My friend Roger sent me this morning the above photo of his friend, Paul Johnson, who recently died. He is seen on board his 18’ Shetland boat decked over with plywood on which he crossed the Atlantic in the 1960s, possibly about the same time I was teaching myself to sail on San Francisco Bay. I am told that at the time she was the smallest boat to have done so. She is the same length as CHIDIOCK TICHBORNE and her hull reminds me of CHIDIOCK’s. A remarkable voyage, particularly at that time, of which I had not known and is now almost forgotten, except for the moment by those who are reading this. I thank Roger for bringing Paul Johnson to my attention.
I am almost finished reading Alfred Mahan’s magisterial, THE INFLUENCE OF SEA POWER ON HISTORY. This is one of those books I have seen referred to many times, most recently in a biography of Theodore Roosevelt which finally caused me to download and read it. I am doing so with great admiration and pleasure.
Mahan was writing in 1890 in an effort to have the US. Navy built into a world class force. Though his friendship with Roosevelt he succeded.
The book covers 1660 to 1783 and could as easily be titled, THE RISE OF ENGLAND.
They were decades of almost constant wars as England, France, Austria, Spain, Holland, and others sought power, wealth and dominance. Wars between England and the Dutch. Wars of the Spanish Succession, the Austrian Succession, the Polish Succession, and many more, including as you will have concluded from the final date of 1783, the American Revolution.
Despite some paragraphs many pages long, the book is very readable, largely because of the clarity of Mahan’s mind and vision.
I have sailed most of the waters in which the sea battles of which Mahan writes were fought and can though his words see them in my mind. He was himself here at Hilton Head as a young naval officer in the Union invasion of Port Royal in 1861.
Among the many great, and not great, admirals in the book is the Dutch, Michiel de Ruyter, considered by many to be the greatest admiral of his time.
I like this description of him by the Comte de Guiche after de Ruyter’s greatest victory.
I bought a Kindle edition of the book from Amazon for $0.99. Books are the greatest bargains.
I am looking forward to the new year and hope you are too. Have a splendid one.