Lost at Sea Part III

Thursday, December 15, 2016 0 comments

Storm tossed

Here is the third part of my serial tale from our role play group "The Airship's Messdeck".

You can start from the beginning here.

Previously, Max and his crew have been caught in a violent storm out in the North Sea, having been sent out to continue their testing of the "Chirper" after the engine of their old airship, the Doris, had failed. They are aboard an old fishing trawler called the Argo.  The trawler is a sturdy ship but the storm is growing worse and Lt Baleva, the navigator, is out on the trawler's lone mast trying to fix the aetherwave antenna.

Enjoy Part III.

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

Lost at Sea
A serial story from The Messdeck.
Part III
  by Kevin Jepson
Josanna Justine

*Max watches as Iveta reaches the base of the mast after securing the wire. The seas are now continually breaking across the deck in a welter of icy green water and white foam.*

Max shakes his head. "She'll never get across all that! Mr Angus can you steer us slightly off the wind and bring the seas more on the bow to give her a better chance?"

"Aye I'll try, an maybe we can but if'n we fall off the other way we'll broach and then more 'n likely that hatchway will cave in and that will be that!"

"See what you can do if you please."

*Max heads down the ladder to the galley space just as Simpson comes up from below.*

"Simpson, get a line ready and head out on deck. The Navigator is up on the bow and you'll need to help her get back across."

"Aye aye Sir! What is she doing out there in this?"

"She went aloft to repair the comms. Now go! Mr Angus is going to try to steer to reduce the waves but you won't have much time."

"Aye aye Sir!"
*Simpson grabs a line from a locker and, tying himself into the end, carefully opens the hatch and steps out onto the icy deck.  Making sure the hatch is securely dogged shut he quickly heads forward.  Struggling to the front of the cabin he ties the free end of the line to the rail and looks across the open, wave lashed deck to where Iveta can just be seen at the base of the mast. He waves until she sees him.*

*A solid mass of grey-green icy water promptly washes him off his feet.*


Saviours come in various shapes and sizes. Today’s came in the form of a “Simpson”. The sight of him had never caused, in Iveta, any emotion whatsoever - but on this occasion he may as well have been a ruggedly handsome, sword-wielding, battle-ready warrior for the rush of relief she felt at seeing him wave. And then be promptly knocked down by one. Top over tea-kettle. While the knightly vision may have been broken, there was no denying his courage, and Iveta knew she could not get back alone.

She watched him move as quickly as he could, the water and wind fighting him every step, while she worked to revive her numbed fingers and feet. She felt the ship moving a bit differently, altering the fury of the wind slightly, and knew that the others were also working hard to bring her in.

Iveta had grown up in the north, was easily familiar with winter and deep, bitter cold, but the ocean bites with a different kind of chill and she was humbled by it. It was only now, seeing Simpson struggle on her behalf, that she fully appreciated the danger in which she'd placed both herself and now, her crew mate.

When Simpson did finally reach the mast, ready to bring her back, "Thank you," was all Iveta could muster through chattering teeth.

He smiled, some of the formality broken for the moment.  Shouting to be heard over the roaring wind and sea he says, “Captain asked me to bring you an umbrella Ma'am.”.

The sheer unexpectedness of his words, combined with the adrenaline she’d already spent, and the grim reality that they might not make it back across the deck at all, broke Iveta into a strange, incongruous laugh. It was what she needed.

He held her fast as they anticipated the waves, alternately moving when it was clear and holding on when washed over.

Move. Wait. Hold on. Water. Air! Breathe. Move. Wait.

After crossing a deck seeming twice as long as it really was, they reached the hatch. The wind seemed to give one last angry scream, and Iveta would long remember the sound of the hatch closing in triumph. She lived. It took her a moment to apprehend that. Bone-chilled and bedraggled, she turned to thank Simpson once more, but being a good crewman, he was already off to attend to other duties. She had duties as well; she was Navigator, after all.

First, dry clothes. Then back to where she’d left BB, and to the work it would take to make it back. Though had anyone asked, she’d have been the first to admit that what she really wanted right then was a good, stiff drink.
Vodka, of course.

*Max comes down the ladder from the Argo's bridge and sees Iveta sitting at the table starting to work again. Simpson is working at the trawler's galley stove trying to get some water boiled for tea. Miss B.B. is sitting at the table eyes tight shut again, still clutching her bucket.*

"Are you okay Lieutenant Baleva, nothing broken or frozen?"

"No Sir. I am fine Sir."

