Great Britain. Hydrographic Office.

The China Sea directory: Comprising the coasts of China from Hong Kong to ... online

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a, h, c. d. If advantageous, a vessel may run, but if she close at all with the vortex,
she must be hove-to on the starboard tack. Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4 have been added to Dove's
table.

Nos. 17 to 24. The dangerous quadrant when a typhoon is travelling to the westward.

Nos. 9 to 16. The dangerous quadrant when a typhoon is recurving northwards.

Nos. 5 to 13. The dangerous quadrant when a typhoon is travelling north-eastward.

It will be observed that the most dangerous quarter in which a storm
can be encountered is the leading quadrant of the right semicircle, for it
18 that in which a vessel cannot get farther away from the vortex by sailing
on, so that she must either heave- to on the starboard tack^ or adopt the alter-
native (in some cases the most judicious course to pursue) of crossing in
front of the advancing storm ; in such a case it is obvious that no hard
and fast rule can be laid down for guidance, but it could scarcely ever
be advisable to attempt to cross the storm's path when more than two
I)oints from its course, unless it were recurving rapidly.

When a storm is recurving the danger is further increased, together
with the embarrassment of the navigator, if his ship be in the dangerous



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12 TYPHOONS. [CHAP. I.

quadrant, and especially if she be in that part of it when it would appear
equally hazardous either to run or to heave-to.*

When first entering the left semicircle the vessel is always in a position
of safety, and may be run or hauled out of the storm on the port tack.

If the wind continues steady in one direction, with increasing violence
and rapidly-falling barometer, it is evident that the ship is directly in the
path of the storm's centre, which would pass over her ; in this case it is
necessary to run before the wind.

It is essential to heave a ship to on the coming-up tack, so that as the
wind veers she may head-up to the sea, whereas on the falling-off tack
her broadside would be exposed to the seas breaking on board, and
also to the danger of being taken aback. To prevent this she should be
hove-to on the starboard tack in the right semicircle, and on the port tack
in the left semicircle*

Under any circumstances, if a vessel encounter a typhoon, whether over-
taken by it or sailing into it, it must be assumed that she is approaching
the vortex, and the rate at which she is doing so will be approximately
indicated by the fall of the barometer and the increasing strength of the wiird.

In the northern intertropical latitudes the recession of the south-eastern
limb of the storm appears to be followed, not unfrequently, by strong squalls
or gusts from S.E., which if mistaken for the regular action of the hurri-
cane may occasion erroneous deductions as to the course of the storm.

It also occasionally happens that one storm is closely followed by a
second ; it is sufficient to mention this to put the mariner on his
guard.

Preoautions. — ^If a vessel should happen to be sailing within the
typhoon region during the typhoon season, and certain prognostics should
appear which seemed to forbode a storm, prudence would require that she
should be prepared for encountering a tempest of that nature, even though
appearances, at first, might induce one to think that such would not
eventually be the result ; for whether a mere ordinary gale or a hurricane
should foUow, it must be admitted that during that season it is the wisest,
as it is the safest, plan to be prepared to meet the worst. It must be
recollected that Nature herself proclaims the warning, and her admonitions
are not to be disregarded with impunity ; and the manner of acting in
such a case of uncertainty will demand all the resources of mind of the

* For instance, with the h'ne of progression W.N.W. it would generally be wrong to
scad with the wind N.E.^ but proper to do so if at N.N.E. This is one of those cases,
the vessel being in the dangerous quadrant, in which the experienced seaman, after
having given the theory his best attention, and made himself familiar with the law
of storms, must follow the dictates of his own mature judgment, for the occasion ia
one that will assuredly call forth the foil exercise of it.



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CHAP. I.] PEECAUTIONS. 18

individnal commander^ especiaUj if placed for the first time in sach a
dilemma.*

Without loss of time the ship should be made snug, hatches battened
down, &c.y and when brought to the wind it should be under storm sails
alone, unless she be on the verge of the typhoon and can sail out of it*
It is considered exceedingly dangerous to remain under any kind of
square canvas^ and even when obliged to scud it is preferable to do so
under bare poles ; for although on the one hand it may seem advisable to
carry top sail on account of the waves rising to so great a height that her
way may become deadened in the trough of the sea and the ship pooped
in consequence, on the other hand the probability of being taken aback by
a Blufb of wind, when near the vortex, is so great that the danger of
foundering would be imminent. The violence of the wind is often so
great that boats and spars are literally blown away ; the length of the
deck is not visible; the clouds descend and blend with the spoondrift;
no sail can stand, and ships are frequently dismasted ; it becomes therefore
the bounden duty of every ship-master to avoid if possible a typhoon at .
sea, and it is in the highest degree unwise to risk, by hesitation or delay,
being caught within the dominion of the storm.

Vessels running up the China sea will generally meet the left semicircle,
with the wind between N.E. and N.W., a safe quarter of the stormy
and are thus enabled to bear up and run to the southward till it has passed
or ta sail round its eastern verge with a fair wind.

Vessels proceeding down the China sea are liable to encounter the
northern verge of a typhoon, with the wind from S.E. to N.E., which is
more or less in a position of danger.

A vessel from Hong Kong proceeding through the Bashee channel
would in all probability be involved in the N.W. quadrant of a storm
advancing westward, with the wind between East and North. This is a
very dangerous position on account of the want of sea-room, the number
of islands and shoals, and the absence of harbours within reach. A vessel
entering the Bashee channel from the eastward would, if overtaken by a
storm, be precisely in the same position, but if she first experienced the
wind between S.W. and S.E. she would probably be herself overtaking
a storm travelling westward, rather than meeting a typhoon recurving
through the Bashee channel north-eastward, which is an uncommon occur-
rence, but known to have happened once early in May and also in August.

In order to make use of a hurricane, the conditions under which it is
encountered must be favourable. The vessel must be in one of those
quadrants in which her distance from the vortex can be increased at

* Findlay's <* North Atlantic Memoir," chapter on hurricanes.



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14 TYPHOONS. [CHAP. I.

pleasure, and with the wind either blowing fair for the prosecution of her
voyage, or likely to veer so as to become fair. K therefore intending to
make use]of the storm, it will be advisable to keep near its verge by running
outwards from the centre with the wind quarterly, before wind and sea
become too high, for if they attain any degree of violence it may be
difficult to do so, or to regulate the vessel's speed exactly with that of the
typhoon if both be travelling together on the same course; for in the
latter case it might be necessary to carry some canvas, to prevent her
being pooped, and this might drive her in advance of the vortex. It must
be borne in. mind that the progress of typhoons is usually slow, about 8
miles an hour, consequently great caution is necessary, for if compelled to
continue scudding a vessel would eventually be carried helplessly by
the veering wind right across the path of the storm.

Prosnostloatloiui. — ^To be enabled to determine with certainty the
approach of a typhoon would be exceedingly valuable, but it has been
affirmed that they frequently commence without giving any precursory
indications. When it is remembered that 24 hours before its arrival a
typhoon is some 200 miles distant, it is obvious that the warning must be a
short one under any circumstances, and if unheeded, it is not surprising if
the mariner be overtaken unawares.* One can readily imagine that a
typhoon travelling with great rapidity froin a remote locality, and travers-
ing a region where settled weather was prevailing, might give little or
no warning ; but if the storm itself be the result of atmospheric irregu-
larity, extending over a considerable area, then it would reasonably be
conjectured that signs of its occurrence would not be wanting. Experience
rather seems to favour the latter supposition, as instanced by the fact that
the untutored native boatmen of Hong Kong almost invariably anticipate
the approach of a typhoon by 24 hours, and their prediction is seldom
erroneous. Of the prognostications which have been observed, the
following negative or affirmative indications may be found useful.

The clouds having a red aspect is not a certain warning of the
approach of a typhoon ; for at the rising, but more particularly at the
setting of the sun, the clouds, especially those opposite to it in settled
weather, are sometimes tinged with a deep red colour by the reflected light.
Neither is an irregular swell a good criterion to judge of their approach ;
for near the coast of China a cross swell frequently prevails during

* Mr. J. W. King, Master, R.N., H.M.S. Modeste, obsetYea :—

"We rode out two heavy typhoons during the month of July 1841. The first, which
occurred on the 21st, in Macao outer roads, was preceded by calms, sultry weather,
increased temperature, and by the barometer fedling gradually to 29*40 before the
typhoon burst upon us ; its lowest was 28*80. The other, which occurred on the 26th, at
Hong Kong, gave but little warning of its approach ; on this occasion the barometer
fell to 28-40."



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CHAP. I.] PaOGNOSTI0ATIOK«. — ^BABOMETEB. 16

ste&dj settled weather. A hazy atmosphere, preyenting land from being
seen at great distances, is no un&voorable sign on the coast of China, for
this is generally its state in medium or settled weather. A serene sky,
with the horizon remarkably clear, should not be considered an indication
of a continuance of favourable weather ; for a series of fine weather and
calms, favouring an increase of heat above the mean temperature, is
likely to be succeeded by a typhoon. When the horizon is very clear in
some parts, and the summits of the hills or islands obscured by dense
black clouds, there is some irregularity in the atmosphere, and stormy
weather may be apprehended.

Other tokens by which these storms fu*e ushered in are an unusually
high barometer accompanying a cloudless sky and sultry weather, with
often a sensation of oppression. At other times the sky assumes the
threatening aspect which generally precedes a great storm ; a greasy halo
is observed round sun or moon ; the clouds are rolled or tufted in unusual
forms and colours (a copper colour being a frequent precursor) with lurid
streaks of light ; or a heavy bank is seen on the horizon attended with light-
ning. The storm- wave which is frequently experienced at great distances
beyond the limits of the storm is a certain indication ; and a conned and
troubled agitation of the sea often precedes the storm, and always shows
that it is at no great distance. In the northern part of the China sea, a
low barometer for several days previous, an ugly threatening appearance,
and heavy swell will give suflScient warning, and, provided it be taken,
will either enable vessels to get sufficient sea room to avoid the centre of
the storm, or give time to secure safe anchorage.

Barometrle Zndicatlons. — The barometer will be found an unerring
indicator of the incidence of a typhoon, provided proper attention be paid
to its monitions. As a general law, the following will be its movements
during a storm : — Just previous to the commencement of the hurricane
the mercury will generally rise above its ordinary level ; soon after it will
begin to fall and the wind suddenly to rise, showing the storm has begun.
The mercurial column then descends rapidly, gaining its lowest point as
the vortex passes, and commencing to rise rapidly with the first shift of
wind to the opposite quarter, again attaining the higher level, and then as
suddenly falling to the mean height. These changes will only be thus
experienced when a ship crosses the centre of the storm, but it will in-
variably be found that according to the greater or less velocity with which
she closes the vortex or increases her distance from it, in whatever
quadrant, the barometer will fall or rise more or less rapidly, and the
distance of the storm can be approximately estimated thex-eby. The
barometer will sometimes sink two inches during a typhoon.

The aneroid barometer is of great value at such a time, especially at
night, for it can be registered with great facility, and, being portable, may



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16 TYPHOON HABBOUKS. — GALES. [chap.i.

be watched constantly, when the marine barometer may not be accessible ;
moreover its variations occur simultaneously with their causes, showing
minute changes that ore concealed by the pumping of the quicksilver,
in even the best constructed marine barometers, when the motion of the
ship is very violent.

TTPBOOir BASBOUSS. — The following is a list of anchorages on the
eastern coast of China where vessels will lie secure in a typhoon or veering
gale*: — Tam-tu island ; Mirsbay; Ty-sami inlet (for 12 feet draught) ;
Namoa island (abreast Stewart's house) ; Tongsang harbour ; Amoy
harbour ; Quemoy island ; Makung harbour in the Pescadores islands ;
Kelung and Tamsui harbours in Formosa ; Chinchew harbour (within the
Boot sand) ; Hungwha sound ; Haetan strait, south entrance ; Pih-quan
harbour ; Bullock harbour ; and in the Chusan archipelago, Ting-hai
outer and inner harbours, Chinkeamun and Chin Keang harbours, Fisher
or Chang-pih island, and Ta-outse on the north-west side of Kintang.

