My remarks in the last report about burly seamen struggling to squeeze into the 2ft diameter mast of Cormorant, produced a number of comments from various sources through various channels. The consensus seems to be that people were noticeably smaller a century ago. The evidence quoted by ‘Pedro’ (Vast records exist from WW1, so many studies have been done on size, weight, etc., of the average "Tommy". Average height was about 5 foot 5 inches and weight was about 8 stone or 112 pounds. The Army dropped its minimum height requirement from 5'3" to 5' and there even were Bantam battalions) certainly points to there being little problem for the average Victorian sailor. Even as late as the 1960s, the Soviet tank forces were rumoured to comb the ranks of recruits for gunners who were less than 5ft tall and preferably with a right arm shorter than the left, so cramped and awkward was the T54 tank!
Looking through my collection of lightship photographs, I can find only three which have two auxiliary masts – one forward and one mizzen. The ill-fated Puffin (Photo 871) is one.
Cormorant, seen here on the Lucifer Shoals station, another (Photo 872).
The third photo (Phot 873) is of an unidentified lightship on the Blackwater station.
Now the first thing to hit me, when I put these two photos next to each other, is how similar they are. Yes the names on the side are different; one has two ball markers on the lantern mast; and those little ‘huts’ near the stern seem to have the doors in different places. But doors apart, these two are identical as far as I can judge. So are both these vessels Cormorant? I think so.
And talking of photos, I am aiming to take a few myself. I have bought myself a drone, a little one (body length 34cms), but it does have a camera (Photo 874) and I can hardly wait to make another trip down to the Medway to take some aerial shots of Simon’s ship. For the first time I will be able to get the whole ship in one photo.
There are plenty of other things to photograph down there, including the unfortunate Ena which sadly has again fail to rise with the incoming tide (Photo 875).