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Islands.—While running to the southward along the west side of the island Masbate, contiguous to the straits of St. Bernardino, I discovered a dangerous sandbank with surrounding shoal. It was first seen from the masthead, bearing S.W.b.S. distant 6 or 7 miles, and we approached the west side in passing to within a mile and a half. This bank bears W.S.W. from Gato Isle or Rock distant about 7 or 8 miles, and 9 miles distant from the nearest part of Masbate, small, the dry part not above 200 feet in length, including the shoal on each side not more than half or three-quarters of a mile any way, clear blue water between it and the main island, and elevated about the height of a boat, therefore a ship without a lookout aloft, would pass very near without discerning it. S.b.W. from the sandbank and distant 9 or 7 miles we passed a patch of shoal water, the depth on which I am unable to state, but from the colour think it dangerous. From here we hauled off to the westward and then were met by an extensive reef about ten miles from the Sibuyan shore, part of which was breaking. I was not near enough to this reef to ascertain the size of it, but within our masthead view the green water was geen extending considerably to the south-west of that part on which the sea broke, this being the east end, and bearing east from the body of Sibuyan, distant ten miles as stated.
Also observed a reef off the north-west side of Sibuyan, distant about a mile, having blue water within it. Until seeing these unknown dangers I intended to have passed by this route to the Mindoro Sea. With the exception of the common track from the Straits of St. Bernardino to the Straits of Manila, these seas are most imperfectly known.
The Island Gesta Del Gallo of Norie's Chart, omitted in Horsburgh's, has existence.
MEROPE SHOAL, Straits of Mindoro.--Cruising in the Straits of Mindoro, and standing to the E.S.E. (sun ahead) got suddenly into shoal water, coral rocks under the bottom, and evidently not far from the keel, wore immediately, got two casts of the lead in five fathoms, then seven, and no bottom. Sent a boat to examine it, returned, having found no less than seven fathoms, but they overhauled it very imperfectly. As we did not påss over this shoal but stood back in the direction we went on, I know not whether there may be less water than the five fathoms. It lies W.N.W. from Appo large island, with the trees on said island just visible at an elevation of 16 feet, estimating the island to be 25 feet, will give about ten miles distant, which from the appearance I should consider to be near the truth.
This shoal must be small as I had previously passed many times between it and the reef and did not observe it, quite steep to on the west side, when seven fathoms were obtained in the gangway, no soundings under the bows.
(This is the same shoal as that reported in our last volume, p. 286, and alluded to in the preceding page; and the Marshall Bennet is, perhaps, one of The “ London Whalers" alluded to.-Ed.]
EUROPA Light, Gibraltar.-An additional section of the range of light shewn from this lighthouse has been opened from the 25th of April, which renders it visible from Sandy Bay on the Algesiras coast to the mouth of the River Palmones. It is spoken of in high terms as to its brilliancy.
UNDERWRITERS, SALVAGE, SHIP-MASTERS, AND SHIPWRECKS. The annals of former times, not fifty years ago, will exhibit no such heartrending scenes, as have recently in almost every day's recurrence, blanched the cheeks of humanity, losses of life and property were then comparatively few, they are now of daily occurrence ; yet the science of navigation is infinitely better understood, and practical seamanship more generally diffused, whilst the calamities at sea are fearfully increased, as if the advancement of skill and knowledge instead of a blessing, had become an actual curse.
This anomaly can only be explained by examining into the causes which have influenced and produced it; amongst the first are the malpractices of many Underwriters of the present day, who are no longer the men of high honour and integrity which graced Lloyd's iu former times; it is now well known that there is neither certainty or safety in an insurance Lloyd's (where each individual risk ranges from £100 to £200 only,) when a loss has accrued, too many of the Underwriters o longer feel themselves bound by the intent and equitable interpretation of the terms of their bonds; often so many as 200 of them are on one ship and cargo, and the insured is exposed to the whims, objects, prejudices, delays, and interests of those Underwriters, who, influenced by any of these considerations, subscribe to a joint fund, for the purpose of employing a lawyer to find or make a flaw in the policy, or to raise legal quibbles and trust to the laws uncertainty, and its delay. In the mean time the insured party is unjustly harrassed with law proceedings, his character frequently assailed without cause, and possibly ruined by the delays which have been interposed. The masters and part of the crew are often tampered with, and made witnesses against their employers, when frequently they become initiated in scenes of trickery, which render them selfish and dishonest men for the residue of their lives; so that in point of fact the practice of evasion degrades the entire body of Underwriters, debases and demoralizes the shipmasters, who ought to be, and formerly, were, the trusty guardians of the Shipowners property, and of the public interests confided to their charge.
