Great Sea Stories eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 385 pages of information about Great Sea Stories.
Double breechings were rove on the guns, and they were further secured with tackles; and strong cleats nailed behind the trunnions; for we heeled over so much when we lurched, that the guns were wholly supported by the breechings and tackles, and had one of them broken loose it must have burst right through the lee side of the ship, and she must have foundered.  The captain, first lieutenant, and most of the officers, remained on deck during the whole of the night; and really, what with the howling of the wind, the violence of the rain, the washing of the water about the decks, the working of the chain-pumps, and the creaking and groaning of the timbers, I thought that we must inevitably have been lost; and I said my prayers at least a dozen times during the night, for I felt it impossible to go to bed.  I had often wished, out of curiosity, that I might be in a gale of wind; but I little thought it was to have been a scene of this description, or anything half so dreadful.  What made it more appalling was, that we were on a lee shore, and the consultations of the captain and officers, and the eagerness with which they looked out for daylight, told us that we had other dangers to encounter besides the storm.  At last the morning broke, and the look-out man upon the gangway called out, “Land on the lee beam!” I perceived the master dash his feet against the hammock-rails, as if with vexation, and walk away without saying a word, looking very grave.

“Up there, Mr. Wilson,” said the captain to the second lieutenant, “and see how far the land trends forward, and whether you can distinguish the point.”  The second lieutenant went up the main-rigging, and pointed with his hand to about two points before the beam.

“Do you see two hillocks, inland?”

“Yes, sir,” replied the second lieutenant.

“Then it is so,” observed the captain to the master, “and if we weather it we shall have more sea-room.  Keep her full, and let her go through the water; do you hear, quartermaster?”

“Ay, ay, sir.”

“Thus, and no nearer, my man.  Ease her with a spoke or two when she sends; but be careful, or she’ll take the wheel out of your hands.”

It really was a very awful sight.  When the ship was in the trough of the sea, you could distinguish nothing but a waste of tumultuous water; but when she was borne up on the summit of the enormous waves, you then looked down, as it were, upon a low, sandy coast, close to you, and covered with foam and breakers.  “She behaves nobly,” observed the captain, stepping aft to the binnacle, and looking at the compass; “if the wind does not baffle us, we shall weather.”  The captain had scarcely time to make the observation, when the sails shivered and flapped like thunder.  “Up with the helm; what are you about, quartermaster?”

“The wind has headed us, sir,” replied the quartermaster, coolly.

The captain and master remained at the binnacle watching the compass; and when the sails were again full, she had broken off two points, and the point of land was only a little on the lee-bow.

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Great Sea Stories from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.