Page images
PDF
EPUB

performed with great zeal and tact, cracking heads and cutting jokes in such capital humour, that he kept a large ring, amidst shouts of laughter from the assembled crowd.

In the forenoon we saluted the king with 21 guns which was returned from the hill fort, (in rather a curious manner to be sure,) first firing three and four guns together, and the others by ones and twos, with an occasional interval of six to ten minutes, altogether they took an hour and a half to get through it.

We hoped that after the first day the natives would have been satisfied with what they had seen, and only visit us when they wished to trade, but here we were mistaken, for they still swarmed on board, both on deck and below, even at meal times they would not leave us, until they had been repeatedly pressed to take a slice of pork or glass of rum, two things abominable to the Johannese, who pride themselves on being strict followers of Mahomet.

On the 5th the king visited the ship accompanied by the principal men of the place, most of whom had been on board before. They were all dressed very fine, after the Arab fashion with a profusion of showy ornaments amongst which swords and daggers were conspicuous. He went round the decks and engine-room, when everything worthy of notice was pointed out. On the chief engineer being introduced to him, he suddenly recollected his watch was out of repair, and fancying that any one who could manage the complicated machinery of the engine-room must of course understand all about a watch. he expressed his intention of sending it on board to be examined. This job our engineer undertook and accomplished (I believe much to his own astonishment) and to the king's satisfaction. His Majesty was so well pleased with the repair of the watch that he sent a rusty pair of pistols with worn-out locks, to be repaired, and after that an old quadrant; and who knows what would have come had we stayed long enough. But to return to his Majesty's visit, nothing appeared to please him so much as the rapidity with which our 10in. pivot-gun was worked, and the great distance a shell could be thrown from it. After a collation in the cabin he left very much gratified with what he had seen.

6th. To day the French schooner of war Eaglecame in, and connected with her a little story came out which did not set the king's character in a very amiable light.

It appears that about 12 months ago a French merchant of Mayotte being in want of labourers for his estate, sent to the king of Johanna to negociate with him for some of his subjects for that purpose. On the receipt of a sum of money from the Frenchman the king seized upon as many of his own subjects as were at hand and sent them. Shortly after their arrival at Mayotte an opportunity offering to escape they seized two dows, and embarking in the night, arrived safely at Johanna; but not willing to trust themselves to the tender mercy of the king they landed at the back of the island out of the reach of his authority. The commander of the French schooner now brought a formal demand from the Governor of Mayotte that these people should at once be given up, and as he is not a man to be trifled with the old king was in great tribulation about it. In addition to this his Johannese Majesty had put a large embargo on a French ship that had put into this port for refreshments, and part of the Frenchman's mission was to arrange a treaty to secure others from like impositions.

He was busily engaged with the Frenchman defending his right, as the king of the place, to charge what he pleased, when Captain Brown entered, to whom he eagerly referred the case, doubtless expecting to be supported from a feeling of rivalry; but when Captain Brown decided that an understanding on this head was very just and proper, his visage fell, and he conceded the point though with evident reluctance. Mr. Bateman, our purser, and Mr. Sunley, resident merchant, having now arrived, it was determined to have a written agreement of port-charges regularly drawn up. Pens, ink, and paper being sent for, the first named gentleman immediately drew up a document, of which the following is a copy:

“For the information of masters of merchant vessels arriving at the Island of Johanna, it is hereby made known that king Selim has fixed the following charges upon vessels of all nations. “Ist.-All merchant vessels with the exception of

Ten Dollars. whalers, touching at this port.

“2nd.-- Whalers arriving at this island for recruiting and watering, as often as they please during the voy- Fifteen Dollars. age. “Dated at Johanna, 8th day of September, 1848.

“Signed F. J. BROWN,

Commander of H.M.S. Geyser, and Senior Officer present.

E. LECLAIRE, Le Com. de Lacotlette L'egle. Witnesses. W. H. BATEMAN, Paymaster & Purser of the Geyser.

W. SUNLEY, Resident Merchant." Several copies of the above were made, one of which was stuck on the king's door, so that masters of vessels putting in here for refreshments will in future be relieved from the nuisance of being pestered with all sorts of charges.

}

THE MERCHANT SERVICE OF GREAT BRITAIN.

My attention has been drawn lately to the above subject by some remarks in an article of the Weekly Dispatch, touching the effects to be expected from the passing of the Navigation Laws Bill, in which it is very wisely observed, if ships are well commanded, we may defy the opposition of the world! Certainly, a very great deal depends upon the ability and good conduct of the Master of a Merchant Ship; but as

Aliquis,” in your last number has shewn, there are sundry other most essential requisites for the thoroughly safe, and consequent profitable management of Merchant Ships. I shall, however, at present only look into the matter of Masters, seeing that they have at least called forth the good opinion of Lord Brougham, which may have considerable weight with the public, either for good or for evil.

To insure good and efficient men offering their services in any profession, I believe it will hardly be disputed that comparatively good pay must be given. But the difficulty in regard to Masters of Ships is, to define what are the necessary qualifications for their (station! and, although to men of sound common sense, there can be really little difficulty in deciding on such matters,—yet, so diversified is the nature, morality, and opinions of shipowners, on this, to them, most important subject, that a just and proper conclusion never can be come to by theni.

