VIEW THE MOBILE VERSION of www.seastories.ca Informational Site Network Informational
Privacy
  Home - Stories - Sea Monsters

Sea Stories

A Ship On Fire At Sea
"What is it?" I exclaimed; "what can it be?" She p...

A Tornado At Sea
"What was my horror when I saw the quicksilver had su...

Loss Of H B M Ship La Tribune Off Halifax Nova Scotia
La Tribune was one of the finest frigates in his Maje...

The Loss Of The Royal George
I am not likely to forget that next morning, the 28th...

El Dorado
The night had fallen over the harbour before the ...

Spanish Bloodhounds And English Mastiffs
When the sun leaped up the next morning, and the ...

Docks And Shipbuilding

Having in the previous chapters treated of the subje...

Read More





Account Of The Loss Of His Majesty's Ship Phoenix






The Phoenix of 44 guns, Capt. Sir Hyde Parker was lost in a hurricane,
off Cuba, in the West Indies, in the year 1780. The same hurricane
destroyed the Thunderer, 74; Stirling Castle, 64; La Blanche, 42;
Laurel, 28; Andromeda, 28; Deas Castle, 24; Scarborough, 20; Beaver's
Prize, 16; Barbadoes, 14; Cameleon, 14; Endeavour, 14; and Victor, 10
guns. Lieut. Archer was first-lieutenant of the Phoenix at the time
she was lost. His narrative in a letter to his mother, contains a most
correct and animated account of one of the most awful events in the
service. It is so simple and natural as to make the reader feel
himself as on board the Phoenix. Every circumstance is detailed with
feeling, and powerful appeals are continually made to the heart. It
must likewise afford considerable pleasure to observe the devout
spirit of a seaman frequently bursting forth, and imparting sublimity
to the relation.

At Sea, June 30, 1781.

MY DEAR MOTHER,

I am now going to give you an account of our last cruise in the
Phoenix; and must premise, that should any one see it besides
yourself, they must put this construction on it--that it was
originally intended for the eyes of a mother, and a mother only--as,
upon that supposition, my feelings may be tolerated. You will also
meet with a number of sea-terms, which, if you don't understand, why,
I cannot help you, as I am unable to give a sea description in any
other words.

To begin then:--On the 2d of August, 1780, we weighed and sailed for
Port Royal, bound for Pensacola, having two store-ships under convoy,
and to see safe in; then cruise off the Havana, and in the gulf of
Mexico, for six weeks. In a few days we made the two sandy islands,
that look as if they had just risen out of the sea, or fallen from the
sky; inhabited, nevertheless, by upwards of three hundred English, who
get their bread by catching turtle and parrots, and raising
vegetables, which they exchange with ships that pass, for clothing and
a few of the luxuries of life, as rum, &c.

About the 12th we arrived at Pensacola, without any thing remarkable
happening except our catching a vast quantity of fish, sharks,
dolphins, and bonettos. On the 13th sailed singly, and on the 14th had
a very heavy gale of wind at north, right off the land, so that we
soon left the sweet place, Pensacola, at a distance astern. We then
looked into the Havana, saw a number of ships there, and knowing that
some of them were bound round the bay, we cruised in the track: a
fortnight, however, passed, and not a single ship hove in sight to
cheer our spirits. We then took a turn or two round the gulf, but not
near enough to be seen from the shore. Vera Cruz we expected would
have made us happy, but the same luck still continued; day followed
day, and no sail. The dollar bag began to grow a little bulky, for
every one had lost two or three times, and no one had won: this was a
small gambling party entered into by Sir Hyde and ourselves; every one
put a dollar into a bag, and fixed on a day when we should see a
sail, but no two persons were to name the same day, and whoever
guessed right first was to have the bag.

