Ian Mclaughlan's new book, The Sloop of War: 1650-1763, is now available for pre-order in hardcover. It will be released on 30 November 2013 in the UK and on 15 July 2014 in the US.
This is the first study in depth of the Royal Navy's vital, but largely ignored small craft. In the age of sail they were built in huge numbers and in far greater variety than the more regulated major warships, so they present a particular challenge to any historian attempting a coherent design history. However, for the first time this book charts the development of the ancillary types, variously described in the 17th century as sloops, ketches, brigantines, advice boats and even yachts, as they coalesce into the single 18th-century category of Sloop of War.
In this era they were generally two-masted, although they set a bewildering variety of sail plans from them. The author traces their origins to open boats, like those carried by Basque whalers, shows how developments in Europe influenced English