"Glad to hear it!" Max takes his flask from the pocket in his jacket and hands it to Iveta. "Take a tot, that'll help yer blood to get moving."

"Thank you Sir."

 *Iveta takes a swig from Max's flask and hands it back and he carefully returns it to his pocket*

"And Lieutenant... if I EVER catch you doing anything as foolish as that again you will be spending your off watches polishing brass in the engine room!"


"I'll not loose one of her Majesty's finest navigators because that navigator decided to go for a stroll on the deck in a bloody gale! Is that clearly understood Lieutenant?"

 Iveta stiffens in her chair "Yes Sir!"

"Good! Now as soon as this gale allows I need to know our position so we can tell Mr Angus the course to get us back to Scapa."

"Aye Sir."

"Carry on Lieutenant."

*Max goes over to Miss B.B. and gently puts his hand on her shoulder.*

"You still with us Lieutenant?"

*Miss B.B. nods but doesn't open her eyes or say anything.*

"When we have our position please send a message to Scapa informing them that we are storm bound at this position and will return when conditions permit. OK?"

*Miss B.B. simply nods and Max pats her shoulder.*

"Carry on Lieutenant, we'll be out of this soon enough."

 Max heads to the ladder leading down into the stoke hold and as he starts to carefully climb down he says, "Simpson, when you can, get a hot drink to Mr Angus, I'm going to check on his boys below, we will need to spell them off. I tried to take a trick at the wheel but Mr Angus wouldn't let me! He's a crusty old bugger that one, won't let any bloody navy types get their mitts on his ship."

 "Heh, Aye aye Sir."

 *Max descends the ladder into the stoke hold.*

 Simpson, seeing Iveta sitting in her chair flexing her fingers and obviously a bit dismayed by Max's rebuke, says, "It's alright Ma'am. He was just scared for you is all."

 "He has a funny way of showing it."

  "Aye he does at that, but more an likely he'll sing yer praises in his report. He cares for his crew more than most and that's a fact Ma'am."

*And still the storm, howling and screeching, rages around them, the twisting and crashing of the hull amongst the waves a counterpoint to the rumbling roar of the breaking seas.*

Part IV is here.


(1) This section is written by the accomplished, elegant, and talented Josanna Justine, who is Iveta in our role play group

Lost at Sea Part II

Saturday, December 3, 2016 0 comments

A tumult and a tempest.

Here is the second part of my serial tale from our role play group "The Airship's Messdeck".

Previously Max and his crew have been sent out into the North Sea on an old fishing trawler, the Argo, to continue testing the Chirper for the Experimental Airship Division (the EAD) of the Royal Navy.
Far from their normal place in the relatively calm sky aboard the Royal Navy's experimental airship the HMAS Velvet Brush, they are now battling a rising gale.

Lost at Sea
A serial story from The Messdeck.
Part II
  by Kevin Jepson
Josanna Justine

*Max reaches the head of the stoke hold ladder and finds Miss B.B. still at the table clutching her bucket. She is staring at the watertight door that leads out to the deck, shaking her head. There is no sign of Iveta.*

 "Where is the Navigator Lieutenant?"

 "She, she is on deck s... sir!"

 Ah off to check the speed, so she will have to get to the fantail to avoid fouling the propeller with her log line... Christ one of the worst bloody places to be in this muck!

 "Did she go to test the speed?"

 "N... n... No Sir! Urk... sorry. I lost my aetherwave connection, she went to check if the wiring was still ok. Oh Sir! The water, the ice! I saw it all over the deck when she went out."

 *The Trawler gives another great corkscrewing crash into the seas.*

 Max hanging onto the top of the ladder, swears. "I hope she can hang on bloody tight! Time we were out of this!"

 *Max scrambles up the ladder to the little enclosed bridge of the Argo where Mr Angus is still grimly trying to hold the ordered course. The sea is now almost white, the howling gale ripping the tops off the seas and blasting them into the little ship. Water is streaming off the window of the bridge as if it was being drenched with a fire hose.*

 *A quick glance at the compass and Max orders the trawler's captain to abandon the pattern course and run for shelter*

 "Aye aboot bloody time too! We'll have to aim direct into this wind, we daren't let it get abaft of us or we'll get pooped. We don't have the speed to run safely before it an all."

 "Well at least we are heading the right direction!"

 *With careful adjustments of the wheel the old fisherman carefully turns the Argo towards the wind at a slight angle to the seas, the motion eases slightly but even more spray and solid water breaks across the open expanse of the deck and the hatch cover of the fish hold, beneath which Simpson is working on the chirper amid the stench and swirling fishy water.*

 Christ Max you fool, you should have been running for shelter hours ago!

