How Firm A Foundation – Snippet 09

How Firm A Foundation – Snippet 09

          Destiny‘s double wheel turned to the left as all four helmsmen heaved their weight on the spokes. The tiller ropes wrapped around the wheel’s barrel turned the tiller to the right in response, which kicked the rudder to the left, and the galleon began turning to larboard. The turn brought her broadside on to the seas still pounding in from the south-southwest, but Yairley’s seaman’s sense had served him well. Even as she began her turn, one of the crashing seas rolled up under her larboard quarter at almost the perfect moment, lifting her stern and helping to force her around before the next wave could strike.

          “Off sheets and tacks!” It was Lathyk’s voice from forward.

          Yairley opened his eyes once more, watching as his ship fought around through the maelstrom of warring wind and wave in a thunder of canvas and water and a groan of timbers. The next mighty sea came surging in, taking her hard on the larboard beam, bursting over the hammock nettings in green and white fury, and the galleon rolled wildly, tobogganing down into the wave’s trough while her mastheads spiraled in dizzying circles against the storm-sick heavens. Yairley felt the lifeline hammering at his chest, heard the sound of young Zhones’ retching even through all that mad tumult, but she was coming round, settling on her new heading.

          “Meet her!” he shouted

          “Sheet home!” Lathyk bellowed through his speaking trumpet.

          Destiny‘s bow buried itself in the next wave. White water exploded over the forecastle and came sluicing aft in a gray-green wall. Two or three seamen went down, kicking and spluttering as they lost their footing and were washed into the scuppers before their lifelines came up taut, but the sheets were hardened in as the ship came fully round on her new heading. Her bowsprit climbed against the sky, rising higher and higher as her bows came clear of the smother of foam and gray-green water, and Yairley breathed a sigh of relief as she reached the top of the wave and then went driving down its back with an almost exuberant violence.

          Showing only her fore-and-aft staysails, she could actually come a full two points closer to the wind than she could have under square sails, and Yairley watched the swaying compass card as the helmsmen eased the wheel. It gimbaled back and forth as the men on the wheel picked their way through the tumult of wind and wave, balancing the thrust and set of her canvas against the force of the seas.

          “South-sou’west’s as near as she’ll come, Sir!” the senior man told him after a minute or two, and he nodded.

          “Keep her so!” he shouted back.

          “Aye, aye, Sir!”

          The ship’s plunging motion was more violent than it had been running before the wind. He heard the explosive impact as her bow met each succeeding wave, and the shocks were harder and more jarring, but the corkscrew roll had been greatly reduced as she headed more nearly into the seas. Spray and green water fountained up over her bow again and again, yet she seemed to be taking it well, and Yairley nodded again in satisfaction then turned to look out over the tumbling waste of water once more.

          Now to see how accurate his position estimate had been.

* * * * * * * * * *

          The day which had turned into night dragged on towards day once more, and the wind continued to howl. Its force had lessened considerably, but it was still blowing at gale force, with wind speeds above forty miles per hour. The seas showed less moderation, although with the falling wind that had to come eventually, and Yairley peered about as the midnight murk turned slowly, slowly into a hard pewter dawn under purple-black clouds. The rain had all but ceased, and he allowed himself a cautious, unobtrusive breath of optimism as visibility ever so gradually increased. He considered making more sail — with the current wind he could probably get double or triple-reefed topsails and courses on her — but he’d already added the main topgallant staysail, the main topmast staysail, and the mizzen staysail. The fore-and-aft sails provided less driving power than the square sails would have, but they let him stay enough closer to the wind to make good a heading of roughly south-southwest. The further south — and west, of course, but especially south — he could get, the better, and —

          “Breakers!” The shout came down from above, thin and lost through the wail of wind. “Breakers on the starboard quarter!”

          Yairley wheeled in the indicated direction, staring intently, but the breakers were not yet visible from deck level. He looked around and raised his voice.

          “Main topmast, Master Aplyn-Ahrmahk! Take a glass. Smartly, now!”

          “Aye, Sir!”

          The youthful ensign leapt into the weather shrouds and went scampering up the ratlines to the topmast crosstrees with the spyglass slung across his back. He reached his destination swiftly, and Yairley looked up, watching with deliberate calm as Aplyn-Ahrmahk raised the glass and peered to the north. He stayed that way for several seconds, then re-slung the glass, reached for a back stay, wrapped his legs around it, and slid down it to the deck, braking his velocity with his hands. He hit the deck with a thump and came trotting aft to the captain.

