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"Tacking and Wearing" Topic

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Blutarski13 Jul 2023 7:17 a.m. PST

As a matter of analytical interest, how many turns are required to tack or wear a line of battle ship in your favorite rule set?

> Rule Set?
> Number of turns required?
> Length of time represented by one turn?
> Are any "uncertainty factors" involved in executing the maneuver?


whitejamest13 Jul 2023 8:46 a.m. PST

My favorite ruleset for the era is Post Captain. The tacking process for a square rigged ship takes four phases, with each phase representing about one minute of time. It involves a die roll checking against crew quality, and failure could involve being caught in irons for an uncertain amount of time, or being forced to fall off back toward the starting tack.

So from initiating the maneuver to completion, a minimum of about four minutes, at which point the ship can start to pick up speed on the new tack. It will take a few more turns to get back up to speed.

Fore and aft rigs can do it a little faster and more confidently. Though some rigs get penalties to the attempt in these rules. Luggers for example, I think.

Time wise I think it's certainly on the generous side, but for a game focused on a small time scale, I think prolonging things like that could cause balance issues. Four phases is already plenty of time for disaster when things go against you.

DeRuyter13 Jul 2023 11:28 a.m. PST

Currently using "Kiss Me Hardy" from TFL. A very different design philosophy from Post Captain. But it is designed for squadron and fleet actions primarily. Scales are not explicit but various articles have interpreted the time scale as 2 minutes per turn.

Tacking requires the ship to be close hauled and then pass a Tacking test according to the crew quality which can result in failure/complete success or partial success where you lose speed following the tack. Wearing is simply done by turning away from the wind using a template and moving using the movement allowance for that turn. Usually both would take 1-2 turns depending on the speed of the ship.

The other game I would mention is Sails of Glory which uses card movement. Once you turn into the wind there is a specific set of cards used which show the loss of momentum from the tack including making sternway. It actually replicates the movement of a square-rigged ship in a tack quite well. However, I am not sure what the time scale of the game is, although each movement card is one turn.

Lastly, I would say as someone with experience sailing on tall ships that the time it takes to tack is variable depending on crew experience, type of ship and as always weather conditions. I wouldn't say that Post Captain is overly generous by giving 4 minutes for the maneuver, in fact it could be a bit long. Especially given there is still more time required to build up speed on the new tack.

Blutarski13 Jul 2023 3:24 p.m. PST

Thank you so much, gentlemen.

A couple of further questions, if I may impose upon you -

> Is it possible to measure or estimate how much distance is lost to leeward when wearing ship under the a/m rules? The historical rule of thumb, for example, was that a "typical" ship would fall about 6x her hull length to leeward in the course of wearing under moderate weather conditions (i.e. – a 100ft ship-sloop might lose ~600ft/200yds in wearing, while a big 200ft three-decker would lose about ~1200ft/400yds).

> How commonly do you see ships attempting tacking and wearing maneuvers in an actual game – single ship action? squadron/fleet action?

> How much do you really care about such ship to ship maneuvering distinctions?


whitejamest14 Jul 2023 8:55 a.m. PST

Post Captain is a fairly detailed game, but one place where it unexpectedly is happy to generalize is in the turning templates. All the vessels use the same templates, regardless of size. So a smaller vessel turning around that circumference will actually end up losing more 'hull lengths' than a larger one, for the same distance. This is a good place for house rules, in my opinion.

For an average ship of the line I would say the distance lost probably winds up being around two to three lengths. That's just going from memory though.

I've never attempted a full fleet action with Post Captain, as the time commitment would be very large. I've done a number of smaller actions though, and it's common for players both to wear and tack, depending on the circumstances. A ship failing a risky tacking maneuver at just the wrong time is always a good crowd pleaser.

Personally, I think the distinctions are important. I think the more experience players get with the subject matter, the more thought they put into achieving and maintaining a good position relative to the enemy, rather than just plunging into a melee. Which seems appropriate.

DeRuyter14 Jul 2023 11:21 a.m. PST

Maneuvering distinctions are important, and I would say the smaller the action the more important they become.

