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The naval blockade of Brest is one of the great untold stories of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. For over twenty years the Royal Navy maintained a fleet in all weathers, month after month, off one of the most dangerous coasts in the world. Nine days in ten the prevailing westerly wind tried its best to drive their ships onto the dangerous reefs and cliffs of Brittany. And on the tenth day, the wind would be favourable for the French fleet to come out of Brest.
Some of the ships spent more than a year on station, with all their needs, including water, food and clothes, being brought out to them from Plymouth. Later in the war, the navy occupied a few of the small islands off the coast that had been abandoned by the French. They grew fresh vegetables on most of them, and even dug wells to provide additional sources of fresh water.