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One could write a large book on the superstitions of
sailors, dating from the earliest ages, and of their causes,
of phantom ships and giant ships, of monstrous canoes
and spectre junks, of extra hands on yardarms, of
corpses following ships, and of the killing of sea birds.
Literature already possesses certain masterpieces on
such superstitions, such as those of the Flying Dutchman
and the Ancient Mariner, which is founded on the
killing of a black hen in Shelvocke's Journal.

Ghosts, however, which have not been explained
away are very scarce. And of these the extra hand
is the most common. He was usually the apparition
of an old shipmate, who had lost his life on some
previous passage or voyage, and was so attached to his
old ship that he would always appear and lend a hand
in dirty weather or when she was in difficulties.

In a few cases this extra hand was considered to be the
devil by the more superstitious of the ship's crew, who
declared that he smelt of brimstone, blew smoke from
his nostrils, had a tail curled under his jacket, and a



THE NORFOLK'S GHOST 263

cloven hoof which burnt a mark on the deck; and, if
accidentally touched, scorched the fingers of the man
who touched him.

Several ships were supposed to sail with an extra
hand on board, whilst one ship, a passenger steamer,
rejoiced in an extra steward.

Masefield in his Tarpaulin Muster has a charming
essay on ghosts aboard ship, and mentions the case of
a ship with a haunted poop. That ship was the well-
known John Elder, built in 1870 by Eider, of Glasgow,
for the Pacific S.N. Co.

The following account of the ghost on the Biackwaller
Norfolk I have taken from Bemniiniscences of a Black-
wall Midshipman. Whilst the Norfolk was hove to off
the Horn, a curious noise was heard, which the super-
stitious members of the crew declared to be "the rattle
in a dying man's throat. " The noise was plain enough
to all ears, but though a search was made it could not
be located. Shortly after this noise had started,
during one of the night watches, a frightful yelling
broke out forward. The officer of the watch immedi-

ately went to see what the hullaballoo was about, and,
on mounting the foe 's'le -head, was astounded to see a
white figure, with uplifted arms and black hair streaming
in the wind, standing on the windlass and screeching
out "The Vision of Judgment," whilst the lookout
man crouched at the end of the weather cathead in a
piteous state of terror.

The apparition proved to be a third class passenger
who had gone off her head. She was taken below and
handed over to the ship's doctor.

The mysterious "rattle in the dying man's throat"
was presently discovered to be the play of the wind upon
a loose galiev funnel stay. The two incidents, however,



264 THE BLACKWALL FRIGATES

must have raised a crop of nerve-thrilling yarns in the
dog watches during the remainder of the passage.

The Speedy "Suffolk."

The Norfolk has been credited with a run of C8
days to Melbourne, but she was probably not as fast as
her slightly larger sister, the Suffolk, which in 1860
made the same run in 70 days.

The Norfolk was one of the last of the sailing ships
retained by Money Wigram when he went in for
auxiliary steam, but the Suffolk was sold to H. Ellis &
Son in the early seventies and her new owners stripped
the yards off her mizen mast. In the eighties she
became a country ship, but was lost in 1890.

The Wreck of the "Duncan Dunbar.'*

The largest ship of Dunbar's fiect was called after
her owner. She did not, however, have a very long
life, as she was wrecked on the Roccas Reef in 1805.
She left London under Captain Swanson on 8th August
and Plymouth on 2nd September, 1SG5. She struck the
reef on high water at 8. SO p.m. on 7th October. As soon
as it was discovered that the ship was hard and fast,
the passengers and crew were landed on the desolate
sandspit, whilst Captain Swanson set off to Pernambuco
for help in a lifeboat. After making 120 miles, he was
picked up by the American sliip Hayara and dropped
15 miles from Pernambuco, where he obtained help
from the Oneida, Royal Mail; and every one on the
sandspit, in number 116 souls, was safely rescued.

♦♦Tyburnia's*' Pleasure Cruise.

One of the grandest looking ships in Somes' fleet
was the Tyburnia, a well-known trooper in her day.



TYBURNLrS CRUISE 265

This ship had a curious adventure in 1884, which was
thus reported in the Times.

In 1884. the Pleasure Sailing Yacht Company chartered a ship
named the Tybumia for a trip to different parts of the world at the rate
of a guinea a head per day.

The yacht on arriving at Madeira a fortnight ago was anchored near
the Loo Bat-tery in the quarantine ground, and was ballasted with goods
such as ceinent, etc., which might yield a profit at the various ports
touched at. Owing to a misunderstanding with the Portuguese
Custom-house authorities, on account of their sj'stem of extortion,
Captain Kennaley was informed that hi« ship would be seized and
confiscat-cd, whereupon he told them that when the Portuguese officers
attempted to board hi.? ship they would be flung into the sea.

