An edited version
of Hall's chapter Surf at Madras, with one illustration, was reprinted
Atkinson, Samuel Coate: Atkinson's Casket, Volume 10.
Sam. C. Atkinson, 1835, pages 131-132.
"This early predilection
of Basil Hall was soon gratified; for in 1802, when he had only reached
his fourteenth year, he was entered into the royal navy.
On leaving home, 'Now,' said his father, putting a blank book into one hand of the stripling, and a pen into the other, 'you are fairly afloat in the world; you must begin to write a journal.'
In 1814 he was promoted
to the rank of commander, and in 1817 to that of post-captain.
Pending the period of advance from a lieutenancy, he was acting commander of the Theban on the East India station, in 1813, when he accompanied its admiral, Sir Samuel Hood, in a journey over the greater part of the island of Java.
On his return home he was appointed to the command of the Lyra, a small gun brig that, in 1816, formed part of the armament in the embassy of Lord Amherst to China.
It is only necessary to add to this account, that Captain Hall was a fellow of the Royal Societies of London and Edinburgh, and a member of the Astronomical Society of London."
The Raft of the Medusa
Antonio de Ulloa
Battle of Orthez
CEYLONESE CANOES PERUVIAN BALSAS
THE FLOATING WINDLASS OF THE COROMANDEL FISHERMEN.
The canoes of Ceylon, as far as I remember, are not described by any writer, nor have I met with many professional men who are aware of their peculiar construction, and of the advantages of the extremely elegant principle upon which they are contrived, though capable, I am persuaded, of being applied to various purposes of navigation.
Among the lesser
circumstances which appear to form characteristic points of distinction
between country and country, may
be mentioned the head-dress of the men, and the form and rig of their boats.
An endless variety of turbans, sheep-skin caps, and conical bonnets, distinguish the Asiatics from the " Topee Wallas" or hat-
wearers of Europe
; and a still greater variety exists amongst the boats of different nations.
My purpose just now, however, is to speak of boats and canoes alone ; and it is really most curious to observe, that their size, form, cut of sails, description of oar and rudder, length of mast, and so on, are not always entirely regulated by the peculiar climate of the locality, but made to depend on a caprice which it is difficult to account for.
The boats of some countries are so extremely ticklish, or unstable, and altogether without bearings, that the smallest weight on one side more than on the other upsets them.
This applies to the canoes of the North American Indian, which require considerable practice, even in the smoothest water, to keep them upright ; and yet the Indians cross immense lakes in them, although the surface of those vast sheets of fresh water is often as rough as that of any salt sea.
The waves, it is true, are not so long and high ; but they are very awkward to deal with, from their abruptness, and the rapidity with which they get up when a breeze sets in.
On those parts
of the coast of the United States where the seasons are alternately very
fine and very rough, our ingenious friends, the Americans, have contrived
a set of pilot boats, which are the delight of every sailor.
This description of vessel, as the name implies, must always be at sea, as it is impossible to tell when her services may be required by ships steering in for the harbour's mouth.
Accordingly, the Baltimore clippers and the New York pilots defy the elements in a style which it requires a long apprenticeship to the difficulties and discomforts of a wintry navigation in a stormy latitude, duly to appreciate.
In the fine weather, smooth water, and light winds of summer, these pilot-boats skim over the surface with the ease and swiftness of a swallow, apparently just touching the water with their prettily formed hulls, which seem too small to bear the immense load of snow-white canvass swelling above them, and shooting them along as if by magic, when every other vessel is lost in the calm, and when even taunt-masted ships can barely catch a breath of air to fill their sky-sails and
They are truly " water witches;" for, while they look so delicate and fragile that one feels at first as if the most moderate breeze must brush them from the face of the ocean, and scatter to the winds all their gay drapery, they can and do defy, as a matter of habit and choice, the most furious gales with which the rugged " sea-board" of America is visited in February and March.
I have seen a
pilot-boat off New York, in the morning, in a calm, with all her sails
set, lying asleep on the water, which had subsided into such perfect stillness
that we could count the seam of each cloth in the mirror beneath her, and
it became difficult to tell which was the reflected image, which the true
And yet, within a few hours, I have observed the same boat, with only her close- reefed foresail set — no one visible on her decks — and the sea running mountains high — threatening to swallow her up.
Nevertheless, the beautiful craft rose as buoyantly on the back of the waves as any duck, and, moreover, glanced along their surface, and kept so good a wind, that, ere long, she shot a-head and
Before the day was done, she could scarcely be distinguished from the mast-head to windward, though we had been labouring in the interval under every sail we could possibly carry without risk of the masts !
The balsas of
Peru, the catamarans and masullah boats of the Coromandel coast, and the
flying proas of the South Sea Islands, have all been described before,
and their respective merits dwelt upon by Cook, Vancouver, Ulloa, and others.
Each in its way, and on its proper spot, seems to possess qualities which it is difficult to communicate to vessels similarly
constructed at a distance.
The boats of each country, indeed, may be said to possess a peculiar language, understood only by the natives of the countries to which they belong ; and, truly, the manner in which the vessels of some regions behave under the guidance of their respective masters, seems almost to imply that the boats themselves are gifted with animal intelligence.
At all events, their performance never fails to excite the highest professional admiration of those whom expe-
rience has rendered familiar with the difficulties to be overcome.
with the local tides, winds, currents, and other circumstances of the pilotage,
and the constant pressure
of necessity, enable the inhabitants of each particular spot to acquire such masterly command over their machinery, that no new comer, however well provided, or however skilful generally, can expect to cope with them.
