Spithead is an area of the Solent strait between Hampshire, England and the Isle of Wight so named from a sandbank extending from the shore of Hampshire. Hornblower joins his first ship, HMS Justinian. here and acquires a reputation for being 'seasick in Spithead'.

HMS Hotspur is anchored at Spithead while fitting out for its mission to Brest as the Peace of Amiens comes to an end.

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