          “I believe Master Lathyk will have something to say to you about the proper manner of descending to the deck, Master Aplyn-Ahrmahk!” Yairley observed tartly.

          “Yes, Sir.” Aplyn-Ahrmahk’s tone was properly apologetic, but a devilish glint lurked in his brown eyes, Yairley thought. Then the young man’s expression sobered. “I thought I’d best get down here quickly, Sir.” He raised his arm and pointed over the starboard quarter. “There’s a line of breakers out there, about five miles on the quarter, Captain. A long one — they reach as far as I could see to the northeast. And they’re wide, too.” He met Yairley’s gaze levelly. “I think it’s the Garfish Bank, Sir.”

          So the ensign had been thinking the same thing he had, Yairley reflected. And if he was right — which, unfortunately, he almost certainly was — they were substantially further north than the captain had believed they’d been driven. Not that there’d been anything he could have done to prevent it even if he’d known. In fact, if he hadn’t changed heading when he had, they’d have driven onto the bank hours earlier, but still . . . .

          “Thank you, Master Aplyn-Ahrmahk. Be good enough to ask Lieutenant Lathyk to join me on deck, if you would.”

          “Aye, aye, Sir.”

          The ensign disappeared, and Sir Dunkyn Yairley bent over the compass, picturing charts again in his mind, and worried.

* * * * * * * * * *

          “You wanted me, Sir?” Rhobair Lathyk said respectfully. He was still chewing on a piece of biscuit, Yairley noted.

          “I apologize for interrupting your breakfast, Master Lathyk,” the captain said. “Unfortunately, according to Master Aplyn-Ahrmahk we’re no more than five miles clear — at best — of the Garfish Bank.”

          “I see, Sir.” Lathyk swallowed the biscuit, then bent to examine the compass exactly as Yairley had.

          “Assuming Master Aplyn-Ahrmahk’s eye is as accurate as usual,” Yairley continued, “we’re a good forty miles north of my estimated position and Sand Shoal lies about forty miles off the starboard bow. Which means Scrabble Sound lies broad on the starboard beam.”

This entry was posted in Snippets, WeberSnippet. Bookmark the permalink.
Skip to top


45 Responses to How Firm A Foundation – Snippet 09

  1. RobertHuntingdon says:

    Soooo. Anybody have any clue what the heck any of this stuff means?

  2. ElmoFCC says:

    I hoping that somehow Merlin will save the day.

  3. KenJ says:

    People are going swimming?

  4. Richard says:

    The mad wizard is playing with his boats again.

  5. Richard Y. says:

    Well it’s fairly obvious that Ensign Hector Aplyn-Ahrmahk and Sir Dunkyn Yairley’s ship is about to wreck but at least those two will survive. There wouldn’t be much point to this episode if they didn’t.

    The only question is what happens to them after they go ashore. Is Clyntahn going to get his foul clutches on them, are they going to cut out an enemy ship and return victorious, or by chance do they run into Princes Irys Daykyn and Earl Coris who aren’t that far away?

    Which brings up the question “How do Princes Irys, Prince Darvyn, and Earl Coris escape after they realize that they have made the wrong move?”

    And oh yes, what happens to Sir Gwylym Manthyr’s men who were captured by Earl Thirsk’s men?

  6. RobertHuntingdon says:

    Exqueeze me? Irys and Coris aren’t that far away? I’ve had a devil of a time trying to keep the geography straight here, but I’m quite sure that Silkiah and Siddarmark are on the continent of Haven, while Coris and Irys are at Talkyra which is very nearly the entire opposite side of Howard.

    I guess if you think in interstellar terms, a third of a planet is a lot less than the 20 or 30 light-years between habitable worlds, so yeah, they aren’t really all that far away in those terms. But in sailing terms (much less shipwrecked-and-on-foot terms) they might as well be on another planet.

  7. Elim Garak says:

    Yea, all this ship stuff is not doing anything for me either. I’ve never been on a sailing ship, understand at best half of the terms, and all I can figure out is that there’s a storm. And the ship was blown off-course. Somewhere. Without checking the map every 5 minutes that’s about it – and the map is not that good either (too fragmented). Couple that with the multitude of political players, and the picture becomes even murkier.

    Oh well, hopefully we get out of Hornblower territory soon, and get to some actual science fiction.