Hence it arises, that boats of a man-of-war are found almost invariably inferior, in some respects, to those of the port at which she touches.
The effect of seeking to adapt our boats to any one particular place would be to render them less serviceable upon the whole.
After remaining some time at a place we might succeed in occasionally outsailing or outrowing the natives ; but what sort of a figure would our boats cut at the next point to which the ship might be ordered — say a thousand miles farther from, or nearer to, the equator, where all the circumstances would inevitably be found totally different from what they were at the last port ?
We should have
to change again
and again, losing time at each place, and probably not gaining, after all,
any of the real advantages which the
natives long resident on the spot alone know the art of applying to practice.
It has been somewhere
remarked, that when the human frame is compared with that of the inferior
animals, it is found that, while in swiftness it is beaten by one, in scent
by another, in strength by a third, yet does it contain by far the most
admirable and varied combination of all those qualities severally possessed
by the unintellectual animals.
Thus man, upon the whole, is far better fitted than any of them for enduring the boundless varieties of climate which distinguish the different quarters of the globe, and for bringing into useful effort those inherent energies both of body and mind with which he is gifted, and which in the end render him the undisputed master of all other living things.
So it is (to compare great things with small) in the case of the boats of ships of war which are most ingeniously contrived to be useful in all climates, in all seas, on every coast, and at all times and seasons.
It is true they
seldom, if ever, match the boats of the ports at which they anchor, either
in sailing or in rowing.
But they are invariably found to accomplish these purposes well enough for real service, besides securing many other advantages
which the local boats cannot command.
They are likewise sufficiently well adapted to all seas and all weathers, and can either carry heavy loads or sail quite light.
They are so strongly built that they can take the ground without injury, and yet are not so heavy as to be troublesome in handling. While they are strong enough to bear the firing of a cannon in their bow, they are capacious enough to carry water casks or provisions, or to disembark troops, without being inconveniently cumbersome when stowed on the booms, or suspended from the quarters.
Like the hardy sailors who man them, they are rough and ready for any service, in any part of the world, at any moment they may be required.
It is not likely that we shall ever essentially improve the build or equipment of our boats ; but it must always be useful to seafaring men to become acquainted
with such practical
devices in seamanship as have been found to answer well ; especially if
they seem capable of being appropriated upon occasions which may possibly
arise in the course of a service so infinitely varied as that of the navy.
It is partly on this account, and partly as a matter of general curiosity,
that I think some mention of the canoes of Ceylon, and the balsas of
Peru, may interest many persons for whom ordinary technicalities possess no charm.
At least there appears to be an originality and neatness about both these contrivances, and a correctness of principle, which we
are surprised to find in connexion with perfect simplicity, and an absence of that collateral knowledge which we are so apt to fancy belongs only to more advanced stages of civilisation and philosophical instruction.
The hull or body
of the Ceylonese canoe is formed, like that of Robinson Crusoe's, out of
the trunk of a single tree, wrought in its middle part into a perfectly
smooth cylinder, but slightly flattened and turned up at both ends, which
are made exactly alike.
It is hollowed out in the usual
way, but not cut
so much open at top as we see in other canoes, for considerably more than
half of the outside part of the cylinder or barrel is left entire, with
only a narrow slit, eight or ten inches wide, above.
If such a vessel were placed in the water it would possess very little stability, even when not loaded with any weight on its upper edges.
But there is built upon it a set of wooden upper works, in the shape of a long trough, extending from end to end ; and the top-heaviness of this addition to the hull would instantly overturn the vessel, unless some device were applied to preserve its upright position.
This purpose is accomplished by means of an out-rigger on one side, consisting of two curved poles, or slender but tough spars, laid across the canoe at right angles to its length, and extending to the distance of twelve, fifteen, or even twenty feet, where they join a small log of buoyant wood, about half as long as the canoe, and lying parallel to it, with both its ends turned up like the toe of a slipper, to prevent its dipping into the waves.
The inner ends of these transverse
poles are securely
bound by thongs to the raised gunwales of the canoe.
The out-rigger — which, it may be useful to bear in mind, is always kept to windward — acting by its weight at the end of so long a lever, prevents the vessel from turning over by the pressure of the sail ; or, should the wind shift suddenly, so as to bring the sail a-back, the buoyancy of the floating log would prevent the canoe from upsetting on that side by retaining the out-rigger horizontal.
So far the ordinary
purpose of an out-rigger is answered ; but there are other ingenious things
about these most graceful of all boats which seem worthy of the attention
of professional men.
The mast, which is very taunt, or lofty, supports a lug-sail of immense size, and is stepped exactly in midships, that is, at the same distance from both ends of the canoe.
The yard, also, is slung precisely in the middle ; and while the tack of the sail is made fast at one extremity of the hull, the opposite corner, or clew, to which the sheet is attached, hauls aft to the other end.
Shrouds extend from the mast-head to the gunwale of the canoe ;
slender backstays are carried to the extremity of the out-rigger; and these
ropes, by reason of their great spread,
give such powerful support to the mast, though loaded with a prodigious sail, that a very slender spar is sufficient.
If I am not mistaken, some of these canoes are fitted with two slender masts, between which the sail is triced up, without a yard.
In the vignette
title-page to this volume, the canoes are taken from a drawing by the late
The back-ground of Ceylon, with Adam's Peak in the centre, distant upwards of seventy miles, is from a sketch I made on board his Majesty's ship Minden.
