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siderable intervals of fine weather. On the coast of Palawan (see vol. ii.)
the winds are variable in October, November, and the earl/ part of
December, by which vessels pass along that coast either to the north-east
or south-west, but the weather is often dark, rainy, and cloudy. On the
coast of Luzon (page 5) the winds are frequently variable during this
monsoon, generally from the northward and north-east ; but they veer to
the north-west and westward at times, and then blow strong, with cloudy
weather and rain. In the gulf of Tong King, in November, there are
sometimes faint land breezes close to the coast ; but the N.E. monsoon
prevails along the coast of Cochin China, as far southward as capePadaran,
generally from September or the early part of October, to the beginning
or middle of April. See also vol. ii., chapter 1.

* Except on coast of Luzon. On the 29th October 1870 it was calm off cape Bojeador*
f See Admiralty Atlas : — Wind and Current Charts for the Pacific, Atlantic and

Indian oceans, by Staff-Captain F. J. Evans, R.N., F.B.S., and Staff-Commander

T. A. Hull, R.N., October, 1872.

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In February, according to Horsburg,* the strength of the N.E. monsoon
abates. During this month and March it blows moderately, with steady
weather all over the China sea, inclining to land and sea breezes on the
coast of Luzon. In th^ northern part of China sea, April is regarded as
the finest month, and May a period of alternating N.E. and S.W. breezes.

On the southern coast of China, when the N.E. monsoon prevails, the
winds blow mostly from E.N.E. parallel to the shore ; they veer, and blow
off the land at times, and also from the south-east, but there are seldom any
regular land or sea breezes on that coast. On the eastern coast, between
Macao and Chusan, the monsoon is at its height from November to
January. In October, November, and December the weather is tolerably
fine. From January to March a great deal of cloud and fog hang about.
In April the monsoon loses strength for a day or two ; sometimes the wind
changes to south, when the weather becomes thick, and squalls follow
from N.E. till the middle of May.

On tlie eastern coast of China in the N.E. monsoon strong gales, with
rising barometer, are frequently experienced ; and a low barometer in the
same season will generally be found to indicate a southerly wind. At
Wusung the barometer has differed in some years as much as an inch during
the two monsoons. The mean barometer from October 1847 to March 1848
was 30*33 ; while from April to September 1848 it was only 29 '53.
During the height of the monsoon the wind at night will be found fre-
quently to draw off the land all along the east coast, affording an oppor-
timity for a vessel to make a good board in the middle watch.

Tbe soiTTH-'vrBST MOiTSOOir generally commences in the China
sea about the middle or end of April, and continues to the beginning or
middle of October, liable to an acceleration or retardation of twelve or
fifteen days. It sets in rather sooner about the gulfs of Siam and Tong
King and along the western coasts than in the open sea, or near the coasts
of China, Palawan, and Luzon. It is also of longer continuance southward
of the parallel of 1 1° N. than in the northern paii; of the sea, where it
generally terminates about the first week in September ; for whilst N.E.
and easterly winds are blowing on the China coast, southerly winds
frjequently prevail between Singapore and Pulo Sapatu until the middle
of October, although more often, about Pulo Sapatu, light northerly and
variable winds aixd calms prevail at this period.

* Staff-Commander John W. Reed, R.N., observes, " From my own experience, and
from inquiries made of many captains accustomed to the navigation of the China sea, I
am of opinion that strong winds and unsettled weather will generaUy be experienced
during the month of February, and that moderate breezes and settled weather are
exceptional in that month.''

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In Maj the winds are often light and variable in the open sea, and
easterly or S.E, winds are likely to happen for a day or two at a time
during the whole of the S. W. monsoon, particularly in the northern part of
the China sea^ where these winds are frequently experienced in both

The S.W. monsoon is at its greatest strength, and least liable to change,
in June, July^ and August, at which period there is at times much rain
and cloudy weather all over the China sea ; in these months, and also in
May, sudden hard squalls blow sometimes out of the gulf of Siam,* as far
as Pulo Condore and Pulo Sapata. Whenever dense clouds are perceived
to rise, indicating the approach of these squalls, sail ought to be reduced
without delay.

During the height of the monsoon the wind draws southward, varying
from S.S.W. to S.S.E. in June and July.

From the gulf of Siam to cape Padaran the S.W. monsoon blows
nearly parallel to the coast ; and, if close in, a light wind from the land
is at times experienced at night, succeeded by a short interval of calm on
the following morning. The monsoon breeze then sets in, and generally
continues brisk during the day. These land and sea breezes prevail most
on the coast of Cochin China, from cape Padaran northward to the gulf
of Tong King ; for the sea wind dies away almost every evening on
this coast during this monsoon, and a land breeze comes off in the night,
although not at a regular hour. This is followed by calms or light airs,
which frequently continue until noon ; the sea breeze then sets in from the

In March and April there are land and sea breezes on the coast of
Luzon, with fine weather; but after the S.W. monsoon sets in strong
in June, and from that time until it abates in October, the weather is mostly
cloudy ; and the winds blowing from the sea upon that coast are generally
accompanied with much i-ain.

On the coasts of China, both monsoons are subject generally to the same
variations as those in the China sea. In the southerly monsoon the winds
are not so constant from one quarter of the compass as they are in the
N.E. monsoon ; land and sea breezes oceur near the coast, so that there is
nothing like the difficulty in getting southward against the southerly
monsoon as there is in getting northward against the N.E. monsoon. On
the south coast the winds during the southerly monsoon prevail frequently
at south and S.S.E. About Formosa, and also between it and the coast,
strong north-east winds often happen in July, August, and September
(see page 6).

* For winds and weather in gulf of Siam, see China Sea Directory, vol. ii, p. 288.

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.. — Ou the coast of Cambodia, in June, July, and August
there are heavy rains accompanying S.W. winds. The monsoons are not
regnlar, and land and sea breezes are met with when the prevailing
monsoon is weak. These breezes do not last more than five or six hours
during the S.W. monsoon, and are not so fresh as those which prevail
at the end of the N.E. monsoon. At Pulo Timoan and Pulo Condore
the N,E, monsoon is established towards the middle of October with fine
weather. The S.W. monsoon brings rain, and lasts during five months.
Near the above islands, in November, there are alternately calms, and
storms accompanied by rain or typhoons. At Pulo Condore the rains
continue for a month after the N.E. monsoon is established. At Pulo
Timoan the wind becomes unsettled in September, and the change of
monsoon is attended by bad weather. In November the weather is fine.
On the coast which extends between the gulf of Siam and cape Padaran
the S.W. monsoon blows along the shore, and sometimes, near the land,
during the night a light land breeze is found succeeded by an interval
of calm, which is followed by the monsoon wind, blowing fresh during
the remainder of the day. On the same coast the N.E. monsoon is
established for the end of September or beginning of October to the middle
of April.

COCBZV CBzarA.. — On this coast wintry weather is found with cold
northerly winds and rain, which prevail from December to February.
During the N.E. monsoon easterly winds are frequent. Between the
Paracels and the coast as far as cape Varela easterly winds with frequent
calms are found, whilst out in the China sea the monsoon is blowing fresh
and regularly. During the S.W. monsoon on this coast the land and sea
breezes are tolerably regular, the s^a breeze being replaced by the land
breeze every evening, which blows during the night,* followed by a calm
or light wind, which does not always commence at the same hour, but
generally lasts till noon, when the sea breeze again sets in. The winds
on the coast of Cochin China are variable during the whole year, and the
monsoons generally light. The leeward coast is not dangerous with the
N.E. monsoon. Heavy rains occur in September, October, and November.


monsoons on the west coast of Luzon are so subject to interruption, being
influenced by loovl circumstances and other causes, that it is difficult to
say at what period either fairly sets in. The northern coasts of Luzon lie
in the main strength of the monsoons. Its mountains, which rise to the height
of 6,000 feet, exert an important influence on the climate by intercepting the
monsoons in their courses, and thereby cause the bad weather so often
encountered near the coasts. At the changes of the monsoons gales and

