King's Cutters and Smugglers 1700-1855 eBook

Edward Keble Chatterton
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 301 pages of information about King's Cutters and Smugglers 1700-1855.

The reader will remember considering some time back an open boat which was fitted with hollow stanchions under the thwarts, so that through these stanchions ropes might pass through into the water below.  I have come across a record of a smack registered in the port of London under the singularly inappropriate name of the Good Intent.  She was obviously built or altered with the sole intention of being employed in smuggling.  I need say nothing of her other concealments under the cabin berths and so on, as they were practically similar to those on the Asp.  But it was rather exceptional to find on so big a craft as the Good Intent a false stanchion immediately abaft the fore scuttle.  Through this stanchion ran a leaden pipe about two inches in diameter, and this went through the keelson and garboard strake, so that by this means a rope could be led through and into the vessel, while at the other end a raft of tubs could be towed through the water.  By hauling tightly on to this line the kegs could be kept beautifully concealed under the bilge of the vessel, so that even in very clear water it would not be easy to suspect the presence of these tubs.  The other end of this pipe came up through the ship until it was flush with the deck, and where this joined the latter a square piece of lead was tarred and pitched so as scarcely to be perceived.

There must indeed have been a tremendous amount of thought, as well as the expenditure of a great deal of time and money, in creating these methods of concealment, but since they dared not now to use force it was all they could do.

FOOTNOTES: 

[21] The cro’jack yard was really the lower yard of a full-rigged ship on the mizzen-mast, to the arms of which the clews or lower corners of the mizzen-topsail were extended.  But as sloops were fore-and-aft craft it is a little doubtful what is here meant.  Either it may refer to the barren yard below the square topsail carried by the sloops of those days—­the clews actually were extended to this yard’s arms—­or the word may have been the equivalent of what we nowadays call cross-trees.

CHAPTER XVII

SMUGGLING BY CONCEALMENTS

Second cousin to the method of filling oars and spars with spirits was that adopted by a number of people whose homes and lives were connected with the sea-shore.  They would have a number of shrimping nets on board, the usual wooden handles being fitted at one end of these nets.  But these handles had been purposely made hollow, so that round tin cases could be fitted in.  The spirits then filled these long cavities, and whether they caught many shrimps or not was of little account, for dozens of men could wade ashore with these nets and handles on their backs and proceed to their homes without raising a particle of suspicion.  It was well worth doing, for it was calculated that as much as 2-1/2 gallons of spirit could be poured into each of these hollow poles.

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King's Cutters and Smugglers 1700-1855 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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