The method of
working the sails of these canoes is as follows.
They proceed in one direction as far as may be deemed convenient, and then, without going about, or turning completely round as we do, they merely change the stern of the canoe into the head, by shifting the tack of the sail over to leeward, and so converting it into the sheet — while the other clew, being shifted up to windward, becomes the tack.
As soon as these
changes have been made, away spins the little fairy bark on her new course,
but always keeping the same side,
or that on which the out-rigger is placed to windward.
It will be easily understood that the pressure of the sail has a tendency to lift the weight at the extremity of the out-rigger above the surface of the water.
In sailing along, therefore, the log just skims the tops of the waves, but scarcely ever buries itself in them, so that little or no interruption to the velocity of the canoe is caused by the out-rigger.
When the breeze freshens so much as to lift the weight higher than the natives like, one, and sometimes two of them, walk out on
the horizontal spars, so as to add their weight to that of the out-rigger.
In order to enable them to accomplish this purpose in safety, a " man rope," about breast high, extends over each of the spars from the mast to the backstays.
Of all the ingenious native contrivances for turning small means to good account, one of the most curious, and, under certain circumstances, perhaps the most useful, is the Balsa, or raft of South Ame-
rica, or, as it
is called on some parts of the coast, the catamaran.
This singular vessel is not only very curious in the eyes of persons who have attended at all to such things as amateurs, but is calculated also to furnish some useful hints to professional seamen.
The simplest form of the raft, or Balsa, is that of five, seven, or nine large beams of a very light wood — say from fifty to sixty feet long — arranged side by side, with the longest spar placed in the centre.
These logs are firmly held together by cross bars, lashings, and stout planking near the ends.
They vary from fifteen to twenty, and even thirty feet in width.
I have seen some at Guayaquil of an immense size, formed of logs as large as a frigate's foremast.
These are intended for conveying goods to Paita, and other places along shore.
The Balsa generally carries only one large sail, which is hoisted to what we call a pair of sheers, formed by two poles crossing at the top, where they are lashed together.
It is obvious, that it would be difficult to step a mast securely to a raft in the manner it is done in a
It is truly astonishing to see how fast these singular vessels go through the water ; but it is still more curious to observe how accurately they can be steered, and how effectively they may be handled in all respects like any ordinary vessel.
The method by
which the Balsas are directed in their course is extremely ingenious, and
is that to which I should wish to call the attention of sailors, not merely
as a matter of curiosity (although on this score, too, it certainly has
great interest), but chiefly from its practical utility in seamanship.
No officer can tell how soon he may be called upon to place his crew on a raft, should his ship be wrecked ; and yet, unless he has been previously made aware of some method of steering it, no purpose may be answered but that of protracting the misery of the people under his charge.
We all recollect the horrid scenes which took place on the raft which left the French frigate Meduse, on the coast of Africa, in 1816 ; and yet it is perfectly obvious, from the state of the wind and weather, that if any one of that ill-fated party had been aware of the
which the South American Balsas are steered, they might easily have reached
the land in a few hours, and all
the lives, so horribly sacrificed, might have been saved.
Nothing can be
conceived more simple, or more easy of application, than the South American
Near both ends of the centre spar there is cut a perpendicular slit, about a couple of inches wide by one or two feet in length.
Into each of these holes a broad plank, called Guaras by the natives, is inserted in such a way that it may be thrust down to the depth often or twelve feet; or, at pleasure, it may be drawn up entirely.
The slits are so cut, that, when the raft is in motion, the edges of these planks shall meet the water ; or, in mathematical language, their planes are parallel with the length of the spars.
It is clear, that if both the Guaras be thrust quite down, and there held fast in a perpendicular direction, they will ofier a broad surface towards the side, and thus, by acting like the leeboards of a river barge, or the keel of a ship, prevent the Balsa from drifting
sidewise or dead
But while these Guaras serve the purpose of a keel, they also perform the important duty of a rudder, the rationale of which every sailor will understand, upon considering the effect which must follow upon pulling up either the Guara in the bow or that in the
Suppose, when the wind is on the beam, the foremost one drawn up ; that end of the raft will instantly have a tendency to drift to leeward from the absence of the lateral support it previously received from its Guara or keel at the bow ; or, in sea language, the Balsa will immediately " fall off," and in time she will come right before the wind.
On the other hand, if the foremost Guara be kept down while the sternmost one is drawn up, the Balsa's head, or bow, will gradually come up towards the wind, in consequence of that end retaining its hold of the water by reason of its Guara, while the stern end, being relieved from its lateral support, drifts to leeward.
Thus, by judiciously raising or lowering; one or both the Guaras, the raft may not only be steered with the greatest nicety, but may be tacked or wore, or other-
wise directed, with a degree of precision which appears truly wonderful to those who see it for the first time ; nor is this contrivance less a subject of admiration after the principles have been studied.
I never shall
forget the sensation produced in a ship I commanded one evening on the
coast of Peru, as we steered towards the roadstead of Payta, so celebrated
in Anson's voyage, and beheld an immense Balsa dashing out before the land
wind, and sending a snowy wreath of foam before her like that which curls
up before the bow of a frigate in chase.
As long as she was kept before the wind, we could understand this in some degree ; but when she hauled up in order to round the point, and having made a stretch along shore, proceeded to tack, we could scarcely believe our eyes.
Had the celebrated Flying Dutchman sailed past us, our wonder could hardly have been excited more.
