The Hermes Packet Boat Savant was purchased in Grenville Florida by Serafie Lesleque, using her father’s money. It was a group of four such corvette size boats meant to add some muscle to her failing business ventures on the coast. While Lady Lesleque was a horrible businesswoman, she was very good at recruiting captains for her fleet. She had a knack for finding motivated, intelligent officers who in turn would find fine crew. After initial successes, including one of the boats being present in New Orleans for the French victory over pirates, Lady Lesleque ordered the Savant to help French naval forces against the English in growing hostility near Roseau. She stood to gain needed profits from the French admiralty, and would then pass some of the profits to the Captain.
Captain Pierre d’Lucal sailed Savant with ninety healthy crew a thousand miles east to form up with a French Highland confederacy squadron. Savant was one of a few other packet boats, there were two larger frigates as well. After sinking a couple English merchants, the squadron was chased down by an English squadron of six ships. Half of the English boats were corvette sized; the other three were frigate sized with long range cannons.
Both sides attempted to line up to trade volleys. Unfortunately, the English had greater range and used this to their advantage by staying out of French gun range. A lone English schooner pressed toward the French line enough to cause some instability before it had to break off from damage. After several volleys, the English had so damaged the lead French Frigate that it had to break off as well. With such a loss, the French fleet had no chance at victory and the rest of the five ships turned to escape, one of them was the Savant.
After escaping, Savant headed west but lost sight of the rest of the French ships, attempts to find them failed. The delay in searching allowed another English ship to give chase.
Savant engaged the chasing English Xebec at close range. What Captain d’Lucal didn’t realize was there were two English frigates on the horizon that the Xebec was leading them to. By the time Savant’s cannons were ripping into the hull of the Xebec, sailors on the Savant screamed “English ships dead ahead!” Pierre wasted no more time and broke off from the Xebec to run.
The next half hour was a crucial cat and mouse chase. The Xebec was close behind, trying to cut at the Savant’s rigging to slow her down. Captain d’Lucal ordered his crew to focus on repairing sails and rigging, sacrificing everything for speed. He had a certain sail master by the name of Hector Alvarez, who aided in that effort greatly. What compounded the problem was that in order for Savant to point at optimal 135 degrees off the wind would lead her aground along a small island, so the Savant could not get up to full speed while meneuvering. So for awhile the Xebec was able to keep up, take a few shots at the sails and pick up ground again. All the while the two large English frigates were slowly catching up, now only 600 yards away. Once those were in range, Savant would be lost.
When the Savant finally passed that island, it turned hard for optimal wind across the sails, picking up a couple knots to nineteen and a half. Just enough to slowly pull away from the English ships. After a few hours the English sails disappeared below the horizon and the Captain relaxed, but his comfort was short lived when a sailor yelled “Sails on the port beam, English flags!” Everyone’s heart skipped a beat, the chase was on again.
This time the Savant had more time to react and easily kept a good distance from the large English frigates. After several hours Savant was far enough west and away from the contention waters of Roseau. Having lost all contact with the French fleet, Pierre took the Savant all the way back to Grenville to relay his story to Lady Lesleque and plenty of tavern patrons, hoping they would not soon have to go through that again.
To most people who would hear this story, they would take note of the danger and caution going back, Lady Lesleque, being far removed from the harsh dangers of the Sea had other ideas. She applauded her captain for such a daring story and then ordered him to return to continue to assist the French fleet. There was much money involved, for each ship she sent to aid the French navy, she was rewarded in doubloons.
Pierre protested respectfully “M’lady, this is not a good idea, the crew is not well trained, our boat is not meant for such large battles.”
Serafie was a young, naive noble’s daughter; she was a good listener but had a hard time hearing the logic of experienced men. “Kaptain d’Lucal, I am not paying you to run the coast. I am having a difficult time making money and so the Navy pays me well to help them fight the English. Be a brave man and I will reward you well.”
“Your reward has been generous to me Madame, however I am thinking of my crewmen, they are not prepared for such long journeys or fighting skilled English yet.”
“Your orders are to assist the French navy not go it alone. Train your men, sink more English ships and Pirates too, your men can feast on the spoils. That is all; I will see you in some months upon your return.”
“But Lady Lesleque”
"Monsieur, you knew what I expected when you agreed to this post, I gave to you an expensive ship to command." from Serafie's perspective this captain was being lazy.
Pierre tried his best to change her mind "But Madame, the voyage is so far for our small ship, I need more time to train my crew."
“tah tah” Serafie gestured with her hand quite flippantly “I have a business to run Kaptain and it is difficult but I will not shy from it, if you please be a good Kaptain or tell me to find another?”
The discussion ended their as Captain d’Lucal turned on his heels, with his little bag of reward tightly held in his hand. He would have a hard time explaining this to his crew that they were heading back east to fight the English fleet again. He knew this might happen but he chose to take that risk when offered the job. Now he had a hard time stomaching the reality of such a dangerous voyage again. Such were the stories of a great many Captains.
Serafie would never see Captain d’Lucal again, his ship and crew were lost to Pirates while enroute to Fort de France weeks later. While some pay with their lives, others reap the profits from the New World of the Burning Sea’s.