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bad weather are not unfrequent, also* typhoons. The seasons are divided
into wet and dry. The S.W. monsoon brings often cloudy, gloomy, and
wet weather on the western coasts, and the rains last from the beginning
of June till the middle of September, whilst at that season there is fine
weather in the eastern and northern parts of Luzon. In October the
westerly monsoon gives place to the northerly winds, which bring similar
rains from the Pacific, which are very abundant on the eastern coasts.
In February the N.E. monsoon abates, and in March becomes moderate,
inclining to land and sea breezes, which have a tendency to follow the
course of the monsoon, and not blow directly off and on the coast ; and
these are found on the west coast nearly as far north as cape Bojeador
up to the end of December. On the north coast of Luzon, during the
N.E. monsoon, the winds are frequently variable, generally from north
and N.E., but if they veer to N.W. and West they then blow strong
and are attended with cloudy weather and rain. In April the alternating
land and sea brezees are well established, and from June to October, the
period of the S.W. monsoon, that wind brings rain, and blows on the
coast at right angles.

In the Bashee channel t3rphoons are liable to occur during the summer
months, and sometimes also early in May, at which latter period they pass
through to the north-eastward, having recurved in the central part of
the China sea. Later in the season their course through these straits is
generally between W.N.W. and W.S.W., but more often in the former
direction. In November fturious gusts are sometimes experienced. In
the N.E. monsoon strong winds prevail.

BAST COAST of FO&MOSA.. — The N.E. monsoon is established on
this coast in October and blows steadily until April, the wind being
generally much more moderate near the shore than in the offing, but it is
often very boisterous in the strength of the monsoon. It changes in
April, but the S.W. monsoon seldom sets in until May, and S.E. winds
prevail greatly up. to July. Between June and September very fine
weather is generally experienced, the southerly monsoon being a gentle

sscuoir v-S. of FO&MOSA.. — ^In June the S.W. monsoon is established,
and blows as a light summer gale over the Luchu and Linschoten islands,
with blue sky and fine weather. It sets in earlier, but the winds are
light, and for the most part from south and S.E., excepting northward of
a line joining Formosa and Luchu, where E.N.E. ^winds, generally fresh,
prevail through May.

At the Meiaco Sima group the wind in April is variable between south,
and S.E,, with unsettled weather. In May and June S.W. winds prevail.

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variable round to south. From July to September S.W. winds prerail,
variable round to south and sometimes south-east. In September the
monsoon changes, and unsettled weather is experienced during that month,
and strong, variable winds with squalls and rain. From October to
December, inclusive, the winds are strong from north and N.E., with
haze or rain. In December there are constant strong winds, with much
boisterous weather {see also p. 267). From January to March, inclusive,
strong winds with haze and rain prevail, variable between North and East;
and in March the monsoon moderates, and occasional calms are experienced.*

Typhoons are experienced at the islands north-east of Formosa from
J"ul7 to October, inclusive, and sometimes in November,

During the visit of the U.S. squadron to Luchu in 1 854, the S. W.
monsoon prevailed steadily in May and June, the wind veering to the
southward and eastward in July. In August it was changeable, and at
times strong with squalls and rain, the monsoon changing on Ist

•vrBBT COAST of FORMOSA. — ^From October to April the N.E. monsoon
has for the most part the same character as on the China coast, fresh and
varied with gales, although generally more moderate and fine on the
southern part of the coast. The S.W. monsoon is greatly modified by
the land of Formosa, and in the summer months gentle S.W. winds and
calms prevail, the breeze blowing home to the coast but not beyond, with
rarely a gale of even a few hours' duration^ North of the Pescadores
the S.W. winds do not set in till May, when they alternate with strong
N.E. winds. On the north coast these alternating winds continue into
June, the latter blowing very fresh and bringing in a remarkable black
haze, characteristic of this coast during a north-easter. The wind at such
times veers about between N.E. and N.N.W., continuing about three days ;
but whilst blowing hard outside they do not fetch home into Kelung
harbour. The N.E. trade-wind may be said to blow on the northern coast
nearly nine months in the year.

The northern coast is visited by typhoons at rare intervals, and the
same may be said of the south-west coast of the island (see also page 8),
for they have been recorded both at Takau and Taiwan fu.

nie TBK&oixr SEA. — For winds and weather, see page 435.

