Friday, March 19, 2010

Booty: Another Kind Of Woman At Sea

The unfortunate truth is that your humble hostess spends more time with her nose in one type of book or other than cruising the current news outlets for interesting seafaring tidbits. That's one of the many, many reasons I am so indebted to my First Mate. He actually spots items of interest from today's headlines rather than, like me, reading Le Gazette de la Louisiane circa 1814.

Last Wednesday my mate came across a story on Yahoo! News about a certain old sea dog (do pardon the pun) that very much sparked my imagination. A little more research and today's booty is upon us. For your contemplation, Brethren, the story of Hatch the Mary Rose dog.

Mary Rose was Henry VIII of England's flag ship and she sailed and fought in three wars over the course of her 34 years at sea. She was considered charmed, and by the year 1545 most people in England believed that good King Hal's mighty galleon could not be sunk. Unfortunately for the upwards of 500 men aboard her on July 19th, 1545, belief and fact are two different things. On that day, while engaging French warships, Mary Rose went down with her entire compliment of men, boys, a ton of Tudor booty and one hard working bitch.

Above is Hatch's 99% preserved skeleton. She's a smallish dog who was approximately three years old when she drown in the wreck of the only home she ever knew. Experts have poured over Hatch's remains and have determined that she probably got very little exercise, indicating that she was always a ship's dog. The same experts call her a "hound" but from the superior way she did her job, I'd say she's got some terrier in her.

Hatch was on board Mary Rose for one specific reason: to catch and kill rats. Tudor seaman were notoriously suspicious of cats, who would later become standard tools of the trade in Nelson's Royal Navy and beyond. Due to the fear of cats bringing bad luck, dogs were employed to keep the burgeoning rat populations in ships at bay. Hatch was a champion indeed. No intact rat skeletons have been found in the wreck of the Mary Rose, which was discovered in 1982. Every last rat skeleton has been torn apart, gnawed on and at least partially eaten. Despite her gender, Hatch may have been the finest seaman - as far as attending to her duty - aboard Mary Rose.

Hatch got her name because she was found by divers near the sliding door, or hatch, of the carpenter's cabin. She is in the limelight right now because her beautiful and beautifully preserved skeleton was on display at Britian's prestigious Cruft's dog show from March 11th to 14th. Of course, if you were to ask me, Hatch should have won Best in Show hands down.

Another article about Hatch and the Mary Rose wreck (with some great pictures) from Mail Online UK can be found here. Or, if you want to get lost for the rest of the day, visit the Mary Rose website.

And so I'll end with a hearty Huzzah! for Hatch. And for all the women at sea past and present. Fair winds and fine prizes, ladies, and plenty of rats for Hatch.


Timmy! said...

Ahoy, Pauline! And thanks for the props. Just trying to do my part to support the Brethren. "We keep you alive to serve this ship. Row well and live, 41"... As usual, you have taken my little scratching of the surface, done the research and given us the rest of the story (plus some cool web links). I did not realize how small "Hatch" was until I saw the picture at the Mary Rose website. I agree, she must have had some terrier in her (kind of like a Shar-pei we used to have... RIP Tucker). And Huzzah for Hatch and for all the bitches (of whatever species) at sea... 100% kill ratio, let's see a cat do that! As always, you rock, Pirate Queen.

Pauline said...

Ahoy, Timmy! Hatch was clearly a badass, at least if you were a rat.

The Mary Rose 500 Appeal in Plymouth supports the Mary Rose Project. You can find out how to donate at the website. They are also on Twitter at MaryRose500. Follow for updates about the research, the ship and her new museum.