  8. ET1swaw says:

    @5 RobertHuntington: Depending whether they are east or west of the isthmus that is Silkiah (hopefully east as west is just south of Dohlar and all their fleets that have already defeated some Charisians at sea) they are still on the topside (north) of Howard where Irys and company are near the southernmost portion (well inland of the coast of course).

    Silkiah is independent of Dohlar and Desnairian Empire and semi-independent of Republic of Siddarma; so two of their three borders are with countries with naval forces in opposition to Charis.

    Interesting place to come awry!

  9. Willem Meijer says:

    Although I too am waiting for the big picture to start moving again, having spent a couple of weeks a year as a ten to twelve year old boy in sailing school, I do enjoy a bit of good old seamanship. I’m not complaining.

  10. max says:

    Groww, map need a good update…

  11. James M says:

    There are several things happening.

    First, since hurricanes, and tropical storms are circular, the movement of the wind and wave are going to change depending on where you are in the storm.

    Second, even modern steel and aluminum masts get broken. Wood masts come in two or three sections that can extend the height of the mast. The bottom is the Topmast, the middle is the Topgallant mast, and the top is the Royal mast. In snippet 05, Yairley orders the topgallant masts sent down, which means that the ship is running running with the shortest and strongest masts.

    Third, when wave are larger than the ship, you can go in the direction of the waves, or into the waves. If you try to go across the line of the waves, you can either end up swamped or turned over. Snippet 08 describes preparation to turn from going roughly with the waves to a direction of into the waves. Snippet 09 describes the timing of the turn between and with the waves.

    Fourth, while you might could keep a direction with the waves (more or less surfing) without power, you can’t maintain any other course without power. Yairley uses the rectangular sails as long as he can. Since the topgallant masts are down, these are the topsails of the fore, main, and mizzen masts from ship front to back. When this sail plan is no longer safe, he switches to using stay sails. Snippet 07 is about gathering in the topsail of the fore mast or the foresail, and skips the description of gathering in the topsail of the main mast or the mainsail. Staysails are triangular sails that are rigged between the masts.

    The last four snippets have been about using seamanship under the limitations of the wind and wave to avoid being shipwrecked.

  12. Mat Thornton says:

    For the people asking what it means, as near as I can determine:

    The ship’s been blown further north than they thought. The ‘breakers’ are, basically, waves breaking over a sand bar, presumably Garfish Bank. Imagine a beach just under water. Obviously, if the ship gets blown into it, it will be wrecked. ‘Sand Shoal’ is forty miles away in front and to the right of the ship (ie off the starboard bow) and ‘Scrabble Sound’ – which, if they use the term the same way we do, is a large ocean inlet or narrow straight – is directly to the right of the ship. Basically, they’re heading straight for a sand bar and will end up wrecked if they don’t do something.

  13. Those of you seeking an English translation of the above might usefully read Harland’s Seamanship,which treats the coarse, fine, and exotic points of sailing a three-master.

    Of particular interest is the interesting issue of taking a square-rigger up a narrow and winding channel, which does serve to separate the women from the boys. The noteworthy trick is that while simple sailboats can only be sailed forward or backward — note the War of iirc 1812 battle in which the American ship stern raked a ship of the British tyrant, and the American captain — it was a light breeze — then put his ship into reverse, sailed backward along the same course, and stern raked the British ship again, the second times his guns firing in order from the stern forward, a three-master can be sailed due sideways, so that the line from the binnacle to the bowsprit (from the front to the back end of the boat) is perpendicular to the direction of motion.

    And perhaps editing is needed, but somehow I have the impression that the Destiny is sailing away from the line of breakers.

    The snippets qualify as action, the same as a western gunfight, except that the described events actually happened with some frequency.

  14. WP says:

    I am fairly nautically literate and I’m getting more detail than I think I want. I agree that things are heading for a shipwreck. Why not “In spite of all the knowledge and skill many years at sea had taught hum, Sir Duncan could not avoid the breakers and HMS Destiny ran aground on >>>>>>>> Reef. Many of the crew survived, but many did not.”

  15. Maggie says:

    I’m taking PeterZ’s advice and waxing hopeful.

    We know there are likely to be more pockets of decendants of Dr. Pei’s re-educated A&E’s. Maybe an unscheduled landfall is a way to run smack into one??

