Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Dismasted in a Hurricane -- November 27, 2012

From the 25-August-1897 San Francisco Call. William A Coulter did many maritime drawings for the newspaper. Click on the image to see a larger version. 


The British ship Pendeen left Cape Town for San Francisco via Newcastle, N. S. W., over a year ago and was only docked yesterday morning. Coulter's picture tells the whole story. It shows her rolling in the trough of the sea, with the masts all gone and the deck-houses almost a wreck. This is drawn from a sketch by Captain Cormack. The second picture shows her as she appeared under jury rig in Port Louis, Mauritius, and the third one shows the repaired ship under full sail. The jury-rigging of that dismantled ship was one of the cleverest pieces of seamanship that has been heard of on the high seas in many a long day.


The Ship Pendeen Nearly Wrecked Off Cape of Good Hope.
She Finally Reached Mauritius in Fifty-Four Days Under a Novel Jury Rig.
It Took Five Months to Make Repairs and Then She Proceeded on Her Way.

The British ship Pendeen, which docked at Green-street wharf, has just completed one of the most remarkable voyages during this last two years. She started from Cape Town for Newcastle to load coal for
San Francisco in the early part of 1896.  When 2800 miles off the Cape of Good Hope the good ship ran into a hurricane which completely dismasted her and left her at the mercy of wind and waves for three days. During that time the crew had nothing to eat but hardtack, and it was only occasionally that the men could get a drink of water from the water-tank.

In talking about the matter Captain Cormack said yesterday : ''It was one of the fiercest and most sudden blows I ever experienced. It blew the mainmast clean out of the keelson, and in its fall it tore up the deck amidships, bent and smashed a number of stanchions and carried away part of the rail. The foremast was carried away two feet from the deck, following the mainmast overboard, while the mizzenmast bent over the stern, smashing in the poop, bent the beams, smashed the poop-rails and skylight, but, strange to say, never smashed the glass in the sky-light windows. Everything was off the ship in half an hour, and for two days we lay powerless in the trough of the sea.

"It took us some time to get up jury masts and manufacture sails to fit them. Our jiggermast was made from planks nailed together and then lashed. We carried on it two sails belonging to the snip's boat.  The mizzenmast was made in the same manner as the jigger, and the sail on it was made from the forecastle awning.  The mainmast was made from one of the spare spars carried on deck, and on it we carried the main deck awning. The foremast was made from the other spare spar, and on it was set the crossjack. It was too large, and in order to make it fit we had to cut a considerable portion out of the center. Between tbe main and the fore we set the mizzen topgallant sail, but in order to make it fit a big knot had to be tied at tbe head of the sail. The foretopmast staysail was set in the same manner. Our yards were made from shifting boards and the rigging out of the wire hauling lines. These were fastened to sixty fathoms of mooring chains. The latter were made fast to the stanchions.

"From the time the jury masts were rigged it took us fifty-four days to get to Mauritius. The only way we could sail was with a fair wind. When the wind was contrary we had simply to drop all sail and drift. You can imagine what the damage was when it took five months to make repairs. From the time we left Mauritius until we got to Newcastle, N. S. W., and from the time we left that port until we reached San Francisco, we had nothing but fair weather."

During the gale the cabin, forecastle and galley were gutted and one of the ship's boats was washed away. When the Pendeen left Cape Town she was a painted port ship, but now she is painted a French gray. After discharging here she will load wheat for England.