OAibBS sometimes blow steadily from E.N.E. or N.E. several days at a
time, in September or October, near the south coast of China. In the
same months they are liable to occur on the west coast of Luzon, where
they mostly commence at north or N.W., and veer to West, S.W., or South,
blowing strong from all these directions, with heavy rain, and a cross
turbulent sea, but seldom continuing long.

Li the northern part of the China sea, fresh northerly gales of three or
four days' duration sometimes occur in December or January, with high
barometer and dirty weather.

Strong N.E. gales have beei> sometimes experienced on the coast of
China during the S. W. monsoon ; in one of these a vessel, after making
the Great Ladrone on July 16th, 1802, was driven by the 20th westward to
the Mandarin's Cap, with strong gales, hard squalls, and the current
setting from 1 to 2 knots per hour westward. The north-east wind con-
tinued nine days, which obliged her to stand out to sea, and she did not
arrive at Macao until the 26th.

In May, June, July, and August severe gales are at times experienced
in the north-western part.of the China sea, particularly between lat. 14°N.
and Hainan island, with the gulf of Tong King open. These gales
generally begin at N.N.W. or N.W., and blow with violence out of the
gulf, accompanied by dark weather and a deluge of rain ; from N.W. they
veer to West and S.W., still blowing strong, and abate as they veer more
southerly. When these N.W. gales are blowing in the vicinity of Hainan
and the coast of Cochin China, strong S.W. or southerly gales generally
prevail at the same time in the middle of the China sea.

* Also Canton river above Lintin (p. 89) ; Hong Kong harbour and anchorages in
the vicinity, tee page 86,



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CHAT.i.] CUBBEKTS IK K*£. M0K800K. 17

A violent S.W. squall or sharp gale of four hours' doration has been
known to occur at Hong Kong in Januaiy^ causing great damage to the
native craft, and foreign vessels to drive or lose their anchors. It was
preceded bj incessant lightning for an hour or two.

From Hong Kong northward as far as the parallel of 30° N. moderate
and fresh N.E. gales with rain are liable to occur up to June, but they
are not generally so heavy as those which prevail during the monsoon.

Particulars of local gales are found in various parts of this work.

CUEBENTS.

The principal currents of the region which this volume embr%c08 are
the N.E. and S.W. monsoon drifts and the Japan stream. The two first
alternate in the China sea with great regularity, and similarly, though in
a lesser degree, on the northern coasts of China ; the last-named forma
part of the system of the great oceanic currents.*

China sea during the N.E. monsoon runs generally south-westward, with
a velocity depending on the strength of the wind. When the force of the
monsoon is abated, or during moderate and light breezes, there is often
little or no current.

In the western parts of the sea, along the coasts of Cochin China and
the Malay peninsula, the current gen^^y begins to run to the south-
ward about the middle of October (sometimes sooner on the former
coast), and continues until April. During the month of March its.
direction is constantly to the southward about Pulo Aor, with light
easterly winds and calms at times. On the coast of Cochin China, and
adjacent to Hainan island, a current varying from south to S.W. com-
mences sometimes about the middle of September ; near the land, from
lat. 15^ N.^ to 11^ or 11^** N., it increases in strength; but its rate
decreases in proportion as it flows southward. During the prevalence of
the N.E. monsoon, from about lat. 14^ N. to cape Padaran the current
near the coast frequently runs 40 or 50, and sometimes 60 miles to the
southward in 24 hours ; the rate, however, is variable, and it is only in
the limits above mentioned that it is occasionally so strong, for its strength
abates at cape Padaran, and runs with less velocity to the S.W., towards
the entrance of the gulf of Siam.

On the southern coast of China the current during the N.E. monsoon
runs almost constantly to the W.S.W., nearly parallel to the land, at a
rate of 18 to 48 miles a day according to the strength of the wind, and
sometimes, when a typhoon or a storm happens, its rapidity is greatly

* See Adminlty Atlas of Wind and Current Charts for the Pacific, Atlantic, and
Indian Oceans, 1872.

