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Gold.Vanity. Can you REALLY sink a ship?

DigiTrad:
GOLDEN VANITY
SINKING OF THE GRAF SPEE
THE BOLD TRELLITEE
THE GOLDEN VANITY
THE GOLDEN VANITY (6)
THE GREEN WILLOW TREE
THE LOWDOWN LONESOME LOW
THE LOWLANDS LOW (7)
THE SWEET KUMADEE
THE TURKEY-ROGHER LEE and the YELLOW GOLDEN TREE


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translating the golden vanity (14)
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Lyr Req: Lowlands Low (Warde Ford, Child #286) (6)
Lyr Req: Frank Proffitt's Lowland Low (#286) (6)
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Lyr Req: ollie jacobs's golden vanity (bronson) (1)
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Rick Fielding 02 Sep 03 - 01:08 PM
Nerd 02 Sep 03 - 01:17 PM
GUEST,Melani 02 Sep 03 - 01:22 PM
GUEST,MMario 02 Sep 03 - 01:22 PM
Rapparee 02 Sep 03 - 01:34 PM
Ironmule 02 Sep 03 - 01:51 PM
Don Firth 02 Sep 03 - 02:03 PM
McGrath of Harlow 02 Sep 03 - 02:06 PM
Les from Hull 02 Sep 03 - 02:25 PM
Charley Noble 02 Sep 03 - 02:33 PM
Amos 02 Sep 03 - 02:37 PM
Les from Hull 02 Sep 03 - 02:51 PM
PeteBoom 02 Sep 03 - 02:51 PM
Chief Chaos 02 Sep 03 - 02:59 PM
Rapparee 02 Sep 03 - 03:16 PM
Chief Chaos 02 Sep 03 - 03:35 PM
Peter T. 02 Sep 03 - 03:36 PM
GUEST 02 Sep 03 - 03:40 PM
GUEST,MMario 02 Sep 03 - 03:45 PM
Uncle_DaveO 02 Sep 03 - 03:49 PM
Rick Fielding 02 Sep 03 - 06:00 PM
Amos 02 Sep 03 - 06:18 PM
greg stephens 02 Sep 03 - 06:19 PM
Jeri 02 Sep 03 - 06:46 PM
Amos 02 Sep 03 - 06:50 PM
Gareth 02 Sep 03 - 07:01 PM
Grab 02 Sep 03 - 07:07 PM
curmudgeon 02 Sep 03 - 07:10 PM
LadyJean 02 Sep 03 - 07:22 PM
McGrath of Harlow 02 Sep 03 - 07:58 PM
kendall 02 Sep 03 - 08:52 PM
Schantieman 03 Sep 03 - 06:44 AM
HuwG 03 Sep 03 - 08:38 AM
InOBU 03 Sep 03 - 08:38 AM
Rapparee 03 Sep 03 - 08:43 AM
EBarnacle1 03 Sep 03 - 11:24 AM
M.Ted 03 Sep 03 - 11:32 AM
Reiver 2 03 Sep 03 - 01:56 PM
EBarnacle1 03 Sep 03 - 02:10 PM
GUEST 03 Sep 03 - 02:13 PM
PeteBoom 03 Sep 03 - 02:32 PM
Gareth 03 Sep 03 - 03:06 PM
Deckman 03 Sep 03 - 03:36 PM
EBarnacle1 03 Sep 03 - 05:18 PM
GUEST 03 Sep 03 - 05:51 PM
Jeri 03 Sep 03 - 06:10 PM
kendall 03 Sep 03 - 06:18 PM
Peter T. 03 Sep 03 - 07:07 PM
McGrath of Harlow 03 Sep 03 - 07:15 PM
Cattail 03 Sep 03 - 07:32 PM
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Subject: Gold.Vanity. Can you REALLY sink a ship?
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 02 Sep 03 - 01:08 PM

On last night's Acoustic Workshop radio show, I played several versions of the grand old ballad "The Golden Vanity", complete with all the strange variations in text (Turkish Revelee, Merry Golden Tree, Spanish Enemy etc.)

In some versions the little cabin boy sinks his OWN ship because of his Captain's perfidy, and in others, he can't bring himself to drown his mess-mates just to wreak vengeance on the Captain.

But in one area they are all pretty much the same....he sinks the enemy by drilling holes (one, three, nine, etc.) into their hull.

So here's the question I got asked by a doubtful listener:

Would it be possible to sink a big ship in the time of Henry V111 to Elizabeth 1 in this manner?

My immediate answer was "of course not, it's just a song", but Heather said: "Let's ask the Mudcat, we may be surprised."