Being now tired of our situation, and glad the cruise was almost out,
for we found the navigation very dangerous, owing to unaccountable
currents; we shaped our course for Cape Antonio. The next day the man
at the mast head, at about one o'clock in the afternoon, called out:
"A sail upon the weather bow! Ha! Ha! Mr. Spaniard, I think we have
you at last. Turn out all hands! make sail! All hands give chase!"
There was scarcely any occasion for this order, for the sound of a
sail being in sight flew like wild fire through the ship and every
sail was set in an instant almost before the orders were given. A
lieutenant at the mast head, with a spy glass, "What is she?" "A large
ship studding athwart right before the wind. P-o-r-t! Keep her away!
set the studding sails ready!" Up comes the little doctor, rubbing his
hands; "Ha! ha! I have won the bag." "The devil take you and the bag;
look, what 's ahead will fill all our bags." Mast head again: "Two
more sail on the larboard beam!" "Archer, go up, and see what you can
make of them." "Upon deck there; I see a whole fleet of twenty sail
coming right before the wind." "Confound the luck of it, this is some
convoy or other, but we must try if we can pick some of them out."
"Haul down the studding-sails! Luff! bring her to the wind! Let us see
what we can make of them."

About five we got pretty near them, and found them to be twenty-six
sail of Spanish merchantmen, under convoy of three line of battle
ships, one of which chased us; but when she found we were playing with
her (for the old Phoenix had heels) she left chase, and joined the
convoy; which they drew up into a lump, and placed themselves at the
outside; but we still kept smelling about till after dark. O, for the
Hector, the Albion, and a frigate, and we should take the whole fleet
and convoy, worth some millions! About eight o'clock perceived three
sail at some distance from the fleet; dashed in between them, and gave
chase, and were happy to find they steered from the fleet. About
twelve came up with a large ship of twenty-six guns. "Archer, every
man to his quarters! run the lower deck guns out, and light the ship
up; show this fellow our force; it may prevent his firing into us and
killing a man or two." No sooner said than done. "Hoa, the ship ahoy,
lower all your sails down, and bring to instantly, or I'll sink you."
Clatter, clatter, went the blocks, and away flew all their sails in
proper confusion. "What ship is that?" "The Polly." "Whence came
you?" "From Jamaica." "Where are you bound?" "To New York." "What ship
is that?" "The Phoenix." Huzza, three times by the whole ship's
company. An old grum fellow of a sailor standing close by me: "O, d--m
your three cheers, we took you to be something else." Upon examination
we found it to be as he reported, and that they had fallen in with the
Spanish fleet that morning, and were chased the whole day, and that
nothing saved them but our stepping in between; for the Spaniards took
us for three consorts, and the Polly took the Phoenix for a Spanish
frigate, till we hailed them. The other vessel in company was likewise
bound to New York. Thus was I, from being worth thousands in idea,
reduced to the old 4s. 6d. a day again: for the little doctor made the
most prize money of us all that day, by winning the bag, which
contained between thirty and forty dollars; but this is nothing to
what we sailors sometimes undergo.

After parting company, we steered south-south-east, to go round
Antonio, and so to Jamaica, (our cruise being out) with our fingers
in our mouths, and all of us as green as you please. It happened to
be my middle watch, and about three o'clock, when a man upon the
forecastle bawls out: "Breakers ahead, and land upon the lee-bow;" I
looked out, and it was so sure enough. "Ready about! put the helm
down! Helm a lee!" Sir Hyde hearing me put the ship about, jumped
upon deck. "Archer, what 's the matter? you are putting the ship
about without my orders!" "Sir, 'tis time to go about! the ship is
almost ashore, there 's the land." "Good God so it is! Will the ship
stay?" "Yes, Sir, I believe she will, if we don't make any confusion;
she's all aback--forward now?"--"Well," says he, "work the ship, I
will not speak a single word." The ship stayed very well. "Then,
heave the lead! see what water we have!" "Three fathom." "Keep the
ship away, west-north-west."--"By the mark three." "This won't do,
Archer." "No, Sir, we had better haul more to the northward; we came
south-south-east, and had better steer north-north-west." "Steady,
and a quarter three." "This may do, as we deepen a little." "By the
deep four." "Very well, my lad, heave quick." "Five Fathom." "That 's
a fine fellow! another cast nimbly." "Quarter less eight." "That will
do, come, we shall get clear by and by."--"Mark under water five."
"What 's that?" "Only five fathom, Sir." "Turn all hands up, bring
the ship to an anchor, boy!" "Are the anchors clear!" "In a moment,
Sir." "All clear!" "What water have you in the chains now!" "Eight,
half nine." "Keep fast the anchors till I call you." "Ay, ay, Sir,
all fast!" "I have no ground with this line." "How many fathoms have
you out? pass along the deep-sea line!" "Ay, ay, Sir." "Come are you
all ready?" "All ready, Sir." "Heave away, watch! watch! bear away,
veer away, no ground Sir, with a hundred fathom." "That 's clever,
come, Madam Phoenix, there is another squeak in you yet--all down but
the watch; secure the anchors again; heave the main-top-sail to the
mast; luff, and bring her to the wind!"

