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MERLIN (16) Built in 1796, Deptford.
Broken up in 1803.

  • 1796 T. DUNDAS, 05/1796.
  • 1798 J. R. MOSS, 08/1798, Jamaica.
    In September 1798 the settlers in Honduras came under attack from the Spanish in Yucatan.
    A flotilla of 31 vessels, having on board 2,000 troops and 500 seamen, and commanded by the Spanish Governor with the unlikely name of General Arthur O'Neil, was repulsed by MERLIN and a flotilla of local gunboats.
  • The gunboats were:
  • No 1 TOWSER One 18-pounder
  • No 2 TICKLER One 18-pounder
  • No 3 MERMAID One 9-pounder
  • No 4 SWINGER Four 6-pounders Two 4-pounders
  • No 5 TEAZER Six 4-pounders
  • Plus eight flat-boats, each carrying a 9-pounder in the bow, and numerous scout boats and canoes.
  • Nos 1 and 2 were commanded by Mr Gelston and Mr Hosmer masters of merchant vessels with some of their own crews.
    The rest were manned by volunteers from the colonial troops and negro slaves numbering 354 men.
  • the enemy first attempted to occupy St. George's Key but were deterred by Nos 1, 4 and 5 who were guarding the narrow channels.
  • On the 3 September they attempted to force a passage over Montego Key Shoal with 5 vessels, two of which carried heavy metal, but the gunboats drove them back to rejoin the main enemy fleet anchored 2 leagues to the northward.
    More enemy vessels attempted to get over the shoal on the 5th., again expending a large quantity of ammunition to no purpose.
  • MERLIN sailed from her anchorage at Belize on the evening of the 5th. and arrived off St. George's Key at noon the following day.
    Her arrival to join the gunboats caused the enemy to abandon another attempt.
  • On 13 September 14 of the largest vessels of the Spanish fleet weighed anchor and brought to about a mile and a half distant from the British vessels.
    At about noon nine of them got under way.
    Two were armed with 24-pounders in the bow, a schooner had 22 guns and the rest from 8 to 14 guns.
    They were all loaded with troops and each towed a launch full of soldiers
  • The British vessels were drawn up with MERLIN in the centre and the gunboats, three small small sloops and two schooners on either side.
    The enemy came down in line abreast under both sail and oars.
    At 2 o'clock Capt. MOSS gave the order to engage and after about two and a half hours the enemy started to fall into confusion, cut their cables and started to sail or tow off.
    Capt. MOSS then made the signal for a chase but with night coming on he was soon obliged to make the recall.
  • The enemy made one or two half hearted attempts over the next few days then, on the morning of the 18th., it was discovered that they had stolen away in the night.
  • 1800 William ROBINSON, 12/1799, Jamaica.
    In September 1801, while cruising off the north side of Jamaica, MERLIN captured a small Spanish privateer mounting one gun.
    Capt. ROBINSON manned her as a tender with 20 men under a master's mate, John SMITH (2).
    After a few days Mr SMITH discovered that the sun was apparently causing night blindness (nyctalopia) in at least half the crew.
    One calm morning they were chased by a large xebec and towards evening, after the tender's crew had been at the sweeps for many weary hours, the enemy started to gain on them.
    Mr SMITH realised that when night fell half his crew would be blind so he ordered the oars shipped and opened fire on the enemy while it was still daylight.
    To his relief the xebec sheared off and pulled away and was lost during the night.
    He then ordered his people to keep one eye always covered during the day and was pleased to find that the patient could see well at night with the eye that had been rested.

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