Journal Volume 5 2006

Log for 1860 (continued/2)

The other man, alias Shifting Jimmy, who was in the main Chains, was hit by the main Jack, as it was swinging about, and sent overboard backwards,  Of course the usual cry was heard directly of ’Man Overboard’. The first thing that is done is to let go the Life Buoy, then ‘Heave the Ship too’ which took about ten minutes. We were going about ten knots per hour at the time, so he would have been about two or three miles astern in that time, and to make it worse it was a very cloudy night with a very heavy sea on. In fact I never thought he would have been found. The life boat was lowered directly the ship was ’heave too’ and they must have been tossed about. I heard that the life boat’s crew could not see anything of him for twenty minutes or so but they did so at last, and he had hold of the Life Buoy. The Life Buoy is always charged at evening hours, therefore it strikes on being let off at night and causes a match to light on it which keeps in.  After he was brought on board he was ordered to go to the Master where he was treated with some rum to warm his stomach. I heard Jimmy say he should have been eaten by up by the Cape Pigeons and other birds while he was upon the Buoy, and to make it worse than all, he was on the Buoy the wrong way, through which he was turning summersaults in the water all the time he was on. If you can get properly on to it, it will ride with you very freely. The Life Buoy we had was composed of two large hollow iron balls which were at the extremity of an iron rod and from the centre of this rod was a perpendicular rod which was about two foot long and had at the top an iron rod running diagonally with the other.

As we had approached the Cape the wind gradually increased, and on the 2nd July it blew very hard with sudden squalls. It made some of us think of the next world but I found the best plan would be to keep my spirits up. On the 3rd of July the weather was more wind being higher and rougher sea on. The sea was like mountains rolling about. It was then I began to think of my father’s words about his passage to India. He used to tell me he had seen waves ‘mountain high’. Sometimes during the night they piped ‘hands save ship’ as our starboard  bulwarks were skimming much water, and had it not been for the energy and the good judgement of one of the Quarter Masters we would have very probably gone down, but he gave the wheel a turn which put her upright again, after which he shortened sail. It would not have occurred if there had been less canvas on, but fancy having all sails set in a gale of wind. But I have heard if old Harry Keppel did not feel the water in his bedroom he would not shorten sail. We lost four Quarter Boats, they were washed off by the waves and a great part of our fore bulwarks were carried away too. It was the most miserable night I have ever witnessed, as in the first place I had no sleep and in the next she was rolling about so, that I thought I should have been lamed every minute with mishaps. With all the rolling about all our plates were broke but fortunately we had some Armstrong plates and basins left. These Armstrong basins and plates are made up largely for the Navy being made of iron and a sort of glazed stuff on the outside. We had to heave the ship too because we were so close to land. We would have gone in to-day only it was so rough and it would have been night before we would have gone in.

On the morning of July the 4th the weather looked rather favourable, the wind having abated and the sea also. I can assure you that I was frightened last night, for every time she rolled over, you would have imagined she was going down and it was impossible to walk on deck. You might venture, but you would have to risk being hurt, as I went along the main deck I had to catch hold of the hammock hooks. There was a French Bargue in sight about 7 a.m. She looked rather shaky. We got into Simon’s Bay about 9.30 a.m. There was the ‘Boscaner’ Flag Ship (74 Guns) in when we arrived, the ship we are going to relieve. She having being her period of three years out. The Admirals name was Grey, some relation of the Governor. The Governor went ashore directly we got in, and I expect he would make his way the next day for the Cape.

On July the 5th at 8 a.m. the usual salute was fired according to the rank of each Admiral. On the forenoon of the 7th July the ‘Boscaner’ sailed for England from Simon’s Bay. The ‘Boscaner’ is a line of battle ship of 74 Guns and an old sailing vessel. H.M. Ship ‘Forte’ took up her moorings shortly after she left. On the 8th the band went ashore to play at the Admiral’s House and continued to do so while we remained in Simon’s Bay, with the exception of a few nights.

On the 16th Admiral Keppel removed from his own ship to H.M. Ship ‘Brisk’ for the purpose of going his rounds on the East coast of Africa. He took his galley’s crew and band with him. The ‘Brisk’ was a corvette of 22 Guns (Capt. de Horsey). The Brisk sailed the same day. On the 21st she arrived at East London (Buffalo Bay) and sailed from there the same day.

On the 26th we arrived at Algod Bay. On the 27th at 5 a.m. there was a fishing party sent ashore, consisting of a man from each (sailors’) mess (and marines) with four of five bandsmen - I was one myself. There were a midshipman and a master’s asst. also with us. They brought the seine and a Boat compass with them for fear we should require it.


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