Cheapness, however, has a very preponderating effect with most owners, which is a satisfactory reason for nine-tenths of the Masters being far from what they should be. And while the present penurious and low minded ideas shall continue to exist, it is not likely that any improvement will take place in the general character of shipmasters. Those most preferred are the men who have been brought up before the miast, and there is more than one reason for this, although the aforesaid cheapness has great weight. It is sometimes convenient for an owner to have a man in command who shall not be more scrupulous in morality than may

be necessary, and who may be equal to a bribe occasionally to cheat the insurance; and such men are more likely to be met with amongst the uneducated or ill educated: besides, men with the feelings of gentlemen are little likely to put up either with the pay or general treatment of shipowners; and parents of respectability will not send their sons to sea to be bronght up under men who can scarcely sign their own names, and who can only teach the low vulgar habits of merchant sailors. But, I am happy to say, that there are some owners of enlightened minds, who not only pay their masters properly, but treat them so; and I am in hope that 'ere long it will be seen by the majority, that such after all is their best policy, and they will join in the now prevalent idea that masters of ships must be something more than mere sailors; that not only a good education is requisite, but a most unblemished character also, and an examination into all nautical qualifications to be passed, all of which combined shall insure the respectability of the party, and safety to the public by whom he shall be employed.

The examination, as at present regulated by Government, might be altered considerably for the better, and as a first and most necessary step, I would make it binding upon oll masters whatever, to pass for certain sized ships, coasters included, producing at the same time such certificate of character and education as may be thought necessary; and in the event of its ever being proved that a ship was lost from drunkenness or decided carelessness, that that man should be prevented ever being allowed to command again under a severe penalty. Mates also to NO. 7.-VOL. XVIII.

2 x

be under similar regulations; and such examinations to be imperative only on those who have never served as master or mate, or who have only served five years as such. The present system of obliging all masters of ships hired by Government to pass an examination, is, in many, instances, very hurtful to the feelings of old and able officers, who have commanded for many years with credit to themselves and advantage to the public, and many also who have perhaps years ago passed for a Commander in the East India Company's service, or Lieutenant or Mate in the Navy. Such might with propriety be allowed, even at present, to have their feelings spared from coming in contact with boys fresh from school; but, particularly if they have commanded for five years or upwards with credit.

In fine, let shipowners treat men as they ought to do, and not as purse-proud little-minded individuals of short-lived authority, and pay them also in such a manner as shall be consistent with keeping up the respectability of their station, and a new class of masters will soon spring up, as superior in birth and education to the generality of the present, as such are at this moment most urgently required for the Merchant Service throughout.

A. B.

BAYS ON THE COAST OF SPAIN OPEN TO THE LEVANT WINDS.

Upon this high mountainous coast some low plains immediately upon the shore are so completely overshadowed by the height of the mountains, that you have no idea of their extent until quite close in, and some accidents have occurred between Adra and Almeira in consequence of this, and there is so great a sameness in the appearance of the castles, towers, villages, &c., upon this coast, that they are not easily distinguished from each other, and when bound to those small places it is often difficult to get close in at the particular point that you wish. I was two days within ten miles of La Garoucha. The quarantine regulations after calling at a port of entry, (Almeira for instance,) and then going to those places are vexatious and lose much time.

Villarico, La Garoucha, and some other places to the north-eastward of Cape de Gatte have lately employed several ships in carrying coke, &c., to the lead works. Those places and Vera stand upon a triangular plain, broken by irregular hills and the risings of the interior mountains, with the high ridges of the Sierra de Villarico and Calerera upon each side of it, the factories, with their tall chimneys, are the best objects to distinguish those places, as we are sometimes puzzled to know the signification of the terms palaces and castles in foreign countries. The Rio de Cerebar is a mountain torrent, and in the dry season is blocked up by a bar of sand across its mouth, and the little water left in its bed appears very acceptable, as the plain is much parched for want of rain. It is in lat. 37° 12' N.

Levant Winds.

That places being directly open to those winds, and the Directory stating that

you

could not ride there with those winds, and must proceed to sea upon the first appearance of their commencement, has led to much anxiety to the masters going there. In the first place, it would be difficult to comply with such directions, as you lay within a half or one mile of the beach directly upon a lee shore, and the sea comes home before the wind, and you must either reach Carthagena or get round Cape de Gatte before you can get clear of it.

When the winds prevailed from the south-westward, they never blew 80 heavy as to prevent us from riding safely, whilst ships in the offing were under double and close-reefed topsails. At times, a heavy swell would come in from seaward, and the wind occasionally hauling more off the land, and opposing this swell, would raise the surf upon the beach, whilst it was not much felt by the ship.

When the winds were between N.E. and N. W., the N.E. winds were rather heavier than those at N. W., but of less duration (those two winds are about along shore). But the heaviest winds that we experienced were at N.W. across the land. During these winds we had so frequently heavy swells from the E.N.E., and occasionally from the S.b.E., as to leave no doubt that they were occasioned by those winds at sea, which did not blow home. But the wind opposing the swell raised such a heavy surf upon the beach, that all our detention occurred with off land winds. At other times the ships would tumble about and make it difficult to keep the boats alongside.

Action of the winds and how to ride.— The Levant winds never blow home at those places except in February and March, and then they are not considered dangerous. It is usual to second-reef the topsails and send down top-gallant-masts and yards, and during those two months, I should moor with both anchors an open hawse to seaward, but at all other times would stretch out 60 or 70 fathoms of chain, which will keep her clear of the anchor during light and variable winds, and only use the second anchor in the same manner as you would generally in roadsteads at home. There was certainly much bad weather at sea while we were there, and this was found the best plan.

Strangers arriving at a particular state of the winds, or those following the directions, are very apt to go upon a man-of-war's cruize for a week or a fortnight as I saw one do, and know others to have done for the following reasons:--The wind will freshen at S.b.E. with small drizzling rain, and gradually veer to E.S.E., where it will just lead you to think that it is in real earnest for a Levanter, when it flies to the N.E. and N.N.E., blows stronger, and then to the N.W., and blows a heavy

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »