Having read the latest Miniature Wargames magazine available in the newsagents (Issue 321, January 2010) I found a review for The Uncharted Seas. The review gave it a good thumbs up, and as the review writer wrote "With GW's Man O War a decade out of production, The Uncharted Seas is not only the only game in town, it's also - as Lennon said - worthy "in it's own write".
So armed with this information I've taken the plunge and ordered Firestorm Armada from my good supplier Phoenix Forge. I should receive these next week and will then contemplate what fleets to consider. But then I may very well just order one of each of the races fleet boxes and go from there.