So if there's anyone with good info on this (or even anyone who's BEEN a Cabin boy, and sunk the odd ship with their little auger!!) what do you think.

Cheers

Rick


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Subject: RE: Gold.Vanity. Can you REALLY sink a ship?
From: Nerd
Date: 02 Sep 03 - 01:17 PM

It would be very unlikely to sink a ship. All wooden ships took on water, and had pumps aboard to pump the water out again. In battle, ships would get hulled below the waterline by cannonballs, and the crew could still fother the ship (block the hole with tarred canvas), then repair the hole, all while pumping out the excess water to stay afloat. So a lad with an auger would be unlikely to cause a ship to founder quite that quickly!

Having said that, if he cut out a large enough hole, he could indeed sink the ship. A saw would be a better tool for this than an auger, and it would take him a long time, during which (if he did not freeze to death) he would be vulnerable to musket fire, so it would not be a useful method in battle.


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Subject: RE: Gold.Vanity. Can you REALLY sink a ship?
From: GUEST,Melani
Date: 02 Sep 03 - 01:22 PM

I'm guessing that if you drilled ENOUGH holes (and I don't think nine would do it) and nobody noticed for a while, you might be able to pull it off. It would probably also depend on sea and weather conditions. They should be able to pump faster that the water would come in, while somebody else plugged the holes. I seem to remember about a year ago, the C.A.Thayer (153 feet) was leaking some ridiculous amount, like 2,000 gallons a day, or some such number, and had three pumps going 24 hours. When I expressed horror at the large number, the shipwright in charge said, "She's a big ship. She can take it."


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Subject: RE: Gold.Vanity. Can you REALLY sink a ship?
From: GUEST,MMario
Date: 02 Sep 03 - 01:22 PM

but the versions I know do state specifically of the crew that "some were playing cards, and some were shooting dice" and that "some were in their bunks"

so it *might* be possible that *if undetected long enough* the holes drilled might let in enough that they couldn't get ahead of it with the pumps....


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Subject: RE: Gold.Vanity. Can you REALLY sink a ship?
From: Rapparee
Date: 02 Sep 03 - 01:34 PM

And if the ship's bottom was coppered?

But if there was a place were such drilling would do more damage, such as in an area where damage was already sustained....

It always seemed to me to be a silly way to win a girl anyway. Poor little chap didn't listen to enough songs and stories dealing with the perfidy of those in command.


"Hey, if any of you guys want to jump overboard, swim to that enemy ship, drill a bunch of holes with your little boring tools and sink her, I'll give you my daughter."

"Bugger off, I've SEEN your daughter."


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Subject: RE: Gold.Vanity. Can you REALLY sink a ship?
From: Ironmule
Date: 02 Sep 03 - 01:51 PM

The augers of the time had a crossbar you twisted like a foursquare tire tool. You couldn't use one in the water. Even deep below the surface the water pressure doesn't force much water through a small hole. The crew would have to play cards for a week or more before the ship would founder.

That said, if he had a small hooked tool called a "reefing iron" he could have "reefed" the caulking from some of the planking seams and started a serious leak. It's a scenario that would be far easier to accomplish in port than on the high seas, and impossible if the vessels were activly sailing along, or there was much tidal flow past an anchored ship.

Jeff Smith

PS, the best "pump" on a leaky vessel is a scared man with a five gallon bucket. Trust me on this ;^) I woke up the fourth morning of our bareboat charter and stepped into an inch of water! A bucket and adrenalin emptied out the belly of the sailboat quickly, and we traced the leak to a poorly tightened stuffing box on the propeller shaft. The Golden Vanitie had many buckets aboard.


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Subject: RE: Gold.Vanity. Can you REALLY sink a ship?
From: Don Firth
Date: 02 Sep 03 - 02:03 PM

Unless he had a brace and auger with a bit three feet in diameter. Three holes, or nine holes, depending on whichever version, ought to do the trick, I would think.

A couple of things I've wondered about:--
1) Did he have to swim alongside the enemy ship while it was under full sail while doing the deed? Or was the ship just sitting there like a swan on a smooth pond?   
2) Even if it were just sitting there and all he had to do was tread water, the trick would be to set the auger bit into the wood of the hull and apply enough pressure to screw it through the planking without pushing himself away from the ship.

Tricky piece of work.

Astronauts working in space have to brace themselves against something when using rotary tools (such as an electric drill or screwdriver) or they find they push themselves away from what they're working on when they try to apply the necessary pressure and counter-rotating when they operate the tool. In a medium that doesn't offer very much firm support such as water, it seems the same problem in physics might pertain. Newton strikes again!

