... She was a slow brig, an old brig and a brig that was very unlikely to make his fortune. - Master and Commander
1800 – 1801: Jack Aubrey’s first command, described in Master and Commander, is the brig-rigged “sloop” HMS Sophie, operating out of Port Mahon in the western Mediterranean. Towards the end of the novel, the first book in the series, Sophie is captured on the Spanish coast by a French squadron led by Admiral Linois.
Although the activities of the Sophie and her dimensions and armament were modeled closely on those of real-life HMS Speedy, commanded by Thomas, Lord Cochrane, the quarterdeck – unusual for a small sloop – was taken from HMS Vincejo, captured from the Spanish navy in 1799. Indeed, In the novel the Sophie is pointed out by one naval officer as being the former “Vencejo” – an alternative spelling – although in fact the Vincejo kept its original name while serving in the Royal Navy until captured by the French at Quiberon Bay in 1804. The Speedy, like the fictional Sophie, was captured in 1801 by Linois.
Text and diagrams courtesy of Bruce Trinque. Painting by Geoff Hunt.