Today you’re in for a real treat if you like pirates. And who doesn’t? I know I do, especially sexy gay pirates. That’s why I’m thrilled to have the lovely Elin Gregory commandeer my blog today. She’s brought some history and sandy beaches with her — and, of course, the pirates!
Many thanks to Charley for allowing me to take over her blog today.
One of the more interesting things about writing an adventure that takes a character on a long journey is choosing where the character goes, how he makes the trip and what the scene is when he arrives. I would have hated to sail with Kit in the cramped smelly fo’c’sle of a small sailing vessel but I have enjoyed looking at pictures of the places he visited on his travels.
Since the winter is getting me down a bit I thought I would share some images of the places in “On a Lee Shore”.
The story starts at a coffee house in London, at that point one of the largest cities in the world. Tea and coffee was too expensive for the ordinary man and the water was unsafe to drink. Alcohol killed many germs so if you wanted to stay healthy beer was the drink of choice, for young and old alike. As this print by Hogarth shows, the English took a great pride in their brew.
From London Kit travelled to Portsmouth, the great naval port on the south coast. From there the ships of the Royal Navy departed to cruise the seas defending England and her colonies. This picture shows a bunch of sailors having a last roister before setting off on their travels.
Kit’s ship travelled south and west to the Canary Islands, a regular stopping off point to fill water casks and buy fresh fruit, vegetables and meat before the long and dangerous crossing of the Atlantic.
Navigation in those days was purely on latitude. One could establish exactly how far north or south one had travelled, but how far east or west they were was still a matter of guesswork. It was with great relief that they arrived in Barbuda
Tortuga is well known to people who are interested in pirates. The little island off the north coast of Haiti had become a buccaneer stronghold in the 17th century.
This beach on Carriacou was well visited by pirates because it was ideal for dragging their ships ashore to careen them. This was necessary to rid the ships of weed that would slow her and the parasitical worms that if allowed to grow could riddle the timbers of a ship until she fell apart.
The final picture is of the coast near Kit’s home in Cornwall, with a sea almost as blue as the Caribbean though I know that the sea is terribly cold. Even so, while Carriacou is out of reach, a few hours driving would get me to Cornwall so I’m quite happy to settle for that as long as the sun shines.
On A Lee Shore
“Give me a reason to let you live…”
Beached after losing his ship and crew, and with England finally at peace, Lt Christopher Penrose will take whatever work he can get. A valet? Why not? Escorting an elderly diplomat to the Leeward Islands seems like an easy job, but when their ship is boarded by pirates, Kit’s world is turned upside down. Forced aboard the pirate ship, Kit finds himself juggling his honor with his desire to stay alive, not to mention his desire for the alarming–yet enticing–captain, known as La Griffe.
Kit has always obeyed the rules, but as the pirates plunder their way across the Caribbean, he finds much to admire in their freedom. He deplores their lawlessness but is drawn to their way of life, and begins to think he might just have found a purpose. Dare he dream of finding love too? Or would loving a pirate take him too far down the road to ruin?
There was no question of standing to fight. Outgunned and outnumbered, the only thing the Hypatia could do was run. So run they did, the crew hurling themselves in all directions in response to the master’s shrieked orders.
Kit joined them, kicking off his shoes to scamper up the rigging. The wind tossed his hair across his face and plastered his shirt to his back as he raced Forrest to the top. A quick glance back made his breath catch. The two ships were coming apace, a brigantine much larger than Hypatia and the other, closer, sloop rigged with a huge spread of white sails. The black flags were more apparent now, and Kit’s heart raced as he edged along the footrope.
“Have a care, Mr. Penrose, sir,” Forrest said as he too reached the yard. “Go back down, sir, do!”
“I know what I’m about, thank you, Forrest,” Kit said, and when he leaned to reach the reef lines with as much agility as any of them, the man grinned and left him to it.
The sails filled with a crack, and the Hypatia met the next wave head on. Kit looked back at the pursuing sails, calculating distances and speeds. As he watched, the tan sails of the brigantine were obscured by a puff of white smoke. A relieved curse ripped from Forrest’s lips as a spout went up well astern.
“That’s it,” he said. “Them devils’ll not catch us now.”
They both whooped their approval, and Forrest shook a fist. “You’ve no fancy to be a pirate then, Forrest?” Kit said with a laugh.
“Me, sir? No fear, sir,” Forrest said. “There’s only one way that can end, and I’ve no desire to be turned off—God a’ mercy!”
A gun had boomed again, this time from the sloop. Forrest and Kit stared in horror at the wreckage of blood, flesh, and splinters that had exploded from where the master had been standing at the tiller. Hypatia shuddered and lurched, shaking Kit loose. For a sickening moment his legs swung free over the chaotic deck, before he hooked a toe into the footrope and clung to the yard to get his breath back. Below he could see Captain Dorling wringing his hands while Uttley hung over the stern, either retching or trying to see the damage.
Forrest cursed again. “He’s going to strike,” he muttered. “The captain’s going to strike.”
Kit envied Forrest the ease with which he swung hand over hand down the shroud. He followed, muscles protesting at the effort, jumped the last six feet, and ran aft.
The sloop and brigantine were approaching fast.
“Black flag,” Dorling shouted as Kit reached him, “so we have a chance. Strike the flag, strike it, I say. It’s La Griffe—once he flies the red flag there’s no mercy. Get the colors down, damn you.”
There was a shout from one of the hands as the tattered rag of black flapping from the brigantine’s main mast dipped and began to lower. On deck Kit could see a flash of red and gold, but Dorling was already scrambling to lower the ensign himself.
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