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.

    That my friend, Jack or Tom, I should rescue from danger,
    Or lay down my life for each lad in the mess,
    Is nothing at all,—­’tis the poor wounded stranger,
    And the poorer the more I shall succour distress: 
      In me let the foe feel the paw of the lion,
      But, the battle once ended, the heart of a lamb.


[7] She proved to be an American, and she went to pieces during the night.


On Saturday, the 24th of November, 1804, the fleet under the command of Admiral the Hon. W. Cornwallis, lay at anchor in Torbay.  As it was late in the year, and the night dark and stormy, orders were given for the fleet to put to sea.

Unfortunately, in fishing the anchor of the Venerable, 74-gun ship, the fish-hook gave way, and a man was precipitated into the sea.  The alarm was immediately given, and one of the cutters was ordered to be lowered.  Numbers of the crew rushed aft to carry the orders into effect, but in the confusion, one of the falls was suddenly let go, the boat fell by the run, filled, and a midshipman and two of the crew were drowned.  In a few minutes another boat was lowered, which fortunately succeeded in picking up the man who first fell overboard.

Owing to this delay, the Venerable fell off considerably towards Brixham, and getting sternway, was unable to weather the Berry Head.  Every effort was made to stay her, but the ship refused; and, not having room to wear, she drove on shore, at the north part of the bay, on a spot called Roundem Head, near Paington.

Orders were given to cut away the masts, in the hopes of their falling between the ship and the shore.  This was found impracticable, as the ship, from her position on the declivity of the rock on which she struck, heeled to such an extent, as to render the falling of the masts in the desired direction quite impossible.

Her commander, Captain John Hunter, however, with undaunted fortitude, continued to animate the crew with hope, and encouraged them to acts of further perseverance, with the same calmness and self-possession as if he were simply conducting the ordinary duties of his ship.  From the moment the ship struck, not the least alteration took place in his looks, words, or manner; and everything that the most able and experienced seaman could suggest was done, but in vain.  On signals of distress being made, H.M. cutter Frisk, Lieutenant Nicholson, immediately stood towards her, and hailing to know in what manner she could be useful, was requested to anchor as near as possible to receive the crew, with which her commander immediately complied, assisted by the boats of the Goliath and Impetueux.

All hope of saving the Venerable being now abandoned, the only object that remained was to preserve the lives of the crew, who were told to provide for their own safety on board the boats which had been sent to their assistance, the captain and officers declaring their intention of remaining on board till all the men had quitted the wreck.

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