For single ship actions maneuvering distinctions are very important and there were historical actions with some amount of maneuvering including tacking and wearing took place particularly as the ships closed the range. Here is a famous diagram illustrating manuvering:


Maneuvering was more than just tacking and wearing. An example of that would be the Constitution backing sails to avoid being doubled up when fighting the Cyane & Levant.

I think Post Captain is what you want for detailed single ship actions. Most rules don't account for individual sails the way that PC does for example. I have also played home brew rules that are a mash up between PC and Sails of Glory.

Mr Astrolabe14 Jul 2023 11:22 a.m. PST

I'd agree with whitejamest, Post Captain rewards good manoeuvre & I've generally found its the side that does this most successfully that will be rewarded, as, from my reading, was the case in actual combats.
I've only ever played single ship combats, the granular detail of the game, particularly with regard to combat & damage modelling, would I think be challenging for multi ship actions.
Great game – must get it to the table again.

Blutarski15 Jul 2023 7:44 p.m. PST

Hi Whitejamest,
Apologies for the late reply. It has taken me a bit of time to track down some of my references (and I am still looking for one more).

I know the following is going to make me sound like a nerd, but I'm not by any means trying to disparage any rules; I'm just trying to get an idea of where other rules are situated compared to mine.

- – -

(The following comes from Sam Willis's PhD Thesis: "CAPABILITY, CONTROL and TACTICS in the Eighteenth Century Royal Navy" )p.38):

"Even the very best ships, such as the Niger Class of 32 gun frigates from 1757 would only wear in four times the ship's length."

According to Winfield, NIGER was 125 ft in length. 4x that figure implies a wearing diameter of 167 yards, presumably under ideal conditions (see below). I'm still looking for the reference on the typical six ship length loss of distance to leeward to leeward when wearing.

- – -

This comes from an early issue of the Naval Review, written by a very elderly retired admiral who had served in the RN during the 2nd half of the 19thC.)

"Notes on the general principles for handling a square ship rig as practised in the British Fleet during the last stages of its use.'

On the other hand, the method of wearing varied not only to meet different circumstances, but sometimes to meet the individual qualities of different ships. But in every case it remained desirable in wearing to limit the loss of progress inseparable from a deliberate turn stern to wind, since the width of the circle described thereby to leeward was a measure of retreat. Two general ways of wearing existed as alternatives according to the state of the weather, known as wearing on the heel, and wearing large. If a slight or moderate sea was running a ship could reduce the loss to leeward appreciably by wearing on her heel, though that was difficult and even in some degree risky in really rough water, partly because it required the helm to be kept hard over throughout the turning circle. To avoid the possibility of being caught in a bad position for being struck by the full violence of a heavy sea she had to wear large, which necessitated easing the helm except just at the beginning and end of the movement. This took her some distance down wind. In the long legs of open ocean beating where changes of tack were few and perhaps hundreds of miles apart, the loss involved by wearing large was unimportant compared to the windward gain on each leg ; but the accumulated loss of frequent changes of tack operated strongly against any form of wearing during a beat in narrow waters.

For wearing, the helm was put hard up at the start of the turn instead of being eased slowly over as in tacking, for in wearing it was desirable to retard rather than facilitate headway. The spanker was brailed up and not reset till the ship's stern had crossed the wind. When wearing on the heel all weather braces were manned simultaneously and the yards on the fore swung completely round directly the helm was put up. This quickened paying off at the beginning of the turn to leeward and also coming up to the wind again on the fresh tack. But the after yards at first were only braced in sufficiently to spill their sails, and thereafter gradually kept rounded in as the ship turned till she was stem to wind, whereupon they were braced sharp forward like those on the foremast, so that by the time she was heading on the fresh tack all square canvas was already at close-hauled trim. The spanker was reset when her stem passed the wind as already mentioned, and sheeted amidships, and the head sheets let go at the same time, both actions assisting a quick turn, all being finally sheeted home on the new lee side. When wearing large in a rough seaway the helm was eased after the ship had fallen off the wind, and instead of being spilled the after square canvas was kept full till the wind had been brought dead astern, with the object of giving her enough headway during the first part of her turn to leeward to lessen the chance of being pooped by a following sea. Not till then were the head yards boxed for the new tack. Next at a favourable and carefully chosen moment she was given full helm again to quicken the completion of her turn, and the after yards were braced sharp on the new tack, thus bringing all square sails trimmed on a fresh leg of the beat. The fore-and-aft sails were handled as described for wearing on the heel. The new tack was started somewhat to leeward of the position gained before wearing large, although, as already observed, the drawback was not considered very serious in wide open waters where changing tack seldom occurred. But generally speaking, changing tack under heavy weather conditions was avoided in square rigged ships except + when imperative.