I told you, Madam, you should have a little sea-jargon: if you can
understand half of what is already said, I wonder at it, though it is
nothing to what is to come yet, when the old hurricane begins. As soon
as the ship was a little to rights, and all quiet again, Sir Hyde came
to me in the most friendly manner, the tears almost starting from his
eyes--"Archer, we ought all, to be much obliged to you for the safety
of the ship, and perhaps of ourselves. I am particularly so; nothing
but that instantaneous presence of mind and calmness saved her;
another ship's length and we should have been fast on shore; had you
been the least diffident, or made the least confusion, so as to make
the ship baulk in her stays, she must have been inevitably lost."
"Sir, you are very good, but I have done nothing that I suppose any
body else would not have done, in the same situation. I did not turn
all the hands up, knowing the watch able to work the ship; besides,
had it spread immediately about the ship, that she was almost ashore,
it might have created a confusion that was better avoided." "Well,"
says he, "'t is well indeed."

At daylight we found that the current had set us between the Collarado
rocks and Cape Antonio, and that we could not have got out any other
way than we did; there was a chance, but Providence is the best pilot.
We had sunset that day twenty leagues to the south-east of our
reckoning by the current.

After getting clear of this scrape, we thought ourselves fortunate,
and made sail for Jamaica, but misfortune seemed to follow misfortune.
The next night, my watch upon deck too, we were overtaken by a squall,
like a hurricane while it lasted; for though I saw it coming, and
prepared for it, yet, when it took the ship, it roared, and laid her
down so, that I thought she would never get up again. However, by
keeping her away, and clewing up every thing, she righted. The
remainder of the night we had very heavy squalls, and in the morning
found the mainmast sprung half the way through: one hundred and
twenty-three leagues to the leeward of Jamaica, the hurricane months
coming on, the head of the mainmast almost off, and at short
allowance; well, we must make the best of it. The mainmast was well
fished, but we were obliged to be very tender of carrying sail.

Nothing remarkable happened for ten days afterwards, when we chased a
Yankee man of war for six hours, but could not get near enough to her
before it was dark, to keep sight of her; so that we lost her because
unable to carry any sail on the mainmast. In about twelve days more
made the island of Jamaica, having weathered all the squalls, and put
into Montego Bay for water; so that we had a strong party for kicking
up a dust on shore, having found three men of war lying there.
Dancing, &c. &c. till two o'clock every morning; little thinking what
was to happen in four days' time: for out of the four men of war that
were there, not one was in being at the end of that time, and not a
soul alive but those left of our crew. Many of the houses, where we
had been so merry, were so completely destroyed, that scarcely a
vestige remained to mark where they stood. Thy works are wonderful, O
God! praised be thy holy Name!

September the 30th weighed; bound for Port Royal, round the eastward
of the island; the Bardadoes and Victor had sailed the day before, and
the Scarborough was to sail the next. Moderate weather until October
the 2d. Spoke to the Barbadoes off Port Antonio in the evening. At
eleven at night it began to snuffle, with a monstrous heavy appearance
from the eastward. Close reefed the top-sails. Sir Hyde sent for me:
"What sort of weather have we, Archer!" "It blows a little, and has a
very ugly look: if in any other quarter but this, I should say we were
going to have a gale of wind." "Ay, it looks so very often here when
there is no wind at all; however, don't hoist the top-sails till it
clears a little, there is no trusting any country." At twelve I was
relieved; the weather had the same rough look: however, they made sail
upon her, but had a very dirty night. At eight in the morning I came
up again, found it blowing hard from the east-north-east, with
close-reefed top-sails upon the ship, and heavy squalls at times. Sir
Hyde came upon deck: "Well, Archer, what do you think of it?" "O, Sir,
't is only a touch of the times, we shall have an observation at
twelve o'clock; the clouds are beginning to break; it will clear up at
noon, or else--blow very hard afterwards." "I wish it would clear up,
but I doubt it much. I was once in a hurricane in the East Indies, and
the beginning of it had much the same appearance as this. So take in
the top-sails, we have plenty of sea-room."