 *Looking through the blowing spray and the tumult of white foaming water crashing across the open deck, he spots Iveta halfway up the trawlers lone mast. She is struggling with a wire that whips and snaps like an angry serpent.*

 Mr Angus spots her too. "By God! What is she doing out there. She is as good as dead, she'll never get back across that deck!"

 Max's heart races as he watches Iveta fight with the wire high up on the ice rimed and whipping mast. "What about the fore peak hatch?"

 "Aye, but it leaks so it is bolted shut from the inside. Someone would have to get it opened for them. And before she tries to get back across that deck!"
=========== (1)
 *On the wildly swaying mast, drenched in icy spray and battered by the gale, Iveta struggles to catch hold of the cable.*

 “Don’t look down, Iveta,” she tells herself, and grabs again at the flailing wire. Missed! Letting out a string of curses which would have burned the ears of any who could understand, she allows a moment to collect her thoughts. The pitch and toss of the sea made every movement more difficult, not to mention the spray and angry wind.

 She is a stranger to neither heights nor motion, yet even among the most agile of acrobats, there are stories that deserve multiple tellings over fire and vodka. If they finish well, that is. If not, they become sad songs at those same fires. Iveta had heard more than a few of those, and committed herself to living to tell this tale. “Oh, and there will be vodka for this one!”

    Readying herself for another try, she knows she must find that place of cold calm or risk losing both grip and life in the moments ahead. There is no net, and no one to help. That means no mistakes. Breathe. Move with the motion. Breathe. Strong grip, relaxed body. Breathe. Eyes fixed on moving target. Breathe. Timing is everything. Her mind reeled with a long practiced, sub-conscious knowledge of physics lived as a child; the numbers came later and it was years before she ‘learned’ what she had always known. Breathe. Move with the motion… Timing is everything…. Breathe….. There. Iveta’s eyes steeled into a deep, unwavering determination, making herself one with the relaxed tension needed focus on her quarry. The storm, for her, was over for now.

    NOW!! Muscle memory stretched to its finest allowed her to do all things at once: hold on, anticipate movement, and ultimately lunge for the wire ……… “Piekrišana!”

    It was an aerial feat worthy of applause, but there was only the roaring sea, and it didn’t seem impressed. With one hand she coiled the wire quickly and began the delicate work of reattaching the wire. This part was slightly easier as it merely required holding on as the Argo alternately crested and plunged among the waves. All factors aside, the connection came together simply enough and Iveta hoped it was working now, since BB wasn’t there to verify. It would have to do, and she was soaking wet and ready to be out of the wind. It was then she allowed herself to look down, and wondered if she might yet become a song sung over vodka.
    The mast heaved as if it were attached to an angry bull, and in between each salty spray of the black iron sea, Iveta scanned the deck for the best way, any way, to get below decks without first being washed overboard. The wind howled its presence constantly, but reading the sea, its rising and falling, she saw that there was almost a pattern –more than a little erratic, but a pattern nonetheless – and surmised that once she let go of the mast, she’d be able to make her way to one of the hatches if she could keep to the rails, and time it well. But all the hatches were closed…for now.

    It is not easy to trust one’s life to another, and what the volatile gale didn’t know was that she’d spent years flinging herself into the air, trusting hands that didn’t belong to her that she’d be caught in mid-flight. She remembered the first time she let go of the fly bar, somersaulting into the waiting grip of a fellow acrobat. Iveta was little more than a child at the time, and even with all the masterful training she’d had navigating heights, the fear she faced that day was not of falling. She’d fallen and been injured before. And by then, Iveta had confidence in her own abilities; but in someone else's training, timing, strength and courage? That was different. A catcher lacking in any of these could have easily caused her death. No. The true fear was in not being caught. Every flyer has to make peace with the helplessness in depending fully on the catcher. That initial rush of relief when coming out of the twist and seeing, as she reached, sure and strong hands ready for her shattered the fear and freed her to try new combinations. She could still feel the chalked hands as they clasped her wrists, working with gravity to toss her into another form. Force out. Hollow. Sweep - Gotcha! Ah yes, they were really something to behold.

    And here, frozen and clinging to a battered mast, those lessons served Iveta well as she watched, waiting for an opening that would be her haven from the storm. “BB knows where I am. If communications are up, she’ll give word.” For now, she busied herself by not letting go, and making note of each point on the ship that would provide a sure hold.

