Chris Scott Wilson Writer
Spithead. With the war clouds thickening over France, when Admiral Temple West and admiral Edward Hawke took out two squadrons on 25th July, Eagle still wasn’t ready for sea, and Cook noted the admirals’ departure in his journal, adding somewhat glumly his own crew were “Employed scrubbing the ship’s bottom,” never a favourite job.
When Captain Hamar received his orders, he was to act independently, Eagle patrolling from the south of Ireland to the Scilly Islands off the tip of Cornwall where he was to intercept any strange sail on a stop & search basis. This was usually done by firing a warning shot then ordering the ship to ‘bring-to’ (turning her head to the wind to stop her) so they could receive a boat from Eagle. If the vessel yielded no enemies of the crown, then occasionally the officer in charge of the boarding party would find something to warrant the visit. After only being at sea for four days, on 8th August near the Lizard in Cornwall, Cook wrote they “examined a ship from Antigua bound to London out of which we impressed three men.” The searches became a regular occurrence, almost routine.
There was little else eventful about the patrol for Cook except among the pressed men and the ’lubbers (landsmen) his experience was quickly noticed and within a month he was promoted to petty officer, one of the master’s mates. But they were soon to make landfall again. In heavy weather they lost the driver boom, then sail was shortened progressively until the decision was made to heave-to in order to ride out a gale. When it was reported the mainmast was sprung, Captain Hamar abandoned the patrol and ordered they make for Plymouth where they anchored two days later in the Sound on 5th September. After the master craftsman from the dockyard had been aboard and perhaps somewhat perplexed, declared the mast fit for purpose, Hamer, who had been a Post Captain for some 14 years and well knew his obligations to the crown and what was expected of him, expressly ignored Admiralty orders to return to sea. Instead, he announced his ship’s hull needed tallowing and proceeded to the dock area at the Hamoaze where Eagle was rafted alongside the old HMS Leopard, into which his men transferred the stores and ballast to reduce stresses on the hull when Eagle was put into the dock. By the time the tallowing had been completed and the stores were again being reloaded, the Navy Board showed it would not tolerate any such
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