Racing around the Med

HMS Racer was commanded by Captain Charles Henry Beddoes on the Mediterranean station. Thirty-four years old when he joined this ship, the following three years must have been more than exhilarating for Arthur Barrow.  They involved sailing to many Mediterranean ports in a ship that was apparently fast and well commanded.  From the Tagus (Rac_1) on its travels from Plymouth, the Racer reached Malta in 14 days to join the squadron (Rac_2) commanded by Sir William Parker, being in Valetta three weeks from the day she was commissioned (Rac_3).  Over the next three years she journeyed to Trieste, and Argostili on Cephalonia when that island was in a ‘state of disturbance’, wanting to join with now independent Greece and secede from British rule.  Amongst other locales visited were Alexandria, Corfu, Patras, Smyrna on the Aegean, the Gulf of Salonica, as well as a ‘cruise’ at sea and a ‘beat along the Mediterranean shore’.  There were incidents, including one of her marines throwing himself overboard when on board HMS Oberon (Rac_4), and illness – there was cholera in Malta with extremely strict quarantine regulations in force (Rac_5) – as well as exercises at sea (Rac_6); ‘shifting the topmasts, and getting up the top-gallant masts, the latter being fidded’, i.e. resting on a square bar of wood with shoulders at one end, used to support the weight of the topgallant on the topmast. It should be noted that HMS Racer was fastest in the squadron at almost every such exercise!!  It was in March 1852 that Racer anchored in Plymouth Sound after sailing from Malta to Gibraltar, making the passage to Plymouth in a further six days.  Admiral Sir J.Ommannay reported the Racer on her paying off to be ‘… in a most efficient state.’


HMS Racer

A 16-gun brig-sloop launched in 1833 and sold in 1852.


HMS Sparrowhawk, a typical two-masted brig-sloop, of the same type as HMS Racer.


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