In Ulloa's interesting
voyage to South America, a minute account is given of the Balsa, which
I recommend to the attention of professional men.
He winds up in these words : —
" Had this method of steering been sooner known in Europe, it might have alleviated the distress of many a shipwreck, by saving numbers of lives ; as in 1730, the Genoesa, one of his Majesty's frigates, being lost on the Vibora, the ship's company made a raft ; but committing themselves to the waves without any means of directing their course, they only added some melancholy minutes to their existence." — Ulloa, book iv. chap. 9.
I have lately
seen a model of a raft devised some years ago, expressly in imitation of
the South American Balsa, by Rear-Admiral Sir Frederick Maitland, K.C.B.,
to be made out of the spare spars with which every ship of war is supplied.
He proposes to form each of the Guaras, or steering boards, of two of the ship's company's mess tables joined together by gratings and planks.
But he sees no reason why these should be limited in number, and thinks that they might perhaps be usefully distributed along the entire length of the centre spar, so as effectually to prevent leeway or drift.
In this manner, Sir Frederick is of opinion that a raft, capable of carrying a
whole ship's crew,
might be navigated for a considerable distance with ease and security.
And I am glad to find myself anticipated by an authority deservedly so high with the profession, in this practical illustration of an idea that has appeared to me extremely feasible, from the first moment I saw the Peruvian Balsas.
It will generally
be found well worth an officer's attention to remark in what manner the
natives of any coast, however rude they may be, contrive to perform difficult
Such things may be very simple and easy for us to execute, when we have all the appliances and means of our full equipment at command ; but as circumstances may often occur to deprive us of many of those means, and thus, virtually, to reduce us to the condition of the natives, it becomes of consequence to ascertain how necessity, the venerable mother of invention, has taught people so situated to do the required work.
For example, it is generally easy for a ship of war to pick up her anchor with her own boats; but it will sometimes happen that the launch and other large boats may be stove, and
then it may prove of consequence to know how a heavy anchor can be weighed without a boat at all.
We happened, in
his Majesty's ship Minden, to run upon the Coleroon shoal, off the
mouth of the great river of that name, about a hundred miles south of Madras.
After laying out a bower anchor, and hauling the ship off, we set about preparing the boats to weigh it in the usual way.
But the master-attendant of Porto Novo, who had come off to our assistance with a fleet of canoes and rafts, suggested to Sir Samuel Hood, that it might be a good opportunity to try the skill of the natives, who were celebrated for their expertness in raising great weights from the bottom.
The proposal was one which delighted the admiral, who enjoyed every thing that was new.
He posted himself accordingly in his barge near the spot, but he allowed the task to be turned over entirely to the black fellows, whom he ordered to be supplied with ropes, spars, and any thing else they required from the ship.
The officers and sailors, in imitation of their chief, clustered themselves
in wondering groups in the rigging, in the chains, and in the boats, to witness the strange spectacle of a huge bower anchor, weighing nearly four tons, raised of the ground by a set of native fishermen, possessed of no canoe larger than the smallest gig on board.
stood interpreter, and passed backwards and forwards between the ship and
the scene of operations — not to direct, but merely to signify what things
the natives required for their purpose.
They first begged us to have a couple of spare topmasts and topsail-yards, with a number of smaller spars, such as top-gallant-masts and studding-sail booms.
Out of these they formed, with wonderful speed, an exceedingly neat cylindrical raft, between two and three feet in diameter.
They next bound the whole closely together by lashings, and filled up all its inequalities with capstan-bars, hand- spikes, and other small spars, so as to make it a compact, smooth, and uniform cylinder from end to end.
Nothing could be more dextrous or seaman-like than the style in which these fellows swam about and passed
the lashings ; in fact, they appeared to be as much at home in the water as our sailors were in the boats or in the rigging.
A stout seven-inch
hawser was now sent down by the buoy-rope, and the running clinch or noose
formed on its end, placed over the flue of the anchor in the usual way.
A couple of round turns were then taken with the hawser at the middle part of the cylindrical raft, after it had been drawn up as tight as possible from the anchor.
A number of slew ropes, I think about sixty or seventy in all, were next passed round the cylinder several times, in the opposite direction to the round turns taken with the hawser.
Upwards of a hundred
of the natives now mounted the raft, and, after dividing themselves into
pairs, and taking hold of the slew ropes in their hands, pulled them up
as tight as they could.
By this effort they caused the cylinder to turn round till its further revolutions were stopped by the increasing tightness of the hawser, which was wound on the cylinder as fast as the slew ropes were wound off it.
When all the ropes
had been drawn equally tight, and the whole party of men had been ranged
along the top in an erect posture, with their faces all turned one way,
a signal was given by one of the principal natives.
At this moment the men, one and all, still grasping their respective slew ropes firmly in their hands, and without bending a joint in their whole bodies, fell simultaneously on their backs, flat on the water !
The effect of this sudden movement was to turn the cylinder a full quadrant, or one quarter of a revolution.
This, of course, brought a considerable strain on the hawser fixed to the anchor.
On a second signal being given, every alternate pair of men gradually crept up the spars by means of their slew ropes, till one-half of the number stood once more along the top of the cylinder, while the other half of the party still lay flat on the water, and by their weight prevented the cylinder rolling back again.
When the next signal was given, those natives, who had regained their original position on the top of the cylinder, threw themselves down once more, while those
who already lay
prostrate gathered in the slack of their slew ropes with the utmost eagerness
as the cylinder revolved another
quarter of a turn.
