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Author Topic: What are some ways to hinder a seafaring ship that is pursuing your ship?  (Read 2419 times)

Offline Newway12

For those of you familiar with ancient seafaring, how do you stop a boat thats chasing you?   

Offline Nora

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Re: What are some ways to hinder a seafaring ship that is pursuing your ship?
« Reply #1 on: December 16, 2015, 04:18:46 AM »
I warmly recommend you read Master and Commander - It's a great book and it'll answer your question, since there are a few chases.

You need to give us more details. What are the class of the ships involved? Is it a sloop being chased by a frigate?

If we're dealing with two similar ships of the line, of more or less identical speed, then I guess it's up to the best seaman. A ship can also deploy studding sails, on the side of the main sails, like so :



But obviously that's not always possible (you don't want your masts ripped off the ship, so you manage with the wind). And if the ships go to similar speeds, then your goal is to keep your distances until night comes, then to change your path and shut your lights, in order to lose your chaser.

If a ship is catching on you and you want to absolutely avoid capture, you throw the cannons overboard, then the cannon balls, the food, everything that can be thrown over-board to lighten the ship.

Another option is to tack.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tacking_%28sailing%29

It allows you, if well done, to take your pursuer by surprise and cut through their line, though it will probably expose you to a full broadside.

Here's a free, good ol' sailor word book : http://www.gutenberg.org/files/26000/26000-h/26000-h.htm

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Offline J.R. Darewood

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Re: What are some ways to hinder a seafaring ship that is pursuing your ship?
« Reply #2 on: December 16, 2015, 07:06:02 AM »
For those of you familiar with ancient seafaring, how do you stop a boat thats chasing you?

Cut your brother Absyrtus up into little pieces and throw a bit of him over the side every so often so that the other ship will be ordered by the king to stop and pick him up.

Offline Nora

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Re: What are some ways to hinder a seafaring ship that is pursuing your ship?
« Reply #3 on: December 16, 2015, 07:17:36 AM »
For those of you familiar with ancient seafaring, how do you stop a boat thats chasing you?

Cut your brother Absyrtus up into little pieces and throw a bit of him over the side every so often so that the other ship will be ordered by the king to stop and pick him up.

Interesting reference, but the deep sea where limbs don't float won't work like a countryside dirt road. Or an amoral captain.  :P

Also I guess I hadn't read the question properly, since another way of making a boat stop a chase is to turn it into splinters.
The problem here is that you rarely have a weaker running after a more powerful. Or else it'd be an easy problem to solve. If your crew is good and lucky they could even hit the magazine in the enemy ship and blow it up. Making it catch fire does the same, it makes cannons fire from heat, then the magazine blows the ship up.
"She will need coffee soon, or molecular degeneration will set in. Her French phrasing will take over even more strongly, and soon she will dissolve into a puddle of alienation and Kierkegaardian despair."  ~ Jmack

Wishy washy lyricism and maudlin unrequited love are my specialty - so said Lady_Ty

Offline Captain Blobby

Re: What are some ways to hinder a seafaring ship that is pursuing your ship?
« Reply #4 on: December 16, 2015, 10:11:48 AM »
In the Master and Commander film there was the scene where the French privateer ship was in pursuit of the Surprise. They rigged up some floating structure which copied the placement of the ships lanterns. Then they cut the rope connecting it to their ship at the same time extinguishing their own lanterns.

I've no idea if this was ever a recognised tactic though.

A few ideas off the top of my head:
-If the pursued is a smaller ship, head into shallower waters where the pursuer ricks damaging their hull.
-Sea mine?
-Make it interesting, have a pursuit when there is no wind. Have the crew wet the sails and tug the ship with their launch boats.
-If they are identical ships, has one ship had it's hull scraped recently? Lots of barnacles etc attached to the hull can cause a lot of drag.
-Is one ship carrying more cargo than the other? More guns?
« Last Edit: December 16, 2015, 11:00:47 AM by Captain Blobby »

Offline Nora

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Re: What are some ways to hinder a seafaring ship that is pursuing your ship?
« Reply #5 on: December 16, 2015, 11:31:16 AM »
In the Master and Commander film there was the scene where the French privateer ship was in pursuit of the Surprise. They rigged up some floating structure which copied the placement of the ships lanterns. Then they cut the rope connecting it to their ship at the same time extinguishing their own lanterns.

I've no idea if this was ever a recognised tactic though.

A few ideas off the top of my head:
-If the pursued is a smaller ship, head into shallower waters where the pursuer ricks damaging their hull.
-Sea mine?
-Make it interesting, have a pursuit when there is no wind. Have the crew wet the sails and tug the ship with their launch boats.
-If they are identical ships, has one ship had it's hull scraped recently? Lots of barnacles etc attached to the hull can cause a lot of drag.
-Is one ship carrying more cargo than the other? More guns?

If the chase is important enough, cargo can be dumped, on either side. Not sure how much a hull scrapping makes in equal sized ships? But we also don't know what kind of ship we're dealing with. A well maintained ship would never be doing anything in enemy waters with a hull slowing down progress progress in such a disadvantageous manner.
Shallow water are a good idea, but dangerous, since a ship of any size can beach itself, and old sail boats obviously don't have radar technology to tell them more. A bigger ship in a chase could probably see fit to beech itself if it allows a crippling blow, or a boarding.