  16. PeterZ says:

    The wind is comming from almost due south and they are headed South-Southwest-ish. Destiny headed toward shallow water on the current heading. They need to head eastward. So, they turn to a heading of South-SouthEAST-ish to avoid those shallows. If they succeed, they will be in position to enter Silkiah bay. This estimate is based on the AMF map of the Gulf of Jahras area.

    They need to go around Sand Shoal to enter Scrabble Sound which is inside Silkiah Bay which leads to Silk Town. Sir Dunkyn had tried to ride the storm into Silkiah bay but over shot both east and north. Now he has to backtrack and work around the obstacles.

    The more these snippets develop, the more this smells like a political set up. Destiny will limp into Silk Town and need repairs from a close call with the stated obstacles. Where the politics leads our intrepid heros? Well, that’s why we buy these books, nicht wahr?

    Oh, Maggie, imagine background music for the next 2 snippets-“Night on Bald Mountain”.

  17. Steve A says:

    I like it. The snippet is small enough that it doesn’t drag and in the large scheme of things it is only a chapter or two.

    They appear to be heading for a shipwreak or a beaching and eventual capture… who will survive? Perhaps a small group who start under the command of the Captain… keeping the secret of who Master Aplyn-Ahrmahk is and then eventually leadership is transferred to him when the Captain comes to an end.

    There are lots of opportunities here and lots of directions this can go.

  18. jgarland says:

    Well, we do know there is–or rather will be–a friendly seijin who lives in Silk Town, at least.

  19. Maggie says:

    @16 Agree with that PeterZ! And depending on the condition of Destiny & crew AND their reception in Silk Town, either “Finlandia” (especially the “Be Still My Soul” portion) or the final movement of Beethovan’s VI (Thanksgiving After the Storm) in the snippets following after…

  20. Mike says:

    Maybe they will wreck, or maybe they will be driven into an enemy sound where they will be forced to surrender. In any event, I predict that Harold and Irene will end up as a couple, thus ending the clan war between their peoples.

  21. PeterZ says:

    @19 Hektor and Irys?

  22. zakryerson says:

    How about the 4th movement of “The Wiiliam Tell Overture”.

    AKA: ” A fiery horese with the speed of light, a cloud of dust and a hearty Hi-Yo Silevr ……… ”
    Real Big :)

    “The Storm is the third movemebnt of the William Tell Overture.

  23. LC says:

    Irene and her brother seem to be quite a ways away from the current action but… I wonder where the Earl of Corris is? He’s in the midst of a long trip back from meeting the Go4 as I recall. I haven’t had time to reverse his trip description to check, but I wonder if he’s the one who’s going to cross paths with young Hector?

  24. Drak Bibliophile says:

    LC, it’s Princess Irys not Princess Irene. [Smile]

    As for Earl Corris, he had gotten back to Irys and her brother before the end of the last book.

  25. PeterZ says:

    So, do they lose their ship or simply damage it? Inquiring minds want a specultative answer.

  26. Maggie says:

    @22 Actually, how about a fiery soprano with the speed of caffeine, a patch of spotlight and a hearty

    “Ho-yo To-ho!”

    Irys strikes me as a budding Brunnhilde…

  27. PeterZ says:

    Maggie, I know you want Zhannet and Hektor to get together, but calling his anamorata a vulture is a bit much. ;-)

  28. Maggie says:

    …just as long as we stick to “Siegfried” and avoid “Die Gotterdammerung”

  29. Maggie says:

    @27 I don’t think of Valkyrie as vultures… more like highly agressive corporate recruiters!

  30. Maggie says:

    Or is there a difference?

  31. PeterZ says:

    Switching subjects, Maggie. Are you going to watch the MET’s “Siefried” and “Die Gotterdammerung” this fall and spring? You probably don’t live in NY, but they are simulcasting in theatres nationwide. “Die Walkure” played this spring and “Das Reingold” last fall. I think there are plans to play all 4 over 2 weekends next summer.

  32. Maggie says:

    @31 Actually, I went to the Seattle Ring back in the ’80’s. Will probably catch Siegfried in the fall…

  33. jgnfld says:

    saw the simulcast Die Walkure here in Newfoundland a few weeks back and again last week. Wonderful singing. Not sure I’m in love with “the machine”.

  34. Randy says:

    I’m curious if Merlin is aware of the situation. No mention of him yet. Usually we learn of these problems from his view as I recall.