The Military Gorernor then gave orders to fire upon the yacht when
she attempted to leave the moorings. Captain Kennaley, who had
successfully run the American blockade thirteen times, did not fear the
threat, and being assured of the confidence of his passengers, made sail
at 8.40 a.m., and getting her head round the fort fired two blank charges.

As soon as she was undei-weigh the fort fired at her with ball, carrying
away some ropes on the bov. sprit. The passengers, both ladies and
gentlemen, decHned to go below in spile of the continuous firing from
the fort, manv balls from which dashed the spray over those on board,
though no loss of life ensued. The British Ensign was dipped as each
shot went singing by, and the yacht proceeded to Barbados.

This was the first of Tyhurnia's adventures as a
yacht, but it was by no means the last. She had
several well-known people amongst her passengers,
but her cargo could hardly have been profitable, for
she had a store of knives, mirrors, and other trifles,
which would have been quite suitable in the trade room
of a South Sea islander but were hardly the right thing
for the West Indies. Indeed, the qucerness of her
cargo caused her further trouble in New York, where
she was detained under suspicion of being a smuggler
or something of the kind.

The Tyhurnia ended her days in Australian hands,
timber-drogluung until the late eighties, when she went
to Townsville, Queensland, and was converted into a
transhinment hulk.



266 THE BLACKWALL FRIGATES

The Old ♦♦Holmsdale."

One of the best known of the Blackwall frigates
in the Australian trade was the old Holmsdale. This
gallant old ship was launched from J. Reed's yard at
Sunderland and sailed the seas for just on forty years.
She measured 1250 tons, 206.8 ft. long, 37.7 ft. beam,
22.4 ft. depth, with a poop 73 ft. long; one of the
finest specimens of the wooden passenger ship.

Her early years were spent in the Indian and China
trades, when she was owned by Phillipps & Co. In
the early seventies she was bought by Bilbe, and from
that date became an Orient liner, her usual voyage
being out to Adelaide and home from Melbourne.
Her best known captains were D. Reed and Daniel R.
Bolt ; her passages, without being anything out of the
way, were always very regular, one of her best being
83 days from Melbourne to London in 1874-5. The
abstract log in the Appendix will give a very good
idea of her capabilities. She was eventually sold by
the Andersons to the Norwegians and went on the
missing list in 1897.

A Cargo of the "Lincolnshire."

The following cargo of the Lincolnshire may be
of interest as showing the usual homeward cargo of a
1000-ton Blackwaller from Australia.

On 10th November, 1864, she left Melbourne under
Captain H. Shimer with 2000 bales of wool, 125 casks of
tallow, 115 quarter cases of whisky, 30 tons of case goods,
9800 ounces of gold dust, and 130 passengers.

She had 141 tons of kentledge and 150 tons of stone
ballast, levelled with tallow stowed loreward, spirits
aft and the wool dumped and screwed the whole length
of the hold.



LINCELLES AND LADY MELVILLE 267

She sailed drawing 16 ft. 9 in. forward and 17 ft. 2 in.
aft and arrived in London on 25th January, 1865,
draw'ing 16 ft. 10 in. forward and 16 ft. 9 in. aft.

This fine ship was sold by Vvigram in 1880 and
wrecked three years later.

The Coolie Ship "Lincelles."

At the death of Duncan Dunbar the Moulmein-
built Lincelles was sold to S. H. Allen, of London, and
became one of Allen's coolie ships, which transported
coolies from India to Mauritius. Allen sold her in the
late eighties to Genoese owners, but the splendid old
ship did not disappear from the Register until 1906-7.

The "Lady Melville" and the Great
Comet of 1861.

Green's Blackwall Line only contained four ships
which had not been built in the Blackwall Yard or by
Pile at Sunderland.

Two of these were the large Boston-built, soft-wood
ships. Result, of 1565 tons, launched in 1853, and the
Swiftsure, of 1826 tons, launched in 1854. These
ships were ordered at the height of the Australian
boom, and were intended to carry a large number of
emigrants to Melbourne.

Some years ago a rumour got about that the Result
was really the famous American clipper Challenge.
Another rumour was that she was the prize won by the
Greens when their Challenger beat the Challenge in a
specially arranged race home from China. Neither of
these rumours had any foundation, and the Result, like
the Sivifisure, had been bought by Green owing to the
grow'ing demand for large emigrant ships.

The Result was burnt in Hobson's Bay in 1866.