At twelve, the gale still increasing, wore ship, to keep as near
mid-channel between Jamaica and Cuba, as possible; at one the gale
increasing still; at two, harder yet, it still blows harder! Reefed
the courses, and furled them; brought to under a foul mizen stay-sail,
head to the northward. In the evening no sign of the weather taking
off, but every appearance of the storm increasing, prepared for a
proper gale of wind; secured all the sails with spare gaskets; good
rolling tackles upon the yards; squared the booms; saw the boats all
made fast; new lashed the guns; double breeched the lower deckers; saw
that the carpenters had the tarpawlings and battens all ready for
hatchways; got the top-gallant-mast down upon the deck; jib-boom and
sprit-sail-yard fore and aft; in fact every thing we could think of to
make a snug ship.

The poor devils of birds now began to find the uproar in the elements,
for numbers, both of sea and land kinds, came on board of us. I took
notice of some, which happening to be to leeward, turned to windward,
like a ship, tack and tack; for they could not fly against it. When
they came over the ship they dashed themselves down upon the deck,
without attempting to stir till picked up, and when let go again, they
would not leave the ship, but endeavoured to hide themselves from the
wind.

At eight o'clock a hurricane; the sea roaring, but the wind still
steady to a point; did not ship a spoonful of water. However, got the
hatchways all secured, expecting what would be the consequence, should
the wind shift; placed the carpenters by the mainmast, with broad
axes, knowing, from experience, that at the moment you may want to cut
it away to save the ship, an axe may not be found. Went to supper:
bread, cheese, and porter. The purser frightened out of his wits about
his bread bags; the two marine officers as white as sheets, not
understanding the ship's working so much, and the noise of the lower
deck guns; which, by this time, made a pretty screeching to people not
used to it; it seemed as if the whole ship's side was going at each
roll. Wooden, our carpenter, was all this time smoking his pipe and
laughing at the doctor; the second lieutenant upon deck, and the third
in his hammock.

At ten o'clock I thought to get a little sleep; came to look into my
cot; it was full of water; for every seam, by the straining of the
ship, had began to leak. Stretched myself, therefore, upon deck
between two chests, and left orders to be called, should the least
thing happen. At twelve a midshipman came to me: "Mr. Archer, we are
just going to wear ship, Sir!" "O, very well, I'll be up directly,
what sort of weather have you got?" "It blows a hurricane." Went upon
deck, found Sir Hyde there. "It blows damned hard Archer." "It does
indeed, Sir." "I don't know that I ever remember its blowing so hard
before, but the ship makes a good weather of it upon this tack as she
bows the sea; but we must wear her, as the wind has shifted to the
south-east, and we were drawing right upon Cuba; so do you go forward,
and have some hands stand by; loose the lee yard-arm of the fore-sail,
and when she is right before the wind, whip the clue-garnet close up,
and roll up the sail." "Sir! there is no canvass can stand against
this a moment; if we attempt to loose him he will fly into ribands in
an instant, and we may lose three or four of our people; she'll wear
by manning the fore shrouds." "No, I don't think she will." "I'll
answer for it, Sir; I have seen it tried several times on the coast of
America with success." "Well, try it; if she does not wear, we can
only loose the fore-sail afterwards." This was a great condescension
from such a man as Sir Hyde. However, by sending about two hundred
people into the fore-rigging, after a hard struggle, she wore; found
she did not make so good weather on this tack as on the other; for as
the sea began to run across, she had not time to rise from one sea
before another lashed against her. Began to think we should lose our
masts, as the ship lay very much along, by the pressure of the wind
constantly upon the yards and masts alone: for the poor
mizen-stay-sail had gone in shreds long before, and the sails began to
fly from the yards through the gaskets into coach whips. My God! to
think that the wind could have such force!

