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

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 346 pages of information about Narratives of Shipwrecks of the Royal Navy; between 1793 and 1849.

Early in January, 1807, H.M. ship Flora, of 36 guns, under the command of Captain Otway Bland, had been cruizing off the Texel, for the purpose of reconnoitring the ships of the enemy.  This object having been effected, they shaped a course towards Harlingen, the captain ordering the pilots not to run the slightest risk, but to give the sands of the island sufficient berth, so as not to endanger the Flora; and so often did he reiterate these instructions, that the pilots appeared hurt that their nautical skill and knowledge of the track should be doubted.  However, to the astonishment of all on board, and to the dismay of the pilots, the ship took the ground, and struck on the Shelling Reef, about noon on the 18th of January.  It was only just past high water when she struck, and there was therefore no chance of getting her off till the next tide.  In the meantime all weight was removed from aloft, and the topmasts were lowered over the side, to shore her up.  Towards evening the wind increased to a gale, and a heavy swell came on, which prevented their getting out a bower anchor, although a raft was made for the purpose; but the night became so dark, and the sea so rough, they were obliged to relinquish the attempt, and resolved to wait with patience for high water, lightening the vessel as much as possible, by starting the water, and heaving most of the shot and other heavy articles overboard.  All hands took their turn at the pumps, and worked vigorously; yet the water gained rapidly upon the vessel:  this was partly attributable to her having struck amidships, and having a hole through her bottom, instead of her side, to supply the cistern.  At about nine o’clock P.M., she began to heave, but as the tide made, the wind freshened, the sea rose, and she brought home the stream anchor, backed by the kedge, and forged on the sand.  At half-past nine o’clock, a last effort was made to get her off, by letting go a bower anchor with a spring abaft, which brought her head round.  They then made all sail and forced her over the reef.  The ship once more floated in deep water:  but this object was not attained without a most serious loss.  The rudder had been carried away, and with it the launch and the jolly-boat, so that only one anchor and the worst boat were left for service.  After those moments of breathless anxiety, and after giving utterance to a short but fervent expression of thankfulness that they had got clear of the reef, the men, almost worn out as they were, by so many hours of continued labour, again betook themselves to the pumps, in hopes of keeping the water under until they could reach an English port.  But in spite of every exertion, in spite of continued bailing and pumping, and though a thrumbed sail was under the ship’s bottom, the water gained to eight feet.  As the danger increased, so did the vigour of the men.  All was order, energy, and steady obedience throughout.  The captain perceiving that it would be impossible to keep the vessel much longer afloat, gave orders

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