The next morning (31st), the Proserpine was got under weigh, and proceeded up the river, having the Prince of Wales packet, which had accompanied her from Yarmouth, standing on ahead.
At four o’clock in the afternoon, when they were within four miles of Cuxhaven, the weather became very thick, and some snow fell, so that Captain Wallis was obliged to anchor.
At nine o’clock, P.M., the wind changed to east by south, blowing a violent gale, accompanied by a heavy fall of snow, which made it impossible to see beyond a few feet from the ship; and what was still worse, the tide and the wind brought such large masses of ice against the ship, that, with all hands upon deck, it was with the greatest difficulty they prevented the cables being cut, and were able to preserve their station till daylight.
By eight o’clock next morning, the flood tide had carried up most of the ice, and left a passage clear below the ship, while all above it was blocked tip. The Prince of Wales packet had gone on shore during the night; and, warned by her fate, Captain Wallis determined to retreat out of the Elbe. Mr. Grenville was very anxious to be put on shore as speedily as possible, his mission being of much importance; but the river was so completely blocked up above them, that there seemed no possibility of effecting a landing at Cuxhaven: Captain Wallis therefore got his ship under weigh, and stood out to sea, intending to land Mr. Grenville on the nearest part of the coast of Jutland, if it were practicable.
The pilots were congratulating the captain on the frigate’s getting safely out of the river, and clear of the sands, and the people had been allowed to go to breakfast, on the supposition that all danger was past, when the vessel struck upon Scharborn Sand, with Newark Island bearing south by east, at half-past nine o’clock, A.M.
As it was blowing a very strong gale of wind, the Proserpine struck with great force, though she carried no other canvass than her foretopmast stay-sail. Upon sounding there was found to be only ten feet of water under the fore part of her keel.
The boats were immediately lowered to carry out an anchor, but the ice was returning upon them so fast that this was found impossible, and the boats were hoisted on board again. All hands were then employed to shore the ship up, and make her heel towards the bank, to prevent her falling into the stream, which would have been certain destruction. Happily this object was effected; for as the tide ebbed, she lay towards the bank.