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A Queer Story

A Queer Story image
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In 1843-4 I was masterof tho ship Mas sasoit, of Bith, Mc, on a whaling voyag to the South Atlantic and Indian Ooeans On my passage home, af'ter an absence o two yeara, I arrived on tho coast tho firs of February. I decided to come throug] what iscalled '"South Channel,"between " Nantucket" and vho " Georges Shoals,' to savo pilotago through the " Vineyarc Sound." Aftor entering the channel, foi the entire month of February I only made twenty-four miles " northing," there be ing constant gales from the northpast with snow, hail and rain, then suddenly veering to the northwest. One day at noon I found the ship in nine fathoms of water, and drifting direCtly on the shoals; and as I knew by the chart that the water lessened one fathom a mile, and as we wero drifting about one mile a hour, consequently I knew tha' she must strike in the vicinity of 4 o'clock I made several ineffectual attempts to gol the ship heading the opposite way, as by that she would drift parallel with insteac of directly on tho shoals ; but I had losi all my available headsails, excepting au old " fore staysail," which we bent, and with that and the weather-clew of the reeied loresau 1 hoped to get nor round ; but with all our cautions in hoisting the sail, it went into ribbons before it was half hoisted taut. So witb the " clew" oi the foresail. Thus every chance of getting the ship on the opposite tack was hopelessly gone, and all we could do was to wait our inevitable doom, which was as sure as fate, unless there was a favorable change of wind, and that very soon. I kept the lead in iny own posaession, and once in awhile got the depth of water. I kept the officers and crew ignorant of the real state of aíí'airs, so that, if there presented a chance to save the ship, they would be available, as, if they knew the real danger, they would become demoralïzed, and utterly unfit to do anythingif a íavorable change should present itself. A little paat three P. M.,I got a cast of the ead with six fathonis (thirly-six feet). [ went into my cabin, as I thought, for :he last time. I remember trying to feel bad, as we were so near the end of all sublunary ;hings; but do what I would, I could not et up a serious feeling. I thought of my wife and child ; I thought of my mother and her Christian teachings and aduaonitions about my infidelity, but without avail, as at this time I was what wascalled an awful infidel. Volney, Voltaire and Torn Paine were all in the rear of my infidel notions, because they all believed in a God, while I did not. After a few moments' stay iu the cabin, I determined to go on deck and teil all hands the real situation of affairs, and let them go to their devotions, which I knew they would do as soon au they leamed of their nearness to eternity. I went on deck witli with this determination, and, although I could hear the ooean roar, the ship creaking, the rigging rattling, the winds screaming, yet it Beemed calm to me. Just as I was about to teil the officers hovv things stood, I heard a voioe, clear and distmct above the raging elemente, say : " Wear ship !" I immediately answered, as though a human being had spoken, " I can't ; have no sails." The voice coutinued : "Makea sail of the men! Man the weather forerigging with the men ! And, although 1 had never heard of such a maneuvre, yet its praoticability flashed through my brain in an instant, and instead of setting them praying, I called them aft, told them in a few words what to do, and that, when the ship was before the wind, all were to go below and haul over the souttles, as, in coming to, such a heavy sea would be in danger of sweeping the decks, and might carry away all three masts. Thpy all scampered forward with alacrity, laughing and joking at being made into a " storm sail." I lashed myself to the wheel, and as soou as the men were all in the rigging I rolled the wheel hard up, when she immediately began to fall off, the men carrying out their instructions to the letter. In a few minutes she same to on the opposite tack without taking a spoonful of water " aboard." The wind nor sea did not abate or change until 7 P. M. In the rneantime I had bent new sails, and at 10 the wind lulled ; when I had her under three close-reefed topsails and reefed foresail. JSIow I attribute the saving of the ship and the lives of thirty-fouriuen to the


Old News
Michigan Argus