It soon became evident that the anchor had fairly begun to rise off the ground, for the buoy-rope, which at first had been bowsed taught over the stern of our launch, became quite slack.
But Sir Samuel would not allow his people in the launch to assist the natives, as he felt anxious to see whether or not they could accomplish single-handed what they had undertaken.
Accordingly, the slack of the buoy-rope merely was taken in by the launch's crew.
I forget how many
successive efforts were made by the natives before the anchor was lifted
; but in the end it certainly was raised completely off the ground by their
The natives, however, complained of the difficulty being much greater than they had expected or had ever encountered before, in consequence of the great size of our anchor.
In fact, when at length they had wound the hawser on the cylinder so far that it carried the full weight, the
whole number of the natives lay stretched on the water in a horizontal position, apparently afraid to move, lest the weight, if not uniformly distributed amongst them, might prove too great, and the anchor drop again to the bottom by the returning revolutions of the cylinder.
When this was
explained to Sir Samuel Hood, he ordered the people in the launch to bowse
away at the buoy-rope.
This proved a most seasonable relief to the poor natives, who, however, declared, that if it were required, they would go on, and
bring up the anchor fairly to the water's edge.
As the good-natured admiral would not permit this, the huge anchor, cylinder, natives, launch, and all, were drawn into deep water where the ship lay.
The master attendant now explained to the natives that they had nothing more to do than to continue lying flat and still on the
water, till the people on board the ship, by heaving in the cable, should bring the anchor to the bows, and thus relieve them of their burden.
The officer of the launch also was instructed not to slack the buoy-rope till the cable had got the full weight
of the anchor, and the natives required no farther help.
be more distinctly given than these orders, so that I cannot account for
the panic which seized some of the natives when close to the ship.
Whatever was the cause, its effect was such that many of them let go their slew-ropes, and thus cast a disproportionate share of
burden on the others, whose strength, or rather weight, proving unequal to counterpoise the load, the cylinder began to turn back again.
This soon brought the whole strain, or nearly the whole, on the stern of the launch, and had not the tackle been smartly let go, she must have been drawn under water and swamped.
The terrified natives now lost all self-possession, as the mighty anchor shot rapidly to the bottom.
The cylinder of course whirled round with prodigious velocity as the hawser unwound itself, and so suddenly had the catastrophe occurred, that many of the natives, not having presence of mind to let go their slew-ropes, held fast and were of course whisked round and round several times, alternately under water
beneath the cylinder and on the top of it, not unlike the spokes of a coach-wheel wanting the rim.
The admiral was
in the greatest alarm, lest some of these poor fellows should get entangled
with the ropes and be drowned, or be dashed against one another, and beaten
to pieces against the cylinder.
It was a great relief, therefore, to find that no one was in the least degree hurt, though some of the natives had been soused most
soundly, or, as the Jacks said, who grinned at the whole affair, " keel-hauled in proper style."
In a certain sense, then, this experiment may be said to have failed ; but enough was done to shew the feasibility of the method, which, under the following modifications proposed by our great commander — who was one of the best sailors that ever swam the ocean — I have no doubt might be rendered exceedingly effective on many occasions.
" In the first place," said Sir Samuel, " you must observe, youngsters, that this device of the natives is neither more nor less than a floating windlass, where the
of the timber serves the purpose of a support to the axis.
The men fixed by the slew-ropes to the cylinder represent the handspikes or bars by which the windlass is turned round, and
the hawser takes the place of the cable.
But," continued he, " there appears to be no reason why the cylinder should be made equally large along its whole length; and were I to repeat this experiment, I would make the middle part, round which the hawser was to be passed, of a single topmast, while I would swell out the ends of my cylinder or raft to three or four feet in diameter.
In this way a great increase of power would evidently be gained by those who worked the slew-ropes.
In the next place," said the admiral, "it is clear that either the buoy-rope, or another hawser also fastened to the anchor, as a 'preventer,' ought to be carried round the middle part of the cylinder, but in the opposite direction to that of the weighing hawser. This second hawser should be hauled tight round at the end of each successive quarter turn gained by the men.
If this were
done, all tendency
in the cylinder to turn one way more than the other would be prevented
; for each of the hawsers would bear an equal share of the weight of the
anchor, and being wound upon the raft in opposite directions, would of
course counteract each other's tendency to slew it round.
The whole party of men, instead of only one -half of them, might then mount the spars ; and thus their united strength could be exerted at each effort, and in perfect security, against the formidable danger of the cylinder whirling back by the anchor gaining the
mastery over them, and dropping again to the bottom.
But without using their clumsy, though certainly very ingenious, machinery of turning men into hand- spikes, I think," said he, " we might construct our floating windlass in such a way that a set of small spars, studding-sail booms, for instance, might be inserted at right angles to its length, like the bars of a capstan, and these, if swifted together, could be worked from the boats, without the necessity of any one going into the water."
of the dexterity of the natives of India, I may mention a feat which interested
us very much.
A strong party of hands from the ship were sent one day to remove an anchor, weighing seventy -five hundred -weight, from one part of Bombay dock-yard to another, but, from the want of some place to attach their tackle to, they could not readily transport it along the wharf.
Various devices were tried in vain by the sailors, whose strength, if it could have been brought to bear, would have proved much more than enough for the task.
In process of time, no doubt, they would have fallen upon some method of accomplishing their purpose ; but while they were discussing various projects, one of the superintendants said, he thought his party of native coolies or labourers could lift the anchor and carry it to any part of the yard.
