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thread, but so long as that thread remained intact a determined few worked on unceasingly. The engineer had not come up a minute too soon to save the ship. All the foremast plates were up, the fires low, the waters washing violently with the roll from side to side, by reason of the absence of wash-plates, until it sometimes cascaded over the head of the tallest man. It was a hard struggle, such as no one who has not been thus placed can comprebend. Just as a plate had nearly the last wedge inserted, a heavier lurch than usual would wash all up, or a chance sea, striking the quarter, make men pause, with mall in hand, as the hull shook under the blow. In the end, perseverance, as it often is, was crowned with success, and our hearts grew lighter on reaching the deck to perceive that the gale was breaking fast, the clouds hardening in the north-west, and that emblem of mercy, a brilliant rainbow, spanning the clearing horizon. If the designer and builder of the vessel could have been suddenly transported from their offices to the ship during this gale, how much they might have learned; but strong in self-confidence they take no heed of the counsel of experienced sailors and engineers. Our gallant neighbours, although failing to inherit that aptitude for the sea which stands out in such a marked manner in men of Saxon race, compel all naval architects in the Republican navy to serve a part of their time afloat. Is it too much to suggest that such a course of training for designers and builders of ships might possibly be of service to the Royal as well as the Mercantile Navy of this country?
It is no disparagement to the genius of one of the greatest of marine engineers of the age to say that had he had such experience, many ships which are now rotting idly at their moorings would never have been in frame, but these failures militate nothing against a fame so boldly and justly earned when other men stood aloof and hesitating.
During the winter of 1878-79 many grain-laden steamers disappeared, foundered at sea, and although the closing part of the latter year has not been marked by severe storms, Lloyd's books bear evidence that even under ordinary circumstances the list of the missing is increasing.
The following list of foundered or missing steamers alone was recently published in the columns of the Shipping Gazette, (viz.) Joseph Pease, Telford, Bevinna, Bayard, Yoxford, Roscommon, Capella, Tiara, Emblehope, Surbiton, Zanzibar and Homer. It would be interesting to look over the drawings of these vessels in order that the quantities of water held by certain culs-de-sac, might be gauged, to measure the heights of the port sills above the flat of the deck, and to calculate what amount of spare buoyancy was left at various levels. Valuable as ports unquestionably are, an undue importance is often attached to their capabilities, which may be briefly explained. A deeply laden vessel with her bulwarks full of water, when hove-to or listed over from any cause, brings the level of the sea up to, or beyond what it stands at within, thus keeping the port lids closed, or hanging in equilibrium, consequently there are occasions when they, at critical moments, do positive harm.
At some future time we may return to this important subject, and question the correctness of a formula which asserts that by increasing the beam of a long steamer to the proportions of safety, her mean speed would be diminished. In perfectly smooth water the law holds good. It is painful to note deck piled on deck, house piled on house, like unto an ancient caraval, save that while the stability of one was perfect, the other is often more than questionable, with grain cargoes during heavy weather. Legislation has effected all that the wise and good can do to save the lives of those “ who make the sea their profession ;” the remainder rests with the shipbuilder, the shipowner, and the great corporations who watch over both. In conclusion, we must emphatically repeat our certain conviction that no ordinary grain-laden steamer is, during the winter months on the Atlantic, safe without a spar-deck and a maintopsail.
A CONTRIBUTION FROM AN OLD FRIEND.
ARLY get your boys to cultivate an orderly habit, showing them the place for everything, and insisting upon their keeping everything in its place. A little
extra pains taken at the commencement will do them good and save yourself much future annoyance. Do not keep them all the time cleaning brass work, &c., but trust them early with little bits of rigging and sail work, the spoiling of which cannot do much harm; they will all the sooner become valuable assistants to you,
See that they keep their persons, clothes, and lodgings clean. It is your duty to see that they are taught (in due time) all the details of their profession. Any disinclination to learn on their part will not release you from your moral responsibility. Be strict and firm, while trying to shield them from everything that you now can see was wrong in the treatment you received when an apprentice, and do not expect too much from “ boys."
So much could be said about the way to treat men, that I had better do nothing more than reassert the value of setting them a good example. Anger blazing in your eyes will most certainly reflect itself in theirs. Let them see you extravagant, indolent, and dissatisfied, and they will readily follow your example.
