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.

’I therefore desisted and endeavoured to get upon deck, which I effected after being several times washed down the hatchway by the immense body of water incessantly pouring down.  As the ship still beat the ground very heavily, it was necessary to cling fast to some part of the wreck to save oneself from being washed away by the surges, or hurled overboard by the concussions.  The people held on by the larboard bulwark of the quarter-deck and in the main chains.  The good captain stood naked upon the cabin skylight grating, making use of every soothing expression that suggested itself—­to encourage men in such a perilous situation.  Most of the officers and men were entirety naked, not having had time to slip on even a pair of trousers.

’Our horrible situation became every moment more dreadful, until at daybreak, about half-past four o’clock, we discerned land at two cables’ distance, a long sandy beach reaching to Cape Mondego, three leagues to the southward of us.  On daylight clearing up, we could perceive between twenty and thirty sail of the convoy ashore, both to northward and southward, and several of them perfect wrecks.  We were now certain of being on the coast of Portugal, from seeing the cape mentioned above,—­though I am sorry to say no person in the ship had the least idea of being so near the coast.  It was blowing very hard, and the sea was running mountains high, so that there was little hope of being saved.  About eight o’clock, the ship seemed likely to go to pieces, and the after part lying lowest, Captain Dixon ordered every one forward,—­a command it was difficult to comply with, from the motion of the mainmast working on the larboard gunwale, there being no other way to get forward.  Mr. Cook, the boatswain, had his thigh broken in endeavouring to get a boat over the side.  Of six boats not one was saved, all being stoved, and washed overboard with the booms, &c.

’Soon after the people got forward, the ship parted at the gangways.  The crew were now obliged to stow themselves in the fore-channels, and from thence to the bowsprit end, to the number of 220,—­for, out of the 240 persons on board when the ship first struck, I suppose twenty to have previously perished between decks and otherwise.  Mr. Lawton, the gunner, the first who attempted to swim ashore, was drowned; afterwards, Lieutenant Witson, Mr. Runice, surgeon, Mr. McCabe, surgeon’s mate, Mr. Staudley, master’s mate, and several men, were also drowned (though they were excellent swimmers), by the sea breaking over them in enormous surges.  About thirty persons had the good fortune to reach the shore upon planks and spars, amongst whom were Lieutenant Harvey and Mr. Callam, master’s mate.  On Monday night, our situation was truly horrible; the old men and boys were dying from hunger and fatigue; Messrs. Proby and Hayes, midshipmen, died also.  Captain Dixon remained all night upon the bowsprit.

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