This is a continuation of the Alligator page,

but it grew to this size.

While most smugglers brought in everything except arms and ammunition because it was certain death if they got caught, one of them smuggled in what ever was needed. His ship was the only one that could get through during one period of the Rervolutionary War.

Finally he got word that the English were going to plant arms on his ship and take him prisoner so he had to quit.* He agreed to teach three of our best captains his techniques.

Here is what he taught them. I am not certain how far he developed the techniques himself and how far the other three then further developed them. The techniques were then fully developed and used in the War of 1812. I think that all our supply ships got through.

Setting sail with the tide uses the tidal current and it has assisted every sailor that has ever lived and they have been grateful for it. Yet at the same time they usually cursed most other currents.

You must realize that all the other currents in the oceans are just about as predictable as the tides and far more predictable than any wind except the trade winds near the equator.

Even the most dangerous current and the one most feared, which are riptides are very predictable [They are loved by surfers since they don't have to paddle out past the breakers. In California the surfers call them the The Highway Out of Town.]


What he did was set a sail underwater.All his crew were relatives (except for two boys that would never talk) so his secrets never leaked. .However if need be he could get by on the dangerous leg of the trip with only one other man.

He used a crossbeam with a sail that they could unfurl. They would lower the sail in to the ocean to the depth where a current was that he wanted to use. There might be up to four currents going in different directions, each one at a different depth down to about 125 feet.

The Chesapeake was our number one smuggling route so I will use it as my example.

At the mouth of the Chesapeake there were four currents that were offset and were navigable. Submariners know about these and the sea lanes were changed to accommodate at least one current because it was so strong.

Usually he used two currents (he said). When currents would cross over or under each other he would just raise or lower his water sail and catch the other current and change direction without slowing down. He could trim the weighted sail. He also had casks filled with air attached to each side of the sail. When he pulled a long rope it would pull out the cork on one of the casks. It would fill with water and then that side of the sail would turn because it got heavier. That way he could head into the current exactly like you can head into the wind in a sailboat by turning the sail sideways. All this went on at up to 15 mph and with his sails down. The only ripples on the surface of the water were caused by the wind. He could literally sail around in circles in the middle of a bay in a dead calm with all his sails lowered.

Since this is not common knowledge nothing about this is on the internet. However I have found bits and pieces of the processes that are used today and similar underwater drogue sails that they use today for measuring and mapping currents. I put this together with info about various types of ocean currents on this page so that you can understand the process more comprehensively.

His ship was sloop rigged like this one. And in twenty minutes he could transform it completely. First they carried extra supplies that made it ride very low in the water. Then he lowered the sails and took off the bow sprint (the front pole) and in it's place went this.

and along the sides they placed some shields like these

They stuck 20 oars out the sides and were in a harness that allowed one or two men to fan them in the air above the water.

What you ended up with in less than 20 minutes was a genuine-almost-Viking funeral ship gliding across the water or (as most often reported) in the air to Valhalla.

It looked about like this so the reports of the watches not only got dismissed by the English captains but they got double guard duty and often whipped for reporting a false sighting. So after that nobody in the British fleet would report his ship.

It took about an hour to change it back to a sloop. If the British searched the ship they found the scenery for a theater group being shipped to England and a few fake handbills showing a picture of a stage with the bow of a Viking ship protruding from the wings. The British were told that the Viking bow was used for a fight scene. The bow would make it look like a Viking invasion scene. The British inspectors always allowed them to continue.

At first the American crew just blackened themselves from head to toe but they looked suspiciously like sailors all dressed in black when they had to trim sail or do things that were familiar to sailors. So when they had to be sailors they put these on their heads.

It could be a dead calm in the middle of the night and his ship would go zooming past the anchored British ships blockading our ports at 5 knots so silently that from 150 feet you could hear the lookout on the British ship whisper 'oh shit'.

They would just stare in awe as it went by. Vikings were real big with the British sailors at the time. Since sailors were almost always superstitious when they saw a huge Viking funeral barge taking it's dead to Valhalla they were terrified. The lore was that you could not interfere with the delivery of the dead or you became one of them. So the English watches rarely raised the alarm and at the speeds the American ship was going in the dead still water there was usually nothing the British could have done anyway.

If they got caught he was ready to turn the ship into

a genuine burning Viking funeral ship to give it the final touch of realism, then dive in the water and swim to shore in the confusion. He never needed to do this as most of the guards who saw it even deferred their eyes out of respect for the dead.

Again that page about currents.

*I think we kept all this about his smuggling a secret because after the war he traded with England and not only would his recognition make it difficult but he still might have been imprisoned by the British for smuggling since they did not recognize our independence fully until after the War of 1812. Getting captured after the Revolutionary War for deeds done during it happened to at least one other person so it was not out of the realm of possibilities. One reason we wanted to keep his smuggling a secret was that the English would have captured him and then tortured him and got the information. We also wanted to keep his techniques from being used against us in the future but at the same time we in the government had to know what the techniques were in order to defend against them.

There are lots of mysteries including about smuggling that went on during the Revolution that are still a big mystery. The reason for it was as Ben Franklin said 'There is about 90% chance they (the British) will take this place (the US) back over' Those who helped us did not want to get hung needlessly and a medal seemed almost completely 'needless' to them.



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