King's Cutters and Smugglers 1700-1855 eBook

Edward Keble Chatterton
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 351 pages of information about King's Cutters and Smugglers 1700-1855.

[Illustration:  The Schooner Spartan.

  1.  Hollow beam.
  2.  Opening for entering No. 3.
  3.  Place of concealment.]

One day about the middle of the last century a 16-ton Grimsby fishing-smack named Lord Rivers left her native port and journeyed south.  Her owner and master was in a dismal frame of mind, and complained to his mate that things were pretty bad, and he was becoming remarkably poor.  The fishing was not prospering so far as he was concerned, and so after thinking the matter over he was proposing to take the ship over to Boulogne and get a cargo of between thirty and forty gallons of spirits.  His mate heard what he had to say and agreed to go with him.  So to Boulogne they proceeded, where they purchased the spirits from a dealer, who brought the spirits on board, not in casks but in skins and bladders, making about fifty in all.  These were deposited in the smack’s hold, and she then cleared out of harbour and went to the fishing-grounds, where, to make matters appear all right, she remained twenty-four hours, for the purpose of obtaining some oysters by dredging.  Whilst on the fishing-grounds the spirits were stowed in a neat concealment at the stern of the vessel on both sides abaft the hatchway.  Before long the smack got going and ran into Dover with the oysters and her spirits, lowered her sails, and made everything snug.  In due course the bladders of spirits were got out of the hold in small numbers, and placed in baskets and covered over with a sufficiently thick layer of oysters to prevent their presence being detected.  These baskets were taken to a neighbouring tap-room, the landlord of which bought as much as he wanted, and a local poulterer bought the rest of the spirits and oysters as well.

[Illustration:  Deck Plan and Longitudinal Plan of the Lord Rivers (see Text).]

But the local Coastguard had for a long time been suspicious of this vessel, and evidently this was not her first voyage in the smuggling trade.  He had watched and followed the man who took the bladders ashore, and now came on board to see what he could find.  The deck plan will clearly convey to the reader the way in which the smack was fitted up with concealments.  The letters A and A indicate two portions of the deck planking, each portion being about a couple of feet long.  These were movable, and fitted into their places with a piece of spun-yarn laid into the seams, and over this was laid some putty blackened on the top.  At first sight they appeared to be part of the solid planking of the deck, but on obtaining a chisel they were easily removed.  There was now revealed the entrance to a space on each side of the rudder-case in the false stern capable of containing thirty or forty gallons of spirits.  This in itself was conclusive, but when the Coastguard also found that the putty in the seams was soft and fresh, and that a strong smell of spirits emanated from this cavity, it was deemed that there was more than adequate reason for arresting the smack even though the hold was quite empty.

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