon we'll freeze to death! If we aren't smashed and drowned first.

    "Simpson, get below to the Chirper, if it's still workable let me know the moment it gets shallow enough to anchor."

    "No point laddy!" says Mr Angus before Simpson can reply. "The coast hereabouts is steep to, you could have every link of chain out and you'd hit the rocks before the anchor touched bottom! Our only chance is to try to claw off. The wind is dropping maybe we can make some headway."

    Simpson looks at Max. "Sir?"

    *Max watches the waves breaking across the deck below, a grey glow in the darkness, it is starting to get lighter. The wind has definitely dropped but the rollers are even bigger than before and they are trying to push the Argo back every time one passes.*

    "Damn! Get below and check with the lads, make sure all is well with the engine. I'll try to give you some warning if the Navigator says we are going to hit the shore."

    "Aye aye Sir." Simpson gives a wan smile, "Least wise it's warmer down there!"

    Yes the wind is definitely less, and there are more stars, maybe we can actually see what we are in for now Max me lad.

    After what seems like an eternity Miss B.B. comes up the ladder and starts talking. Having memorized the message that Iveta had given her she starts counting on her fingers as she says, "Cannot tell how far off we are, nothing for scale. Seem to be holding at current distance neither approaching or receding. Breakers are continuous wall of surf except for a patch like river rapids... ah... she said 30 degrees Starboard Quarter?"

    "River rapids?"

    "Yes that is what she said. I asked her and she pointed it out to me, it is a lower patch in the surf, darker than the others, still very nasty looking to me though."

    "Very good, thank you Lieutenant. Get below and maybe see if you can get us some tea eh?"

    "Ok, we don't have any milk or sugar though, maybe I could put some medicine in it for you."

    Max laughs, shaking his head to get the sea water out of his eyes. "Aye ma'am that would be perfect! Make sure Lt Baleva get's some first."

    "Ok. Yes she is very cold I think, even though she doesn't show it." And with that Miss B.B. drops below.

    *As the Argo continues to struggle against the waves there is a new sound, felt rather than heard. A low rumble, like the bass note of some fiendish pipe organ, the sound of surf against cliffs of hard Norwegian granite.*

Part VII is here.

Ahhhh, Spring time and a young man's fancy turns to...

Sunday, April 2, 2017 0 comments

Parasol Duelling!

The first formal competition of the season will soon be upon us!

The Third Annual Spring Regionals in Calgary Alberta, Canada.

Ladies grab your Parasols and join the fun.

Keep your sightglass full, your firebox trimmed, and your water iced.

For more information and to find out more about this great sport go to:
Madame Saffron Hemlock’s Parasol Duelling League for Steampunk Ladies

Click here for information on the history and development of Parasol Duelling 
or click the Parasol Duelling tag.

The Rules for Parasol Duelling are here.

New Maddie Hatter Book!

Sunday, March 26, 2017 0 comments

A New Adventure.

Maddie Hatter, intrepid investigator and fashion reporter, has a new adventure coming out!

Check out this teaser trailer.

Keep your sightglass full, your firebox trimmed and your water iced.

More info on Maddie here at Jayne Barnard's blog:
Clockworks and Crime

Lost at Sea Part V

Friday, March 10, 2017 0 comments

An Ocean Greybeard.

Here is the next part of my serial story from our Role Play group The Airship's Messdeck.

You can start from the beginning here.

Previously Max and his crew are trapped in a massive storm raging in the North Sea. They had been sent out to continue the testing of the Chirper after the engines in their old airship had failed. The Argo, an aged steam fishing trawler, is a sturdy ship but she continues to be battered by the merciless storm.  Max has asked Iveta and Simpson to try and determine their location, fearful that they may be running out of sea room.

Enjoy Part V.

Keep your sightglass full. your firebox trimmed and your water iced.

Lost at Sea
A serial story from The Messdeck.
Part V
  by Kevin Jepson

 *Max is sitting at the table in the cabin of the Argo. Iveta has her charts laid out. Miss BB is tinkering with her aetherwave gear trying to bring in some kind of signal. Everyone looks tired, dirty, coal blackened, and salt encrusted. The Argo is still swinging and bucking in the seas but there has been a change in the waves since sunset, still chaotic but there is now a much larger heave and surge to them.*

Hanging tightly to the edge of the table he peers at Iveta's charts. "Are you sure about this Lieutenant?"

"Yes Sir. As best I can work out we must be north of the Skagerrak and off the coast of Norway."

"Hmmm, that explains the change in the seas then, we are getting the big rollers from the Atlantic here. They been streaming East from Greenland with nothing but the Faeroes to get in their way.  How close to the coast are we?"

"I haven't determined that yet Sir. We may be very close, hard to tell without a good sun or star sight."

Well done Lieutenant."

 "Thank you Sir."

 Max listens to the slight change in sound of the wind and seas roaring against the Argo's hull. "Well the storm seems to finally be letting us out of its grip and the sky should clear. Maybe we can finally make some headway West again."

 Miss BB, looking very worn but no longer quite so green, says, "Ohhhh I have a signal, very faint... oh dear... lost it again. Wasn't admiralty codes though."