When the moment came she would be ready.

Part III is here.
(1) This section is written by the accomplished, elegant, and talented Josanna Justine, who is Iveta in our role play group.

Monturiol's Dream

Thursday, December 1, 2016 0 comments

A real submarine in 1867?

Previously I wrote about the amazing Ictineo II, the worlds first true submarine.

I am currently reading a fascinating book "Munturiol's Dream" by Mathew Stewart, published in 2004.

The book covers the life of this extraordinary man Narcís Monturiol.  A social revolutionary in turbulent 19th century Spain.  He lept at any chance to try to create a utopia. He was a staunch non-Marxist Communist and participated actively in many revolts and social actions, mostly in Barcelona, that hotbed of republican/utopian unrest in Spain.

What I find most fascinating was that Monturiol was NOT an engineer, he was trained as a lawyer and spent most of his time as a revolutionary publicist. His various journals, pamphlets, and news papers were popular amongst Barcelona's teeming thousands and he was regularly shut down by the authorities as a result. He was several times forced to go into exile in the countryside to avoid arrest.

So how did this revolutionary/utopian end up creating the marvelous machine that was the Ictineo II?

She was steam powered, made of wood, capable of diving to more than 100', with a mechanism for scrubbing carbon dioxide and whose engine generated oxygen for the crew!

Jules Verne's fictional Nautilus couldn't even do that, she had to surface to replenish her air supply.

A truly remarkable machine.

 Mathew Stewart's book chronicles how Monturiol, while in exile on the coast, observed coral divers working to harvest the brilliant coral that grows there. This was an incredibly dangerous job and resulted in many drownings. The divers simply held their breath and held a heavy rock to sink to the sea floor.

He had a dream in which a technological solution would be found to help these people in their dangerous business. In part he figured that if he could show that technological progress could help the poor coral divers without destroying anything, that his dream of a technological and scientific based Utopia could be shown to be feasible.

But he was not an engineer or scientist, he was a writer!

So he set about solving the problem by becoming a self taught engineer. He learned the latest physics, chemistry, materials science, fabrication techniques, everything needed. He conducted experiments and recorded his results. In short he became the classic "Mad Scientist" beavering away on his own to develop a contraption that others thought impossible to achieve.

Chronically short of money, he found surprising support amongst his fellow Utopians and managed to bring his designs to fruition. However that same lack of money meant that his incredible invention was never used or further developed because it was seized for lack of payment of his harbour docking fees and destroyed.

A fascinating technological look at Monturiol's design, and also a look at his time and the point in history that gave birth to the Ictineo II

A highly recommended read.

Monturiol's Dream
The Extraordinary Story of the Submarine Inventor who wanted to save the World.

Mathew Stewart




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

Lost at Sea Part I

Friday, November 4, 2016 0 comments

A New Adventure

Here is the second of three serial tales from our Role Playing Group "The Airship's Messdeck".

The story is presented here pretty much as it appeared in our role play.

Note that Max (me) tends to talk to himself in text without quotes, which is useful in the role play as a way to give out some more info.  Sections that begin and end with an '*' are descriptive.  I'll try to clarify history and details from previous role play as footnotes when necessary.

A special thanks to my fellow shipmates and partners in adventure:
Jayne Barnard
Stewart MacPhee
Monica Willard
Andrew Nadon
Karen Seimens
Jossana Justine
Christie Vanderloh
Sandor Sanchez
Thank you for your wit, your sense of fun, and your willingness to help create this wonderful world.

I hope you enjoy it.

Keep your sightglass full your firebox trimmed and your water iced

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

In my previous serial story from our Role Playing Group "The Airship's Messdeck", Chief Engineer Lt Cmdr(E) Maxwell MacDonald-Smythe, aka Max, was ordered to take an old airship, HMAS Doris, up to the Royal Navy base at Scapa Flow.

They were sent north by the Experimental Airship Division of the Admiralty, the EAD, to test a new machine called the Chirper, a kind of mechanical sonar.

With him were several members of the HMAS Velvet Brush's crew; Two members of his Black Gang, John Watkins and Philip Simpson (who invented the Chirper), the Navigator Lt Iveta Baleva, the communications officer Lt Beulah Bueckert, aka Miss BB, and two of the Marine contingent, Sgt Kade Fraser and Cpl Ellis Cooke.

