The Far Side of the World

Master and Commander


Crew of the HMS Surprise

The Far Side of the World

Master and Commander

Upon the high seas, the Captain's responsibility for his men and his ship is nearly absolute. While he cannot inflict punishments on his men that might result in death or permanent maiming, his judgments for issues within his powers are final and retribution swift and certain.

Not surprisingly, the crew of H.M.S. Surprise respects and has affection for Aubrey who above all wishes them to sail and fight the ship to their fullest potential.

Like most of his contemporaries, Aubrey, though the son of a General in the Army, went to sea at an early age and is a superb seaman and a strict – but never overbearing – disciplinarian. He is known in the service as "Lucky Jack" for his capture of rich prizes and victories against long odds.

The Captain's Log

This comes from the official site of the movie Master and commander: The far side of the world. Their site is beautifully made, but it tends to be a bit difficult to get all the information. You have to click on certain spots in order to read a tiny fraction . So I thought it would be fun to read the whole log in a row for a change..

Day 32 - 45 11' N, 11 02' W

It is said that no man is married south of Gibralter, but we passed the Rock and Sophie's hold upon my thoughts is still strong. I miss her presence, but cannot mention that most human of weaknesses to anyone but Maturin. It would serve no purpose for the men to see this weakness in me, even this most human of weaknesses. One day there will be the cottage and the horses, but for the present we must all do our duty.

Day 34 - 30 46'N. 40 14'W
Favourable winds from off the quarter this morning. Mr. Allen spread a full press of sail and upon heaving the log we discovered she was making eight knots two fathom. The people seem happy to be cracking on, but I judged it prudent to strike royals. We are bound for the far side of the world - and there is no profit in losing a yard in order to keep a fool's pace with no dockyard under our lee for ever and ever.

Day 37 - 21 50'N. 42 30'W

What an infernal set of lubbers we are saddled with in these new landsmen. Our old Surprises make an efficient set but the hard bargains their Lordships see fit to send us are as yet useless. there are 28 this time, mostly quota men and others from the goals and almshouses. Despite their bewilderment and the fact that most are consistently seasick, I keep them at the great guns drilling so that they are too exhausted to pursue their usual habits.

Day 39 - 32 0'N, 8 46'W

Allen caught sight of a sail, flying away. What a beautiful ship she was, narrow and fast. She must be French. We fired our chasers, and she managed to send a ball against our bow. Then she made all possible sail and disappeared at nightfall. I don't know why she would be so shy. Allen told me he counted 40 guns to our 28. I told him that was good odds for an English sailor. Next time I meet her. I'm determined to take her home with me.

Day 32 - 41 24'S, 43 0' W

We came to an anchor off Rio. I sent Mr. Pullings with Dr. Maturin(who returned on board with a creature he called a Sloth) A Portuguese captain reported sighting the French frigate a week past presumably shaping course for the Cape. We are exercising the people at great guns in hopes that when we meet her...throwing brisk broadsides will make up the difference between our 28 guns and her 44.

Day 47 - 29 40'S. 30 05'W

Our time spent inshore produced the usual degradation in the people, and the usual punishments followed. A Waister offered Mr. Pullings a suggestion I would not repeat to Sophie and was rewarded by being gagged with a marlin spike and made fast for the duration of the middle watch. Slade and Plaice returned aboard drunk as lords, which I could not overlook, but spared them the cat. I aspire toward a taut ship, but sailors will be sailors and those are solid good men who need not be spoiled.

Day 50 - 39 30'S. 48 55'W

Today being Sunday, I rigged for church and read one of Donne's sermons to the people. As is the custom we then declared a make and mend day - a day of leisure for the men. Mr. Hollar rigged a stuns'l over the side in which the men bathed while others sat under an awning and mended their clothes. With Cape Stiff still in our future they must relax and recuperate while they can.

Day 52 - 44 31N. 45 30' W.

We practiced our wit upon poor Maturin today. He overheard Mr. Lamb discussing a minor leak - a butt was weeping - and asked me if we might have to turn back from Cape Horn. We led him to believe that the minor leak in question might be the beginning of the end...and that with luck a score or so of us might survive should we be so fortunate to strike a mountain of ice. Poor fellow. he assumed a quite cross face and retired his beetle collections.

Day 64 - 56 55's. 65 10'W

The Horn has shown its ugly face. Added to our trials was the unexpected sighting of ice off the pitch of the Horn itself - damned poor luck to find it this far north at this time of year. Several of the people will lose fingers and toes to frostbite and there was a bad fall. But a trial like this brings a crew together, even the mearest landsman are now hauling braces and halyards like tigers and the old Surprises are teaching them to be real man-o-warsmen.

Day 66 - 55 55' S, 65 10' W

Sighted a sail to leeward and closed to investigate. Determined her to be a Frenchman, and bore away toward her while amusing her with false colours. Beat to quarters after a ten hour stalking match brought us nearly within reach. She accepted our challenge and showed her teeth. She is a fine vessel and a smart sailor - a fine prize should we bring her too.

Day 70 - 42 50' S, 78 15' W

We exchanged broadsides with much effect for our part. We deprived them of their mizzen after an exhausting morning. Their shots have slowed as have ours, but the old Surprises still appear to have fighting spirit in them. Let's hope they retain it...we'll need it if we move in for her bow.

Day 72 - 35 52' S, 75 12' W

A fool of a lad serving as powder monkey to the midships division dropped his cartridge on the deck instead of safely in the box with the others. I saw one of the Middies clip him with his pistol butt - not good form - a well deserved blow. A mistake like that could turn the tide against us.

Day 73 - 33 52' S, 75 12' W

During a pause in the action I went down to the gundeck to encourage the men. Mr. Pullings reported that all was well and from the demeanor of the lads I could see that it was so. One of their shots had penetrated amidships and dismounted a gun, killing three men, but the securing of it was underway before it came to my attention.

Day 75 - 28 54' S, 74 13" W

We have found an advantage and exploited it. Lying across her stern we have raked her with successive broadsides to which she has been unable to reply at all. We must have reaped a grim harvest of her hands below decks and their rig is much cut up, but in the respect ours is too. I am resolved to end the contest by boarding her before her people can put her to rights.

Day 80 - 14 49' S, 80 15' W

Battle is no time for reflections but I salute their gunners whose briskness and resolute fire is filling our cockpit with wounded. I saw Babbington carried below with a grievous wound to his shoulder and I doubt even Maturin will save the arm. Even so I feel we are giving worse than we are getting.

Day 82 - 8 41' S, 78 9' W

We've closed and called the men off for boarding. We're yard arm to yard arm, and with men dropping over the lines like rats. Our guns have done their customary damage and we have the advantage of English courage. It's no time for any man to hold back, so I'm off.

Day 84 - 7 38" S, 77 10' W

Huzzah! We have carried her by storm. She had no boarding nets rigged so we were able to leap across while our Marines poured a storm of lead upon them. Pullings and Mowat fought like true Englishmen. I shall mention them in my dispatch.

CAPTAIN JACK AUBREY by actor Russell Crowe









Wallpaper: click on the picture

Backgrund Information about the
Napoleonic Wars and the Movie
Master and commander 5: huge photos
Cast and Crew The ships of those times
The crew of the Surprise (from the Premiere documents) The Royal Film Premiere
The Ships and Sets (from the Premiere documents) Creating the most realistic sea storm ever filmed (from the Premiere documents)
Historical and Character Research (from the Premiere documents) A dictionary of nautical terms for Landlubbers
The Captain's Log Musical Evenings with the Captain