Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Woodes Rogers' Ship Delicia

Captain Woodes Rogers, (yes, Woodes was his first name!) was from a wealthy shipping family from Bristol, England. He was a seaman from an early age, a slave trader, and a privateer against the Spanish who circumnavigated the earth while retaining both of his ships, the Duke and the Duchess, but losing his brother. Returning to England, Rogers lost a lawsuit brought by his crew over nonpayment of wages that drove him into bankruptcy, but in publishing his account, A Cruising Voyage Around the World, was able to regain some of his wealth and prestige. 

Along the trip, Rogers had rescued a marooned man named Alexander Selkirk, a Scottish sailor of the Royal Navy, from Juan Fernández Island in 1709. Selkirk, who survived alone for four years, served as Daniel Defoe's inspiration for his famous character Robinson Crusoe. 

In 1713, Woodes Rogers set of on a slaving expedition to Madagascar, though his real motive was to locate the legendary pirate colonies on the island and force them to surrender. For this voyage, Rogers, with the help of his financiers, purchased the Delicia, a 460 ton merchant vessel outfitted for war with 36-guns. 

Rogers located the pirate colonies, and you can read a great account of his efforts to convince them to return to England and give up their way of life in Colin Woodard's book, The Republic of Pirates: Being the True and Surprising Story of the Caribbean Pirates and the Man who Brought them Down. Eventually, Rogers convinced some of them to sign a petition asking the queen for clemency, and he returned to England in 1715, where he reaped in the profits of his slave trading. 

The British East India Company rejected Rogers' proposal of returning to Madagascar to turn the pirate haven into a British Colony. Instead, Rogers refit his plan to target the pirate den of Nassau in the Bahamas.

Rogers was able the convince King George I to issue "The King's Pardon" in September of 1717, which stated that any and all pirates who surrendered unconditionally before September 1718 would be welcomed back into the British realm, with their past crimes forgiven. 

Woodes Rogers assembled a fleet of seven ships, three of the Royal Navy, with 100 soldiers and 130 colonists. His flagship was the Delicia. With stacks of pardons in hand, as well as religious pamphlets to reform the pirates into colonists, Woods Rogers set sail for Nassau in April of 1718.

The British fleet arrived in Nassau on July 24, blocking the harbor and trapping a number of pirate vessels inside. A scant few resisted, such as Charles Vane, who busted through the blockade behind a fire ship. Most of the other residents--around two hundred pirates and as many refugees from other colonies--accepted the pardon. While the British fleet was formidable, the pieces of paper on which the pardons were written turned out to be the most powerful weapon in Rogers' arsenal, and he enacted the strategy of divide and conquer. The lack of unity among the pirates, exasperated by the existence of the pardon, ruined their ability to resist. Woodes Rogers became Royal Governor of the Bahamas until 1721, and served in that position again from 1728 until his death in 1732.

In building for a future Pirates game or campaign, I've built Woodes Rogers' ship, Delicia, as he makes the perfect opponent for my pirates.

Using roughly the same process I followed to build Bellamy's early ships, the Marianne and Sultana I contstructed the Delicia from cardboard and wooden dowels.

Adding the cannons to this ship was particularly difficult, as there are quite a few and I needed to balance each one as the glue dried.

Having very little to go on for this design, besides the weight of the ship and how many guns it held, I had to be creative. For the figurehead, I used a templar crusader, which seemed a fitting image for Rogers' anti-pirate expeditions.

After completing the general construction, I spray-primed the ship dark brown.

Next, I set about painting the ship in oil paints.

When the paint dries, I will add the sails and the rigging, and then the final paint touches: silver for the knight's armor on the figurehead, as well as for the name of the ship on the stern.

In the mean time, I will finally begin building the ships I set out to learn the skills to build some twenty or so vessels ago -- the Whydah Galley, in 2 versions. Wish me luck and check back later for updates!

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