This proposal was received by our Johnnies with a loud laugh ; for the numbers of the natives did not much exceed their own, and the least powerful of the seamen could readily, at least in his own estimation, have demolished half-a-
dozen of the strongest of these slender-limbed Hindoos.
To work they went,
however, while Jack looked on with great attention.
Their first operation was to lay a jib-boom horizontally, and nearly along the shank of the anchor.
This being securely lashed to the shank and also to the stock, the whole length of the spar was crossed at right angles by capstan bars, to the ends of which as many handspikes as there was room for were lashed also at right angles.
In this way, every cooly of the party could obtain a good hold, and exert his strength to the greatest purpose.
I forget how many natives were applied to this service; but in the course of a very few minutes their preparations being completed, the ponderous anchor was lifted a few inches from the ground, to the wonder and admiration of the British seamen, who cheered
the black fellows, and patted them on the back as they trotted along the wharf with their load, which appeared to oppress them no more than if it had been the jolly-boat's grapnell !
THE SURF AT MADRAS.
From Ceylon we
proceeded after a time to Madras roads, where we soon became well acquainted
with all the outs and ins of the celebrated surf of that place.
This surf, after all, is not really higher than many which one meets with in other countries ; but certainly it is the highest and most troublesome which exists as a permanent obstruction in front of a great commercial city.
The restless ingenuity and perseverance of man, however, have gone far to surmount this difficulty; and now the passage to and from the beach at Madras offers hardly any serious interruption to the intercourse.
Still, it is by no means an agreeable operation to pass through the surf under any circumstances ; and occasionally, during the north-east monsoon, it is attended with some degree ...
... of danger.
For the first two or three times, I remember thinking it very good sport to cross the surf, and sympathised but little with the anxious expressions of some older hands who accompanied me.
The boat, the boatmen, their curious oars, the strange noises they made, and the attendant catamarans to pick up the passengers
if the boat upsets, being all new to my eyes, and particularly odd in themselves, so strongly engaged my attention, that I had no leisure to think of the danger till the boat was cast violently on the beach.
The very first time I landed, the whole party were pitched out heels over head on the shore.
I thought it a mighty odd way of landing; but supposing it to be all regular and proper, I merely muttered with the sailor whom the raree showman blew into the air, — " What the devil will the fellows do next ? " and scrambled up the wet sand as best I might.
The nature of
this risk, and the methods adopted by the natives to prevent accidents,
are easily described.
The surf at Madras consists of two distinct lines of breakers on the beach, running parallel ...
... to each other
and to the shore.
These foaming ridges are caused by a succession of waves curling over and breaking upon bars or banks, formed probably by the reflux action of the sea carrying the sand outwards.
The surf itself, unquestionably, owes its origin to the long send of the ocean-swell coming across the Bay of Bengal, a sweep of nearly five hundred miles, from the coasts of Arracan, the Malay peninsula, and the island of Sumatra — itself a continent.
This huge swell is scarcely perceptible far off in the fathomless Indian sea ; but when the mighty oscillation — for it is nothing more — reaches the shelving shores of Coromandel, its vibrations are checked by the bottom.
The mass of waters, which up to this point had merely sunk and risen, that is, vibrated without any real progressive motion, is then driven forwards to the land, where, from the increasing shallowness, it finds less and less room for its " wild waves' play," and
finally rises above the general level of the sea in threatening ridges.
I know few things more alarming to nautical nerves than the sudden and mysterious "lift of ...
... the swell,"
which hurries a ship upwards when she has chanced to get too near the shore,
and when, in consequence of the
deadness of the calm, she can make no way to seaward, but is gradually hove nearer and nearer to the roaring surge.
At last, when
the great ocean wave approaches the beach, and the depth of water is much
diminished, the velocity of so vast a mass sweeping along the bottom, though
greatly accelerated, becomes inadequate to fulfil the conditions of the
oscillation; and it has no resource but to curl into a high and toppling
So that this moving ridge of waters, after careering forwards with a front high in proportion to the impulse behind, and, for a length of time regulated by the degree of abruptness in the rise of the shore, at last dashes its monstrous head with a noise extremely like thunder along the endless coast.
Often, indeed, when on shore at Madras, have I lain in bed awake, with open windows, for hours together, listening, at the distance of many a league, to the sound of these waves, and almost fancying I could ...
... still feel
the tremor of the ground, always distinctly perceptible near the beach.
When the distance is great, and the actual moment at which the sea breaks ceases to be distinguishable, and when a long range of coast is within hearing; the unceasing roar of the surf in a serene night, heard over the level plains of the Carnatic shore, is wonderfully interesting.
when within about five miles in a direct line from the Falls of Niagara,
I remember thinking the continuous sound of the cataract not unlike that
produced by the surf at Madras.
What rendered the similarity greater, was the occasional variation in the depth of the note, caused by the fitful nature of the intervening flaws of wind, just as the occasional coincidence in the dash of a number of waves, or their discordance as to the time of their occurrence, or finally, some variation in the strength of the land-breeze, broke the continuity of sound from the shore.
But it must fairly be owned, that there is nothing either picturesque or beautiful — though there may be a touch of the ...
... Sublime —
in the surf when viewed from a boat tossing about in the middle of its
deafening clamour, and when the spectator is threatened every instant to
be sent sprawling and helpless amongst the expectant sharks which accompany
the masullah boats with as much regularity, though for a very different
purpose, as the catamarans.