Naturally, a handy vessel enjoyed advantages both in tacking and wearing ; and although the long-shaped craft of the closing stage of the sailing era were faster in general than their predecessors, their wide turning circles were sometimes attended by danger. It was scarcely possible for a ship under sail to find herself in a more critical position than to be embayed on a lee shore in weather too rough for tacking or wearing on heel and insufficient distance for her requirements of space to leeward for wearing large."

- – -

On the issue of tacking, I have some French 18th century trials data giving 6 to 8 minutes (depending upon wind and sea states) for a 64-gun ship to complete a tack. Boudriot ("The 74 Gun Ship") that a French three-decker might require as much as 15 minuted to complete a tack.

More later. It's getting late here.


whitejamest16 Jul 2023 8:49 a.m. PST

It's great information, and I don't take it as a disparagement to any ruleset (not that there is anything wrong with criticizing rules anyway).
We're sitting around talking about implementing historical sailing mechanics in miniatures games, so sadly the nerd ship has sailed long ago for all of us :)

I've seen hex and counter rules that penalize ships for changing course when they have the wind directly behind them, which will cause them to move further downwind when wearing. That will accomplish some of what we're talking about here.

I imagine it wouldn't be too difficult to do something similar in games that use sailing point templates – as in a template that says when the ship is running vs reaching vs beating. Perhaps you could say a ship with the wind astern can only turn so many points for every point it moves forward?

I wonder what the least fussy and cumbersome way to implement something like that would be. The one reason I almost like hex and counter systems better for sailing games (almost!) is that doing away with movement templates makes everything so much smoother.

Blutarski18 Jul 2023 10:04 a.m. PST

Hi Whitejamest,
OK, I found what I was looking for. These are the results of a lengthy series of tests conducted in 1829 by Lt Charner of the French navy; the ship employed in the test program was the French 40-gun frigate Astree.


Entry Speed – - Time req'd – - (data per Charner,s report)
2.5 kts – - – - 9m 50s
3.0 kts – - – - 9m 10s
3.5 kts – - – - 8m 20s
4.0 kts – - – - 7m 40s
5.0 kts – - – - 6m 40s
6.0 kts – - – - 5m 20s
7.0 kts – - – - 5m 00s

I'm assuming that the test started with the ship ship on a beam reach point of sailing and the elapsed time indicates how long the ship required wear 180degrees. The writer mentions that ship described almost a perfect circle, which makes sense given the modest wind conditions and the lack of remark about sea state. I have been unable to locate specific dimensional particulars on a post-Napoleonic frigate "Astree", so I have arbitrarily assumed a waterline length of 165ft to estimate "ship-lengths" of distance lost to leeward when wearing.

PLEASE check my math, but I'm coming up with <<<<<approximately>>>>> 9 to 12 ship lengths lost to leeward (increasing as wearing speed increases).


Cursd Captain18 Jul 2023 5:11 p.m. PST

In Captaincy, which I wrote, tacking can happen in a turn, but wearing will take around three turns and could mean three or four ships' lengths.

However, there's no maneuver designated by these names. Maneuvering is sliced thin into small advances (or leeway or sternway moves), and pivots.

So it's hard for me to say where these maneuvers begin and end.

Does tacking include sailing close-hauled before you tack, if you wouldn't have done that otherwise?

