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Location Spotlight: Catalpa

This is the name of Captain Alexander Hayes’ first ship and is loosely based on the ship, HMS Surprise in the series by Patrick O’Brian.

This is the floor plan for the HMS Surprise as put together by the lovely people here which I studied about six years ago to help me get a feel for the ship and where everything would be.

As you can see from the plans it’s triple masted and officially she was classified as a 6th rate ship of the line with 28 guns but in this version there’s actually room for 24 standard 32-pound cannonades and 8 18-pound cannonades, giving her four extra guns than normal. She housed a crew of 200+ and was a pretty nippy little ship.

While on board this ship, Marie ventured down into the main hold where Black Vane was held and spent a lot of her time in the Great Cabin, trying to avoid the ship’s Captain. She alludes to going to the lower deck and playing poker with some of the crew, something that would have been frowned upon had this been a ship of the line at the time, but thankfully Hayes was a privateer and the rules were a little different.

Although, I’ve based Catalpa on a real ship I’ve bent the history a little, obviously. Hayes bought Catalpa in a port in England and sailed her to the Caribbean himself, taking passangers who wanted to head over to the new colonies and any goods they desperately needed over there to ensure his crew were well paid and provisioned for.

Catalpa doesn’t actually feature much after the first third of the novel but that doesn’t make this gorgeous ship any less important. This was Hayes’ first and will always have a special place in the Captain’s heart.