In this manner crime begets crime, the dishonesty of the Underwriters frequently reacts against themselves, whilst the shipmasters (with a few honourable exceptions) prey alike upon the Underwriters, and their employers. The absence of the high character which once distinguished Lloyd's, has recently given rise to some Joint Stock Marine Insurance Companies, most of whom conduct their business upon fair and equitable principles, there is however one of recent origin, the N Marine Company, who in their constitution have adopted a quibble worthy of imitation at Lloyd's; it is carefully concealed from the public, but ought to be generally known, for its principle is manifestly unjust, and dangerous to the assured. By the constitution of this Company, if a Broker or Agent effect an insurance in their office, and after paying the amount of premium, indorses the same to his principal, declaring therein that the sole interest was and is for the Indorsee who is the bona fide proprietor, and notwithstanding that the body of the policy written by the office, expressly states the same to be effected
by Agent, yet this office will not pay under their own policy to the principal, but compels the claimant to demand or sue through the Agent or Broker, although it may happen that such Agent or Broker is bankrupt or out of the kingdom, or positively refuse to do so, from private interested motives, and in consequence of this private regulation in the constitution of the Company, the principal on whose behalf the Insurance was effected and whose money paid the premium, is left entirely at the mercy of the Agent, Broker, and Underwriters on the policy, and cannot even put the parties under cross-examination, should they or the Company's officer have mal-worded or varied the orders of the Insured: for what equitable purpose I would ask, has such an undue stipulation been introduced into the constitution of this Company?
I now proceed with illustrations to support my arguments, and for the purpose of exemplifying my suggestions and reasons, why it is imperative on the existing Committee to have an equivalent amount of testimony from Shipowners and Merchants who are not underwriters, and insurance-brokers, the motto of these gentlemen being, no losses no premiums, viz., without the occurrence of occasional losses, and which bear no proportion in the aggregate, parties would not be incited to insure, whilst the very object of parliamentary inquiry is to give freedom and security to commerce, and by placing the maritime interests of this country upon as secure and efficient a basis as that of the navy, to permit with equal safety those who so choose to run their own risks of the sea.
That the evils and losses complained of should exist in the merchant service, of this great maritime power, and beyond those of foreign nations, and in fact to any further degree than in our own navy, is a disgrace to the Legislature, and until they shall have remodelled and simplified all the laws relating to shipping, and have given the owners as much power, protection, and easy redress, &c., as in the naval service, there is certain loss or ruin to all who (except the owner be also master) shall own a vessel of less tonnage than 300.
In the January number of your Magazine, I took a review of the Laws of Doctors Commons regarding salvage and shipping interests, I advert thereto for the purpose of briefly shewing why the existing Parliamentary Committee on Shipwrecks, should avail of their present labours to frame a bill for Parliamentary revision of the jurisdiction of that Court, in respect of marine matters.
1st. No seaman should be permitted to place the ship under arrest, from that Court for wages claimed, until the owner had been summoned before a magistrate, and if the latter do not think fit to decide it, he shall have the power of sending the matter to the superior court. In support of this reasoning I cite three cases, A, and I give transcription of letter B, from one of the apprentices of another vessel, not dilated upon, the “ Susan.” The expenses incurred by this master in Rio and charged upon his brig of 180 tons only, were £1050, whereof but £290 could be recovered from the Underwriters, to whom the sum of 200 guineas had been paid for their twelve months' insurance on the vessel.
2nd. For the reasons set forth in last January number, I urge that not more than one half the net amount of any salvage shall go amongst the entire ship's company, and that the owner shall have the right to
apportion snch money, upon which if any dissatisfaction be felt, the aggrieved may summon before a magistrate, who only, as in the case of wages, shall have the power to send it to the superior court, and in support of this, I will also cite a case C.
The Haidee with a valuable cargo, was stranded at the Cape de Verds, and according to the evidence, from inattention somewhere, but not of the master's that I am aware of, or will presume to say. Her rudder was unshipped, and some other damage done to her bottom; the Mary Ann being at hand with a large crew and four boats, rendered prompt aid in transhipping cargo, &c., and ultimately succeeded in getting the Haidee off, (during which period of 30 hours, the Mary Ann was left a quarter of a mile distant, in an exposed bay, with one passenger and a boy only on board,) pending the 10 days occupied in refitting, &c. of the Haidee, the cooper, carpenter, crew, boats, materials, &c., &c., of the Mary Ann were freely employed, with the wages, provisions, delay, danger, &c., all at the expense and loss of the owner of the Mary Ann, several of the crew of which latter vessel on arriving at Monte Video, deserted, contrary to their articles, thereby forfeiting wages and claims.
