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Peace with Spain was signed in February 1720. In late April its news arrived to the West Indies, so all the Navies got allied against the common foe – pirates, making their trade more difficult to survive. Which side are you on?

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 Training On The Job, att. Diego
Casimir St. John
 Posted: Jan 6 2017, 08:14 PM
Quote

Master gunner aboard the "Rising Sun"

Posts: 249


Date: 18-th of April 1720
Place: - Aboard the "Rising Sun", in the open ocean, on the way to Belize


Leaning over the railing, Cass was watching the men weighing the anchor and sailing off the harbour. He had been waiting for a long time for this special expedition, hoping that they would catch the slavers and he'd learn Calista's whereabouts. He was ready to storm all brothels in a town to find his halfsister, if this was what it would end to.

Chago's little sloop was somewhere close to them; it was agreed they wouldn't lose sight of each other. Cass and Agustin, the gunner's mate recruited from the Spanish treasure ship, had spent a few days revising plans together, as Agustin was among those embarked on "Hermione" for this specific mission. Cacica and a few other crewmates had been assigned to Chago's ship now too, to tempt more the prey.

For two months, since his halfsister had been abducted, his world had been turned upside down, but now everything seemed right way up again. He was aboard the “Rising Sun” he loved, and finally they were going to pursue the damn slavers who kidnapped free girls. The crew was ready for another fight, with the hopes it would go well, and their anticipation filled the air.

Repairs had been completed, stores refilled, the ship outfitted and the crew strengthened with a few more pirates, including a new ship boy, who was going to become soon an adept powdermonkey. Cass would take care of this; this very afternoon the first gun drill of this expedition would happen.

The breeze tussled his wavy hair, while the sea softly rocked the “Rising Sun”. Placing one hand on the gunwhale, he took a long last look at Basse Terre, then turned around and called out:

"Diego, what kind of ship have you been on?"

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Diego Aguado
 Posted: Jan 6 2017, 08:29 PM
Quote

ship boy

Posts: 11


It had been quite the week. For the last ten days Diego had met the crew, learned the streets of Basse Terre, and memorized every inch he could access on the "Rising Sun". And now they were finally underway. Even though he had hated the smuggling ship he'd been on the past year, he had grown to love the sea. Being aboard a ship felt like it was where he was supposed to be. And when things got hard, all he had to do was look at the horizon to remember that he did enjoy this life.

Diego was busying himself with moving rigging and running about doing whatever odd jobs needed doing. He'd done a lot of cleaning the past few days to prepare the ship for it's voyage. And now the entire vessel was bustling with life as it creaked out of the harbor and onto the open water. It was wonderful to watch as the sheets were let out, the white sails growing round as they harnessed the breeze. And everyone was happy and raring to go. The anticipation for what the sea had to offer. It was a wonderful sensation.

The boy heard his name called and quickly made his way to the master gunner. "I was aboard a smuggling ship, sir," he said, waiting for his orders. Sky blue eyes cast a glance at the cannons. The smugglers had had a few, but they were nothing like these. These were meant for battle. Seeing them, Diego was sure he was expected to be a powder monkey. It would be an interesting job to learn, even if it was quite dangerous. The boy stood at near attention, waiting for Cass' next words.
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Casimir St. John
 Posted: Jan 6 2017, 10:54 PM
Quote

Master gunner aboard the "Rising Sun"

Posts: 249


He had been on a smuggler's ship. This meant he had as main tasks peeling vegetables, cleaning and bringing the captain's coffee.

"Have you seen a gun before?" he asked, noticing that the boy was looking at one of the 12-lber guns.

Cass was older when he got aboard a pirate ship. He was sixteen. But he had known ship boys younger than Diego, too. Not all captains cared that the boy was twelve. And some boys who wanted out of their previous life, lied about their age.

"Your main job as a powdermonkey, in battles and drills, is carrying bags and casks of gunpowder on your back, from the hold of the ship to the guns assigned to you. Jean-Pierre has other guns assigned. In the meanwhile, muskets and the enemy guns fire overhead, and you must be brave enough not to run to hide below the deck. I also think you haven't seen a battle before," he stated, looking for confirmation or denial.

Assisting gunners in measuring the correct amount of gunpowder to fire the weapons was a secondary task, but this wouldn't be given to a boy before proving that he could count and measure. Cass started with the basics:

"This afternoon we'll have a drill at cold. It means no actual gunpowder will be spent, but we will be running through all the motions of an actual gun firing. The gunpowder bags you will be carrying today are just bags of sand, but they will be exactly like the real ones. Come with me to show you your route," he said, inviting him below the deck.

"I am sure you have been here before, but now you have to notice that here is the powder magazine," he showed the place in the hold where gunpowder was kept. "We enter shoeless there, because the shoes on the deck can create a little spark sometimes, and such a spark might be enough to set on fire the whole ship," he warned the young powdermonkey.

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Diego Aguado
 Posted: Jan 6 2017, 11:13 PM
Quote

ship boy

Posts: 11


"I have, but... not one like this," he said. Diego knelt down to inspect the gun further, fascinated by the weapon. He had always wondered how canons worked, and he hoped one day he could learn and maybe even learn to build one. But as soon as Cass began again the boy stood, listening intently to what the master gunner had to say.