Tbe OVZiFS of PB-CBXXiZ and XiZAV-TTnrG. — See pages 500 and 526.
TBB BASTBBir PASSAGZSS TO CHZWA. — These will be found in
the Appendix, page 564.

♦ From China Sea Directory, vol. iv., p. 11.
t Perry's "Expedition to Japan."

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rs.* — ^The Chinese word typhoongy signifying "great wind,*
has long by general consent been applied as a distingnishing appeUation to
those hurricanes or cyclones which prevail in the China sea and the con-
tiguous portion of the North Pacific ocean. These dangerous tempests
occur in the northern part of the China sea, in the Bashee channel, east-
ward of Foimosay over the Fhilipine islands, and also between Formosa and
Japan. They do not extend into the Formosa strait, the high mountain
chain of Formosa, of 5,000 to 12,000 feet elevation, appearing to interpose
a barrier to their progress, which diverts their com'se southward, through
the Bashee channel, on to the China coast near Hong Kong and Macao,
where they are very frequent. There is only one case on record of their
having reached! Amoy ; and northward of Formosa they are also of rare
occurrence, one having visited the Chusan archipelago in 1843, much to
the astonishment of the inhabitants, who stated that no such thing had
occurred for 50 years. Some violent storms have also visited Shanghai,
but it is doubtfiil whether they are true typhoons. Eastward of Formosa
they extend as far as the Benin islands, and probably right across the
Pacific between the latitudes of 10° and 50® N. It is said that they blow
with the greatest fury when near the land, and also that their violence is
not so great when they pass well southward of the coast of China. In
the China sea their limit is about 14^ N. lat., although severe gales are
sometimes experienced two or three degrees further southward.

Typboon Seasons. — ^The general season of the typhoons is from July
till November inclusive, but they have also occurred in June, and even as
early as the beginning of May in the China sea. They are usually
less severe in the China sea if they occur" in May, November, or
December ; although in the vicinity of Formosa and the Bashee islands
there are sometimes furious gusts in November. From December to May
they seldom or never happen ; of late years, those that have been expe-
rienced in June and July were the most violent, and many vessels have
been dismasted and sustained other damage by them. The September
equinox is a very precarious period, particularly if the perigee of the moon
coincide with the equinox ; for when this has been the case, typhoons have
happened several years at the equinox in September on the coast of China,
and many ships have been dismasted on the 21st or 22nd of that month.

The following remarks of Captain Bullock, E.N., require confirmation.
Very early in the season typhoons are met in the Pacific, and if they then
pass across the Philipine islands into the China sea, they will probablj

* See Eemarks on Revolving Storms, published by the Admiralty, price ^d,
f In August 1864. Reported by Edward Wilds, Esq., R.N., commanding H.M. sur-
veying vessel Swallow. See Appendix, page 575.

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recurve through the Bashee channel, returning into the Pacific ; but from
June till October, if they reach the China sea, they cross the northern parts
of it, and striking on the coast pass into the interior^ when their track
becomes lost. In October and November they prevail chiefly in the
vicinity of the Mariana and Benin island9, and are found travelling across
the more central parts of the China sea.

Xaw of storms. — ^Typhoons are rotary storms, similar in character
to those of the West Indies and Indian ocean, and follow the same
laws of gyration and progression as all hurricanes in the northern
hemisphere. The " Law of Storms," now so fully recognised and so well
understood, should be the study of every navigator of these seas, because
without a complete knowledge of the system which regulates the motions
of a cyclone, the skill of the seaman is rendered futile, for if overtaken by
the vortex the vessel becomes unmanageable, and, left to the mercy of the
storm, is liable to founder. It therefore behoves the mariner to master the
subject so as to be ready for every emergency, and enable him to avoid
damage or disaster.

