I can’t begin to describe how excited and apprehensive I am to hear that HM Pickle is up for sale – on Ebay no less! There’s no reserve and only 5 days left in the auction.
Of course it’s not the real one. This is an excellent replica of the 1799 top sail schooner, known at the time as a Bermuda sloop. The original Pickle was 73 feet long with a 20 foot beam, displaced 127 tons and was armed with 8 12 pounder carronades with a crew of approximately 40 to man the guns and trim the sails.
Pickle served in the French Revolutionary War, firstly in the Caribbean, fighting pirivateers, pirates and the French squadrons, then in the Channel and the Mediterranean. Pickle was the vessel chosen to carry news of the victory at Trafalgar, and the death of Nelson, back to England. During th battle itself, Pickle had hung back with the other small ships, darting in to rescue survivors from stricken vessels and carrying messages where safe to do so. While assisting a French vessel that had caught fire and exploded one of Pickle’s boats picked up a woman from the French ship. She was clinging to a floating oar and had been blown right out of her clothes. She described how she had had to fight off French sailors who had tied to take the oar for themselves. One of the Pickles gallantly took of his trousers and gave them to her to wear. It seems a bizarre story until you consider that the Navy wasn’t nearly as ‘stag’ as the history books lead us to believe. I suspect that there’s a really good story in this anecdote but I don’t think I’m the one to write it.
I have a mini Pickle at home, built over three long cold winters by my husband, and very fine she is too. The Cat loves to sleep on top of her case.