268 THE BLACKWALL FRIGATES

The Swiftsurs was sold to Newcastle owners and was
eventually wrecked at Tripola in 1884.

The third ship belonging to the Greens, which could
not strictly be called a Blackwall frigate, was the
Orwell, of 1079 tons, built at Harwich in 1854. This
ship was also put in the Australian trade. Her last
owner was Goodwin of Ardrossan, and she went missing
in 1873 when on a West Indian voyage.

The fourth ship was the Lady Melville, of 967 tons,
built by Haswell, of Sunderland. This ship was
frigate-built and Greens kept her in their Indian
service except during the heiglit of the gold boom.

The Lady Melville was a steady going 11 -knot ship
with no very fast passages to her credit. I have a copy
of her 1861 log, when she went from the Scillies to the
Sandheads in 119 days and came home from Calcutta in
124 days.

During her passage home the great comet of 18G1
appeared and the following notices of it in her log may
be of interest.

2nd July.— Lat. 27' 14' N., long 43° 40' W. Distance 112 miles
Wind N.E. light. 10 p.m.. a large comet observed stretching across
two-thirds of the sky, bearing N. by W. J W.

3rd July.— Lat. 29° 45' N., long. 4.5° 12' W. Distance 178 miles.
Light to fresh N.E. breeze. 8 p.m., comet bearing N. by W. ^ W
Altitude 22' 36'.

4th July.— Lat. 32° 32' N., long. 45° 31' W. Distance 163 miles.
Moderate N.E. breeze. Fore aud mizen royals in. 8 p.m., comet,
bearing N. by W. Altitude 32° 2'.

5th July.— Lat. 34° 10' N., 45* 2' W. Light E.5.E. wind. & p.m.,
comet bearing N. by W. Altitude 40°.

This was a most remarkable comet; its tail was fan
shaped with six di.stinct streamers, the outer of which
apparently covered 120", and the earth was immersed
in the material of its wonderful tail to the depth of




HOLMSDALE.




YORKSHIRE."



Photon lent by F Cl.Luyton.



( To face Page 26



LADY MELVILLE 2C9

800,000 miles. Its period was reckoned to be 400
years.

On 14th July, lat. 45° N., long. 38° 57' W., with light
easterly airs and calms, the Lady Melville had 38 sail in
sight from the deck, and for the next two days her
midshipmen were kept busy with the signal halliards.

The Lady Melville was sold by the Greens to King,
Watson & Co., of Calcutta, and became a country ship.
The well-known Aga Said Abdul Hoosein, of Moulmein,
had her during the seventies, and on his death in 1880
she was sold to the Norwegians. She brought home a
cargo of teak and on her arrival in Norway was renamed
A7ma. She was still afloat in the late eighties, when
she was converted into a hulk.

The "Yorkshire's'* Madman.

The illustration of the Yorkshire is one of the
best photographs of a Blackwall frigate that I have
ever seen. It tells one more about the ship than any
word description. In her we see the last development
of the first-class wooden passenger ship.

The advertisements of the day were fond of describing
such ships as clippers; they were by no means clippers
as far as their ends Avere concerned, but they had a
certain amount of dead-rise and sweet enough lines, so
that they were far from being slow in light and moderate
winds where they easily had the legs of the later iron
clippers.

There have been many cases aboard ship of either a
passenger or one of the crew going suddenly mad and
starting a short but exciting reign of terror. Sometimes
the madman went aloft with an axe and defied capture
for hours and often days; at other times he ran amok
on deck and often ended up by leaping overboard,



270 THE BLACKWALL FRIGATES

The Yorkshire, on one of her passages to Melbourne,
had a case of this kind. Amongst her crew was a man
half -Irish, half -Italian, who suffered horribly from
chronic neuralgia. When in pain, he would sit
holding his head in both hands and glaring madly
around. To anyone who approached him he had
but one remark to make: — "Don't pity me! Don't
pity me !" In vain the ship's surgeon tried to ease
his suffering. A day came at last when all the
passengers were on deck rejoicing in the fine weather.
Suddenly the neuralgia victim appeared on the
poop, brandishing a knife in one hand and a Bible in
the other and with madness in his eye.

The captain and the surgeon tried their best to coax
him away from this sacred part of the deck and the
terrified lady passengers, but to no purpose. The
madman insisted on delivering a sermon on all the
Sorrow and pain in the world, and offered to stab all
and sundry to the heart and so put them out of their
misery. The sermon ended, he discarded the Bible
and waving his knife over his head, proceeded to dance
a jig to the further terror of the ladies, who by this time
were mostly in hysterics.

