Captain’s Log From Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World

This comes from the official site of the movie Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, which is no longer operational it seems. It is Jack Aubrey’s log of the voyage undertaken during the movie. The most interesting thing about the log is the fact that it was obviously written by someone who was quite familiar with the books, as certain events and even phrases are taken straight from it.

Day 32 – 45 11′ N, 11 02′ W

It is said that no man is married south of Gibralter, but we passed the Rock and Sophie’s hold upon my thoughts is still strong. I miss her presence, but cannot mention that most human of weaknesses to anyone but Maturin. It would serve no purpose for the men to see this weakness in me, even this most human of weaknesses. One day there will be the cottage and the horses, but for the present we must all do our duty.

Day 34 – 30 46’N. 40 14’W

Favourable winds from off the quarter this morning. Mr. Allen spread a full press of sail and upon heaving the log we discovered she was making eight knots two fathom. The people seem happy to be cracking on, but I judged it prudent to strike royals. We are bound for the far side of the world – and there is no profit in losing a yard in order to keep a fool’s pace with no dockyard under our lee for ever and ever.

Day 37 – 21 50’N. 42 30’W

What an infernal set of lubbers we are saddled with in these new landsmen. Our old Surprises make an efficient set but the hard bargains their Lordships see fit to send us are as yet useless. there are 28 this time, mostly quota men and others from the goals and almshouses. Despite their bewilderment and the fact that most are consistently seasick, I keep them at the great guns drilling so that they are too exhausted to pursue their usual habits.

Day 39 – 32 0’N, 8 46’W

Allen caught sight of a sail, flying away. What a beautiful ship she was, narrow and fast. She must be French. We fired our chasers, and she managed to send a ball against our bow. Then she made all possible sail and disappeared at nightfall. I don’t know why she would be so shy. Allen told me he counted 40 guns to our 28. I told him that was good odds for an English sailor. Next time I meet her, I’m determined to take her home with me.

Day 32 – 41 24’S, 43 0′ W

We came to an anchor off Rio. I sent Mr. Pullings with Dr. Maturin (who returned on board with a creature he called a Sloth). A Portuguese captain reported sighting the French frigate a week past presumably shaping course for the Cape. We are exercising the people at great guns in hopes that when we meet her…throwing brisk broadsides will make up the difference between our 28 guns and her 44.

Day 47 – 29 40’S. 30 05’W

Our time spent inshore produced the usual degradation in the people, and the usual punishments followed. A Waister offered Mr. Pullings a suggestion I would not repeat to Sophie and was rewarded by being gagged with a marlin spike and made fast for the duration of the middle watch. Slade and Plaice returned aboard drunk as lords, which I could not overlook, but spared them the cat. I aspire toward a taut ship, but sailors will be sailors and those are solid good men who need not be spoiled.

Day 50 – 39 30’S. 48 55’W

Today being Sunday, I rigged for church and read one of Donne’s sermons to the people. As is the custom we then declared a make and mend day – a day of leisure for the men. Mr. Hollar rigged a stuns’l over the side in which the men bathed while others sat under an awning and mended their clothes. With Cape Stiff still in our future they must relax and recuperate while they can.

Day 52 – 44 31N. 45 30′ W.

We practiced our wit upon poor Maturin today. He overheard Mr. Lamb discussing a minor leak – a butt was weeping – and asked me if we might have to turn back from Cape Horn. We led him to believe that the minor leak in question might be the beginning of the end…and that with luck a score or so of us might survive should we be so fortunate to strike a mountain of ice. Poor fellow. He assumed a quite cross face and retired to his beetle collections.

Day 64 – 56 55’s. 65 10’W

The Horn has shown its ugly face. Added to our trials was the unexpected sighting of ice off the pitch of the Horn itself – damned poor luck to find it this far north at this time of year. Several of the people will lose fingers and toes to frostbite and there was a bad fall. But a trial like this brings a crew together, even the mearest landsman are now hauling braces and halyards like tigers and the old Surprises are teaching them to be real man-o-warsmen.

Day 66 – 55 55′ S, 65 10′ W

Sighted a sail to leeward and closed to investigate. Determined her to be a Frenchman, and bore away toward her while amusing her with false colours. Beat to quarters after a ten hour stalking match brought us nearly within reach. She accepted our challenge and showed her teeth. She is a fine vessel and a smart sailor – a fine prize should we bring her to.

Day 70 – 42 50′ S, 78 15′ W

We exchanged broadsides with much effect for our part. We deprived them of their mizzen after an exhausting morning. Their shots have slowed as have ours, but the old Surprises still appear to have fighting spirit in them. Let’s hope they retain it…we’ll need it if we move in for her bow.

Day 72 – 35 52′ S, 75 12′ W

A fool of a lad serving as powder monkey to the midships division dropped his cartridge on the deck instead of safely in the box with the others. I saw one of the Middies clip him with his pistol butt – not good form – a well deserved blow. A mistake like that could turn the tide against us.

Day 73 – 33 52′ S, 75 12′ W

During a pause in the action I went down to the gundeck to encourage the men. Mr. Pullings reported that all was well and from the demeanor of the lads I could see that it was so. One of their shots had penetrated amidships and dismounted a gun, killing three men, but the securing of it was underway before it came to my attention.

Day 75 – 28 54′ S, 74 13″ W

We have found an advantage and exploited it. Lying across her stern we have raked her with successive broadsides to which she has been unable to reply at all. We must have reaped a grim harvest of her hands below decks and their rig is much cut up, but in that respect ours is too. I am resolved to end the contest by boarding her before her people can put her to rights.

Day 80 – 14 49′ S, 80 15′ W

Battle is no time for reflections but I salute their gunners whose briskness and resolute fire is filling our cockpit with wounded. I saw Babbington carried below with a grievous wound to his shoulder and I doubt even Maturin will save the arm. Even so I feel we are giving worse than we are getting.

Day 82 – 8 41′ S, 78 9′ W

We’ve closed and called the men off for boarding. We’re yardarm to yardarm, and with men dropping over the lines like rats. Our guns have done their customary damage and we have the advantage of English courage. It’s no time for any man to hold back, so I’m off.

Day 84 – 7 38″ S, 77 10′ W

Huzzah! We have carried her by storm. She had no boarding nets rigged so we were able to leap across while our Marines poured a storm of lead upon them. Pullings and Mowat fought like true Englishmen. I shall mention them in my dispatch.

Courtesy of Christine.
Image: Screencap from Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (copyright Twentieth Century Fox 2003). Courtesy of A Gathering of Crowe.

Dr. Maturin suggests further reading

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2 Comments on Captain’s Log From Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World

  1. Rodney Brucks // September 28, 2011 at 6:38 pm // Reply

    How much ammunition would a ship like this carry? Would there really be enough for 14 days of fighting?

  2. Bim Braddish // April 3, 2012 at 3:02 pm // Reply

    To be sure, a fighting vessel with a mission to clear the seas of her enemies would always carry more than three times her useable allotment of ammunition. What’s the use of a shark with no teeth, right? The reason for British imperialism was to establish ports of call all over the world in order to re-fit and re-supply the Navy. Most armed sea birds carried less food and water than balls and powder, meaning to pick up provisions at port.

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