Is the maneuver achieved when the ship is in her preferred relationship to the wind, but on the opposite tack?

Blutarski19 Jul 2023 12:57 p.m. PST

PLEASE check my math, but I'm coming up with <<<<<approximately>>>>> 9 to 12 ship lengths lost to leeward (increasing as wearing speed increases).

Re my post of 18 July, I realized that I had failed to account for an important potential factor. All the wearing speed indicated were said to be entry (i.e., starting) speeds, It does not follow that this speed was uniformly maintained throughout the maneuver. For example, based upon Harland's illustration of a square-rigged ship wearing, the initial turn downwind shows the ship with her main and mizzen square sails shivered (feathered) and her spanker taken in in order to encourage her forward & head sails to rotate her bow around to leeward. As the ship reaches a point of sailing before the wind, it is then on its slowest point of sailing (other than being radically close-hauled). In addition, assuming a modest sea state, the ship would be under maximum (15deg) helm throughout the maneuver.

So ….. if the wearing ship's net average speed through the complete maneuver were, say, 2/3ds of her enumerated entry speed, her loss to leeward might well be only 6 to 8 ship-lengths, which is a better fit with the average historical benchmark.

FWIW. Comments invited.


Blutarski19 Jul 2023 4:50 p.m. PST

Hi CC: you wrote –

In Captaincy, which I wrote, tacking can happen in a turn, but wearing will take around three turns and could mean three or four ships' lengths. However, there's no maneuver designated by these names. Maneuvering is sliced thin into small advances (or leeway or sternway moves), and pivots. So it's hard for me to say where these maneuvers begin and end.

Does tacking include sailing close-hauled before you tack, if you wouldn't have done that otherwise?
Is the maneuver achieved when the ship is in her preferred relationship to the wind, but on the opposite tack?

Not having had an opportunity to play "Captaincy", I feel obligated to confine commentary to what the author of the article stated with respect to the French tacking trials. I very much recommend procuring a copy of this article. It is full of interesting insights and far more detail than I can really present here.

Article author/title -
Patrice Decenciθre (2011) Some Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-century French Trials of Square-rigged Warships Tacking, The Mariner's Mirror, 97:4, 289-298, DOI:10.1080/00253359.2011.10708960

What follows is an appetizer …..

Comparative Tacking Trials of French two-decker Reflechi (64) – Sep/Oct 1785

Test 1 – – – – – – Test 2 – – – – – – Test 3 – – – – – – Test 4 – – – – – – Test 5

See Note A – – See Note B – – See Note C – – See Note D – – See Note E

1 – (3.2 kn) – – – – (5.2 kn) – – – – – (3kn) – – – – (5kn) – – – – – (5.5kn)
2 – 0' 0' – – – – – – -0' 0" – – – – – – – 0' 0" – – – – -0' 0" – – – – – -0' 0"
3 – 1' 28" – – – – – – 1' 25" – – – – – – 1' 20" – – – -0' 55" – – – – – -60"
4 – 2' 57" – – – – – -2' 00" – – – – – – 2' 00" – – – – 2' 00" – – – – 1' 35"
5 – 3' 18" – – – – – – 3' 00" – – – – – – 3' 30" – – – – 3' 05" – – – – 2' 30"
6 – – – – – – – – – – -3' 10" – – – – – – 4' 20" – – – – – – – – – – – 2' 45"
7 – 4' 30" – – – – – – 4' 50"- – – – – – 7' 30"- – – – 4' 15" – – – – – 3' 50"
8 – 8' 00" – – – – – – 6' 45" – – – – – 10' 30" – – – -4' 45" – – – – – 6' 45"

Note A – Some swell, mainsail furled, topsails and topgallants set.
Note B – Slight swell, mainsail furled, topsails and topgallants set.
Note C – Some swell, under mainsail, foresail and topsails.
Note D – Very smooth sea: under mainsail, foresail, topsails and topgallants.
Note E – Very smooth sea: under mainsail, foresail, topsails and topgallants.