The mate, however, succeeded in creeping up behind
him, while his attention was engaged by the surgeon,
and dropped a running bowline over his head and
shoulders. The madman was then confined, and on
arrival at Melbourne sent to an asylum where he very
soon died.

A Tragedy of Sea-sickness.

Very few passengers on sailing ships failed to
conquer their sea-sickness after the first few days,
but there were occasional I v one or two unfortunates



A SHARK STORY 271

whom neither time nor smooth water could cure of
this distressing malady.

One such lady passenger on the Yorkshire, after being
ill through a ninety-day passage, was so weak when the
ship arrived in Ilobson's Bay that she had to be carried
on deck. Her husband, who happened to be the
commander of a large steamship in port, came on board
to greet her and take her ashore, but before they had
been able to speak a word to each other she fell back in
his arms in a state of collapse and died.

A Shark Story.

One could fill page after page with the sudden and
extraordinary tragedies of the old shipboard life in
sailing ship days — of death in so many and ghastly
ways, and there are few more impressive sights than
a burial at sea. But there is always one anxietv
connected with a burial at sea which is absent from
the shore ceremony, and that is that, for some reason
or other, the body may not sink. Whether the war- like
32-pounder shot or the more humble fire-bars are used,
there is always the dread that the weights may break
adrift and the body bob up instead of sinking. When
this dread is fulfilled, the superstitious foretell the doom
of the ship and crew, and back their assertions with
yarns of bodies following ships with raised and pointing
arms or with sinister and accusing eyes, that bring
disaster upon all concerned.

But the following tragedy which occurred on tlie
Yorkshire when north of the line homeward bound
has a peculiar horror of its own.

There was a little boy on board, about five years old,
the child of two of the second cabin passengers. This
boy was the pet of both passengers and crew. One day



272 THE BLACKWALL FRIGATES

he was taken suddenly ill and within forty -eight hours
was dead. This was far from beinor an occasion for a
callous sailmaker, who would finish his gruesome job
by a stitch through the corpse's nose. Instead the
carpenter went to work and made a small wooden box,
which he pierced with holes so that the water might get
in and allow it to sink; and in this box the tiny body
was placed.

The burial service was trying enough, with tears in
every eye, but when at the usual signal the box was
launched overboard, to the horror of the assembled
ship's company it refused to sink.

A large shark had been following the ship from the
moment the boy had been taken ill, with that uncanny
knowledge which sharks seem to possess, and, on seeing
the floating box, it at once swam down upon it. Then
tearing it open, the brute dragged out the child's body
and devoured it before the eyes of every one on board.

The wretched mother, with maddened screams, tried
her best to jump overboard and share the fate of her
child's body, but was held back by her trembling
husband, who was almost as distracted as herself.
For some time after this the woman was off her head,
whilst a deep gloom was cast over the ship.

"Renown" and "Malabar."

Two fine 1200-ton ships were launched for
Green's Blackwall Line in May, 1860, the Renown from
the Blackwall Yard and the Malabar from Pile's Yard
at Sunderland.

Benown was mostly in their Australian trade, but
Malabar was a favourite trooper at one time and in
1867 came home from the Bay of Bengal to Dover in
89 days. The difference in their measurements may



PASSAGES TO MELBOURNE



273



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274



THE BLACKWALL FRIGATES



be of interest. Renown 1203 tons, 216.6 ft. length,
37.5 ft. beam, 22.7 ft. depth; Malabar 1219 tons,
207.2 ft. length. 3G ft. 6 ins. beam. 22.5 ft. depth.
Malabar was sold to Foley, of London, in 1878; and
Renown to Bremen owners in 1882, being wreeked a few
years later.

Blackwallers of 1861.

Five very fine frigate -built ships were turned out
in 1861 and a comparison of their measurements may be
of interest.



Ship


Tons


Length Beam


Depth


Remarks


Highflyer
Star of India
True Briton . .
Middlesex
St. Lawrence


1012
1045
1040
1191
1094


193.7

190.4

19S

203

180


35.5

34.2

32.4

36

37


20
22.1
20.8
22.6
22.5


poop 42 feet

poop 76 feet
poop 72 feet



The Highflyer^ though frigate-built, was given
extra fine lines and put into the tea trade under the
celebrated Captain Anthony Enright, but she was not
really fast enough, and after a few passages averaging
about 130 days from Shanghai she dropped out of the
competition for the first teas. She was sold to H.
Ramien, of Elsfleth, in the late seventies and abandoned
at sea about 1898.

Star of India after a long career as a first class passenger
ship in the Indian and Australian trades also went to
the Norwegians and was abandoned in the N. .Atlantic,
timber laden in 1S93.

True Briton, the last of that historic name, was sold
about 1880 to W. J. Smith, of London, and ended her
days as a coal hulk.