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Gold.Vanity. Can you REALLY sink a ship?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 02 Sep 03 - 02:06 PM

Maybe this could be an idea to put to that TV show where they try to replicate historical gadgets to see if they could get them to work.


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Subject: RE: Gold.Vanity. Can you REALLY sink a ship?
From: Les from Hull
Date: 02 Sep 03 - 02:25 PM

Well let's get rid of the coppering first - ships of Henry VIII's time weren't coppered - this only came in around the 1780's (as far as I can remember).

Perhaps the best authority on drilling holes in the bottoms of ships would have been good old Sergeant Ezra Lee (who attacked HMS Eagle in Bushnell's Turtle (early not very good man-powered submersible) during the American Revolution). The story that goes around was that he could not penetrate Eagle's coppering, which was wrong as Eagle wasn't coppered. Perhaps it was the effort of trying to keep the auger against the hull while he drilled, action and reaction being equal and opposite ('damn you Issac Newton, I could've sunk a Royal Navy ship if t'wernt for you!').

So what a big lad like Ezra couldn't manage, would be more difficult for a little cabin boy (most of the versions emphasise his 'littleness'). And Ezra was only fitting a cup hook to the ship's bottom so he could hang a barrel of gunpowder off it - little cabin boy is trying to turn it into a passable imitation of a ships cheese.

In any ship where some were playing cards etc, some should have been on watch. The carpenter sounds the well at regular intervals, and any increase in the inflow should be noted. Perhaps the first job of any ambitious little boys should be to bop the carpenter and his crew on the head.

There's a great cartoon by Bill Tidy (UK 'catters will know him, especially for his 'Cloggies' strip in Private Eye many years ago). The ship's captain in a broadside to broadside action is calling out 'a firkin of rum for the man who brings down her mizzenmast' and there's a man diving off the mizzen chains on his own ship with a saw between his teeth!

Rick - best recorded version I know of this song was the Sweet Kumadee by formerly Hull-based Scottish singer Ian Manual (or Jock as we knew him - sadly he died some years ago) It's on Topic's Scottish Voices CD (TSCD703) with lots of other good stuff from great Scottish singers.

Les


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Subject: RE: Gold.Vanity. Can you REALLY sink a ship?
From: Charley Noble
Date: 02 Sep 03 - 02:33 PM

Now really, lads, if that cabinboy had succeeded in drilling a hole beneath the Golden Vanity's waterline, he would have been drown by the bilge water pouring out! Vile stuff, that bilge water.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Gold.Vanity. Can you REALLY sink a ship?
From: Amos
Date: 02 Sep 03 - 02:37 PM

The versions of the song I have heard do not insist on a tight causal coupling between the holes and the sinking; they simply state that both things occurred. For all we know the cabin boy's brother might have been working the Spanish enemy from the inside and surreptitiously opened the sea-cocks! Well, they probably had no seacocks, but whatever the nearest equivalent might be.

A


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Subject: RE: Gold.Vanity. Can you REALLY sink a ship?
From: Les from Hull
Date: 02 Sep 03 - 02:51 PM

Or perhaps it was all a put-up job. There wasn't really a Spanish Galilee at all. It just a cardboard replica, cunningly crafted beforehand by the cabinboy so he could get his evil little mitts on the lovely Captain's daughter. Ha ha, served him right then!

Going back to how feasible. I actually live right next to Hull's Marina. I've got an auger somewhere... Now if only I can attract enough sponsorship...


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Subject: RE: Gold.Vanity. Can you REALLY sink a ship?
From: PeteBoom
Date: 02 Sep 03 - 02:51 PM

Let's see... The White Ship sank in the English Chanel in the late 11th/early 12th century, drowning (among others), Henry I's heir. It was (apparently) sent to the bottom by drilling several holes through the hull. This, by the way, set up the civil war that followed Henry's death which lasted some, what, 20 years?

The period the event is set in makes a huge difference. When one considers that naval design of the late 16th century (roughly Hank VIII - Betsie I) was beyond the 11th/12th century model, but no where near whe it would be during the huge leap forward by the end of the 17th century, the answer is "maybe".

A couple of items mentioned above were common later on, but would have been radical innovations in the time that the original question was posed. Yes - fothering could stop serious damage. However, this was still quite new in the late 18th century and rather few ships had this done successfully before, say, 1780 or so. Also, copper sheathing was the great secret weapon against both worms, limpets and weeds on the bottom of ships hulls. Again, this was an 18th century innovation that was not wide-spread except on major capital ships until the later half of the century. (I forget the name of the first-rate that sank in Plymouth Harbour taking most of her crew with her. Seems when they added the sheathing, no one checked to see if the hull was sound to begin with. The whole bottom fell away from worms and rot. Oops.)

