Boarding Nets

Home Forums Nautical Research: 1500 – 1830 Boarding Nets

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    Andrew T

      Hi, all.

      I’ve only recently heard the term Boarding Net, or Anti-boarding Net, and I’ve found a picture or two of, what looks like, a whole net that surrounds the entire upper deck of a ship hoisted from the yards.

      Now, how often were these employed? I would assume that these were broken into sections for ease of storage and handling, but they must of been a beast to handle, and you’d need to set them up long before an action as I can’t image you can stop mid-way through a broadside trading game to suddenly hoist a huge ship-spanning netting system.

      Were these really used, or were they even effective? I’ve read that they were probably used more to keep Pressed Men from making a run for it when at anchor near a home port.

      Chris D

        Good afternoon,

        I have recently joined the Society as I am studying the seafaring journals of my 3x great grandfather which cover 1807-1849.

        In December 1810 he was wrongly press-ganged on to the Man o’ War brig HMS Calliope. In his detailed account of life on the Calliope he does not mention that she had boarding nets but he does refer to them in connection with a raid on a French privateer:

        “The privateer had before this got into the harbour and all prepared for us. their boarding nettings all traced up, and guns all ready, and as we drew near the rocks, the gig was then the headmost boat.”

        “Traced up” would appear to mean put in place ready to repel boarders so it seems they could be set quickly. On this occasion the officers of the Calliope decided not to attack.

        Sam Willis

          Hi Chris – thanks for your post. My Great Grandfather was also, oddly, on an HMS Calliope! – But the one that fought at Jutland.

          I wonder if your excerpt refers to nets used to prevent boarding or to assist in boarding the other ship…

          Anyway – could you please tell me a little more about your journal. Is it transcribed? Does it have any images in it? The Navy Records Society may be interested in publishing excerpts from it – I’m the editor of their Online Magazine.

          Andrew T

            Hi, Chris.

            Many thanks for your reply. That’s a very interesting account from your ancestor. Very fascinating. Pressed Ganged; he was a real-life Thomas Kydd. It would be amazing to hear his stories.

            Chris D

              Hi Andrew,

              He detested being press-ganged but fully entered into the Man o’War’s adventures. He never accepted his fate and eventually escaped after three years.
              I had not heard of Thomas Kydd so I must read one of the books!

              Chris D

                Hi Sam,

                It was interesting to learn about the Naval Records Society.

                I have transcriptions of three of my 3x great grandfather’s journals. There were five in total; the first we have not yet found and the fifth is in French and is mostly religious tracts. There are no images. The journals cover his escape and capture from the Russians and Danes; being press-ganged and after three years, escaping from HMS Calliope in Holland; captaining brigs taking Irish emigres to Newfoundland; bringing sugar from the Caribbean and being chased by pirates and his trading in the Baltic, White, Mediterranean and Black Seas. He does not mention anyone by name so I am working out who he dealt with and this has already led to some interesting connections.

                I want to publish the journals and also intend to write about my other 19th century great grandfathers who captained clippers and had small shipping companies.
                Joining the Society should help me decide how best to do this.

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