Evolution key State of the sea and sails set
1 – Initial state – speed of the ship in knots
2 – Time for helm's a'lee topgallant sails set (Zero time for manoeuvre start)
3 – Foresails aback.
4 – Wind right ahead.
5 – Ship dead in the water.
6 – ship beginning to make sternway.
7 – ship making way (i.e. falling off the wind – Blutarski).
8 – ship sailing close-hauled on the new tack.

Dennis19 Jul 2023 8:30 p.m. PST


I can't find a free copy of Decenciθre's article and the cheapest I've found for it is $30 USD or so, but I'll keep looking.

I did, however, find a 2003-article by Sam Willis ("The Capability of Sailing Warships Part 1: Windward Performance," in "The Northern Mariner/Le marin du nord," Vol. XIII No.4, October 2003) that has some interesting observations.

For example:

"By far the most frequently discussed aspect of wind dependence is windward performance: the ability of a ship to sail in a windward direction. It was a significant factor, determining both strategy and tactics and it is crucial that our understanding of it should be realistic in terms of practical capability. It has, however, become increasingly apparent that our understanding is in fact based on generalizations and beset with misinformation."

On tacking:

"To maximize the chances of a successful tack, a ship needed speed for the rudder to have greatest effect, but close-hauled is the slowest possible point of sailing. A ship would therefore have to do her utmost to increase speed prior to initiating an attempted tack. In situations of urgency, anything that might increase speed was acceptable. In the heat of the battle of Minorca in 1756, the Lancaster, urgently needed to tack and cut away her longboat and barge to gain more way; normal practice, however, was to increase speed by bearing away before initiating the tack.

"Once the bows were through the wind, they would naturally fall off and the ship would have to be brought back under control before once again being brought up and held steady close-hauled. A ship did not recover her way as soon as she was about and, as speed through the water was a factor in weatherliness, it was therefore sensible to sail extra full for a few moments after tacking in order to regain speed and thus be able to sail the ship to her best advantage. It was consequently an inherent paradox of square-rig sailing performance that maximizing the likelihood of success in tacking required a ship to be sailed a few points away from close-hauled both before and after the maneuver, despite the fact that any time not spent close-hauled meant ground lost to leeward."

And on wearing:

"Wearing ship was nevertheless the more reliable method of getting from one tack to the other. The downside was that, in so doing, considerable ground was lost to leeward: a ship wearing would turn through twenty points of the compass, eight points more than if she was tacked and in the opposite direction. Even the very best ships, such as the Niger class of 32-gun frigates from 1757, would only wear in four times the ship's length. A captain who was determined to make ground to windward therefore had no choice but to resort repeatedly to the less reliable method of tacking in order to work the ship from one tack to the other."

And some suggestions of the problems interpreting uncertain data:

"Our accepted understanding of the windward performance of sailing warships is clearly in need of revision. Much of significance is not widely known; much that is widely known is inaccurate. That is symptomatic of a wider problem in maritime history: the history of sailing warfare has for too long been considered in a vacuum, divorced from practical realities when it was those realities which defined the very nature of seafaring. The true nature of seafaring under sail has neither been investigated in sufficient depth nor adequately described, with the direct result that its significance has been greatly undervalued. As a result, much received wisdom on the broader subject of sea fighting is inaccurate by default. An accurate understanding of the peculiar nature of seafaring should not remain peculiar to experts in ship technology, the preserve of a few, but should be the bedrock of any study in maritime history during the age of sail."

Quoted material lightly edited to correct typos and word spacing.

Willis's article appears to answer some of the questions asked here, but also raises others. The article predates Decenciθre's article, and it's possible Willis didn't know about the 1829-trials. If Willis had known of them he might have been a bit less pessimistic about the availability of useful information.

Blutarski20 Jul 2023 8:41 a.m. PST

FWIW – Sam Willis's original PhD thesis is available for free PDF download at the British Library EThos Document Archive

Go here --- --- and register an account.

Then do a search in the archive. The archive contains about a half-million theses of (mostly) freely downloadable papers on a galaxy of subjects. I myself have probably D/Led forty or fifty papers.


