Imágenes de páginas

hastened to join the busy scene of active preparation.

22d. This morning at three o'clock the Britannia got under weigh, and finally proceeded on her voyage with a fine breeze from the N. E. On the approach of day we were still within sight of land, but it was rapidly receding from our view, and before noon had ceased to be discernible. ;

23rd. Spoke the Tullus Brig of London, from Pernambuco,-no news—the Britannia going from seven to nine and a half knots an hour, with the wind brisk from the N. E.

24th. This morning passed Ushant with a fresh northerly wind. The view of the fatal Point renewed our feelings of sorrow and commiseration for our hapless friends lost on board the Indian. . We had now entered the Bay of Biscay, so much the terror of fresh-water sailors, and indeed its present áppearance fully justified its

general character, for owing to the recent tempestuous weather, it was in a state of extreme agitation. The Britannia rolled excéssively, and shipped several heavy seas.

On this, and every day throughout the voyage (except when prevented by unfavourable weather) both officers and men were regularly exercised in the practice of artillery and small arms, in the morning and afternoon, and the proceedings and regulations in general on board were perfectly similar to those adopted in the British trans

port service.

25th. Cleared the Bay of Biscay, making good way in our course, with a brisk easterly wind, at the rate of from eight to ten knots an hour. This being Christmas-day, we endeavoured to make ourselves as happy and comfortable as circumstances would permit; but when I contrasted my present situation with that on previous similar anniversaries, the recollection of past happiness cast a deep shade over every enjoyment.

26th. Wind E. and by S.; light breezes ; ship going at the rate of from three to seven and a half knots.

27th. Proceeding favourably on our voyage. The only novel occurrence this day being the appearance of a large spermaceti

whale, which continued playing about the ship for 'nearly an hour, sometimes approaching close to the vessel. To the experienced mariner these extraordinary animals are too well known to attract particular attention ; but to me the sight, being new, was highly interesting, and I derived much entertainment from observing the awkward gambols of this mighty monarch of the deep.

28th. Diviné service was this day performed on the quarter-deck, after which Captain Sharpe and Mr. Ritchie dined at our mess. During the night we experienced a heavy gale from the S. E., but throughout the early part of the evening the agitated appearance of the atmosphere, and accumulation of black clouds to windward, had been sufficiently portentous to induce every preparation necessary to meet the approaching storm. The top-gallant sails were accordingly taken in, the ropes all cleared, and the watches told off to their respective quarters. The breeze continued gradually to increase until about twelve o'clock, when it assumed a most serious aspect, and at one

it blew so hard as to render it expedient to call all hands upon deck and get the ship under close-reefed top-sails. From this hour the storm continued to blow with unabated fury until four, when it became more moderate, and gradually died away. As it happened this night to be my midwatch upon deck, I was afforded an opportunity of witnessing in all its terrific sublimity the violence of the raging elements. The waves broke over the vessel in masses of white foam, which, through the darkness of the night, produced the grandest effect I ever beheld. For security from the fury of these breakers, I was obliged to lodge myself in a small aperture between the mizen-mast and the round-house, as I perceived it would be impossible for me to keep my legs, when even the sailors, notwithstanding the assistance of life-ropes, were washed from side to side of the ship, the motion of which was such at times as to create doubts of her again righting; a good fortune, for which we were probably sometimes indebted to the immense dead weight of ordnance-stores in her hold. Having,

in pursuance of Colonel Gilmore's orders, gone to report to him the situation of the ship, I found him making à precipitate retreat from the state room, dripping wet, the sea having forced itself through the scuttle, and inundated his bed; and my arrival was opportune to relieve him from the apprehensions excited by this false alarm. Notwithstanding the cessation of the storm, it was found necessary to continue working the pumps for a considerable time; whilst owing to the heavy swell of the sea, the vessel still laboured exceedingly.

Dec. 29th. Blowing fresh, and, in.consequence of the wind veering to the N. W., we were obliged to tack during the night. We this day observed that our fore-chains had been drawn during the preceding storm.

30th. A fine brisk gale throughout the morning from the N. W. In the afternoon the wind shifted to the N.; the ship, during the evening and night, going from eight to ten knots.

31st. Had a distant view of the island of Madeira, bearing E. and by S. about ten

« AnteriorContinuar »