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A Guide to Piloting The Turtle, Annotated by Caleb Brewster

The following is a guide to piloting David Bushnell’s submarine, the Turtle.

A manual to certain death, annotated by Caleb Brewster in case anybody ever uses this bucket after me.

Navigation — When the submarine is just below the surface of the water, with only the conning tower visible, you will be able to see in every direction, including up, through the round windows.

You can see ‘til it counts, then you have to go blind. Don’t soil your breeches when you’re descending into the depths, and the sunlight fades like a memory through the top window. Must be what it’s like when you’re dying. I recommend you don’t find out.

Breathing — Attached to the conning tower are two brass pipes containing three hollow wooden balls. As the submarine submerges, these balls will be forced into an airtight seal, but upon surfacing, they will loosen, allowing fresh air inside.

Breathing through balls was never my idea of fun. This works pretty well, actually. If they stick when I surface, I thump the top of the tower real good to loosen the bastards.

Gauges — Once you submerge fully, it will be too dark to see through the windows, and you will need to rely on the glowing compass to find your way to your destination. Coat the gauges with fresh Firefox before each mission, and make sure to practice precision location before setting out.

It’s too dark to find your own arse down there. Better just have made peace with your maker and left a storehouse of loot for any brood before you set foot in this bucket to hell. Just pulling your leg — you may not be able to see much, but the gauges bear true, and they’ll get you where you need to go.

Speed — You are responsible for operating the crank to move the submarine horizontally through the water. At top speed, you will be able to move at a lively pace of around three miles in an hour, if the seas are calm.

Well, hellfire and damnation, you’ll be passing sea snails at that pace. But let me tell you, it’s plenty of effort to get this bucket moving that fast.

Oxygen — Once you have fully submersed the submarine, and the wooden balls in the conning tower tubes have sealed off the air supply, you will have approximately thirty minutes of air before needing to come up to the surface.

Bollox. 30 minutes ain’t long, so get as close as you can to your destination before you go under. Once you’re down below, it gets colder besides, and the gauges glow dimmer the colder it gets.

Gunpowder — You will construct a fresh package of gunpowder with each mission. The Turtle can facilitate a payload of more than one hundred pounds. Be sure to attach a charge timer long enough to make your escape before the package goes off.

If you can’t figure this out yourself, then I can’t help you.

Seaworthiness — The Turtle is made of oak, and carefully sealed for waterproofness. You will find it a relatively safe and not uncomfortable ride. Good luck, and may God smile on your mission.

If you’re using this after me, it means this little Turtle has held up fine. She’s a brave soul, a little rattletrap of a raft, so treat her nice. Now stop reading and get out there. You’ll be fine, if you’re not an idiot.

Read Lawrence Washington’s deathbed letter to his brother George.

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