Reviews

Sea Warriors The Royal Navy in the Age of Sail

This is a 'must have' documentary for anyone who enjoys the sea and wants to get an idea what life was really like in the age of the square-rigger. You don't have to be British to enjoy this work as our own US sailors had very similar experiences on ships of the same period!
If you are like me and not into the historical novels Chip Richie refers to I would still recommend you obtain a copy of this DVD. While Chip Richie seems to promote this as a 'companion' documentary to fictional works from Patrick O'Brian, Alexander Kent, Richard Woodman, Dudley Pope and others I believe that Sea Warriors stands alone. If it is a companion work, then it is great for watching alongside Master and Commander. In fact, watching Master and Commander, or Hornblower and then Sea Warriors is a highly recommended viewing for anyone of any age.
Chip Richie has captured so much good detail and presents it in a fascinating and thought provoking way that so many network documentaries skip over in favor of special effects, or over-production. His research seems impeccable and including information on places like Bucklers Hard in England is amazing. Perhaps what is most amazing is how this native Texan has used his objectivity to create a solid piece of work that will stand as one of the greatest and most enjoyable reference works for anyone wanting to get away from Hollywood myth and legend and down to solid facts about 'Sea Warriors'.
If only the networks like Discovery Channel et al would produce such well written and intelligently presented documentaries for the 'thinking viewer' then we would not have to seek out independent producers who seem to be willing to invest in quality programming that genuinely entertains the brain. This DVD was money very well spent.



An extremely interesting and entertaining film, which should be watched both by those who are lovers of this era in history and those who know nothing, but want to find out more.
Presented in an easy-to-follow manner by Richard Woodman (a naval author of very great standing) the film covers all aspects of naval life, with re-enactments aboard replica ships to give action to the words.
It is obviously a work of passion by the makers and presenters. Those brought into the film to talk about their own specialist subjects are extremely knowledgeable and it's wonderful to hear their expert views on the many facets of the eighteenth century navy and Georgian life itself.
A "must-buy" for all lovers of and seekers of information on life in the sailing navy.

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Buy Sea Warriors While You Wait for Master & Commander, November 20, 2003
Reviewer: michaelshannon from Montclair, VA USA
If you have not seen Master & Commander as yet, buy this and watch it first. If you have seen Master & Commander buy this to tide you over until Master & Commander is released on DVD.
It's a very well-produced and narrated documentary that literally takes you below decks in His Majesty's Royal Navy. The expert commentary and ship footage bring the Royal Navy to life for beginners and experienced sea lovers. My whole family enjoyed it.
Plus if you're home schooling, it's a great field trip without leaving the house.



Sea Warriors - The Royal Navy in the Age of Sail, is a lively new documentary-film about the Royal Navy of Nelson’s time. Filmed entirely on locations in England - from the northeast coast to London to the shores of Devon and Cornwall - Sea Warriors captures the essence of eighteenth-century life at sea and ashore, as interpreted by today’s leading British authors in sea fiction and naval history.

While director Peter Weir has created a much anticipated adaptation of Patrick O’Brian’s novels for the silver screen in Master and Commander - The Far Side of the World, Dallas-based film maker Chip Richie has filmed a crack documentary on the age of fighting sail. Far from being a static presentation of ‘talking heads,’ Richie takes the viewer with him to maritime England.

“I'd been mulling this idea over for years while I read and enjoyed books by Patrick O’Brian, Alexander Kent, Richard Woodman, Dudley Pope and others,” says Richie, “I wanted to bring to life the reality of what life was like in Nelson’s Navy.”

And at this he has succeeded.

Hosted by Richard Woodman - historian and author of the Nathaniel Drinkwater novels - viewers walk the decks and climb the rigging of one of the few remaining early nineteenth-century frigates, HMS Trincomalee, as well as Nelson’s flagship, HMS Victory. Richie also gained access to the storied boardroom of the ancient Admiralty in Whitehall, London, with its famous wind-vane, which alerted the Lords of the Admiralty when a west wind blew that could favor the French.

Perhaps most alluring about Sea Warriors are the segments featuring seldom-seen authors Douglas Reeman, Julian Stockwin, and Woodman, as they express their passion for Britain’s naval history and its place in their novels. These men carry the legacy of Captain Frederick Marryat, who served under Thomas Cochrane as a midshipman, and invented the nautical fiction genre in the nineteenth century, relying upon his own experiences at sea in the Royal Navy.

“All of the sea novelists have done their research,” says Robert Gardiner, naval historian, a view expressed by others, including his colleagues, Colin White and Tom Pocock. Gardiner is on site at a Chatham Historic Dockyard, while White is aboard Victory, and Pocock is seen on the green at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich.

Douglas Reeman, who writes the Richard Bolitho novels under his pen name Alexander Kent, offers his thoughts from Blue Posts, his home in Surrey. Julian Stockwin, author of the Thomas Kydd novels, speaks from Guildford in Surrey and on board HMS Endeavour at Falmouth. Woodman is seen in various places, from Trincomalee to Bucklers Hard, and even inside a copper-clad powder magazine.

