Friday, 12 November 2010

Yachts

Giles Maltravers, the rake of The Rake's Challenge, is a keen yachtsman. A wealthy gentleman, he can afford a large and well appointed sloop, the Kestrel. His ship is also useful as a tool of seduction and he uses it to tempt Anna as he knows she longs to travel and find adventure on the seas.


The British passion for sailing had begun many centuries earlier. Yachts were first seen in Holland, where they were used as hunting vessels. The name comes from Jagt = to hunt.  While a boy in the 1640s, the future King Charles II learned to sail a yacht and developed a love of salt water sailing that was to last his whole life. His brother, James, was equally keen on boats. Between them, they started a new fashion among the British aristocracy, which is still popular today.


During the 17th century, yachting began to flourish across Europe. Vessels of all kinds were commissioned as yachts to the wealthy and powerful, from tiny open boats to small frigates. Yachts were instrumental in discovering new lands or in defending vital waterways. They served both as pleasure craft and as working ships, carrying people and messages swiftly and comfortably from shore to shore.
Early yachts were similar to (or had been) Royal Navy cutters, smuggling and pilot vessels.
Their owners sometimes cruised far afield - A founder member of the Royal Yacht Squadron [formed in 1815] missed the inaugural meeting as he was cruising to St Petersburg. Another is believed to have made a cruise which included a visit to Napoleon on Elba. The Prince Regent joined the RYS in 1817.
Members of this association have published accounts of voyages made for exploration, for natural history research or just for pleasure.