An excerpt from my latest book: Monk’s Orchard:
As they were making their way out of the harbor Michael noticed
a large galleon to windward off their starboard side coming down on Drake’s ship. She was upwind and had the weather gauge on Drake. There was nothing he could do. His ship could not tack or reach that far up wind to intercept her.
Michael immediately assessed the situation and the danger that Drake’s ship was in. He called down to his boatswain to haul in the stay sail sheets as hard as he could muster the crew. He then ordered the helmsman to steer a course that would intercept the Spanish galleon but upwind of Drake to such an extent to add separation between Drake and the Spanish ship. His stay sail innovation proved itself as MONK’S ORCHARD came upwind and sailing off the headwind by about thirty-five degrees. MONK’S ORCHARD heeled hard to port submerging many of the port side gun ports, which had been closed to protect the cannons, powder and shot. As the ship heeled you could hear pandemonium below decks as those items not secured for sea came thrashing and rolling about. MONK’S ORCHARD’s course and speed carried her between Drake’s ship and the Spanish galleon until such time as she now had the weather gauge on the galleon. Michael altered course to starboard and came through the wind then fell off until he had a speed and aspect advantage on the Spanish ship. MONK’S ORCHARD steadied up. Michael had the gun decks cleared while barreling down on the Spanish — bow on. At the last minute, and about three hundred yards upwind he altered hard to starboard, presented a beam aspect then opened fire with his port guns. He struck a mark for, in an instant, there was a large explosion. This was followed by a series of smaller blasts then a massive detonation what could only mean one thing: a direct hit on the powder hold. The ship came apart in a thousand pieces. The ship’s hull disintegrated under the weight of the explosion. The fireworks display was as impressive as it was frightening.
Michael looked at the carnage in amazement but was saddened at the inevitable loss of life. He made the sign of the cross. The men in Drake’s ship yelled and screamed their thanks and approval to Michael. Michael fell off, and then fell back into Drake’s formation as they headed out to sea. The English fleet barely suffered a scratch with this raid. The Spanish lost over ten thousand tons of provisions and considerable material damage to their ships. It would set their invasion plans back by about a year.
Check out Monk’s Orchard by clicking on the link at the top of the page. Thanks…John