Re-enactors costumed in authentic eighteenth-century clothing demonstrate what life was like between England’s ‘wooden walls’ as well as ashore, where the dreaded press gangs sought unsuspecting men to fill out ship’s companies. The theory behind naval gunnery, personal weapons, medical treatments, and the victuals provided Jack Tars are expressed in a beguiling manner. And the scents of sea, powder smoke, tar and canvas are most palpable.

Marine artist Geoffrey Huband, who creates the covers for Douglas Reeman and Alexander Kent novels, describes his approach to re-creating history at sea on canvas, tying together the written words of the author with his own interpretation of the ships in Nelson’s Navy.

This splendid film is the essential companion video to the collection of those who ‘go down to the sea’ through the words of Kent, O’Brian, Pope, Stockwin, Woodman and others.

Tall Ships Books

George Jepson



This is a 'must have' documentary for anyone who enjoys the sea and wants to get an idea what life was really like in the age of the square-rigger. You don't have to be British to enjoy this work as our own US sailors had very similar experiences on ships of the same period!

If you are like me and not into the historical novels Chip Richie refers to I would still recommend you obtain a copy of this DVD. While Chip Richie seems to promote this as a 'companion' documentary to fictional works from Patrick O'Brian, Alexander Kent, Richard Woodman, Dudley Pope and others I believe that Sea Warriors stands alone. If it is a companion work, then it is great for watching alongside Master and Commander. In fact, watching Master and Commander, or Hornblower and then Sea Warriors is a highly recommended viewing for anyone of any age.
Chip Richie has captured so much good detail and presents it in a fascinating and thought provoking way that so many network documentaries skip over in favor of special effects, or over-production. His research seems impeccable and including information on places like Bucklers Hard in England is amazing. Perhaps what is most amazing is how this native Texan has used his objectivity to create a solid piece of work that will stand as one of the greatest and most enjoyable reference works for anyone wanting to get away from Hollywood myth and legend and down to solid facts about 'Sea Warriors'.
If only the networks like Discovery Channel et al would produce such well written and intelligently presented documentaries for the 'thinking viewer' then we would not have to seek out independent producers who seem to be willing to invest in quality programming that genuinely entertains the brain. This DVD was money very well spent.



An extremely interesting and entertaining film, which should be watched both by those who are lovers of this era in history and those who know nothing, but want to find out more.
Presented in an easy-to-follow manner by Richard Woodman (a naval author of very great standing) the film covers all aspects of naval life, with re-enactments aboard replica ships to give action to the words.
It is obviously a work of passion by the makers and presenters. Those brought into the film to talk about their own specialist subjects are extremely knowledgeable and it's wonderful to hear their expert views on the many facets of the eighteenth century navy and Georgian life itself.
A "must-buy" for all lovers of and seekers of information on life in the sailing navy.



If you have not seen Master & Commander as yet, buy this and watch it first. If you have seen Master & Commander buy this to tide you over until Master & Commander is released on DVD.
It's a very well-produced and narrated documentary that literally takes you below decks in His Majesty's Royal Navy. The expert commentary and ship footage bring the Royal Navy to life for beginners and experienced sea lovers. My whole family enjoyed it.
Plus if you're home schooling, it's a great field trip without leaving the house.



With the revived interest in the British Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars - courtesy of the Horatio Hornblower TV series and the movie Master and Commander - fans of naval fiction and other things nautical may want to cast an eye over the documentary Sea Warriors.

The 60-minute film explores the age of fighting sail through the eyes and words of naval historians and several world-renown authors. They include Douglas "Alexander Kent" Reeman, creator of the Bolitho novels and Julian Stockwin (Thomas Kydd).

It is presented by Captain Richard Woodman, who writes the Nathaniel Drinkwater series, and is an excellent introduction to the fighting force that ended Napoleon Bonaparte's hopes of dominating the world.

The key parts to Sea Warriors include how the British navy was organised, its tactics and what life was like for the various levels of seafarers - from independent captains down to the unfortunate victims of press gangs.

The experts also take a bit of time in shooting down the generally accepted view - passed on to us by those severely repessed Victorians - that life in the navy was harsh, brutal and beset by "rum, sodomy and the lash."

According to Woodman et al, life was difficult in the navy, but the tars ate well, had plenty to drink, and went about their work professionally and with a good spirit. Mind you, almost to a man they did agree that once the ships hit port then morals did tend to fly out the window as the sailors "let off steam".

For mine the first thing that grabbed my attention was the wonderful Admiralty building where an ornate weather marker within the meeting room kept the admirals aware of the wind direction at all times and a signal tower system that could relay a message to the main naval bases around England within 20 minutes and from there via fast frigate around the world.

The second was the information on the building of ships. A ship of the line, or battleship, took up to 2000 oak trees to build. Those trees were between 200-300 years old, and you see an example of how a fork in a branch was fashioned into a deck support.

Of course there is a huge amount of other information and it is all nicely presented and packaged.

There were a couple of quality blips in the video I looked at with a repeat of one expert's comments and then a bit of distortion, however, overall the standard is good with interesting location shots and good re-enactment footage. I look forward to seeing Sea Warriors in digital format on DVD.

Sea Warriors' producer and director Chip Richie and his crew has done well with this effort and it is highly recommended for nautical history buffs.

-Richard Moore
www.napoleonguide.com/doco_seawarriors.htm