List of pieces, and a few sample lines from each:
The best of British buoys and beacons
"... The Baggy Leap, Black Deep, South Inner Dowsing, and the Sunken Buxey Buoy ..."
PEAKS AND DEEPS
Place names of undersea features
"...Shackleton Canyon, Plantaganet Bank
Spartacus Seamount, Ptolemy Trench
Zoroaster Shoal and Herodotus Trough ..."
THE SHIPPING NEWS, QUEENBOROUGH, WINTER 2012
Written as part of The Shipping News Room project - see the menu for full version and details.
"...Car-carriers loom over Lappel Bank
With PORGY perceived throught the Abbott Lab Gap;
A container ship shape is made out in the mist
And a careful watch kept for the VIGILANT..."
The language of Britain's canals.
'...Fen lighters, Clyde puffers, Ampton flats and Shroppie flies
Humber sloops, Severn trows, Calder keels and Scots scows...'
60 WAYS TO LURE A FLOUNDER
The lurid and curious names of fishing lures.
"...Sinking minnows, surface lures; jerkbaits, jigs, spinners, spoons and chuggers:
Heckham Peckham, Reckless William, Mulberry Bumble, Devon Dumpling..."
Trade conveyed via the Thames Estuary today (from the Soundings from the Estuary project).
"...Ballast and bitumen, cement clinker and gypsum, pallets of bricks and waste silt for landfill;
Contaminated waste, granulated slag, bottom furnace ash and ironstone hoggin..."
Shipping movements in the Thames Estuary today (from the Soundings from the Estuary project).
"...RIX CONDOR to Rotterdam, STOLT GANNET from Belgium,
STAR EAGLE to Bremen, and MARTIN passing parliament;
BRAVERY to Belfast, AUDACITY at the Oaze,
ENDEAVOUR to sea for orders, and HERO to Northfleet Hope..."
Occupations, activity and apparatus of the dockyards of the Thames and Medway.
"...Cabin keepers, ballast heavers,
Scuffle hunters, carrot-crunchers,
Oakum pickers, coal-whippers,
Hog grubbers and rat-catchers..."
COMPLIMENTS TO HEART'S CONTENT
Written for the Atlantic Basin Project.
This piece follows the route of the Atlantic telegraph cable, from Valentia Island in Ireland,
across the Atlantic seabed to Heart's Content in Newfoundland.
"...A land of Happy Adventure and telling nomenclature:
Come-by-Chance, Run-by-Guess and Blow-me-down
Quidi Vidi fishing village, the whalebones at Dildo..."
COD SMACKS AND CATCH SMASHES
The language of fishing and shellfishing in the Thames.
"...Clam digging, shrimp dragging
Cockle raking and winkle picking,
Catch smashes and riddle rejects..."
THE RHYME OF THE WAYWARD MARINER
A playful collage of nautical terminology, shanty songs, maritime and modern culture.
"...To the poop-deck, jib-boom, snap head and butt joint,
The parrel tackle, joggle shackle, barrack stanchion and anchor shank..."
IN HIS MAJESTY'S SERVICE
A collection of curious, surprising, and aggressive names of British naval ships, these ones being especially from the 19th & 20th centuries.
"...Destroyers named Cheerful, Vanity and Vivacious
But there's no mistaking the destination, of HMS Devastation..."
THE END OF THE ADVENTURE
Romantic, ambitious and unfortunate ship names, with their fates and misadventures. See full version below.
"...The scuttling of the Implacable, the wrecking of the Impregnable,
The sinking of the Invincible, the grounding of the Indefatigable..."
Nautical knots and ropework.
"...A cuckold's neck; gouty ends
A locking tuck to a becket bend
A snuggle hitch or a strangle knot..."
ESTUARY ENGLISH - see Place Names page
MERMAIDS' PURSES - see Flora and Fauna page
THE END OF THE ADVENTURE
The scuttling of the Implacable
The wrecking of the Impregnable
The sinking of the Invincible
And grounding of the Indefatigable.
The silting of the Formidable
The scrapping of the Indomitable
The breaking up, of the Inflexible;
The relegation of the Audacious
And whatever became, of the Tenacious?
The overwhelming of the Avalanche
The torpedoing of the Goliath
The crippling of the Colossus
And collapsing of the Hazardous;
The collision of the Antagonist
The attack on the Avenger
The perishing of the Terror
And surrender of the Revenge.
The casualties on the Ardent
Mutinies on the Adamant;
The defeat of the Indignant
Disposal of the Arrogant
And selling-off, of the Inconstant.
The Independence - grounded
Integrity sunk, Intelligence lost,
Resolution broken, Success wrecked
Triumph sold, and Hope plundered;
But the Victory - saved
And Great Britain rescued.
There’s lulls in levity and laws of gravity
From the ruin of the Restoration
To the descent of the Ascension
And the end, of the Adventure.
© Germander Speedwell
All of the above are true events and fates of the named ships, though most of these vessels had productive lives and many adventures, and often also changes in identity or nationality, before coming to the inevitable end of all ships that are not irrevocably lost at sea, which was the shipbreakers. It took a ship of great repute, such as the Victory, or a lot of luck or effort of enthusiasts, such as the Great Britain, to become one of the very few historical ships that survive today.
The End of the Adventure indeed... the Adventure's
figurehead displayed in Greenwich's National Maritime Museum.
The wheel of HMS Gannet: permanently moored at Chatham Historic Dockyard, this vessel is today more words than deeds.
Careful! Anger at Sea
See also the Thames Estuary page