The Ship and the Captain

by admin on January 9, 2012

'The Vityaz'
The ship shown here is the Russian steam corvette Vityaz (Knight) that carried Maclay to New Guinea in 1871.

The Vityaz was a three master of 2225 tons, with a 350 horsepower steam engine, and nine guns.

From the mid-1840s sailing frigates were built with both steam engines and a screw propeller. The ships continued to use sails with only a limited application of steam engines. This was often due to the fact that captains were conservative and preferred the tried and true methods of sailing to the newer and more expensive steam power. Ships that travelled to the far side of the world were also more dependent on sail. Corvettes such as Vityaz continued as steam-powered warships until late in the nineteenth century.

The Captain of the Vityaz at the time was Captain N.P. Nazimov. He’s a strong character in Part One of my novel. I saw him as being somewhat unsympathetic to Maclay’s mission, and sceptical of the outcome. Nevertheless, Captain Nazimov was bound to do the best he could for his unusual and often demanding passenger.


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