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"Phoebe versus Essex - Playing it out" Topic

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418 hits since 8 Apr 2018
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Blutarski08 Apr 2018 9:16 p.m. PST

OK gentlemen,
Captain Porter and the USS Essex has accepted the challenge to meet HMS Phoebe outside Chilean territorial waters for a fight to the finish.

Wind is Moderate out of the SW. Essex comes out of Valparaiso, rounds the tip of Point Angel to the open sea and finds Phoebe to windward three miles directly to the W, heaved to on the port tack (i.e. motionless, pointing NW) carrying easy sail. Essex proceeds close-hauled on the port tack (course WNW) under maximum sail.

Reaching a position about 1500 yards (i.e., still beyond gun shot) off the lee beam of Phoebe, Essex suddenly tacks and takes up a close-hauled heading to SSE on the starboard tack to the SSE. Phoebe immediately tacks, takes up a SE heading on the Beam Reach and increases to maximum sail.

With Essex close-hauled on a SSE heading and Phoebe on the beam reach heading SE, the range slowly closes until Essex comes just inside random shot cannon range (1200 yards) of Phoebe. At this point, Essex alters course to a beam reach heading to parallel Phoebe on a SE course.

It quickly becomes evident that Essex has about a one knot superiority in speed over Phoebe (Phoebe making 6.6 knots; Essex making 7.7 knots). If this continues, Essex will run far enough ahead of Phoebe in 30 or 40 minutes to be able to tack back to the WNW and gain the weather gauge.

What should Phoebe do? I'll let you know tomorrow morning.


John Tyson Inactive Member08 Apr 2018 10:07 p.m. PST

Pictures! We need pictures!

Or, Blutarski, we will blast you!


God bless,
John T.

DeRuyter09 Apr 2018 9:40 a.m. PST

Oooh shiny!!

Blutarski11 Apr 2018 8:37 a.m. PST

I have to learn about posting imagery here. It's not "intuitively obvious", as an old wargaming colleague of mine was fond of saying about such things. I will work on it.

Anyways, on with the next installment of the Phoebe versus Essex solo engagement. Phoebe, with Essex just out of gunshot to leeward, paralleled one another for close to an hour on the beam reach on a SE under maximum sail. After about an hour, the faster Essex had drawn about a mile ahead of Phoebe. Essex then came about to the port tack and took up a reciprocal WNW close-hauled heading. Phoebe meanwhile maintained her heading of SE on the beam reach. Both ships reduced their canvas to battle sail as they approached one another. It soon became evident that Essex had not only miscalculated in her attempt to weather Phoebe, but would in fact still be outside of carronade range when she passed to leeward of Phoebe. Rats!!!

Because of the respective courses of the two opponents, Phoebe's broadside arc would be first to bear upon her opponent. Phoebe heaved to in order to achieve maximum benefit from her positional advantage. But her long gun fire caused little damage to Essex due to the range (and some sub-optimal dice). Essex declined to open fire opting to preserve her initial broadside bonus for a more favorable opportunity.

The situation at this point has Phoebe heaved to on the beam reach (head pointing SE), with Essex passing her beam about 600 yards to leeward close-hauled on a more or less opposing heading (head pointed WNW). Phoebe sees an interesting tactical opportunity: by wearing downwind, she can keep her port broadside bearing upon the stern of Essex. Essex can really respond only by turning downwind to bring her guns to bear; if she attempts to tack into the wind, she will be a sitting duck for six or seven turns. And if Essex turns or wears downwind, Phoebe will have a good chance of retaining the wind advantage. Captain Hillyar, a seasoned sailer with 35 years experience, decides to go for it.


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