Between nine and ten o’clock at night, the greater part of the crew, with the exception of those whose duty it was to be upon deck, had retired below, when the seaman in charge of the watch reported to the commander, Lieutenant Julius McDonnell, that it was very dark ahead. He instantly went upon deck, when the sound of surf breaking upon rocks was distinctly heard. The helm was put down, under the hopes of staying the vessel, but as the wind was light, and a heavy swell setting in at the time, she did not come round, but getting stern-way, struck with a shock which made every timber vibrate, and appeared to threaten instant destruction to the vessel. All were in a moment upon deck; the sweeps were got out on the larboard side, the best bower anchor let go, and the boats hoisted out, and ordered to sound, whilst the cutter was sent to carry out the stream anchor. The cable was then held taut, but snapped almost immediately: the best bower came home, and the small bower was let go. In the meantime, the wind had shifted to the northward, and was blowing in heavy squalls, and their small bower anchor, which was their sole dependence, came home.
Everything that could be done was put into practice to save the vessel, but all in vain; and when daylight broke, her commander saw that there was nothing now left him but to take measures for preserving the lives of the crew.
For this purpose, all the officers and men were set to work to construct rafts, as the boats were not sufficient to contain the whole of the crew. Between six and seven o’clock in the morning, one raft was completed, and the cutter and gig prepared to receive the men. The vessel was all this time rapidly breaking up; the bolts of her keelson and the stempost had started; the deck was broken in, and there was but little hope of her holding together many hours.
One officer, Mr. Nopps, the master’s assistant, had been placed in the cutter, to prevent the men from taking away anything save the clothes they had on. Eighteen were already in the boat, including Captain West (an engineer officer) and his son, and fifteen were mustered in the raft, which was lashed to the larboard of the wreck, when from some accident the raft got adrift, and was carried away by the current. This proved most unfortunate, as the raft was their great resource; and all on board of her would inevitably have perished, had not the cutter pushed out to their assistance. A rope was fastened to the raft, and they attempted to tow her back to the schooner; but as the cutter had only four oars, and the wind set so strong to the southward, they were unable to reach the schooner.