Blutarski20 Jul 2023 8:50 a.m. PST

Re Mariner's Mirror
Join for a year (not that expensive). Membership will give you access to their digital archive. Lots of interesting stuff there for free PDF download.

Naval Review
Same deal as above, but their archive is truly unbelievable – just a stupendous amount of good naval history material. This journal has been in publication since 1913 – 110 years!


Dennis20 Jul 2023 10:19 a.m. PST

Blutarski, Thanks for the suggestion about Ethos-I already had an account but hadn't looked there for Willis's thesis because I already read a paper of his through jstor, "Fleet Performance and Capability in the Eighteenth-Century Royal Navy" that I had mistakenly assumed was his thesis. Anyway, I've grabbed the thesis and see that the Northern Mariner paper I quoted was/is a section of the thesis. I also had some trouble with the search until I realized that Willis used only the first initial of his first and middle names on his thesis.

As for the Mariner's Mirror and Naval Review-I have obtained some very interesting articles from Mariner's Mirror through an alternate-free-source, and had also considered the Naval Review, and will consider it more carefully because of your recommendation, but Age of Sail is a second or third tier interest for me and I already have loads of pdfs to read when I get the time (decades of the Naval Chronicle for example) and lots of non-Age of Sail books and articles I'll probably never get around to reading so even at a not expensive price I'll consider membership but might well pass on it.

In looking for Decenciθre's article I also chanced across a multi (roughly 20) volume official history of the Italian Navy in WW 2 that I'll need to download and save when I get a chance-more stuff I'll never get to read.

As Bruce Gudmundsson once told me, we are living in a golden age of military history; so much is now available online that would only have been accessible at a major university research library in my youth. For example, through an academic service I have been getting English translations of Turkish academic papers on a revisionist history of the Ottoman Empire expansion into Europe and Hungarian papers and books responding to the Turkish papers. Also an area with far too much to read and think about in the limited time I have.

Blutarski20 Jul 2023 5:14 p.m. PST

Hi Dennis,
Try a topical EThos search under "naval". There are some interesting papers available.

I'm very impressed that you are acquainted with Bruce Gudmundsson. I have several of his books.


Dennis20 Jul 2023 9:42 p.m. PST

Blutarski, I sort of knew Bruce back in his Modern War and Tactical Notebook days maybe 25-30 years ago-we exchanged a few emails and telephone calls back then, and we traded a few books. I also tried to find out for him who owned the copyrights to some German stuff that was held in the national archives so he could safely use it in Tactical Notebook. He mentioned it being a golden age of military history to me way back then, and he was speaking mostly about the availability of books and the like. With the great increase of online sources since then it's even more true today.

In the event you aren't aware of it, Bruce has revived Tactical Notebook as an online resource, with some stuff free and some available through a subscription-IIRC, it seems to be, as TN was, lots of stuff mined from the archives. What I've noticed coming out lately is organizational info on militaries around WW 1, and I think he's also got some stuff on Ukraine -if you have trouble finding TN online let me know and I'll email a link to you or post it here.

Bruce also has a web site called "Extra Muros" that focuses on learning and self-education and the like. Again, he has free content and subscriber content. A search for "extra euros" should give you you the site. It's mostly essays on education, and not really military history, but some of the essays are interesting.

Thanks, by the way, for the suggestion for searching Ethos. I'd been poking around there a bit for other things-mostly India related-but hadn't thought of looking for naval stuff other than Willis's thesis.

Blutarski21 Jul 2023 1:34 p.m. PST

Hi Dennis,
Two follow-up thoughts -

> John Brooks' PhD thesis on dreadnought gunnery is also freely available via the the EThos site.

> I have in my possession an English language translation of TRAINING REGULATIONS FOR DISMOUNTED TROOPS
German Infantry Drill Regulations, January 1918

Mimeograph print, hard-bound, with inserted india ink diagrams, printed by the Government Printing Office, dated January 1918, 2nd Edition. I suspect that the book was actually printed after the war's end, as the introductory page reads –

This translation is the work
The Translation Department,
Second Section, General Staff
American Forces in Germany

219 pages, including index.