Middlesex was still under Marsliall's flag in 1880,
but in 1884 she was replaced by a fine iron ship of 1742
tons, built by Barclay, Curie,



THE ST. LAWRENCE 275

•*St. Lawrence."

Si. Lavcrence, the last of Smith's fleet, was
considered the finest and latest thing in wooden passenger
construction. She had so much rise of floor that
she required 60 tons of ballast to keep her upright.
She was ver}'' short and beamy when compared to the
other ships of her year, but was a very fine, sea boat,
dry and yet easy in her movements. In point of speed
she was not equal to the later ships of Green and Wigram,
and but little if anything superior to the Hotspur.
But she was a beautiful ship in every way, and well
upheld the reputation of the Blackwall frigates.

The following extracts from her logs will give a good
idea of a Blackwaller's work in the last days of the
Calcutta troop and passenger carrying sailing ships : —

ST. LAWRENCE— LONDON TO CALCUTTA. 1866. i

14th July. — Hauled out of East India Dock and proceeded to
Gravesend.

18th July.— Proceeding do\%-n Channel. Moderate W.ly breeze and
fine.

23rd July. — N.W.ly airs and fine. Cape Finisterre on port beam.
More than 50 sail in sight from deck. Lowered jolly-boat and boarded
Drogheda, from Shields to Alexandria.

28th July. — N.E. by E. moderate. Madeira abeam. Distance 8 miles.

21st Augu.st. — l(i° S., 31° 33' W., run 236. Theatricals in cuddy.

18th to 27th August. — From o'^ -19' S. to 32" 35' S.; runs 230, 235,
245, 236, 233, 226, 233, 2i4, 20i, and 203.

18th September.— 40° 39' S., 53^ 10' E.; run 275. Fresh gale with
hard gusts.

22nd October. — Anchored off floating Lightship.

23rd October. — Pilot came aboard, made sail and stood up.
(94-day passage.)

CALCUTTA TO LONDON, 1867.

18th January. — Hauled out and dropped down to Garden Reach.

21st. — Dropped pilot, made sail to hght S.W.ly breeze.

11th February. — 24° 5' S., 3° 14' E.; run 237. Fresh breeze and fine.
Signalled Winchester off Cape Recife. 1 p.m., Wtnckater in sight on
starboard bow.



276 THE BLACKWALL FRIGATES

12th February .—Run 214. Winchester (with right wing ot 98th Regt.
on board spoken (lost 9 children from measles). P.M.. WtHchestcra.steTa.

13th February.— Run 209. Squally. Winchsster half courses
down astern.

I4th February. — Came to anchor off St. Helena. Winchester
anchored 8 a.m. next morning.

16th February. — 1 p.m., hove up, made all plain sail a-ad all stunsails,
both sides at the main. {Winchester left St. Helena 10 p.m. on 15th.)

28th March. — 1° 47' N., 22° 15' W.; run 21. Calm, constantly
trimming sail to catspaws. Three sail in sight, one of them Wt)ichester;
signalled British ship Talavera from Calcutta to London, 72 days out.

29th March. — Run 29. Light variable airs. Talavera on starboard
quarter. Winchester right astern.

5th April.— 13° 28' N., 33° 26' W., run 183. N.E. by E., fresh and
puffy. Sails covered with a fine red sand.

8th April.— Run 179. N.E.ly fresh. Signalled British ship
Jehangeer, Foochow to London, 89 days out.

10th April.— Run 148. E.N.E. fresh. Jehangeer astern.

16th April. — Shift of wind from N.N.W. Taken flat ab^ck. Top-
mast and lower stunsails went to ribbons. Main and mizen topmast
staysails split.

20th April. — Lizard distant 700 miles.

On this passage the St. Lawrence had one wing of the
98th Regiment oucl the Winchester the other. The two
ships left Calcutta together and reached Spithead almost
simultaneously.

LONDON TO CALCUTTA, 1807.

15th July. — Hauled out of East India Docks.

17th August.— 00° 35' N., 26' 17' W.; run 196. S.Ely, pufly.
Signalled Flying Venus, Liverpool to Bombay, 27 days out.

ISth to 23rd August. — Flying Venus in company.

nth September. — Run 253. Strong and heavy gusts, VV.S.W.Iy.
Found 28 ducks and G geese drowned. At daylight found part of port
hammock nettings washed away and several bales of cargo damaged
from deck leaks

CALCUTTA TO LONDON, 1863.

1st January. — Pilot left us at Sandheads.

9th February. — .\nchored in Table Bay, 40 days out.

23rd February. — Anchored off St. Helena.


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