30951. B



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18 CVEBENTS [chap. I*

increased. At the distance of 60 or 90 miles from the coast it seldom
nms so strong as near it ; and in 30 or 40 fathoms soundings there is much
less current than in shoal water near the shore and amongst the islands.
The westerly current sometimes slackens, and, contiguous to the land, the
tidal streams prevail when 'not overcome by the force of the current,
especially at springs.

Between Formosa and the China coast the current runs to the south-
westwai'd at the rate of 1 to 2 knots an hour, according to the strength of
the monsoon. On the west coast of Formosa, when light winds prevails
the currei^t is often found setting to the northward. On the west coast
of Luzon the current is changeable, sometimes setting southward along
the coast, at other times northward. To the eastward of Formosa, about
Botel Tobago island, it frequently runs strong to the northward and north-
eastward, as early as the 1st of March ; and although changeable at times,
it sets mostly in that direction during the S.W. monsoon, and in the
opposite* direction during the N.E. monsoon.

cxntMBKTB in SOUTB-'WEST MOVSOOST. — ^In the China sea, at this
season, they are changeable, their direction and velocity depending
much upon local circumstances. Late in April, or early in May, they
generally begin to set to the northward in the south and middle parts of
the Sea, and continue to run in a north-easterly direction until September,
while the S.W. monsoon is strong ; but they are not constant in this
monsoon, for at times, when the wind is moderate or light, they are
liable to change and set in various directions. After the strength of
the monsoon has abated, there is often little or no current running to the
north-eastward in the open sea ; but sometimes its direction is to the
southward.

Along the coast of Cochin China, from Pulo Obi to cape Padaran, the
current sets mostly to the E.N.E., paa-allel to the shore, from April to the
middle of October ; and during the same period its direction is generally
to the northward along the east coast of the Malay peninsula, from the
entrance of Singapore strait to the gulf of Siam, To the northward of
cape Padaran there is but little current in the S.W. monsoon near the
Cochin China coast ; for, from thence to the gulf of Tong King, a small
drain is sometimes found setting northward, at other times southward.
When a gale happens to blow out of the latter gulf from the north-west
and westward, the current at the same time sets generally to the south-
west or southward in the vicinity of the Paracel islands and reefs,
or where these gales are experienced; and this current running

* China Pilot, 4th edition, p. 10. The currents about Formosa and Luzon are more
fully explained under the head of * Japan stream,' on page 20, and in other parts of
the -work.



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CHAP. I.] IN S.W. MONSOON. — JAPAN STBEAM. 10

obliqaely, ot contrary to the wind,- a turbulent and high sea ie thereby
produded.

On the soaihem coast of China the current ie mtioh goi^eraed by die
"Wind : when strong S.W. winds prerail it runs along diore to the east-
word^ but 'seldom strong. Near, and amongst the islands, westward of
Macao, there is generally a westerly current, oecasioned by the freshes
&i}m Canton river, which set in that direction^ frequently sweeping
along -the islands from Macao to St. John between W.S.W. and W.N.W.,
about 1 or 2 knots per hour. This westerly current is, howerer, not
always constant in the S«W. monsoon, for it slacks at times ; then a weak
tide may sometimes be experienced running eastward.

On the west coast of Luzon and Palawan the current generally sets
northward in the S.W. monsoon, but frequently there is no current, and
near these coasts it seldom runs strong. On the north coast of Luson
there is also little or no current. The trade-drift of the Pacific is liable
to set to the westward along its shores, and is probably accelerated at
times hy strong N^, or easterly winds. Near the Bashee islands it
sometimes sets eastward when strong westerly winds prevail; but generally
strong to the northward, or between N.N.W. and N.E.

The strength of the current on the eastern coast of China increases with
the freshness and duration of the monsoon, varying from one knot to as
much as 3 and even 4 knots per hour ; and this requires to be especially
guarded against when hove-to off a port or running for one in thick
weather. Thus many vessels in the S.W. monsoon have run into