How plausible was it for Napoleon to defeat the British Navy? Was it a close run thing, or was it very difficult? Did the close blockade of French ports make it impossible to train competent crew?
He can build the navy - but that navy cannot gain sufficient experience at sea to be of serious threat to RN blocking squadrons.
Couple of things to note - about 1808 to 1813 Wellingtons forces were based in Portugal and the French could have - and did - attempt to descend on Gibraltar and Cadiz at any point. Neither city fell. Now, you could target one of the Armies that had defeated Wellington (noting that after 1810 the Lines of Torres Vedras pretty much prevented France from expelling the British) at Gib; but Gib doesn't close the Med - it didn't prevent Villeneuve taking the Toulon squadron to its end at Trafalgar for example, and the RN Med squadron could use Sicily, Sardinia or Corsica as bases.What about the mediterran? In mean, if he crushes Wellington in Spain he could take Gibraltar and close the mediterran, this way the french navy would be able to train there
and the RN Med squadron could use Sicily, Sardinia or Corsica as bases
Gibraltar doesn't close off the Mediterranean though. It didn't stop the French coming out, it won't stop the British coming in.I agree that it would not crush their navies, but as you said
Yes, as bases, but they woudln't be able to send more ships there or to build new ships, the french could build a larger navy using the ports of Marselle and Barcelona and crush the british navy there by sheer numbers
You can take over Gibraltar, but without a better navy, how can you hold the straits against a more powerful attack? The straits are relatively thin, but it isn't Thermopylae. You do have to fight the enemy on the open ocean.What about the Mediterranean? In mean, if he crushes Wellington in Spain he could take Gibraltar and close the Mediterranean, this way the French navy would be able to train there
The blockade prevented the French ships gaining any experience sailing their technically superior ships (which the RN captured and commissioned into service - there's a reason so many of the RN ships have French names)
Painfully untrue? The RN of the time believed it - multiple Naval Chronicle reports and articles throughout the period talk about the qualitative superiority of the French 74s, and of the other French vessels.This is painfully untrue, French ships were by all accounts greatly inferior to their British built counterparts. Those captured and pressed into service in the Royal Navy required constant repair work and were disliked by their crews for their significantly poorer sea keeping abilities.
There is an article worth reading on the subject of the myth of French warships on Navweaps.
Gardiner has summed up the practical consequences of the French philosophy as follows: a. Light construction which may have given a slight advantage in speed when new. However, lack of strength led to rapid distortion of the hull, causing a loss of speed. b. A high speed in optimum conditions, usually on one point of sailing only. c. Less stability at large angles of heel and hence able to carry less sail in high winds but able to ‘ghost’ in light breezes. d. Relatively leewardly. e. Lower firepower than British ships of the same size.