These primitive little life-preservers, which are a sort of satellites attending upon the great masullah or passage-boat, consist of two or three small logs of light wood fastened together, and capable of supporting several persons.
In general, however, there is but one man upon each, though on many there are two.
Although the professed purpose of these rafts is to pick up the passengers of such boats as may be unfortunate enough to get upset in the surf, new comers from Europe are by no means comforted in their alarm on passing through the foam, to be assured that, in the possible event of their boat being capsised, the catamaran men may probably succeed in picking them up before the
sharks can find time to nip off their legs !
I grievously suspect that it is the cue both of the boatmen and of these wreckers to augment the fears of all Johnny Raws ; and possibly the sly rogues occasionally produce slight accidents, in order to enhance the value of their services, and thereby to strengthen their claim to the two or three fanams which they are enchanted to receive from you as a toll.
Any attempt to
pass the surf in an ordinary boat is seldom thought of.
I remember hearing of a naval officer who crossed in his jolly-boat once in safety, but on a second trial he was swamped, and both
he and his crew well-nigh drowned.
The masullah boats of the country resemble nothing to be seen elsewhere.
They are distinguished
by flat bottoms, perpendicular sides, and abruptly pointed ends, being
twelve or fourteen feet long by five or six broad, and four or five feet
Not a single nail enters into their construction, all the planks being held together by cords or lacings, which are applied in the following manner.
Along the planks, at a short distance from the edge, are bored a set of holes, through which the lacing or cord is to pass.
A layer of cotton is then interposed between the planks, and along the seam is laid a flat narrow strip of a fibry and tough kind of wood.
The cord is next rove through the holes and passed over the strip, so that when it is pulled tight the planks are not only drawn into as close contact as the interposed cotton will allow of, but the long strip is pressed against the seam so effectually as to exclude the water.
The wood of which these boats are constructed is so elastic and tough, that when they take the ground, either by accident or in the regular course of service, the part which touches yields to the pressure without breaking, and bulges inwards al-
most as readily
as if it were made of shoe-leather.
Under similar circumstances, an ordinary boat, fitted with a keel, timbers, and planks nailed together, not being pliable, would be shivered to pieces.
At the after or
sternmost end, a sort of high poop-deck, passes from side to side, on which
the steersman takes his post.
He holds in his hand an oar or paddle, which consists of a pole ten or twelve feet long, carrying at its extremity a circular disc of wood about a foot or a foot and a half in diameter.
The oars used by the six hands who pull the masullah boat are similar to that held by the steersman, who is always a person of long experience and known skill, as well as courage and coolness — qualities indispensable to the safety of the passage when the surf is high.
The rowers sit upon high thwarts, and their oars are held by (a) grummets or rings made of rope, to pins (b), inserted in the gunwale, so that they can be let go and resumed at pleasure, without risk of being lost.
The passengers, wretched victims ! seat themselves on a cross bench (c), about a foot lower than the seats of the ...
... rowers, and close in front of the raised poop or steersman's deck (d), which is nearly on a level with the gunwale.
The whole process
of landing, from the moment of leaving the ship till you feel yourself
safe on the crown of the beach, is as disagreeable as can be ; and I can
only say for myself, that every time I crossed the surf it rose in my respect.
At the eighth or tenth transit I began really to feel uncomfortable ; at the twentieth, I felt considerable apprehension of being well ducked ; and at about the thirtieth time of crossing, I almost fancied there was but little chance of escaping a watery grave, with sharks for sextons, and the wild surf for a dirge !
The truth is, that at each successive time of passing this formidable barrier of surf, we become better and better acquainted with the dangers and the possibilities of accident — somewhat on the principle, I suppose, that a veteran soldier is said to be by no means so indifferent as a raw recruit is to the whizzing of shot about his ears.
However this may be, as all persons intending to go ashore at Madras must ..
... pass through
the surf, they step with what courage they can muster into their boat alongside
the ship, anchored in the roads a couple of miles off, in consequence of
the water being too shallow for large vessels.
The boat then shoves off, and rows to the " back of the surf," where it is usual to let go a grapnel, or to lie on the oars till the masullah boat comes out.
The back of the surf is that part of the road-stead lying immediately beyond the place where the first indication is given of the
tendency in the swell to rise into a wave ; and no boat not expressly fitted for the purpose ever goes nearer to the shore, but lies off till the "bar-boat" makes her way through the surf, and lays herself alongside the ship's boat.
A scrambling kind of boarding operation now takes place, to the last degree inconvenient to ladies and other shore-going persons not accustomed to climbing.
As the gunwale of the masullah boat rises three or four feet above the water, the step is a long and troublesome one to make, even by those who are not encumbered with petticoats — those sad impediments to loco-
motion — devised by the men, as I heard a Chinaman remark, expressly to check the rambling propensities of the softer sex, always too prone, he alleged, to yield to wandering impulses !
Be this, also,
as it is ordained, I know to my cost, in the shape of many a broken shin,
that even gentlemen bred afloat may contrive to slip in removing from one
boat to the other, especially if the breeze be fresh, and there be what
mariners call a "bubble of a sea" — a term redolent in most imaginations
with squeamishness and instability of stomach and footing.
In a little while, however, all the party are tumbled, or hoisted into the masullah boat, where they seat themselves on the cross
bench, marvellously like so many culprits on a hurdle on their way to execution !