For several months after their arrival in the dead of winter, they flew back and forth over the shallow waters of Scapa Flow testing the device. The continuous flying was eventually too much for the old engine of the Doris and it quit working. Max and part of his crew are then sent out on an old fishing trawler to continue the testing out in the middle of the stormy North Sea.

Now after several days of steaming the weather is starting to get bad...

The Argo (1)
 *Max is standing on the bridge of an old fishing trawler with the grandiose name of the "Argo". The owner and Skipper of the Argo, a Mr Angus, no surname Angus sufficing for both apparently, is struggling to keep the Argo on her heading in the choppy waves of the North Sea a hundred miles East of Scapa Flow. The trawler is bucking and swinging in all directions as it pounds northward into the waves.*

*During the last hour the sky has turned a steely grey with small dark clouds scudding across the veiled Sun from West to East. The seas are still mostly coming from the West but there is starting to be a slow heaving, a ground swell, rolling in from the North. Remnants of great Atlantic rollers that have pounded the West coast of Scotland and have curved around into the North Sea as they pass.*

"I'm not liken the look o' that sky laddy, not liken it at all!"

Max, watching the sky and the sea through the spray soaked window in the little bridge, nods, "Aye Mr Angus, there's trouble brewing out there right enough. Give us another half an hour on this heading and we'll see about turning back eh?"

"Och Aye, it's always another half an hour with ye Navy sorts!"

*Mr Angus' accent is so strong it sounds like "af an 'oour" and though the words are cross Max knows that the old fisherman is mostly concerned for his ship and his livelihood, not to mention the lives of his two sons struggling to keep the Argo's boiler fed with coal below their feet. Two days ago after their last flight, the old engine on the Doris had finally succumbed to all the starting and stopping. The EAD boffins had requested that the Chirper be loaded onto the Argo and be sent to sea for further testing while the Doris was repaired. Max had left Watkins and the two marines ashore to work on the engine and once everything was moved to the Argo, they had steamed out into the North Sea.*

To a spot in the middle of bloody nowhere, with no idea what was beneath us either, and now we have weather to contend with. Never a dull moment in the old Andrew, Max me lad.

*Max turns and climbs down the ladder leading into the cabin below the bridge which serves as the trawler's messdeck. Sitting at a table are Iveta, with her charts and navigation tools, and Miss B.B. with her aetherwave kit carefully lashed to the table. Miss B.B. looks terrible, her face is grey and slightly green like the pounding seas outside. She is clutching a bucket under one arm, though she has had nothing to throw up for the last day. Her eyes are tightly closed, as if not seeing the room in its abominable apparent stillness would help to quell her seasickness. Iveta, on the other hand, is calmly tracking the trawlers course seemingly unperturbed by the increasing violence of the little ship's motion.*

Max looks over Iveta's chart, noting the accurate blocks and squares of their course back and forth over a nondescript chunk of the North Sea.

"How much of our pattern have we completed Lieutenant?"

Iveta looks at the last marks on the chart, "About 60% or so Sir, we should be making our turn back East in about a half hour."

"Well done, we may have to quit and make a run back to Scapa at that point. Make sure you have as good a fix as possible on the last position on the pattern. If we get back we can start over where we left off."

"Aye aye Sir, I need to do a cross check on the speed Sir, the mechanical log may be slow."

"Aye, well be careful on deck Lieutenant, the seas are starting to come aboard."

Iveta gives Max a smile "Aye Sir, always Sir!"

*As Max heads over to the next ladder that leads below to the engine room, he notices Miss B.B., her eyes still clamped shut, writing rows of letters on the note pad beside her. A message coming through her headphones, she is transcribing it as fast as it arrives. As Max passes he gives her shoulder a light squeeze to encourage her and then carries on down the ladder.*

*Max drops down the ladder deep into the stoke hold of the trawler. Here below the waterline the motion is a bit less severe. Amid the steam and coal dust, the captain's two sons struggle to keep the trawler's steam plant working. Since the hatches were dogged shut hours ago the temperature has climbed and they are now working stripped to the waist caked in sweat and coal dust. They give Max a cheery wave as he passes the engine and the rumbling boiler to the access hatch that opens into, what was until recently, the fish hold. As Max steps over the threshold through the watertight door he almost gags on the stench of the hold's previous occupants. In the middle of the hold the Chirper sits firmly bolted to the bottom of the Argo. Simpson crouches beside it lashed to a stanchion recording readings from the dials and making sure the delicate gears and clockwork are still functioning.*

The waves pound against the hull making it sound like they are inside a giant drum. Max has to shout to be heard. "Oi! Simpson, how are you making out?"