The motions of a hurricane are two, — one rotatory, one moving forward.
It may be best described as a vast, progressive whirlwind. The storm
itself may be regarded, for practical purposes, as circular in form, with
the wind moving in a circuit or spiral round the centre or vortex, where
it is usually calm, with the wind revolving around it with uncontrollable
fory, and diminishing gradually in force towards the circumference. The
rotation of the wind in a typhoon, being in the northern hemisphere, is
** against the sun " or " against the hands of a watch." The rate of pro-
gress of a typhoon is considered to be about 200 miles a day, and often
less ; its velocity is also generally retarded at the period of its recurvature.
Within the tropics the effects of these storms are often felt at from 50 to
100 miles on either side the central path, this limit expanding in the
extra-tropical region.

pafbs of Typboons.* — The typhoons commence within the tropics in
from 10° to 15° N. lat., whence they advance in a nearly direct W.N.W.
course towards the coasts of China, the Philipines, or Cochin China. In
the centi-al and northern parts of the China sea their course is generally
W. by N., but occasionally they follow the coast between Formosa and
Hainan on a course southward of West, and even W.S.W., but more often
they change their direction to N. W. on Approaching the coast. After they
have pursued this W.N.W. course for some 20° or 30° of longitude, they
suddenly recurve or turn northwards, in a space of 4° or 5° of latitude, or

* See Paths of Typhoons, on Admiralty Wind and Current Charts for the Pacific,
Atlantic, and Indian oceans, published by the Admiralty, 1872.

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sometimes less, and then recede on a nearly straight course north-eastward
as far as the parallels of 45° or 5(JP N. At no part of their progress is it
80 dangerous to meet a cyclone as during its recurvature, especially if it
should be moving at a rapid rate or changing its course quickly, for
great perplexity must in such a case arise as to the course of the storm, at a
time when a prompt decision may be of the utmost importance. Fortu-
nately, typhoons seldom recurye in the China sea, but most frequently
recurve east of the meridian of 130° W., between the parallels of 18° and
28° N., a locality somewhat out of the track of vessels.

As these great storms obey fixed laws, it follows that the position and
track of a typhoon may be determined with a considerable degree of
accuracy. The axis or central line of progression is called the storm-path,
and divides the storm-field into two semicircles, called right and left, look-
ing at the direction in which it is bodily moving ; thus the right semi-
circle of a typhoon is always the more easterly one. Each semicircle has
two quadrants, one preceding or leading, one lying behind or following,
the storm's centre. Now, by observing the direction of the wind it is easy
to ascertain the ship's position in the storm-field by the following rule of
thumb : — Look at the wind's eye, note its direction, and the eighth point to
the right is the bearing of the centre of the storm ; thus, if tlie wind be
N.E. the storm's centre is S.E. Next, by observing in which dh-ection the
wind veers, the approximate course of the storm-path may be determined.
To make an accurate mental deduction the ship should be stationary, but
a better method is to project on the chart, if the scale be large enough, or
otherwise on a sheet of paper, the positions of ship and vortex about
50 miles apart, marking off the ship's track and the varying position of
the vortex, and making an allowance of about four miles decrease of dis-
tance for every tenth of an inch that the barometer falls. By adopting
this graphic method the perplexities arising from apparent anomalies due
to the separate motions of ship and storm may be obviated. For instance,
if a ship were running in the same direction as a typhoon, but overtaking
it, the wind would be found to veer in a direction the very opposite of
that which it would have done had she been hove- to, and an erroneous
conclusion might be drawn from this circumstance regarding her position
in the storm-field and the proper steps to be taken.

Praetloal Observations. — The following table, taken from Professor
Dove's " Law of Storms," exhibits how a ship should be handled under
most circumstances on meeting a typhoon, that is to say, a cyclone in the
northern hemisphere, observing that it is only possible for a vessel to run
where she has sea room.

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Direction of
wind at

Bearing of
the centre

Shift of




Shift of


the beginning

from the


Course to



of Storm.










Towards N.




N. by W.


E. by N. 1

1 ,9 W.






„ w.



S.W. by W.

N.W. by N.




„ w.






„ w.


S.W. by S.

N.W. by W.



„ w.





! „ w.


S. by W.

W. by N.


N. by E.

1 >». w.



Online LibraryGreat Britain. Hydrographic OfficeThe China Sea directory: Comprising the coasts of China from Hong Kong to ... → online text (page 2 of 72)