He could be brave. He was certain he could be. Diego was certain he could be unfazed in battle. Or at least... he was sure he could learn to be. He'd never even heard a cannon go off, at least not up close. He had seen musket fire once, and that hadn't been too bad, he was sure he could handle that. When asked if he'd seen battle the boy shook his head. He didn't want to seem this inexperienced and useless, but right now he kind of was. He'd just have to learn fast, faster than anyone ever had.

They were doing a drill today? Well at least this would give Diego a chance to practice before his abilities were really put to the test. The boy quickly followed after Cass, ducking below deck to the magazine. He stated that shoes shouldn't be worn and the boy smirked, glancing down at his bare feet. He'd rarely even owned a pair of shoes his whole life, why would he ever want to wear them on the ship?

Diego looked back up toward the deck where the guns were and back to Casimir. "How fast am I supposed to go back and forth?" he asked. More curious to know what the fastest he could do it was. If he was the fastest, they wouldn't leave him behind somewhere. He had to find a way to be indispensable, and fast.
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Casimir St. John
 Posted: Jan 7 2017, 12:15 AM
Quote

Master gunner aboard the "Rising Sun"

Posts: 249



"I'll show you later all the parts of a gun," Cass said. "You need to learn them too, but not everything from the first day. All of us have been new once. The most important thing is, as I told you, to take off your shoes when serving the gun, and to run fast with the powder."

On hot days, not at all uncommon in the West Indies, the powder magazine could flash burn from the highly flammable grit hanging in the air. Any innocent source of a spark was enough.

Cass continued the lesson:

"There will be these firing guns, enemy fire projectiles, splinters of wood and burnt sail from the rigging hit by the enemy cannonade, and severely injured crewmates you'd have to run around, as fast as you can, to the magazine. The gunner's mate will pass you a cartridge of powder or a bag through a wet curtain, meant to protect the magazine from heat and sparks. Once you get the gunpowder cartridge in your hands (or the bag on your back) you have to run as fast as you can, upstairs, to supply the gun crew with the ammunition they need."

The powder magazine had a low ceiling, to prevent jarring and banging of the kegs as much as possible. What Cass knew and didn't say – the boy had all the time in his life to learn this – was that the gunpowder dust, if breathed in excess and not through the neckerchief put at the nose, in years of gunnery service it attacked the lungs and gave neverending cough.

As Diego asked how fast he should run, the reply was simple:

"As fast as you can. Somebody might need your gunpowder right then in order to reload and to fire before the enemy does. And we can't stock gunpowder near the guns, because a stray spark can make the whole lot blow up. Therefore, you should be careful the whole time."

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Diego Aguado
 Posted: Jan 9 2017, 10:10 PM
Quote

ship boy

Posts: 11


Cass stated he'd show Diego all the parts of the gun and the boy tucked that into the back of his brain. He'd hold him to that. Take off his shoes. Well that wouldn't be a problem. The boy hated the constricting things. Run fast. Diego had always been quick and easily darted down the alleyways of Santo Domingo, but he'd never run on a ship before. At least not for an extended period of time. It would certainly take some practice. Hopefully he'd be able to get the hang of it quickly.

The master gunner listed off everything the boy would be up against. And honestly, it all sounded a bit intimidating. But Diego was sure he could do it. He was positive he could keep a calm head in such a situation. At least... he was sure he could. He supposed he wouldn't really know until he found himself in the heat of a battle. With this on his mind, the boy kept close after Cass, looking around the magazine.

"As fast as I can," the boy said, looking at the curtain and back up towards the guns on deck. "Understood sir." While Diego was sure he could do it, he wouldn't really know until he tried. That said, he was going to give it all he had and really try to do it well. Better than any powder monkey they ever had. His attention was turned to Cass, anticipation and adrenaline beginning to vibrate through his body. He was ready for whatever the man had to say next.
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Casimir St. John
 Posted: Jan 10 2017, 10:40 PM
Quote

Master gunner aboard the "Rising Sun"

Posts: 249


It seemed Diego caught quickly. This was something Cass appreciated a lot.

"We'll get together the streamlined route from the powder magazine to the gun you have admired on the deck. First in walking pace, then a second time with a bag on your shoulders, running as fast as you can. Only that the bag for now won't be with actual powder, it will be filled with sand in the same quantity. The goal for any master gunner is to have the gun crews fire 3 shots in 5 minutes, aiming carefully. This is why the drills are done," he explained.

After three such tours, Cass was happy with him. And he stated it:

"I am glad how quickly you learn. Now let's go back to the gun, to show you its parts."

There were bigger parts and smaller parts, and they weren't to be learnt all during the first day.

"Now we are learning the bigger parts of this 12-pounder. There are lots of small ones too, but those aren't in the lesson for today. The biggest part is the front one, the bore, which ends with the muzzle. This ring separates it from the bottom of the bore, ending with the chamber, and the knob, the closest to you."

He got the boy's hand in his, caressing each part of the gun with Diego's hand as he was naming it. Hopefully he'll stay. Hopefully he'll learn.

- THE END -

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