"Pretty good Sir. Getting a bit rough, she seems to be labouring a bit, is it getting wild up top?"

"You could say that! We be heading for shore in a half hour or so I'm thinking."

*The trawler gives a great lurch to port then rises and drops with a boom, Max is knocked off his feet landing hard on the deck in a slop of fish oil and sea water. Grabbing the same stanchion that Simpson is lashed to, he climbs back to his feet with a rueful grin*

"Ha, thought I'd left all this behind me years ago!"

"Aye Sir, even that storm in the Baltic last year weren't this rough."

"No but those buggers in the cruiser were in it though!(2) Prepare to secure the Chirper when we change course and come up for a tot."

Simpson grins, "Aye aye Sir!" and turns back to his complicated mass of gears, springs and dials.

*Choosing his timing carefully Max scrambles across to the doorway into the stoke hold, the hot blast of steam and the smell of hot oil a welcome relief from the stench in the fish hold. He moves cautiously through the engine room, careful not to be thrown against the hot boiler or into the spinning crankshaft of the labouring engine. The motion of the trawler is getting more violent and erratic. Climbing the ladder he stops part way to rest his aching bad leg. A sudden wild corkscrew nearly throws him off.*

Christ! All hell must be breaking loose up there!

Part II is here.
(1)A photo of the Picton Castle, actually taken at Scapa Flow in WWII, when she was being used as a minesweeper working with the Royal Navy.

(2) The HMAS Velvet Brush had been sent into the Baltic the year before to find a Royal Navy surface ship that had supposedly been forced into Russian waters. They found the cruiser battling the storm outside Russian territory thus avoiding a nasty diplomatic incident.

On Alternate History

Sunday, October 30, 2016 0 comments

Once upon a time...

You may have noticed that I and others post images and stories that put a Parasol Duelling Spin (TM) on otherwise historical events.  This may be an affectation but it is also intentional. Very early in the modern (re-)creation of our sport Jayne (Madame Saffron) and I made the conscious decision to always treat parasol duelling as a real historical competition. Surprisingly our friends and fellow Duelists agreed to play along.

I was asked once by a Steampunk blogger if Parasol Duelling was "real". My answer was, "Of course it is real!" Then he said, "No. I mean is it really a Victorian sport?". I paused for a moment and said, "In our Steampunk world it is" :-)

At all the demonstrations and competitions we have done we always treat the sport as real, and therefore worthy of taking it seriously, at least a little bit. By placing Parasol Duelling in the context of real Victorian and Edwardian history we get to tag along with all the wonders, and gorgeous clothes, of that age. But in order to make that work we have to be a bit subtle. This works best when our stories, and the "gloss" that we add to otherwise mundane history, are just realistic enough that the greater non-steampunk world is likely to ponder whether it is true or not.

Steampunks, of course, do not have a problem with alternate histories. In my experience of large Steampunk gatherings there are likely to be any number of alternate histories being discussed, sometimes as many as there are people present in fact. People like to have a back story for their costumes and personae after all. But what makes the one in the background of Parasol Duelling so much fun is that it is shared.

It is not just Steampunks either, our sport has attracted people in various historical re-creation groups as well. The very thing that would have made Parasol Duelling a good sport for Ladies in Queen Victoria's time, elegance, skill, honour, and decorum with a touch of aggression, and intense competition, make it a great sport for cosplayers,Victorian/Edwardian aficionados, steampunks, and even our non-costumed friends and families. 

There is an alternate history in the back ground, you can read it here on this blog and on the pages of Madame Saffron Hemlock's Parasol Duelling League, but all of you who enjoy our elegant sport are helping to write a very real history indeed.

Thank you for joining us on this journey to create the real sport that is Ladies Parasol Duelling.

Spread the word!

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

Third Annual Parasol Duelling World Championships Sept 10 2016

Sunday, October 9, 2016 0 comments

An elegant afternoon of competition!

The 2016 World Championships were held on September 10th on the elegant grounds of the Lougheed House in Calgary.

The weather in September can be pretty variable but this Saturday was a beautiful Autumn day, cool but mostly sunny.

There were still lots of flowers in the gardens but some of the leaves on the trees had started to change.
Photo by Antonina Taskaev

Photo by Antonina Taskaev
The previous two World Championships were held in conjunction with the Beakerhead festival, but this year we were on our own. There was some concern that we wouldn't get much attention, however there was a great crowd of spectators which was awesome to see. Lots people came out to watch the Ladies compete, many were in costume too.