Now then, consider that most "war ships" of the time were actually merchant ships that had extra cannon added with reinforced planking an supports. Except for relatively few custom-built ships that were intended to be war-ships, the three-feet of oak plank was more likely 12-18 inches or less.

And so, Rick, given those things, I think the answer is a resounding "Well, depending on the type of ship this thing was, size, time period when she was built, and by whom, a determined cabin boy with a thing for the captain's daughter might possibly be able to sink a ship if he was very lucky."

She'd better be interested in him as well, or he'd be best off not wasting his time. ;-)

Cheers -

Pete


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Subject: RE: Gold.Vanity. Can you REALLY sink a ship?
From: Chief Chaos
Date: 02 Sep 03 - 02:59 PM

From Garfield's Nine Lives:

Garfield, in one of his nine lives (he's on number eight now)tries using a canoe to get to an island:

"When he saw the water coming in
He gave a little shout
And he quickly drilled another hole
To let the water out!"


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Subject: RE: Gold.Vanity. Can you REALLY sink a ship?
From: Rapparee
Date: 02 Sep 03 - 03:16 PM

Put powder in a waterproof container, float it at the waterline, use a waterproof fuse. WHAMMO! Sort of like a limpet mine. Use your little drilling tool to drill holes to attach the powder container to.

Of course, it would behoove you to swim like hell away.... But this isn't what the cabin by did.

Maybe the captain let him drown because he was stupid enough to answer the challenge.


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Subject: RE: Gold.Vanity. Can you REALLY sink a ship?
From: Chief Chaos
Date: 02 Sep 03 - 03:35 PM

Seems like the military hasn't changed much over the years. Blame the lowest rank possible.
Here's how the song got started:

scene: Office of the Naval Investigator

Okay lets see….
We need to hold somebody accountable for the sinking….
They're starting to doubt the sea monsters since no-one has actually seen one,
It really was the Captain's faulty seamanship, you can only hit the sandbar so many times before something gives way, but since I gave him the job to get him off my staff, It'll be my ass in a sling.
I can't blame the Mate, Mummy would never forgive me for getting cousin Barty in trouble.
Can't blame the carpenter, everybody knows he died last year and hasn't been replaced yet.
The cook? No, I've been trying to shanghai him for my staff, that wouldn't help me get him here.
The crew? Whoa no! Not going there! They're the scurviest bunch of pirates I've ever had the mispleasure to waylay at the pub. They'd probably cut my throat if I blamed them.
The cabin boy? Yeah! That's the ticket. He's harmless, came from an orphanage, nobody will take up for him!
Now, how did he do it and why?
Ah to hell with it! He was mad at the Captain for stealing his girl and he used a ships awl to drill holes in the hull.
There, the reports finished. Now I can get down to the pub early!


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Subject: RE: Gold.Vanity. Can you REALLY sink a ship?
From: Peter T.
Date: 02 Sep 03 - 03:36 PM

After listening to the show, I pulled down the book I am reading, Traditional American Folk Songs (Frank and Anne Warner), and had a tough time finding the song, even though it was everywhere, so varied are the titles. In the intro there is a letter from Lena Bourne Fish (one of the Warners' singers) who asks if they have ever heard "The Weeping Willow Tree" about a ship built in Virginia in the days of Sir Walter Raleigh (same song??). Then, low and behold, under the title of "Lowland Low" (I had thought of every other title, including Turkish Revelry to look under) there is a version by Frank Proffitt. There is reference made in the intro to the song to Child's version "A" from Pepys Ballads (!!!), from a 1682 broadside, which calls the ship the Sweet Trinity (built by Sir Walter Raleigh in the Netherlands).
Anyway, in the Profitt version the "little man" has a "little instrument" just for the use, and cuts "nine gashes" in the "salt water juice". Maybe big gashes?

Yours,

Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Gold.Vanity. Can you REALLY sink a ship?
From: GUEST
Date: 02 Sep 03 - 03:40 PM

sounds like they aren't talking ships and augers in that version!!!!! Was the captain's daughter spanish?


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Subject: RE: Gold.Vanity. Can you REALLY sink a ship?
From: GUEST,MMario
Date: 02 Sep 03 - 03:45 PM

that was me above...

Anyone have the lyrics for the Proffitt version?


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Subject: RE: Gold.Vanity. Can you REALLY sink a ship?
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 02 Sep 03 - 03:49 PM

Despite several snickers above about the cabin boy's letching after the captain's daughter, it seems to me probable that he'd never seen her.

