Due to overwhelming popular demand—well, one person asked. I am easily overwhelmed—above is a photo of me wearing my Akubra hat. It was taken in Lisbon, Portugal, in 2001. Neither the hat nor I have changed since then. At least the hat hasn’t.
I am reading an interesting and well written book: SIX FRIGATES: THE EPIC HISTORY OF THE FOUNDING OF THE U.S. NAVY by Ian W. Toll. This is not the navy of the revolution, which, with the exception of John Paul Jones, was all but annihilated, but the true founding of the navy in the 1790s after we became an independent nation. I am learning a great deal about that part of our history and of shipbuilding.
At the time of course the British Navy ruled the waves and the world. Basically they used three classes of ships: ships of the line which carried at least 74 guns and were the equivalent of battleships; frigates, which were smaller, lighter, faster, and usually carried between 28-38 guns; and a class of still smaller and generally faster, non rated sloops and brigs.
A Philadelphia shipbuilder, Joshua Humphreys, who was put in charge of the building of the first American frigates, came up with the brilliant idea of building exceptionally large, heavily armed and fast sailing frigates, which could out gun any existing European frigate and out sail any ship of the line and thus not have to face overwhelming fire power. Naturally as with any original idea there was opposition, but Humphreys had his way, resulting in among others the USS CONSTITUTION.
Essential to the construction of the ships were the trees just outside my windows. I continually admire their beauty, tenacity, and obvious strength, but after reading the following paen to them yesterday in SIX FRIGATES, I admire them even more.
In reading SIX FRIGATES I found myself wondering how Philadelphia more than a hundred difficult miles from the open ocean became a major seaport. So I googled and found this, which is well worth reading, especially the section ‘Women At Sea.’