Sir Hyde now sent me to see what was the matter between decks, as
there was a good deal of noise. As soon as I was below, one of the
Marine officers calls out: "Good God Mr. Archer, we are sinking, the
water is up to the bottom of my cot." "Pooh, pooh! as long as it is
not over your mouth, you are well off; what the devil do you make this
noise for?" I found there was some water between decks, but nothing to
be alarmed at; scuttled the deck, and let it run into the well--found
she made a good deal of water through the sides and decks; turned the
watch below to the pumps, though only two feet of water in the well;
but expected to be kept constantly at work now, as the ship labored
much, with scarcely a part of her above water but the quarter-deck,
and that but seldom "Come, pump away, my boys. Carpenters, get the
weather chain-pump rigged." "All ready, Sir." "Then man it and keep
both pumps going."

At two o'clock the chain-pump was choked; set the carpenters at work
to clear it; the two head pumps at work upon deck; the ship gained on
us while our chain-pumps were idle; in a quarter of an hour they were
at work again, and we began to gain upon her. While I was standing at
the pumps, cheering the people, the carpenter's mate came running to
me with a face as long as my arm: "O, Sir! the ship has sprang a leak
in the gunner's room." "Go, then, and tell the carpenter to come to
me, but don't speak a word to any one else." "Mr. Goodinoh, I am told
there is a leak in the gunner's room; go and see what is the matter,
but don't alarm any body, and come and make your report privately to
me." In a short time he returned: "Sir, there 's nothing there, 'tis
only the water washing up between the timbers that this booby has
taken for a leak." "O, very well; go upon deck and see if you can keep
any of the water from washing down below." "Sir, I have had four
people constantly keeping the hatchways secure, but there is such a
weight of water upon the deck that nobody can stand it when the ship
rolls." The gunner soon afterwards came to me: "Mr. Archer, I should
be glad if you would step this way into the magazine for a moment:" I
thought some damned thing was the matter, and ran directly: "Well,
what is the matter here?" "The ground-tier of powder is spoiled, and I
want to show you that it is not out of carelessness in stowing it, for
no powder in the world could be better stowed. Now, Sir, what am I to
do? if you don't speak to Sir Hyde, he will be angry with me." I could
not forbear smiling to see how easy he took the danger of the ship,
and said to him: "Let us shake off this gale of wind first, and talk
of the damaged powder afterwards."

At four we had gained upon the ship a little, and I went upon deck, it
being my watch. The second lieutenant relieved me at the pumps. Who
can attempt to describe the appearance of things upon deck? If I was
to write for ever I could not give you an idea of it--a total darkness
all above, the sea on fire, running as it were in Alps, or Peaks of
Teneriffe; (mountains are too common an idea); the wind roaring louder
than thunder, (absolutely no flight of imagination), the whole made
more terrible, if possible, by a very uncommon kind of blue lightning;
the poor ship very much pressed, yet doing what she could, shaking her
sides, and groaning at every stroke. Sir Hyde upon deck lashed to
windward! I soon lashed myself alongside of him, and told him the
situation of things below, saying the ship did not make more water
than might be expected in such weather, and that I was only afraid of
a gun breaking loose. "I am not in the least afraid of that; I have
commanded her six years, and have had many a gale of wind in her; so
that her iron work, which always gives way first, is pretty well
tried. Hold fast! that was an ugly sea; we must lower the yards, I
believe, Archer; the ship is much pressed." "If we attempt it, Sir, we
shall lose them, for a man aloft can do nothing; besides their being
down would ease the ship very little; the mainmast is a sprung mast; I
wish it was overboard without carrying any thing else along with it;
but that can soon be done, the gale cannot last for ever; 'twill soon
be daylight now." Found by the master's watch that it was five
o'clock, though but a little after four by ours; glad it was so near
daylight, and looked for it with much anxiety. Cuba, thou art much in
our way! Another ugly sea: sent a midshipman to bring news from the
pumps: the ship was gaining on them very much, for they had broken one
of their chains, but it was almost mended again. News from the pump
again. "She still gains! a heavy lee!" Back-water from leeward,
half-way up the quarter-deck; filled one of the cutters upon the
booms, and tore her all to pieces; the ship lying almost on her beam
ends, and not attempting to right again. Word from below that the ship
still gained on them, as they could not stand to the pumps, she lay so
much along. I said to Sir Hyde: "This is no time, Sir, to think of
saving the masts, shall we cut the mainmast away?" "Ay! as fast as you
can." I accordingly went into the weather chains with a pole-axe, to
cut away the lanyards; the boatswain went to leeward, and the
carpenters stood by the mast. We were all ready, when a very violent
sea broke right on board of us, carried every thing upon deck away,
filled the ship with water, the main and mizen masts went, the ship
righted, but was in the last struggle of sinking under us.