So why was the captain's promise motivating? Because marriage to the captain's daughter--with a dowry, without a doubt--would lift the cabin boy out of his lowly class and change his life. That could be enough to make even a known homely spinster seem attractive.

Reminds me of the Gilbert and Sullivan lyric about the old barrister's daughter, whom he was trying to marry off:

She may very well pass for forty-three....
In the dusk, with the light behind her!


Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Gold.Vanity. Can you REALLY sink a ship?
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 02 Sep 03 - 06:00 PM

Thanks for the info folks. Seems to be swinging from a definite "Not on your life" to a resounding "Maybe".

Factors devined from Mudcat opinions:

Attractiveness of Captain's daughter important.
Exact year and type of hull info crucial.
Just what WAS that little device that the cabin boy carried?
Since it's a folk song, is it possible that the cabin boy is really a GIRL...and she used a hat pin....'cuz she had a thing for the Captain's daughter as well.

If the whole crew were standing alongside the edge of the ship on "pee-break" with their sea cocks out, would this have hindered the boy?

Did the Cabin boy have his St John's ambulance badge, 'cuz he sure was a hell of a swimmer.

*************************

I LOVE Rory Block's oddball version of this most-recorded song!

Cheers

Rick


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Subject: RE: Gold.Vanity. Can you REALLY sink a ship?
From: Amos
Date: 02 Sep 03 - 06:18 PM

Ya know, for whatever reason I always believed the story when I would sing it.

It makes perfect sense that it is unrealistic but, well... I guess I never will get used to being disillusioned! :>)

A


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Subject: RE: Gold.Vanity. Can you REALLY sink a ship?
From: greg stephens
Date: 02 Sep 03 - 06:19 PM

Folk songs are often very old,and may contain elements which are no longer "relevant" to a newer era(as we are always being told). Now it seems to me that the original song probably dates from an earlier era, when coracles or St Brendan type boats would have been normal. In which case, of course, it would have much easier.


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Subject: RE: Gold.Vanity. Can you REALLY sink a ship?
From: Jeri
Date: 02 Sep 03 - 06:46 PM

I wonder how many captains started their careers as cabin boys in coracles.


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Subject: RE: Gold.Vanity. Can you REALLY sink a ship?
From: Amos
Date: 02 Sep 03 - 06:50 PM

Cabins in coracles?? That's not earlier in time, it's a parallel universe!! LOL!!

A


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Subject: RE: Gold.Vanity. Can you REALLY sink a ship?
From: Gareth
Date: 02 Sep 03 - 07:01 PM

Actually I think it was a dastardly revenge by the Captain, formerly Master of the S/S"Venus"

"Oh the Cabin Boy, the Cabin Boy,
He was a dirty nipper,
He stuffed his arse with broken glass,
And circumsised the Skipper !"

" Frigging on the rigging etc. ....."


Just a thought, you understand, or is it a product of my nasty mind ?

Gareth

"Get yer retaliation in first, boys !" - The late Carwen James.


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Subject: RE: Gold.Vanity. Can you REALLY sink a ship?
From: Grab
Date: 02 Sep 03 - 07:07 PM

Greg, I somehow think even a cabin boy would be unlikely to go unnoticed under a coracle. And the very name "cabin" boy suggests that you have rather larger coracles than the rest of us (don't boast now ;-)

One possibility of course is that the sinking and the cabin boy's actions are coincidence. The Mary Rose sank in the English Channel in fine weather, for no other reason than that it was badly designed.

Graham.


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Subject: RE: Gold.Vanity. Can you REALLY sink a ship?
From: curmudgeon
Date: 02 Sep 03 - 07:10 PM

Sadly, not all sea songs were written by seafarers. This was possibly a landsman's fancy -- Tom


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Subject: RE: Gold.Vanity. Can you REALLY sink a ship?
From: LadyJean
Date: 02 Sep 03 - 07:22 PM

With regards to sinking the Golden Vanity, am I the only catter who has seen the Mary Rose, in Portsmouth Harbor?! It was a small ship, without a copper bottom, and it sank because it had too many nice, big cannons on board, and the crew didn't really know what they were doing.
I'm not sure what kind of sailors the Turks were. Or how many guns a Turkish ship carried.
What I do remember is the guide telling us that it was, "About three degrees in there" and hoping we were all wearing something warm. I was, but it wasn't warm enough for three degrees fahrenheit. Of course she was talking celsius, which is a good deal warmer.


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Subject: RE: Gold.Vanity. Can you REALLY sink a ship?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 02 Sep 03 - 07:58 PM

"The White Ship sank in the English Channel in the late 11th/early 12th century, drowning (among others), Henry I's heir. It was (apparently) sent to the bottom by drilling several holes through the hull."

