Saturday, September 24, 2016

Off Flamborough Head...

John Paul Jones by Charles Willson Peale (Source)
Two hundred and thirty seven years ago Friday, the Bonhomme Richard, commanded by John Paul Jones, Continental Navy, defeated HMS Serapis, commanded by Captain Richard Pearson, Royal Navy. I only remembered this when I received an email from Affiliated with the History Channel, which doesn't seem to do actual history anymore, the History Channel's website actually does. Every day I get a "This day in History" email from them. Very entertaining.

Though sometimes I wish it was a "Tomorrow in History" notification, give me time to get a post out on the day of, neh?

“The Action Between His Majesties Ship Serapis, Commanded by Capt Pearson & The Bonhomme Richard Commanded by Paul Jones, Sept. 23, 1779” by William Elliott,
US Naval Academy Museum Collection.
As I am exhausted (long week), frustrated (from work), and still sore from surgery (hey, I'm 63, it takes longer to heal these days) I gave the Muse the night off.

But Commodore Jones is a personal hero of mine, I actually almost built a model of the Bonhomme Richard when I was younger. I say almost because she was nearing completion when she went down in a Mom-squall quite unexpectedly.
If you don't want me to dust your models then you need to do it. Your room is a pigsty!
But Mom, you broke off the main topmast and damaged a bunch of spars. She'll never be right again. 
Not the first model ship to run afoul of people not knowing that plastic snaps if you push it too hard. She was my first model ship (a big one too, over two feet long she was) and hopefully not my last.
What? You want to spend over a hundred dollars for a model ship?
Ah but honey, it's the Constitution, she's fully rigged and comes with sails!
Where are you going to put it? The cats will destroy it.
I can keep the door closed and...
Forget it! Besides, your room is a pigsty.
Yes, once again I nearly struck my colors over that one. I hadn't even begun to fight, but HMS Missus Herself had the weather gauge and had me far outgunned. Best to slip away and resume the fight at another time.

Wife-squalls are far worse than a Mom-squall. I know these things...

Anyhoo, the Boat School has an excellent write up of the action here. The standard Wikipedia entry is here. I'd write more, but the Muse is out and all I want to do is quaff an ale or two and remember my lost ships. (USS Hartford was destroyed in the same squall which did for Bonhomme Richard. There's a reason they used to name hurricanes after the ladies!)

As Juvat is fond of saying, "Never give up! Never surrender!"


  1. Your squalls had me laughing. $100? That's a pair of shoes that get worn once and then take up closet space...why I would tell my wife that she should...hmmm. Never mind, I've learned which fights to pick too.

    1. An important lesson that we (usually) learn. For some it takes longer.

      It took me a long time to learn which fights I could win and which were a lost cause from the moment I opened my mouth to protest.

    2. Ms Alemaster understood from the very beginning that it is I, The Alemaster, who makes all major decisions for our family. So far, there have been none. regards, Alemaster

  2. Flowers for no reason do wonders for keeping squalls to a minimum. keep the pigsty safe,too.

    1. It's the "for no reason" part which is key.

      After the storm has passed? Far too late.

    2. Yeah, it kinda has to be a continual, regular thing, but it erases numerous sins.
      BTW- did you know today was also the anniversary of the found of the Honda Motor Co. in 1946?

    3. I did not know that.

      And I drive a Honda...

  3. A song for today:

  4. Being a cynic, I wonder if the zeal displayed by the Captain and crew was, in part, the fate awaiting them as British prisoners. At best, impressed, and at worst considered criminals. Some, including the captain, may had a "history" with the British.

    1. The Commodore did indeed have a history with the English.

      Not to mention that the crew of the Bonhomme Richard would have been considered pirates by the Crown, considered outside the law as rebellious subjects.

  5. I know about "mom squalls". I built army vehicle models, not ships, but they also had easily broken parts. Thanks for the post, up to the usual high standards.

    Paul L. Quandt

  6. That was a knife fight. We actually got a lot of naval history in boot camp and I remain amazed at how many fine historians there were among the ploughboys and factory workers in my recruit company. Knew the difference between a culverin and a carronade, they did.

    When I went to the recruiter to join (it was a bang-bang-bang process back then, recruiter-meps-bootcamp) one of my friends tagged along to maybe join up as well. The recruiter told him that with his name, he'd best be very sure he wanted to be a sailor. His name? John Paul Jones. He passed on the opportunity and has been a baker here locally ever since.

    I built a very detailed A-1H bitd and it came out quite well. I was quite proud of it. Returning home from school a few days later I found it in pieces on the living room floor with a toddler brother beating it to death with a big red wooden block and crowing with delight. Speed is life.

    1. John Paul Jones - which one? The sailor, the bassist, or the baker? I just had a recollection of an old WWII movie Castle Keep, an excellent film. Peter Falk plays a soldier who was a baker in civilian life. Opens up the bakery in the town next to the castle they're defending and starts baking bread. I need to re-watch that one, if I can find it!

      Oh yes, those kid brother ack-ack batteries can be devastating!

      Well, little boys in general can be rough. I had a model F-4D and A-10 who could attest to that. Heavy emphasis on "had." True, they were cool to play with. My son didn't know just how fragile they were. He learned, he was pretty upset about it. No need to punish him, he was harder on himself than I would have been.


Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)