As soon as we could shake our heads above water, Sir Hyde exclaimed:
"We are gone, at last, Archer! foundered at sea!" "Yes, Sir,
farewell, and the Lord have mercy upon us!" I then turned about to
look forward at the ship; and thought she was struggling to get rid of
some of the water; but all in vain, she was almost full below
"Almighty God! I thank thee, that now I am leaving this world, which I
have always considered as only a passage to a better, I die with a
full hope of the mercies, through the merits of Jesus Christ, thy son,
our Saviour!"

I then felt sorry that I could swim, as by that means I might be a
quarter of an hour longer dying than a man who could not, and it is
impossible to divest ourselves of a wish to preserve life. At the end
of these reflections I thought I heard the ship thump and grinding
under our feet; it was so. "Sir, the ship is ashore!" "What do you
say?" "The ship is ashore, and we may save ourselves yet!" By this
time the quarter-deck was full of men who had come up from below; and
'the Lord have mercy upon us,' flying about from all quarters. The
ship now made every body sensible that she was ashore, for every
stroke threatened a total dissolution of her whole frame; found she
was stern ashore, and the bow broke the sea a good deal, though it was
washing clean over at every stroke. Sir Hyde cried out: "Keep to the
quarter-deck, my lads, when she goes to pieces, 't is your best
chance!" Providentially got the foremast cut away, that she might not
pay round broad-side. Lost five men cutting away the foremast, by the
breaking of a sea on board just as the mast went. That was nothing;
every one expected it would be his own fate next; looked for daybreak
with the greatest impatience. At last it came; but what a scene did it
show us! The ship upon a bed of rocks, mountains of them on one side,
and Cordilleras of water on the other; our poor ship grinding and
crying out at every stroke between them; going away by piecemeal.
However, to show the unaccountable workings of Providence, that which
often appears to be the greatest evil, proved to be the greatest good!
That unmerciful sea lifted and beat us up so high among the rocks,
that at last the ship scarcely moved. She was very strong, and did not
go to pieces at the first thumping, though her decks tumbled in. We
found afterwards that she had beat over a ledge of rocks, almost a
quarter of a mile in extent beyond us, where, if she had struck, every
soul of us must have perished.

I now began to think of getting on shore, so stripped off my coat and
shoes for a swim, and looked for a line to carry the end with me.
Luckily could not find one, which gave me time for recollection.
"This won't do for me, to be the first man out of the ship, and first
lieutenant; we may get to England again, and people may think I paid a
great deal of attention to myself and did not care for any body else.
No, that won't do; instead of being the first, I'll see every man,
sick and well, out of her before me."

I now thought there was no probability of the ship's soon going to
pieces, therefore had not a thought of instant death: took a look
round with a kind of philosophic eye, to see how the same situation
affected my companions, and was surprised to find the most swaggering,
swearing bullies in fine weather, now the most pitiful wretches on
earth, when death appeared before them. However, two got safe; by
which means, with a line, we got a hawser on shore, and made fast to
the rocks, upon which many ventured and arrived safe. There were some
sick and wounded on board, who could not avail themselves of this
method; we, therefore, got a spare top-sail-yard from the chains and
placed one end ashore and the other on the cabin-window, so that most
of the sick got ashore this way.

As I had determined, so I was the last man out of the ship; this was
about ten o'clock. The gale now began to break. Sir Hyde came to me,
and taking me by the hand was so affected that he was scarcely able to
speak "Archer, I am happy beyond expression, to see you on shore, but
look at our poor Phoenix!" I turned about, but could not say a single
word, being too full: my mind had been too intensely occupied before;
but every thing now rushed upon me at once, so that I could not
contain myself, and I indulged for a full quarter of an hour in tears.

