Fighting the Gale


The month Of December last will be remembered by many for its wild and tempestuous weather, and a sympathetic thought for the welfare of those “who go down to the sea in ships” during such times. Undoubtedly passed through the minds of many co-partners. The following extract from the log oF the captain of one of our ships will therefore be or more than passing interest

December 4, 1929.
4.20 a.m. Passed Roker Pier and progressed on passage to London, with a strong S.E.E. wind and high sea. The ship plunging and taking heavy Water aboard forward, and only logging 0 knots per hour.

11.10 a.m. Passed Whitby. The ship is logging 0.5 knots per hour with a moderate W.S.W. wind and rough sea and heavy southerly swell, either a forerunner or the aftermath of bid weather.

4.50 p.m. Passed Bamborough Head. Ship logging 8 knots per hour. Moderate W.S.W. wind and high southerly swell and ship plunging and spraying.

9.0 p.m. Passed E. Dudgeon light, Vessel with fresh W.S.W wind and rough sea ship plunging and taking water forward.
9.15 p.m. Received gale warning to shipping, viz.: “Severe southerly gales expected in all districts.
On receiving this warning there were two courses open to us, either to make for Yarmouth Roads and shelter until the gale was over or to keep the ship well out to sea, and so get a trite sea and have plenty of room if it became necessary. Assuming that less time would be wasted by keeping outside, the latter course was adopted.

December 5, 1929.

2.5 a.m. Passed Newup Light Vessel with a strong S.W. wind and high sea. Ship is now only logging 4 knots per hour;

5.40 a.m. Passed Cross Sand Light Vessel. A gale is now blowing from the S.W. and the ship is plunging into a high head sea, labouring heavily and shipping much water fore and aft the sky is overcast and has an ugly threatening appearance.

8 a.m There is now a severe southerly pie flowing and the ship is only logging 4 knots per hour, and occasionally filling herself up with water and burying herself. Speed is reduced to 80 revs. per minute.

11.0 am. Passed a foreign timber ship who is going in our direction. She has evidently lost nearly all her forward deck cargo and is making much heavier weather of it than we are. There are numerous homing drifters crossing our bow at odd times bound for Lowestoft. After getting so far the bold little fellows turn round and heave to, as it is impossible for them to enter harbour. It is certainly wonderful how these vessels can ride a gale out, taking an occasional spray aboard, but never any heavy water.

Noon. There is still a severe southerly pie and the ship is straining plunging and labouring heavily into the high head sea. As she goes through a sea she trembles and shakes with the weight of water against her wide on board, and we are eagerly watching and waiting for her to clear herself from the mass of water she has shipped. The spray is thrown so high and is so continuous that it is difficult to tell whether it is raining or not. At 1O p. m. We took a heavy sea aboard right aft and smashed our life raft and the wheel box grating where the after wires were stowed. The ship was eased down another 5 revs. and the wreckage cleared away, and wires, etc., were stowed.

4.0 p.m. The ship is still doing 2.5 knots per hour and swamping herself occasionally but there are signs of the weather improving and the wind has shifted to S.W.
Full speed ahead is now the order, as we think there might be a remote possibility of us scraping up on the last of the tide to deliver our cargo of precious black diamonds.

7.10 p.m. Passed Shipwash Light vessel we are still doubtful about catching our tide, but if we can only keep going we still might do it top. We am still shipping much water but going faster and making 4 knots per hour and the gale is moderating slightly.

10.25 p.m. passed Barrow Deep Light Vessel and the ship is now in moderately smooth water doing 9 knots per hour.

December 6,1920.

2.15 p.m. Arrived at Gravesend with just sufficient time to berth at East Greenwich comfortably, but were disappointed to find our orders were for Rotherhithe. We now have to tear up the river at full speed, there being no tide to assist us Just managed to berth head up river.

5.25 p.m. Half an hour after high water we left Rotherhithe with the assistance of two of our own tugs, one holding the barges up and the other towing us off and pointing us down river. During our passage to Gravesend we had some hard squalls but there was not much drama in the river.

7.10 p.m. We shipped the pilot at Gravesend and proceeded ‘a passage to the Tyne. when passing through Sea Reach the ship was rushing a tremendous amount of leeway, and it was with difficulty that we managed to clear the numerous ships who had anchored in the fairway.

12.25 a.m. Passed the Sunk Light Vessel. Wind still from the S. gale force.

1.1O am. Passed the Shipwash Light Vessel and ship started rolling heavily. It was now decided to keep outside the Yarmouth roads on account of the wind and tide setting on

5.25 am Passed Newarp Light Vessel and altered course for Cromer as we came to the conclusion the water would be smoother inside the Race flank. It is still blowing a gale and there is an ugly sea.

5.15 a.m. Passed Blakeney Buoy. Still blowing a gale from the S. W., and the ship is rolling heavily and taking occasional spray on board.

1.7 p.m. passed the Humber Light Vessel and the wind shifted to west.

6.40 p.m. Passed Flamborough head. Still blowing a gale and ship rolling heavily.

10.20 p.m. passed Whitby. Gale abating somewhat, but ship is rolling heavily.

Midnight. There is now a moderate breeze but a heavy southerly swell which causes much rolling.

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