Apparently they had the same kind of conspiracy theorists back in the 12th century we have today...


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Subject: RE: Gold.Vanity. Can you REALLY sink a ship?
From: kendall
Date: 02 Sep 03 - 08:52 PM

In the day of that song, the screw auger had not yet been invented, and it would be impossible to get enough leverage to drill a hole with a "pod auger"under water.

Now, if had had a screw auger (the type with the worm or screw at the tip, plus plenty of time, and he was drilling holes in a ship that was sheathed inside, theoretically, he could do enough damage if he did not penetrate the sheathing. That would let the water in, and it would run into the bilges behind the inner wall and would be very hard to locate the holes.

I believe that "Fothering" was developed in the 18th century, 200 years later.

Opinion, not possible.


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Subject: RE: Gold.Vanity. Can you REALLY sink a ship?
From: Schantieman
Date: 03 Sep 03 - 06:44 AM

Yes, Lady Jean, I've been to the Mary Rose. 'Tis chilly, innit? Summat t'do with preserving it.

Did you know that one version (in the English Book of Singing Penguins) was collected from William Bolton in Southport (home of the Bothy Folk Club)in 1906? Jez Lowe recorded it on the CD of songs from the book (I've lost my copy, malheureusement).

It's a good story, but does sound a tad unlikelyish.

Steve


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Subject: RE: Gold.Vanity. Can you REALLY sink a ship?
From: HuwG
Date: 03 Sep 03 - 08:38 AM

Re. PeteBoom's post above, the First Rate that went down in Plymouth Harbour was the "Royal George". There is still a legend that the ship was being canted to clean the copper on one side, the gunports on the other went under and that was that. However, it is equally possible that, with all the rot and damage from marine creatures, canting the ship caused the deck beams te break away from the ribs and frames, and the effect would be the same.

Re. Grab's post on the "Mary Rose", when built she was quite well designed. Unfortunately, in the thirty years which passed between her launch and loss, the Royal Shipyards, at Henry VIII's behest added lots of cannon, which, with the necessary extra frames, raised her Centre of Gravity. Even this wasn't enough to ensure her doom, until she put to sea with a Vice-Admiral embarked. To maintain the dignity (and safety) of the said Vice-Admiral, she carried two hundred or so extra men-at-arms, bowmen and arquebusiers, all mustered on the upper deck and quarter deck. This tipped the balance between being merely unseaworthy and a menace to all who sailed in her. There was a program about this on BBC2 about a year ago.

However, as more than one poster has mentioned, the one, three or even nine holes a love-lorn cabin-boy could inflict pale into insignificance beside the damage of which a boring (that's "drilling", not "tedious") mollusc named Teredo was capable. Before coppering was introduced, they could turn a ship's timbers into Gruyere cheese over a couple of decades.


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Subject: RE: Gold.Vanity. Can you REALLY sink a ship?
From: InOBU
Date: 03 Sep 03 - 08:38 AM

As to choice of drills. Rick beat me to the comment that an auger is too heavy to swim with, unless we are speaking of a bow drill, mostly wood and sinue, with a small mettle tip on the drill, easy to use in the water, if you find a nice nitch under the transom wedge yerself in under the rudder, drill between the planks likely butted back then, nice straight lead to drill into to, I like the reefing Iron idea as well, easier to swim with, however, the caulking would not likely be easy to get at with swelled planks, maybe you'd get some but don't forget oakum is being forced in by the presure of the water as the planks swell, better drill between the planks, and my vote is for a bow drill, Cheers, stay dry, Larry


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Subject: RE: Gold.Vanity. Can you REALLY sink a ship?
From: Rapparee
Date: 03 Sep 03 - 08:43 AM

He cut gashes in the "salt water juice"????

I haven't seen or heard that version, but the cabin boy's name HAD to have been Moses!


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Subject: RE: Gold.Vanity. Can you REALLY sink a ship?
From: EBarnacle1
Date: 03 Sep 03 - 11:24 AM

I was recently reading naval history relating to the first Elizabethan era. Attack by swimmers with augers was a standard means of attack in that era. It was probably carried over from earlier naval systems, when ships had fewer [if any] cannon and firearms. It is unlikely that the system would have been used or considered if it were not effective.


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Subject: RE: Gold.Vanity. Can you REALLY sink a ship?
From: M.Ted
Date: 03 Sep 03 - 11:32 AM

For those who don't know understand Kevin's remark above, here is an historical account of the sinking of The White Ship, lifted from a longer article at Britannia.com:


After the successful campaign of 1119 which culminated in King Louis VI of France's defeat and humiliation at the Battle of Brémule, King Henry and his entourage were finally preparing to return to England. Henry was offered a fine vessel, the White Ship, in which to set sail for England, but the King had already made his travelling arrangements and suggested that it would be an excellent choice for his son, William.

