Easterly Haze – Behind the Painting
Occasionally, while ships were peacefully at anchor in Torbay, Devon, the wind would come easterly and the scene would change dramatically. Even with a moderate breeze the lightering of stores would become difficult. Force 5 would find ships snatching and sheering at their cables and it would no longer be prudent to remain. The brute force of getting anchors and making sail would follow and possibly a couple of hours of hard sailing to beat out of the bay.
This painting illustrates just such an occasion. It is early afternoon. The wind is easterly – a good force 6 – and the usual haze (known locally as ‘Easterly Haze) is in evidence. The vessels have got their anchors and are making sail. All have two reefs pulled up in their topsails and light canvas is not being set. Once round Start Point, however, the reefs will be shaken out and possibly topgallants set.
The frigate in the foreground on the port tack standing towards Berry Head is the Endymion (Captain Charles Paget). Her starboard anchor is two blocks at the cathead and will soon be stowed, the foresail has just been loosed, the tack is being hove down and soon the sheet will follow. To windward of her is a 64 just setting her mainsail and beyond her again is a 74.