By twelve it was pretty moderate; got some nails on shore and made
tents; found great quantities of fish driven up by the sea into the
holes of the rocks; knocked up a fire, and had a most comfortable
dinner. In the afternoon made a stage from the cabin-windows to the
rocks, and got out some provisions and water, lest the ship should go
to pieces, in which case we must all have perished of hunger and
thirst; for we were upon a desolate part of the coast, and under a
rocky mountain, that could not supply us with a single drop of water.

Slept comfortably this night and the next day, the idea of death
vanishing by degrees, the prospect of being prisoners, during the war,
at the Havana, and walking three hundred miles to it through the
woods, was rather unpleasant. However, to save life for the present,
we employed this day in getting more provisions and water on shore,
which was not an easy matter, on account of decks, guns and rubbish,
and ten feet water that lay over them. In the evening I proposed to
Sir Hyde to repair the remains of the only boat left, and to venture
in her to Jamaica myself; and in case I arrived safe, to bring vessels
to take them all off; a proposal worthy of consideration. It was, next
day, agreed to; therefore got the cutter on shore, and set the
carpenters to work on her; in two days she was ready, and at four
o'clock in the afternoon I embarked with four volunteers and a
fortnight's provision, hoisted English colors as we put off from the
shore, and received three cheers from the lads left behind, which we
returned, and set sail with a light heart; having not the least doubt,
that, with God's assistance, we should come and bring them all off.
Had a very squally night, and a very leaky boat, so as to keep two
buckets constantly bailing. Steered her myself the whole night by the
stars, and in the morning saw the coast of Jamaica distant twelve
leagues. At eight in the evening arrived at Montego Bay.

I must now begin to leave off, particularly as I have but half an hour
to conclude; else my pretty little short letter will lose its passage,
which I should not like, after being ten days, at different times,
writing it, beating up with the convoy to the northward, which is a
reason that this epistle will never read well; as I never set down
with a proper disposition to go on with it; but as I knew something of
the kind would please you, I was resolved to finish it; yet it will
not bear an overhaul; so don't expose your son's nonsense.

But to proceed--I instantly sent off an express to the admiral,
another to the Porcupine man of war, and went myself to Martha Bray to
get vessels; for all their vessels here, as well as many of their
houses, were gone to Moco. Got three small vessels, and set out back
again to Cuba, where I arrived the fourth day after leaving my
companions. I thought the ship's crew would have devoured me on my
landing; they presently whisked me up on their shoulders and carried
me to the tent where Sir Hyde was.

I must omit many little occurrences that happened on shore, for want
of time; but I shall have a number of stories to tell when I get
alongside of you; and the next time I visit you I shall not be in such
a hurry to quit you as I was the last, for then I hoped my nest would
have been pretty well feathered:--But my tale is forgotten.

I found the Porcupine had arrived that day, and the lads had built a
boat almost ready for launching, that would hold fifty of them, which
was intended for another trial, in case I had foundered. Next day
embarked all our people that were left, amounting to two hundred and
fifty; for some had died of their wounds they received in getting on
shore; others of drinking rum, and others had straggled into the
country.--All our vessels were so full of people, that we could not
take away the few clothes that were saved from the wreck; but that was
a trifle since we had preserved our lives and liberty. To make short
of my story, we all arrived safe at Montego Bay, and shortly after at
Port Royal, in the Janus, which was sent on purpose for us, and were
all honorably acquitted for the loss of the ship. I was made admiral's
aid-de-camp, and a little time afterwards sent down to St. Juan's as
captain of the Resource, to bring what were left of the poor devils to
Blue Fields, on the Musquito shore, and then to Jamaica, where they
arrived after three month's absence, and without a prize, though I
looked out hard off Porto Bello and Carthagena. Found in my absence
that I had been appointed captain of the Tobago, where I remain his
majesty's most true and faithful servant, and my dear mother's most
dutiful son,

----ARCHER





Next: An Account Of The Whale Fishery With Anecdotes Of The Dangers Attending It

Previous: An Occurrence At Sea



Add to del.icio.us Add to Reddit Add to Digg Add to Del.icio.us Add to Google Add to Twitter Add to Stumble Upon
Add to Informational Site Network
Report
Privacy
SHAREADD TO EBOOK


Viewed 3212