As the rising star of the Royal Court, Prince William attracted the cream of society to surround him. He was to be accompanied by some three hundred fellow passengers: 140 knights and 18 noblewomen; his half-brother, Richard; his half-sister, Matilda the Countess of Perche; his cousins, Stephen and Matilda of Blois; the nephew of the German Emperor Henry V; the young Earl of Chester and most of the heirs to the great estates of England and Normandy. There was a mood of celebration in the air and the Prince had wine brought aboard ship by the barrel-load to help the party go with a swing. Both passengers and crew soon became highly intoxicated: shouting abuse at one another and ejecting a group of clerics who had arrived to bless the voyage. Some passengers, including Stephen of Blois, who was ill with diarrhoea, appear to have sensed further trouble and decided to take a later craft.

The onboard revelries had delayed the White Ship's departure and it only finally set out to sea, after night had already fallen. The Prince found that most of the King's forces had already left him far behind yet, as with all young rabble-rousers, he wished to be first back home. He therefore ordered the ship's master to have his oarsmen row full-pelt and overtake the rest of the fleet. Being as drunk as the rest of them, the master complied and the ship soon began to race through the waves.

An excellent vessel though the White Ship was, sea-faring was not as safe as it is today. Many a boat was lost on the most routine of trips and people did not travel over the water unless they really had to. With a drunken crew in charge moreover, it seems that fate had marked out the White Ship for special treatment. It hit a rock in the gloom of the night and the port-side timbers cracked wide-open to reveal a gaping whole.

Prince William's quick-thinking bodyguard immediately rushed him on deck and bundled him into a small dinghy. They were away to safety even before the crew had begun to make their abortive attempts to hook the vessel off the rocks. However, back aboard ship, the Prince could hear his half-sister calling to him, begging him not to leave her to the ravages of the merciless sea. He ordered his little boat to turn round, but the situation was hopeless. As William grew nearer once more, the White Ship began to descend beneath the waves. More and more people were in the water now and they fought desperately for the safety of the Royal dinghy. The turmoil and the weight were too much. The Prince's little boat was capsized and sank without trace.


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Subject: RE: Gold.Vanity. Can you REALLY sink a ship?
From: Reiver 2
Date: 03 Sep 03 - 01:56 PM

A really fascinating discussion. I've learned a lot. Thanks to everyone. I do have a few questions: Where is the evidence that the time of the event was during the period of Hank VIII or Betty I? My version says nothing about the time period other than it refers to "the Spanish enemy." (The same goes for any assumptions about how "big" that ship was?) Does the phrase "lowland sea" refer to the coast of Holland, or ?? Finally, Les from Hull makes a reference to "...the lovely Captain's daughter." How do you know the captain was so lovely? :-)

As I say, I've learned a lot, but as for the original question, I'm still satisfied with Rick's original reply (thanks, though, to Heather for suggesting a referral to the Mudcat or we'd have missed a fascinating discussion).

Reiver 2


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Subject: RE: Gold.Vanity. Can you REALLY sink a ship?
From: EBarnacle1
Date: 03 Sep 03 - 02:10 PM

One of the alternate names of the song is: "Sir Walter Raleigh in the Lowlands of..." Whether or not it is based upon an actual incident, I do not know. I do know that the song was much bruited about and did damage to his reputation and popularity, at least for a while.


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Subject: RE: Gold.Vanity. Can you REALLY sink a ship?
From: GUEST
Date: 03 Sep 03 - 02:13 PM

as I understand it tradition dates the song to Elizabeth I....suppossedly it is about Sir Walter Raliegh.

the Ballad Index dates it back to 1685


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Subject: RE: Gold.Vanity. Can you REALLY sink a ship?
From: PeteBoom
Date: 03 Sep 03 - 02:32 PM

Indeed, Ted & Kevin. A half-remembered bit from a course longer ago than I care to think about. Could have sworn I read somewhere that it was an intentional sinking... ah well. Senility strikes once again.

HuwG - Royal George was indeed the one I was thinking of. I'll have to dig out which dusty old book I read about her in.

As for the Mary Rose, that was an "oops". I think the Vasa is a better example of "Hmmmm, maybe we should not do it this way." Lovely state of the art ship - huge, massive, impressive to look at and nearly as sea-worthy as a brick. The original plan was modified after her construction was well under way, to make her longer and taller. Added more cannon to the taller hull, and voila! A disaster waiting to happen!