Photo by Antonina Taskaev
A beautiful day for a competition.
Photo by Karlo Keet

There were eight competitors in this year's World Championships, including two previous World Champions, Karen Siemens and Sarafina Kain, as well as previous Duelling, Flirtations, and Compulsory Figures champions.  As you might expect this made for some intense competition!

The Duelists
L to R
Doctor Adler, Sarafina Kain, Monica Willard,Cindy Bedford, Raven Hawthorne,Karen Siemens,Josanna Justine,
Briona Justine, Cali Brewer
Photo by Grant Zelych

The event started with a Grande Promenade of the competitors and Doctors around the stately Lougheed house. In addition to giving the judges a chance to get organized it also allowed the spectators and photographers a chance to get some good photos.

This year the previous year's champions were permitted to wear their winner's sashes during the competition as you can see in the promenade pics.

Cindy Bedford and Josanna Justine
Photo by Grant Zelych

Cali Brewer and Raven Hawthorne
Photo by Grant Zelych

Karen Siemens
Photo by Karlo Keet

Briona Justine and Lyric Justine( Junior Doctor)
Photo by Karlo Keet

Baroness Daniela Fawkes (aka Dana Teh.) and
Madame Saffron Taxus-Hemlock (aka Jayne Barnard)
Photo by Peter Justine

The Judges for this year's Worlds were Madame Saffron Taxus-Hemlock (aka Jayne Barnard) and Baroness Daniela Fawkes (aka Dana Teh.)

Doctors for this event were Maxwell MacDonald-Smythe (aka Kevin Jepson) and Dr Johann Portsmouth Adler (aka Stewart MacPhee.)
Maxwell MacDonald-Smythe (aka Kevin Jepson)
Photo by Grant Zelych

Dr Johann Portsmouth Adler (aka Stewart MacPhee.)
Photo by Antonina Taskaev

Madame Saffron welcomed all competitors with the now traditional Welcome and Admonition, first given at the Spring Regionals back in April.

The first competition was the Compulsory Figures competition.

The Ladies competed facing each other in pairs. The judges set the figure that the duelists must end on but the order of the first two figures was at the competitors choice.

You can see the intensity of this formal competition in this picture of two previous Champions during the Compulsory Figures:
Josanna Justine and Sarafina Kain
Photo by Grant Zelych

Raven Hawthorne and Cali Brewer
Photo by Grant Zelych

During one of the bouts Raven Hawthorne experienced a technical malfunction due to an over aggressive snub resulting in a "French Tulip".
Raven Hawthorne's "French Tulip"
Photo by Grant Zelych

The next competition was the Flirtations Trials.
Always a crowd favourite.
The ladies were again paired and were given the figure to complete by the judges.
Elegance and creativity were the bywords this year.

Cali Brewer
Photo by Karlo Keet

Raven Hawthorne
Photo by Karlo Keet

Monica Willard
Photo by Karlo Keet

During one of the trials between the first World Champion Karen Siemens and Street Dueler Extraordinaire Monica Willard there was a "Bloomer Incident" .

Captured in this video by Grant Zelych.

A fine way to break the tension that!

Once the Flirtation Trials were complete there was a short break for tea and cakes supplied by the Victorian Society of Alberta.
Christie Vanderloh and crew from the Victorian Society of Alberta
Photo by Lougheed House

The formal Duelling competition included a new procedure this year, a Duelling Card. Designed by Raven Hawthorne. This yellow card, very much like a old fashioned dance card, makes keeping track of the wins and loses easier and gives each competitor a record of how they did during the competition.

Explaining the Cards
L to R
Briona Justine, Cali Brewer, Raven Hawthorne,
Maxwell MacDonald-Smythe, Josanna Justine

The Chief Doctor Maxwell MacDonald-Smythe explaining the new Duelling card to the competitors before the Formal Duelling competition begins.

Another change from previous years was how draws were handled. In the event of multiple draws in a bout the result was determined through the use of Audra Balion's delightful Duelling Cards. Each card has a picture of one of the figures. Each competitor draws a card and the the result of the duel is determined best two out of three.

Parasol Duelling Playing Cards
By Audra Balion
Again this year there has been a steady improvement in the speed and control of the Ladies in their duelling.

This video by Antonina Taskaev, of a bout between two of the fastest duelists I have ever seen, Briona Justine and Cali Brewer, gives pretty good idea of the speed!

The intensity of the formal duelling competition can be seen in these photos.

