Category Archives: Personalities

Mr Bowles, Horatio Hornblower Series

Bowles was the sailing master during Hornblower‘s tour aboard HMS JustinianCaptain Keene commanding. On one occasion, Mr. Bowles was holding a class in navigation, Hornblower had the only correct answer, which was an embarrassment because of the fear of retribution from John Simpson.


His position is the Sailing Master.

Duties of Master

The master’s main duty was navigation, taking the ship’s position at least daily and setting the sails as appropriate for the required course and conditions. During combat, he was stationed on the quarterdeck, next to the captain. The master was responsible for fitting out the ship and making sure they had all the sailing supplies necessary for the voyage. The master also was in charge of stowing the hold and ensuring the ship was not too weighted down to sail effectively. The master, through his subordinates, hoisted and lowered the anchor, docked and undocked the ship, and inspected the ship daily for problems with the anchors, sails, masts, ropes, or pulleys. Issues were brought to the attention of the master, who would notify the captain. The master was in charge of the entry of parts of the official log such as weather, position, and expenditures.

The master was a warrant officer appointed by the Council of the Marine (later the Navy Board) who also built and provisioned the Navy’s ships. The master was tasked with sailing the ship as directed by the captain, who fought the ship when an enemy was engaged. The captain had a commission from (and was responsible to) the Admiralty who was in charge of the Navy’s strategy and tactics.

A Video Compilation I made of Master Bowles

Horatio Hornblower The Fire Ships Dreadnought Foster and Capt Hammond

I love this scene from The Fire Ships. In this scene, Captain Hammond picks up Dreadnought Foster and Horatio Hornblower after they saved the HMS Indefatigable from a Fireship. Capt Foster takes offense because Hammond wasn’t there to pick them up right away. Such formality even as they’re exchanging insults and challenging each other to a Duel.