Help with Log book from 1763

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    Michael C


    I am documenting the life of a Captain in the Royal Navy. I hope to write a book in a few years. I would like some help with a few entries in a Captains log. The ship is the HMS Solebay and it is moored in Tynemouth finishing up the rigging when things “go south” attached is the image of the December 2 and 3rd 1763 entries

    Here is what I have items in [ ] are words that I have not a clue for. So I think I know what is going on. One of the mooring lines gave way. They dropped the front anchor and then shorted the line on the anchor. the ship’s cutter was put out and overturned and they lost the crew of the cutter. they adjusted the line on the anchor to have the shore cable carry some of the load. the river was in an ebb and the rain increases the flow of the river. one or more merchant ships break free of their moorings and get hooked on the front of the ship. Their started tosses things overboard starting with the BEER! they cut the shore moorings to get out in the river. I think warping is moving the anchor and then pull the ship to the anchor… will look that up.

    The next day teh wind shifted and before they could get under sail, they touched bottom and then started to toss the rigging over the side.

    So all in all a couple of bad days for a brand new ship.

    Any clarification or corrections on what I have would be fantastic!

    Ditto weather With rain At 5 p.m. struck yards And topmast at 8 ditto
    the [slesspos] give way and the ship Brought up by the Head Mooring
    At 9 [dropped] the best bower under foot in 5 fathoms water at 11 [ and] away on
    The best bower to a third of a Cable at 1 am the cutter [overturned ] and all
    the crew was lost at 3 Ditto we [V erd] away little of the best bower to bring
    The Shoar(shore) cable to bear. The tides ebb being very strong Occasioned by
    a great fresh [ ing] in the river at the [ ] [ al] of the Merchant ship
    ships broke adrift and finding some of them had hooked our small
    Jibb boom [Spritsal ] yard and brought away the post that our head cable
    [ ] fast to, cut away all the rigging, the sail and [butupast] of the jibb
    Boom was lost overboard at ¾ past Ditto the Ship Pro on Shore a little
    below Clifford fort on the [ trouble ] side began to start the Beer and water
    Get the lower yards over the side for [shoacer], at 8 MAde the signal of
    [ art ] at [ ] at 10 hove the ship off into the stream and was obliged
    To cut the shore cables that was fast to the posts at 11 hove up the
    Best bower and began to warp further up [ ] [ ] Ditto [Reed] our [ n ]
    From His Majesty’s Sloop Zephyr, [ ] Employ warping to [ }

    Fresh Breezes and Cloudy at 1 pm the wind shifted from the N to the west
    Let go the best bower but before we could bring the ship ip she touched the ground
    Abaft and the side of [ ] made [ ] strong we could have her off
    Got the lower poles and topmasts over the sides for shoar at 2 ditto bespoked
    The signal of being in Distress at 4 ditto several masts and [ mor] cams
    With the small anchor and [hawfaces ] to [ ] in heaving the shipoff, employed
    In , the sheet anchor out ] a storm Lighting the ship [gating] [officers]
    [ ] into a [ ]

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    David Hepper

    I have tried to decipher the log, but there are still one or two words that defeated me.
    To go through the words in brackets in the order they appear:
    [slesspos] – I admit I cannot quite make that word out; [ …?. ] post I think
    [dropped] – drop’t = dropped
    [and] – veer’d = veered (to veer a rope is to pay it out/to slacken/lengthen)
    [overturned] – it actually says overset
    [v erd] – veer’d = veered
    [ ] [al] – several
    [spritsail] – spritsail
    [ ] – was
    [butupast] – cut up part
    …the Ship Pro on Shore… – should be the Ship drove on Shore
    [trouble] – North
    [shoacer] – shoares = shores
    [art] at [ ] – Distress at ½ p. 10…
    [ ] [ ] Ditto [Reed] our [n] – ½ p Ditto Rec’d (received) our [???]
    Zephyr [ ] – Zephyr, At Noon …

    Second page needs some corrections:
    …touched the ground Abaft and the Tide Ebb made out strong … 2 ditto bespoked … = should be at 2 ditto reported…
    …at 4 ditto several masts and [mor] cams – …at 4 ditto several boats and men came …
    …small anchor and[hawfaces] to [ ] … = … – small anchor and hawsers to assist in heaving …
    …in, getting the sheet anchor out [ a storm = …In getting out the sheet anchor astern …
    lightning the ship [gating] = lightning the ship, getting officers stores into a Keel

    Some other notes:
    To warp = means to move a ship by means of a warp, which is a hawser (or rope) which is attached to a fixed object or anchor.
    They released the Best Bower anchor – this means the anchor on the starboard side, not ‘the front anchor’ and then veered out to a third of a cable.
    Lightening ship by ‘starting’ or opening and emptying barrels of water and beer was the standard procedure, because it was easily done and the contents flushed overboard.
    Note the reference at the end to a Keel, which is the boat peculiar to the Tyneside area
    Oh, and they did not ‘toss the rigging over the side’ but rather hoisted out spare yards etc over the side to use as shores or supports for the hull, to prevent the ship capsizing when the tide left her.

    Michael C

    Thank you that helped out quite a bit. It is a bit like learning a new language.

    Mark P

    Good Morning Michael;

    Further to David’s reply above, I believe that the ‘Slesspool’ seeming word is actually Sternpost. Stern was often spelled Steern or Stearn. Not that this refers to the sternpost of the ship, but to the stern mooring cable being made fast to a post. There is a reference later in the entry to the head post being carried away, and it is after this that the ship drives on shore. So presumably the ship was moored to two posts prior to this incident. Further confirmation of this is the reference to the shore post from which they cut the cables.

    The word ‘Butapost’ is actually Outer part (of the jib-boom) The signal of distress was ‘made’, and I believe that the word after ‘Zephyr’ is ‘Anchors’.

    Afraid I don’t have time to dig further.

    All the best,

    Mark P

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