 "Keep trying Lieutenant, will we be able to transmit again?"

 "No I don't think so... Sir. Too much salt in the machine."

"If you pick up anything that can help Lt Baleva get a better fix on our position that would help."

 "I will let her know if I do."

  Max smiles. "Thank you, glad to see you are beginning to get yer sea legs lieutenant."

 Miss BB smiles a thin tired smile. "I don't know why anyone would want sea legs, too wet and cold, I prefer my air legs."

  "Ha, and that be true an all..."

 *There is a sudden change in the motion of the Argo and all three grab the table to hold on, the bow is tossed upwards with a jerk. There is a sudden shout from both Mr Angus and Simpson at the wheel above, followed by the Argo almost lurching to a stop. The crash of something solid hitting the cabin is followed by the sound of breaking glass. A torrent of icy cold seawater floods down the ladder from the wheelhouse.*

 *Scrambling from the table Max grabs the base of the ladder up to the wheelhouse, sea water is still pouring down, he can hear the sound of the wind and waves above him.*

 Christ it's like the wheelhouse is gone...

Simpson shouts down from the wheelhouse "We lost the mast Sir. Mr Angus is down and the wheel is damaged Sir."

 "Lt Baleva get below and check with the lads, make sure that hatchway ain't breached or we'll be swimming!"

 "Aye aye Sir" and Iveta drops quickly down the ladder to the stokehold.

 *Max sees Miss BB desperately clinging to the table, her aetherwave gear, wrenched from the table, is spread across the floor in pieces.*

 "Oh, oh, sorry, sorry it came loose, oh my!"

 "Follow me up to help in the wheelhouse!"

 *Ms BB eyes the ladder still streaming with water nervously, her face is now white and she makes no move to release the table*

 "Lieutenant!" Max snaps at Miss BB.

 Then he says more calmly "Beulah, lets go and check Mr Angus and Phillip shall we, they will need our help."

 "Oh, oh yes I'll come too"

 *Max climbs the ladder, the wheelhouse in a shambles. The whole front of the wheelhouse is stove in. Simpson is struggling to hold the damaged wheel as best he can, Mr Angus is slumped against the wall of the wheelhouse. The wind and spray is blowing in as if they were on the open deck.*

 Max quickly checks Mr Angus, the old seaman is stunned but still conscious and trying to stand up, Max puts a hand on his shoulder, "Here now you old salt you just sit tight for a bit, Lt Bueckert will help you."

 Spitting out seawater Mr Angus says "Och we hit a greybeard that broke right in front of us, never saw it coming in the darkness. The mast broke at the deck, crane yard went right across the wheelhouse as it went."

 Miss BB comes up the ladder her eyes wide at the mess. "Oh my... oh my!"

"Lieutenant look after Mr Angus!"


 *Max reaches the wheel and grabs the unbroken part and then looks to check the compass heading. The compass has been smashed! Looking out into the spray for the mast he sees it lodged  between the hatch and the rail. The foaming green seas are still washing across the deck with no sign of entering the hull.*

Thank the Lord it missed that hatch or we would be in Davey Jones' Locker already.

 "You OK Simpson?"

 "Aye Sir! Were a great block from the crane arm went right through us like a wrecking ball Sir."

 Iveta comes up the ladder from the cabin "All's secure below Sir! Bit of leakage through the deck but the pumps are handling it."

 "Good, take Simpson and one of the lads and try to lash that mast down so it can't come loose and punch a hole in us."

 "Aye aye Sir!"

 "Be careful... and no heroics!"

 Simpson grins at Max. "Who, us?" and then turns to follow Iveta down the ladder.

 *With the help of Miss BB Mr Angus gets to his feet and grabs the wheel.*

 "Lt Bueckert, go and assist the Navigator and Simpson if you can, but don't go on deck unless you have to, understood?"

 "Yes Sir." and she carefully heads down the ladder.

 *The seas continue to break across the deck but the wind has definitely slackened and Max catches glimpses of stars through the scudding clouds. While he and Mr Angus struggle to keep the Argo's head firmly aimed into the wind, Simpson and Iveta, carefully tied to the rail, begin to get lines across the bulk of the mast where it is wedged tight against the rail.*

Christ! It's like you never left the surface navy at all, we belong in the air not on the sea!

 *After a half hour in the churning icy water, Iveta and Simpson finally get the broken mast lashed down and start to head back towards the cabin.*

They both stop, staring aft,  pointing and waving Simpson shouts, "Breakers astern!"

Part VI is here.

Parasol Duelling

Sunday, February 12, 2017 0 comments

Ladies! Are you ready?

Grab your parasols and get ready to compete in the elegant sport of Ladies Parasol Duelling.

 For more information and to find out more about this great sport go to:
Madame Saffron Hemlock’s Parasol Duelling League for Steampunk Ladies

Click here for information on the history and development of Parasol Duelling 
or click the Parasol Duelling tag.

The Rules for Parasol Duelling are here.

Keep your sightglass full, your firebox trimmed, and your water iced.

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