Narratives of Shipwrecks of the Royal Navy; between 1793 and 1849 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 387 pages of information about Narratives of Shipwrecks of the Royal Navy; between 1793 and 1849.


The following account of the loss of the Apollo is taken almost verbatim from the narrative of Mr. Lewis, clerk of the ship, an eye-witness of the occurrence.  His narrative is too graphic to be suppressed:—­’On Monday, the 26th of March, 1804, His Majesty’s ship Apollo sailed from the Cove of Cork in company with the Carysfort, and sixty-nine sail of merchantmen under convoy, for the West Indies.  On the 27th, we were out of sight of land, with a fair wind blowing fresh from the west-south-west.  At eight o’clock on the evening of Sunday, the 1st of April, the wind shifted from south-west to south-east.  At ten o’clock, we up mainsail and set mainstay-sail.  At a quarter past ten, the mainstay-sail split by the sheet giving way.  All hands were called upon deck.  It blew strong and squally; we took in the foretop-sail and set the foresail.  At half-past eleven the maintop-sail split; furled it and the mainsail.  The ship was now under her foresails, the wind blowing hard, with a heavy sea.

’At about half-past three on Monday morning, April 2nd, the ship struck the ground, to the astonishment of every one on board, and by the last reckoning, we conjectured we were upon an unknown shoal.

’The vessel struck very heavily several times, by which her bottom was materially injured, and she made a great deal of water.  The chain pumps were rigged with the utmost despatch, and the men began to pump, but in about ten minutes she beat and drove over the shoal, and on endeavouring to steer her, they found her rudder was carried away.  The ship was then got before the wind, the pumps were kept going, but from the quantity of water shipped, there was every probability of her soon foundering, as she was filling and sinking very fast.

’After running about five minutes, the ship struck the ground again with such violent shocks, that we feared she would go to pieces instantly; however, she kept striking and driving further on the sands, the sea washing completely over her.  Orders were given to cut away the lanyards of the main and mizen rigging, when the masts fell with a tremendous crash over the larboard-side:  the foremast followed immediately after.  The ship then fell on her starboard-side, with the gunwale under water.  The violence with which she struck the ground and the weight of the guns (those on the quarter-deck tearing away the bulwarks) soon made the ship a perfect wreck abaft, and only four or five guns could possibly be fired to alarm the convoy and give notice of danger.

’On her drifting a second time, most pitiful cries were heard everywhere between decks; many of the men giving themselves up to inevitable death.  I was told that I might as well stay below, as there was an equal likelihood of perishing if I got upon deck.  I was, however, determined to go—­and attempted, in the first place, to enter my cabin, but I was in danger of having my legs broken by the chests floating about, and the bulkheads giving way.

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Narratives of Shipwrecks of the Royal Navy; between 1793 and 1849 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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