Be yourself obedient, diligent, active, cheerful, and considerate, and they will approximate towards the same desirable qualities as quickly as their previous education and such short notice will allow. You will meet with many who will try your patience, men upon whom kindness seems to make no impression, but even these men may do you good, if you so will it, and assist you to keep a proper control over your temper. You will have to strive hard to avoid altering your conduct because of anything they may do or say—a very difficult task I will allow, but still a very necessary
Do not ever be tempted to "work up" such men, neither allow one iota of the work that they should perform to devolve
upon the quiet, well-conducted men. A quiet, firm, persistent determination to do your duty must tell upon even these men, who after all are “ somebody's bairns," and are never past reclaiming. Avoid using threats and never resort to physical force until required for self-defence, which I can pretty safely promise will never be the case if you acquire the spirit I am striving to incalcate. People are astonished at the apparently light sentences sometimes passed upon seamen for offences against discipline. They do not, perhaps, consider that the officer's conduct has sometimes “led up" to the offence, and has been taken into account by the magistrate. But at sea as on shore, there are men who must be punished, and while avoiding frivolous complaints, no serious refusal or neglect of duty should be kept from the captain's knowledge. Misplaced leniency to such men is cruelty to those whom they influence by their example.
It is very important that you get your men into a way of relieving watches quickly; this can only be done by example, and it does not speak well for a chief officer's energy if the captain is worried with the conviction that he cannot depend upon having his motive power “under command" in less than fifteen or twenty minutes, which is now sometimes the case. The watch ought never to be longer than five minutes in mustering, nor take half that time to get on deck in case of emergency.
Visit the look-out frequently. Officers are liable to teach men (by their conduct) that if they are awake that is all that is required of them. It is a fatal mistake, and you cannot too frequently or urgently impress them with the importance of looking out.
I was in one of two ships that collided in an unfrequented part of the Western Ocean in 1862. We had not seen a ship for three days previously, and it was a mercy we were spared to see another, for we were fearfully crippled, and had to lash and nail a tarred sail over the hole which the other made. When she reported herself, midnight had just struck, but the watch had not been relieved, and the look-out man was on the forecastle. The officer of the watch had hove the log, and gone below to mark the slate, instead of waiting until he was relieved to do so.
On another occasion, a dark, clear, but windy night, in the
“ Chops of the Channel,” oaths and curses, loud and deep, in strange voices, first reported to our captain in his cabin the vicinity of a strange ship, and the two swiftly moving masses grazed each other and separated almost before we knew our danger. At this time (7 p.m.) the officer of the watch was vigorously pacing the poop, and two men (looking out-spinning yarns) on the forecastle. Never allow any but the look-out man on the forecastle after dark.
We never value our health till we find it leaving us, and the importance of the value of time increases as we find ourselves drawing near the end of it (“ what our contempt doth oft hurl from us, we wish it ours again.") Similar thoughtlessness causes us more heedlessly to risk our lives in youth than later in life, and while realising the impossibility of putting old heads on young shoulders, I should like my younger brother to dwell upon the fact, that the lives of those with them are always dependent upon their vigilance.
The safety of the ship is of paramount importance, and all that bears upon it should be thoughtfully considered and provided for, therefore the ability as well as inclination of each member of your crew should be studied, for some men are very near-sighted, and would not see a vessel twenty yards off at night. Moonlight, strange as it may appear, is a dangerous time, for a ship's sails coincide so exactly with the moonlight (at some angles), that a vessel may easily be within a quarter of a mile of you without you being the least aware of her proximity. At such times, side-lights are apt to be neglected, and it is well to “sweep the horizon” occasionally with binoculars.
Two vessels left their discharging port for a coal port to load, both being in ballast. An intimate acquaintance of my own commanded one (a brig), myself the other (a barque).
At 5 p.m. on the second day out the brig bore for me, as on the port tack. He stood in for the land, distant about eight miles. We had a brisk contrary wind, and there was not another vessel of any kind to be seen. At 6 p.m. (dark) I put my vessel on the port tack, knowing that at the same time the brig would be put on the starboard tack.
At 7 p.m. we sighted her red light on the lee bow. I knew we