A British revenue cutter has chased down and is about to capture a smuggler in Freshwater Bay on the western end of the Isle of Wight. The prominent rocky outcropping known as The Needles provides an identifiable backdrop for the engagement. Dawson nicely fills the canvas with the action on a lively green ocean painted in his near-trademark loose brush style.
The action nears an end as the revenue cutter bears down on the hapless smuggler. The fleeing brigantine , apparently unarmed and with her sails already well holed from British shot, has taken a direct hit on her main boom, shattering it and causing her mainsail to lose most of its power. Surrounded by splashes from British near-misses, her situation deteriorates as the cutter swings upwind, bringing her port battery to bear, raking the smuggler's stern.
The Isle of Wight was a favored offloading place for smugglers transporting illicit goods across the English Channel. The British Navy and its fast fleet of revenue cutters maintained a constant patrol to intercept and impound both ships and cargoes from those smugglers unfortunately enough to be caught. Although such trade persisted during Dawson's lifetime and ours, it pales in comparison to the adventure of the days of sail.
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