Her first excursion out, banners flying, ports all open displaying her nice shiny new cannons, band playing and a slight gust gave her a slight heel - and she kept right on going... the too-tall upperworks (for her narrow beam) in conjunction with too tall of masts (ditto, but she sure did look good), meant that the couple of degrees pitch from the wind increased by a gust to several degrees, set the lower gun-deck awash and that was that. Kind of put a damper on the King's party that night.

I figure the captain should have stuck to polishing the handles on the big front door.

Pete


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Subject: RE: Gold.Vanity. Can you REALLY sink a ship?
From: Gareth
Date: 03 Sep 03 - 03:06 PM

Getting back to Music - There was a Ballad on the subject of the "Royal George" Click 'Ere

Gareth


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Subject: RE: Gold.Vanity. Can you REALLY sink a ship?
From: Deckman
Date: 03 Sep 03 - 03:36 PM

I dunno Rick ... I'm going to vote that YES indeed, I think it was very possible! As proof positive, I'll relate a very embarrasing event in my life. Some years ago, a friend and I were launching my 20' plastic boat into the river. He was quite sure that I had put the thermos bottle sized cork into the drain hole. And I was equally sure that he had. Suffice it to say that neither of us had. Within five minutes, that silly little boat was submerged. It simply amazing how much water can come through a three quarter inch hole in no time. I've been able to keep this misshap a complete secret all these years, so please don't tell anyone! CHEERS, Bob


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Subject: RE: Gold.Vanity. Can you REALLY sink a ship?
From: EBarnacle1
Date: 03 Sep 03 - 05:18 PM

It reminds me of the time I launched my first boat, an old Star class. I had neglected to allow the planks to swell before putting her in. The boat went directly to the bottom of the slip which, fortunately, was not too deep. The slings didn't even get off her before she filled.


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Subject: RE: Gold.Vanity. Can you REALLY sink a ship?
From: GUEST
Date: 03 Sep 03 - 05:51 PM

I'm happy to report that the "Golden Vanity" is still safe if not exactly sound in the cellar of our old barn in Maine. She's a 12-foot skiff that my parents commissioned back in the 1950's. She shows evidence of rot here and there but I'm sure some intripid soul could restore her, and learn something in the process.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Gold.Vanity. Can you REALLY sink a ship?
From: Jeri
Date: 03 Sep 03 - 06:10 PM

One also wonders how big a tool a cabin boy must have to drill a hole that size, and how he managed to swim with it.


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Subject: RE: Gold.Vanity. Can you REALLY sink a ship?
From: kendall
Date: 03 Sep 03 - 06:18 PM

I still insist that it couldn't be done for the reasons listed.


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Subject: RE: Gold.Vanity. Can you REALLY sink a ship?
From: Peter T.
Date: 03 Sep 03 - 07:07 PM

Ran across another version called "The Merry Golden Tree" by Jean Ritchie on her newly rereleased Ballads album. The boy goes for nine holes here, but the song is cut off before we learn of his fate (don't know why). You have to work hard to figure out that it is the same song from all the different titles (the other ship is called The Turkish Robbery!).

yours,

Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Gold.Vanity. Can you REALLY sink a ship?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 03 Sep 03 - 07:15 PM

Sounds like a job for the Reenactment enthusiasts. Does the Sealed Knot have a naval section?


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Subject: RE: Gold.Vanity. Can you REALLY sink a ship?
From: Cattail
Date: 03 Sep 03 - 07:32 PM

Hi all,

Having read Deckman's account of his 20' boat, it got me
thinking about the relative sizes of these vessels.

The Mary Rose had a waterline length of 125', with a 38' beam, not
a small boat, but fairly small by todays standards, and only approx'
five times bigger than Deckmans craft.

If Deckman's boat went down in roughly five minutes, then the larger
vessel may only have taken half an hour to an hour to do the same.
Given that Deckman had only one three quarter inch hole to deal with
and the Vanity supposedly had a minimum of three.

So, yes it may have been possible, also taking into account the extra
weight differences between GRP and wood, and that the Vanity would
have been fitted out to a good standard and carrying cannon etc,
all making for an extremely heavy vessel with a lot of displacement.

I didn't note the draught of the Mary Rose, but the dimensions are
on the web site.

Incidentally on http://www.divernet.com I came across the headline
that said another part (the bowcastle) of the Mary Rose had been
found in the Solent, I didn't bother reading the article as I have
been getting slow connection problems lately, (it won't even let
me submit this, I've tried three times now) but a very interesting
bit of news, especially if they can raise it and match it to the
original hull they have already.

Enough of my ramblings.

Cheers to all

Cattail !


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