  35. There is a modest editing issue someplace, or I am missing the point, doubtless the latter.

    They have “a heading of roughly south-southwest.” There are breakers off the starboard quarter and off to the northeast. They may be well north, but they appear to be headed away not toward the Garfish bar. they are headed as much into the wind as they can .. several points closer than…. If the wind is off their starboard forequarter then they can turn to the southeast and run with the wind. If the wind is from the south to southeast they can tack acorss the wind, and still be heading away from the bad news.

  36. justdave says:

    are we looking at a ‘Witch of Endor’ scenario?

  37. kari says:

    My knowledge of 3 masted frigates come courtesy of Puke & Snot’s comedy routine where even tho the 1st mast is fore it’s 3 mast cause the 3rd one is ‘mizzen’ and the Capt. stands firmly on the poop….deck. You can remember the diff between port and starboard with the following: “Left Port: Left Port” “I agree, we should’ve left port an hour ago”. The rest goes downhill from there. Here’s a sample.

  38. Willem Meijer says:

    As music for the moment the smash into the sandbank I propose the ‘Dies Irae’ from the Requiem of Alfred Schnittke. Nice smashing music. Not the same as smashing good music (acording to some)…

  39. Robert H. Woodman says:

    @37 – Willem Meijer

    I was unfamiliar with Schnittke’s Requiem, so I looked it up on YouTube and listened to it. It would be effective as smashing music.

  40. Maggie says:

    @37 & 38 If I’m fated to shipwreck with a Dies Irae, let it be the Dies Irae from Dvorak’s Requiem!

  41. PeterZ says:

    @35 George, they have to tack across the wind. Their concern is Sand Shoal. I suspect that marks the safe entry to Scrabble Sound and Silkiah Bay. The seas between Sand Shoal and Garfish Bank may be treacherously shallow.

    I do not recall that the waves have shifted as much as the wind yet. So, tacking may involve riding across the waves not into or with the waves. The risk of capsizing if they try to ride across the waves approaches unity in these conditions.

  42. Mario says:

    It is far too long! Is the author going on like this all the book long? Then helas it will contain the detailed descriptions of every wave of every storm met by our heroes for a total of one hundred pages of foam! I at least need something drier. It is a pity that nobody is left to perform some astringent editing on this author’s latest books. With a slimming cure they would oustandin, tthe basic story for instance and many parts are outstanding and very enjoiable

  43. John Driver says:

    As I see it Destiny was sailing northeast and trying to sail as much to the east as she could. The winds shifted around, however, and started pushing the ship in a more northerly direction. It looks like Garfish Bank follows a more or less straight line from the southwest to the northeast. (From the text. I couldn’t find a map with that degree of detail) As long as Destiny was sailing northeast they weren’t getting any closer to Garfish Bank. The wind was strong enough that they couldn’t sail crossways to the wind. Captain Yairley then swung Destiny around and headed south by southwest. The wind was supposedly coming out of the south at this point. It couldn’t have been coming from due south, because that would mean that the ship was sailing within 23 degrees of the wind. From what was said in “Off Armageddon Reef” I would guess that 45 degrees would be achievable. Sir Dustyn Olyvyr’s first ship with the new rigging was Dawn and it was doing good to get within 50 degrees of the wind. If we assume that Destiny can sail 45 degrees into the wind, then a sailing course of south by southwest would imply that the wind was coming out of south by southeast. I’m sure that Captain Yairley is sailing as much south as he can. Garfish Bank and Scrabble Sound are on the right and Sand Shoal is ahead and on the right. As long as nothing hooks more to the south they should be OK. No guarantees, this looks to be a close call. The header on snippet 8 indicates that there is going to be some scene shown in the Grand Duchy of Silkiah. This could be our intrepid crew from Destiny crashing on the shore, or it could be some merchant or something remarking about how glad they are to have made it to port before the storm and after the storm is over maybe somebody should go out and check to see if anybody got hung up out there.

  44. summertime says:

    This lengthy and detailed description of sailing on the bounding main puts me in mind of similarly detailed descriptions of starships, weapons and battles in the HONOR HARRINGTON books. I guess that is just the way Weber writes. We will either read it and enjoy it, or go on to some other author’s work. Most of them do descriptive passages in their own styles; Drake, Stirling, Flint, Turtledove, etc., can blather as well.

  45. PeterZ says:

    David posted a very interesting snerk on his website under the psuedonym runsforcelery. Duckk posted it on Baen’s Bar-Honorverse as well.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.