Here they received every attention that was necessary, and Mr. Rogers, the master of the Fly, accompanied by Mr. Nopps, was despatched in the Governor’s schooner to the assistance of the men who were left on the sand-bore, and of the others who were still supposed to be upon the wreck.
On the following Friday, the 6th of March, they reached the sand-bore, and having taken off the men, proceeded to the wreck, where they found only two men, from whom they learnt that Lieutenant McDonnell, and the rest of the people, had quitted the wreck two days previously. Pilot boats were then sent in search, and another party explored the coast; and after visiting Long Bay, without hearing any tidings, returned to Belize.
In the course of two days, a boat arrived with the eight men who had been with McDonnell, who reported that they had left that officer, almost dead, in the wood.
Mr. Nopps again departed in a pilot-boat in search of his commander, but when he reached Ambegris Cay, the boat was unable to beat up outside the breakers, and it came on to blow so violently during the night, that they were prevented from landing; the following day they were more successful, and Mr. Nopps walked up the coast. For two days his search proved useless, but on the third he had the pleasure of finding Mr. McDonnell still alive, in a hut, under the care of some Indians. After the lapse of two days, he was so far recovered as to be taken on board the pilot-boat, and arrived next morning at Belize Bay.
It would have been happy if all connected with the Firefly had been equally fortunate. The gig, which had been sent from the wreck to Belize for assistance, was found several days afterwards cast upon the beach, broken in two, and all in her must have perished.
Lieutenant McDonnell was promoted to the rank of commander in 1846, and at present is unemployed.
The Avenger, a steam frigate, with an armament of 6 heavy guns and 280 men, sailed from Gibraltar on the afternoon of the 17th of December, 1847. As her commander, Captain Charles G.E. Napier, was anxious to spare the coal, the steam was reduced to the least possible degree, leaving sufficient to work the wheels up to the rate of sailing. On Monday, the 20th, the steamer was running with square yards, at the rate of eight or nine knots an hour, steering about east by south, under double-reefed topsails and reefed foresail. At eight o’clock in the evening the usual watch was placed, with directions to keep a careful look-out. The night was dark and squally, with a high sea running, and occasionally loud peals of thunder were heard, accompanied with vivid flashes of lightning.