I have owned this book for about fifty years. It came from the estate library of Professor Conrad H Llanza of M.I.T. (also a senior officer in the US Army Reserve). It struck me that Professor Gudmundsson (or some academic colleague working in WW1 military history) might being interested in a copy (not ready to sell this book).



Dennis21 Jul 2023 6:19 p.m. PST

Blutarski, I'll look for Brooks' thesis, and add it to the pile-I'm enjoying Willis's thesis very much.

Bruce Gudmundsson might well be interested in a copy of the German Drill book.

Based on the contents of Tactical Notebook, his writings (his book "Stormtroop Tactics" In particular) and some of his discussions on Modern War I think he is (or was anyway) very interested in the WW 1 period and German tactics in particular-to some extent the contents of Tactical Notebook may have been determined by the archive contents he mined, but even so WW 1 content was featured very often.

I'd suggest you email Bruce and see if he's interested. I'm sure the old email address and telephone number I had for him aren't good any more-and I don't have them any more anyway- he's moved (to the west coast I think) and has likely changed email addresses in the past 20-30 years.

I poked around a bit and found this email for him--

decision [dot] forcing [dot] case. [at] gmail etc

You might check the TN substack and confirm that email.

The Tactical Notebook and his other public stuff is found in two sub stacks-the easier of the two to find is Tactical Notebook-just google it – or try

tacticalnotebook [dot] substack [dot] com

googling "extra muros" turns up all sorts of stuff that isn't Bruce, so the TN is a better way to find all his stuff. Anyway, once you get to TN you can poke around and find lots of his other stuff. If you like his books, then his current writing may well interest you.

Oh, and if I get a chance I'll try to post some thoughts on your original question.


Blutarski22 Jul 2023 6:59 a.m. PST

Hi Dennis,
I will try to track BG down.


Blutarski26 Jul 2023 1:23 p.m. PST

Ahoy, Admiral De Ruyter.

You wrote -

Maneuvering distinctions are important, and I would say the smaller the action the more important they become.

For single ship actions maneuvering distinctions are very important and there were historical actions with some amount of maneuvering including tacking and wearing took place particularly as the ships closed the range. Here is a famous diagram illustrating manuvering:


Maneuvering was more than just tacking and wearing. An example of that would be the Constitution backing sails to avoid being doubled up when fighting the Cyane & Levant.

I think Post Captain is what you want for detailed single ship actions. Most rules don't account for individual sails the way that PC does for example. I have also played home brew rules that are a mash up between PC and Sails of Glory.

I altogether agree with your above assessment. AoS rules that lack a full scope of historical maneuvering options are like a game of checkers compared to chess.

With respect to that (and to your mention of CONSTITUTION's engagement with CYANE and LEVANT), I have excerpted a portion of Roosevelt's account of the battle from his book "The Naval War of 1812" (p.375) that puts an even more interesting light on the subject -

"It was now moonlight, and an immense column of smoke formed under the lee of the Constitution, shrouding from sight her foes; and, as the fire of the latter had almost ceased, Captain Stewart also ordered his men to stop, so as to find out the position of the ships. In about three minutes the smoke cleared, disclosing to the Americans the Levant dead to leeward on the port beam, and the Cyane luffing up for their (Constitution's) port quarter. Giving a broadside to the sloop, Stewart braced aback his main and mizzen topsails, with topgallant sails set, shook all forward (which I take to mean shivered/feathered her fore topsail) and backed rapidly astern, under cover of the smoke, abreast the corvette, forcing the latter to fill again to avoid being raked." ….. which I take to mean that Constitution was being propelled backwards – at least that is what the accompanying maneuver diagram portrays.

On the topic of sailing astern, I have read of the British Admiral Sir Cloudsley Shovell performing the same maneuvering feat with an entire division of line-of-battle ships in order to come to the assistance of the hard-pressed division astern of him!


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