Sarafina Kain
Photo by Antonina Taskaev

Briona Justine
Photo by Antonina Taskaev

Raven Hawthorne
Photo by Antonina Taskaev

Josanna Justine
Photo by Antonina Taskaev

Raven Hawthorn and Karen Siemens
Photo by Antonina Taskaev
Cindy Bedford and Josanna Justine
Photo by Antonina Taskaev
Karen Siemens vs Monica Willard
Photo by Karlo Keet

Cindy Bedford vs Cali Brewer
Photo by Karlo Keet

Raven Hawthorne vs Cali Brewer
Photo by Karlo Keet

Monica Willard vs Cali Brewer
Photo by Karlo Keet

Monica Willard
Photo by Karlo Keet

Raven Hawthorne vs Karen Siemens
Photo by Karlo Keet
Briona Justine vs Karen Siemens
Photo by Karlo Keet

Briona Justine vs Josanna Justine
Photo by Karlo Keet

Briona Justine
Photo by Karlo Keet

Each Duelist was given two duels and after the first round the competitors with no wins were eliminated As each eliminated competitor was announced they were given the now traditional Twirl by the other competitors. Those Ladies with two wins were given a by for the next round.

After three rounds and another short tea break the semi-finalists were announced.

The Semi Finalists
L to R
Cali Brewer, Cindy Bedford, Briona Justine, Karen Siemens

A further two rounds led to the final bout between Cali Brewer and Karen Siemens.

Captured in video by Instagram user Celtsnite

Cali emerged victorious having been undefeated in the duelling competition!

While the judges compiled and checked their results to determine the World Champion a Street Duelling tournament was held as a "Hold The Field".

A competitor stood against all comers till eliminated when the victor would take the field against the others.

This was the first official Street Duel competition held in modern times and the Ladies showed that they had been practicing since the demonstration bouts at last year's Worlds Championships

Raven Hawthorne
Photo by Antonina Taskaev

Briona Justine
Photo by Antonina Taskaev

Cindy Bedford
Photo by Photo by Antonina Taskaev

Cindy Bedford showing off her two elegant Street Duelling Parasols purchased recently in  Budapest
Photo by Photo by Antonina Taskaev

Cindy Bedford was very well armed indeed displaying a total of FOUR street duelling parasols in a custom holster.

Those parasols served her well and she won the competition thus gaining the honour of being the first World Street Duelling champion!

A hush fell over the crowd as Madame Saffron Taxus-Hemlock called all the competitors before her to announce the winners of the 2016 World Championships!

As each was announced the previous champions presented their sashes to the new champions.

The 2016 World Champions

Compulsory Figures Champion Josanna Justine
Flirtation Trials Champion Raven Hawthorne
Duelling Champion Cali Brewer
Street Duelling Champion Cindy Bedford
Junior Champion Briona Justine

And finally Madame announced the new 2016 World Champion Karen Siemens.
Karen was also the first World Champion in modern times.  Congratulations on your victory Karen!

The new World Champion of Parasol Duelling
Karen Siemens
Photo by Elizabeth Howerton

Here they are, all the 2016 World Parasol Duelling Champions!

2016 World Champions
Standing L to R
Monica Willard (Creator of Street Dueling), Cali Brewer Duelling Champion, Karen Siemens 2016 World Champion,
Cindy Bedford Street Duelling Champion
Seated L to R
Raven Hawthorne Flirtation Trials Champion, Josanna Justine Compulsory Figures Champion
Missing Briona Justine World Junior Champion

Congratulations Ladies!

Each of the champions received a prize bag containing items created especially for the winners.

The World Champion received a special prize.

These beautiful Street Parasol Holsters custom created  for the World Champion by Master Holster maker  Ricardo dos Reis of Old West Leather in Portugal.

Fit for a World Champion!
Custom made Parasol Holsters by Ricardo dos Reis

And so another great World Championship came to a close.

Special thanks to the Lougheed House for letting us use their elegant grounds.

Thanks as always to the photographers that make us look so good.

Karlo Keet of Catstar Images
Grant Zelych
Antonina Taskaev
Lougheed House
Elizabeth Howerton
Barb Sand
Peter Justine

Thanks to Christie Vanderloh and the Victorian Society of Alberta for making sure we had tea and scrumptious goodies to keep us going through the long afternoon of competition.

Thanks to all competitors, Doctors, Judges, and spectators.
Photo by Antonina Taskaev

See you all in 2017!

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.

About Gears, Goggles, and Steam oh My!

Here I collect interesting bits of information related to the world of Steampunk.

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