On behalf of himself and such of the crew and apprentices as returned in the Mary Ann to England, the owner entered proceedings in the Court of Doctors Commons for salvage, the owners of the Haidee having refused to offer any amount of compensation, but pending the proceedings the owners of the Haidee or their proctor seek the Captain of the Mary Ann (who had long been discharged from that vessel, and out on bail, upon charge of felony, &c.,) nevertheless the proctor for the Haidee secretly obtains an affidavit from him, and sub rosa compromises for £150, the claim of the parties under the pending suit; which subsequently came to the ears of the proctor of the Mary Ann, who knowing it to be illegal, (and holding besides that master's letter, and vouchers sent from the Cape de Verds, as well as the written authority of the entitled crew and owner's apprentices) took no trouble to prepare an affidavit relative to the conditions of the Ship's Articles and other facts.
Upon the case going into Court a mass of irrelevant and undue matter was put in, sworn to by the late master (then having been tried and sentenced to transportation,) by one of the mates, (who had been discharged for participation, incompetency, fraud, perpetual drunkenness, &c., and being in that state at the time of the salvage,) and by a poor black seaman, all in diminution of salvage services and slander; though having given their evidence and authorities in writing to the owner and proctor of the Mary Ann: the award of that court was that the crew take three-fourths of the gross amount, (and entitling even those to participate who were useless from drink, as well as those who had deserted their ship and violated their articles, causing their owner loss and expense for and by having to pay double wages, for bad substitutes in a foreign port,) leaving but one-fourth to pay ship's delay, wages and keep, waste, wear and tear of boats, materials, risks, trouble and expenses in port, arid in and out of court; and for the use and danger of his vessel, and her insurance whilst so irrelevantly neglected, by and for the interests of the master and crew, to whom the court
hold such preferential temptations to run risks and to do wrongs upon their owner, and to set him and his equitable rights and power of control, &c., at defiance even when at home!
The owner has too little power, the master too much in such matters as these. The master should no longer be omnipotent ashore, to the injury of his owner or others; but should be in the position to be called by owner and crew, and subjected to cross-examination by both. A more comprehensive and conclusive form for Ships' Articles should be established to protect and aid the owner, and bind the master and crew.
The case of the “ Galston," wrecked in Valentine Bay, Terra del Fuego, in 1841, is a most remarkable one from first to last, and if fully set forth and investigated would tend to corroborate my previous assertion, “ that the present system of awarding salvage is a premium for shipwrecks, --for endangering more property, for encouraging desertion and insubordination of master and crew;" and my present declarations that the interests of owners and underwriters are not reciprocal, that masters are benefited by shipwreck, and can and do aid each otber therein and thereby; and that the underwriters as a body are not interested in altering the law of salvage or of master; nor in effecting salvage at all, beyond seizing what may have been saved at the expense of others; nor in the general conduct of the master; nor as to waste, or neglect, or his abominations in repairing of damages, or in raising bottomries. The underwriters admit alone the most obvious necessaries for the repair of the ship only, and then pay only for two-thirds thereof; thus, it will be found that in the owner, having to bear onethird of what repairs the underwriters will admit, of all that they will not admit, and in addition thereto port charges, pay and keep of master and crew, with other incidentals and prodigalities, and the premium paid to the underwriters on the total value of his insurance ; that his said insurance is a delusion, unless the captain make a total loss or a salvage case of it, for some friend. The underwriters, are not interested in seeking into cause and effect, or results to owners, they rely on the law, on the loose wording of the policies, the doubtful interpretation thereof, the deviations and vitiations by the masters, and their neglects and irregularities from ignorance, &c., or from believing the owner insured, viz. when they do reflect at all!
I am satisfied that if the details of the Proposed Bill be not too lenient, and Captain Fitzroy's proposed exemption clause be expunged, and the character, integrity, &c., of the masters and mates constitute equally a point in their qualifications, and my proposed log and journal made legal proof, (not thereby to exclude vivâ voce evidence,) then premiums will come down 25 per cent. and 50 per cent.
If these animadversions should be the means of enlightening some who are not quite au courant, of aiding to secure ample powers to the contemplated boards of examiners, of lessening the necessities for insurances, of promoting an inquiry into and simplication of Doctors' Commons law, and of removing the present powers from rapacious proctors and needy alongshore attorpies, I shall have obtained the object of my labors.
Having in the above given but a faint outline of some few only of