The Royal Navy kept a constant blockade of French harbours, just outside artillery range, waiting for a French ship to sail close enough to be attacked. Admiral Cornwallis had a fleet off Brest (which included the Spartiate) and Admiral Keith possessed a fleet between the Downs and Selsey Bill.
A further line of British ships lay close to the English coast to intercept any French ships that broke through the blockade. The French were unwilling to venture out of their ports and so in the two years only nine flotilla ships had been captured or sunk by the Royal Navy.
During the end of December 1803 a violent storm blew Cornwallis’s fleet from Brest and it had to stay in Torbay, giving the French fleet two days opportunity to invade. Upon hearing this Addington gave orders to prepare for an imminent invasion, but the French never used this opportunity.
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