I think we both forgot a simple ramming. If your boat is equipped for that, it's a pretty extreme way of getting rid of pursuers :D

I'm not sure if a pursuit with no wind would be very interesting, but I love the idea of sea mines. It's very recent technology, but they're so ominous! Of course you've got a problem in designing them, since they need to be fully submerged, or else it'd be easy to avoid them.  :D
So either a mixture of floater and weight to have them lurk a while under the water, or you could carpet the whole sea behind you just as your enemy gets too close to disengage.
That would give a little steampunk quality to a ship I guess. It's a lovely idea for close combat chase, beside having cannons fore and aft.


In Master and commander there also is a really cool scene (in the book) where Maturin (the dr) after seeing in dismay how plague ridden ships are scrupulously ignored, whether or not they might have survivors, tricks the enemy in thinking their own ship has the plague.
First off, (and that's another idea, but not for a direct chase) they repainted the hull and changed flags, to pass for a danish boat. You'd have to do that if you knew some other boat is chasing you somewhere, but hasn't spotted you yet.
Then when the enemy gets close, they're not completely fooled by the danish sailor disguised as captain and barking orders in spanish, so Maturin desperately begs them to come aboard with their own surgeon, as they have people showing signs of the plague on board, but he isn't sure... "bubons like this, yes? Black in colour no?" and the enemies immediately push off and tell them that the only cure is at sea, and to keep away from ports and that they pray for their survival... All the while Maturin crying after them to please come and help...
Brilliantly done.  :P
"She will need coffee soon, or molecular degeneration will set in. Her French phrasing will take over even more strongly, and soon she will dissolve into a puddle of alienation and Kierkegaardian despair."  ~ Jmack

Wishy washy lyricism and maudlin unrequited love are my specialty - so said Lady_Ty

Offline Captain Blobby

Re: What are some ways to hinder a seafaring ship that is pursuing your ship?
« Reply #6 on: December 17, 2015, 09:39:46 AM »

I'm not sure if a pursuit with no wind would be very interesting, but I love the idea of sea mines.

It worked quite well in Sharpe's Trafalgar where the ship Sharpe was on was chasing after a French ship. They lost their wind and all the while the crew were thinking of ways to catch the wind again.


Offline Nora

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Re: What are some ways to hinder a seafaring ship that is pursuing your ship?
« Reply #7 on: December 17, 2015, 11:51:06 AM »

I'm not sure if a pursuit with no wind would be very interesting, but I love the idea of sea mines.

It worked quite well in Sharpe's Trafalgar where the ship Sharpe was on was chasing after a French ship. They lost their wind and all the while the crew were thinking of ways to catch the wind again.

Yes, but it requires pretty sharp writing skills and works best as one of the solutions in a sea-related book. Since @Newway12 hasn't given us any detail, it's hard to know... But I reckon a chase like that would be the less impressive in a book that spends little time on a boat.
In Master and Commander, or Sharpe's Trafalgar, it's cool because it's offering variety from the other ship maneuvers.

I only assume that Newway isn't writing about ships in general, since his question here is pretty basic
"She will need coffee soon, or molecular degeneration will set in. Her French phrasing will take over even more strongly, and soon she will dissolve into a puddle of alienation and Kierkegaardian despair."  ~ Jmack

Wishy washy lyricism and maudlin unrequited love are my specialty - so said Lady_Ty

Offline K.S. Crooks

Re: What are some ways to hinder a seafaring ship that is pursuing your ship?
« Reply #8 on: December 19, 2015, 10:10:24 PM »
Shot holes in the hull or sails of the other ship, launch oil and fire onto the other ship which will force them to slow and deal with the greater problem, if you ship is smaller it can go over shallower water, launch a net with floating posts behind your ship to slow the other by drag, add a substance to the water to create a thick material around the other ship, Give your ship and emergence sky sail (a sail launch into the air like a kite to catch stronger winds at a higher altitude). Hope this sparks a few ideas.
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Offline Nora

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Re: What are some ways to hinder a seafaring ship that is pursuing your ship?
« Reply #9 on: December 20, 2015, 10:24:24 PM »
Shot holes in the hull or sails of the other ship, launch oil and fire onto the other ship which will force them to slow and deal with the greater problem, if you ship is smaller it can go over shallower water, launch a net with floating posts behind your ship to slow the other by drag, add a substance to the water to create a thick material around the other ship, Give your ship and emergence sky sail (a sail launch into the air like a kite to catch stronger winds at a higher altitude). Hope this sparks a few ideas.

If you're in range to shot cannons at the other ship, or to make any spill efficient, then it's not a pursuit but a fight. If you're far away enough, anything you throw overboard can be easily avoided. A net would need to be sf/f enhanced to cause any serious drag.
The idea of a sky sail is just as problematic as studding sails : they need to be anchored down, and not be pushed so much by the wind that they'll rip off. It's only oiled cloth... When the winds are strong you take sails down, not the opposite.
The problem with a topsail like you describe is also that for it to be attached to the mast, you'd need it's mast in place at all times, and this mast will need support, big stays, futtock plates and shrouds. That's also additional weight you carry even when you can't get enough sail out.

A good sailship will be going at some 24km/h...
"She will need coffee soon, or molecular degeneration will set in. Her French phrasing will take over even more strongly, and soon she will dissolve into a puddle of alienation and Kierkegaardian despair."  ~ Jmack

Wishy washy lyricism and maudlin unrequited love are my specialty - so said Lady_Ty