Ahead of them roars and boils a furious ridge of terrific breakers, while close at their ears behind, stamps and bawls, or rather yells, the steersman, who takes this method of communicating his wishes to his fellow-boatmen, not in the calm language of an officer intrusted with the lives of so many harmless and helpless ...
but in the most extravagant variety of screams that ever startled the timorous
ear of ignorance.
In truth, no length of experience can ever reconcile any man, woman, or child, to these most alarming noises, which, if they do not
really augment the danger, certainly aggravate the alarm, and add grievously to their feeling of insecurity on the part of the devoted passengers.
I need scarcely
say, that the steersman is the absolute master for the time being, as every
skipper ought to be, whether he wear a coat and epaulettes, or be limited
in his vestments, as these poor masullah boatmen are, to the very minimum
allowance of inexpressibles.
This not-absolutely-naked steersman, then, as I have before mentioned, stands on his poop, or quarter-deck, just behind the miserable passengers, whose heads reach not quite so high as his knees.
His oar rests in a crutch on the top of the stern-post, and not only serves as a rudder, but gives him the power to slew or twist the boat round with considerable rapidity, when aided by the efforts of the rowers.
It is ...
for the steersman to wait for a favourable moment to enter the surf, otherwise
the chances are that the boat
will be upset, in the manner I shall describe presently.
People are frequently kept waiting in this way for ten or twenty minutes, at the back of the surf, before a proper opportunity presents itself.
During all this
while the experienced eye of the veteran skipper abaft glances backwards
and forwards from the swell rolling in from the open sea, to the surf which
is breaking close to him.
From time to time he utters a half word to his crew, with that kind of faint interrogative tone in which a commanding officer indulges
when he is sure of acquiescence on the part of those under him, and is careless whether they answer or not.
In general, however, he remains quite silent during this first stage of the passage, as do also the rowers, who either rest the paddles horizontally, or allow their circular blades to float on the surface of the water.
Meanwhile the boat rolls from side to side, or is heaved smartly upwards as the swell, just on the eve of breaking, lifts her into the air, and ...
... then drops
her again into the hollow with the most sea-sickening velocity.
I should state, that during this wofully unpleasant interval, the masullah boat is placed side-ways to the line of surf, parallel to the
shore, and, of course, exactly in the trough of the sea.
I have often watched
with the closest attention to discover what were the technical indications
by which these experienced boatmen inferred that the true moment was arrived
when it was safe to enter the surf, but I could never make out enough to
be of much professional utility.
It was clear, indeed, that the proper instant for making the grand push occurred when one of the highest waves was about to break
— for the greater the dash, the greater the lull after it.
But how these fellows maanaged to discover, before-hand, that the wave, upon the back of which they chose to ride in, was of that exact description, I could never discover.
On the approach of a swell which he knows will answer his purpose, the steersman, suddenly changing his quiet and almost contemplative air for a look of intense anxiety, grasps his oar with double firmness, and exerting his ...
strength of muscle, forces the boat's stern round, so that her head may
point to the shore.
At the same time he urges his crew to exert themselves, partly by violent stampings with his feet, partly by loud and vehement exhortations, and partly by a succession of horrid yells, in which the sounds Yarry ! Yarry ! Yarry ! ! ! predominate — indicating to the ears of a stranger the very reverse of self-confidence, and filling the soul of a nervous passenger with infinite alarm.
noises are loudly re-echoed, in notes of the most ominous import, by all
the other men, who strain themselves so vigorously at the oars, that the
boat, flying forwards, almost keeps way with the wave, on the back of which
it is the object of the steersman to keep her.
As she is swept impetuously towards the bar, a person seated in the boat can distinctly feel the sea under him gradually rising into
a sheer wave, and lifting the boat up — and up — and up, in a manner exceedingly startling.
At length the ridge, near the summit of which the boat is placed, begins to curl, and its edge just breaks into a line of white fringe along the upper edge ...
... of the perpendicular
face presented to the shore, towards which it is advancing, with vast rapidity.
The grand object of the boatmen now appears to consist in maintaining their position not on the very crown of the wave, but a little further to seaward, down the slope, so as to ride upon its shoulders, as it were.
The importance of this precaution becomes apparent, when the curling surge, no longer able to maintain its elevation, is dashed furiously forwards, and dispersed into an immense sheet of foam, broken by innumerable eddies and whirlpools into a confused sea of irregular waves rushing tumultuously together, and casting the spray high into the air by impinging one against the other. This furious turmoil often whirls the masullah boat round and round, in spite of the despairing outcries of the steersman, and the re-doubled exertions of his screaming crew, half of whom back their oars, while the other half tug away in vain endeavours to keep her head in the right direction.
I have endeavoured to describe the correct and safe method of riding over the surf on the outer bar upon the back of a wave, a feat in all conscience sufficiently ...
... ticklish ;
but wo betide the poor masullah boat which shall be a little too far in
advance of her proper place, so that, when the wave curls over and breaks,
she may be pitched head foremost over the brink of the watery precipice,
and strike her nose on the sand-bank.
Even then, if there happen, by good luck, to be depth of water over the bar sufficient to float her, she may still escape ; but should the sand be left bare, or nearly so, as happens some-times, the boat is almost sure to strike, if, instead of keeping on the back or shoulder of the wave, she incautiously precedes it.
In that unhappy case, she is instantly tumbled forwards, heels over head, while the crew and passengers are sent sprawling
amongst the foam.
Note the dotted-line, intended ti illustrate the depth of the shallow sand bank.
Between the sharks
and the catamaran men a race then takes place — the one to save, the other
to destroy — the very Brahmas and Shivas of the surf!
It is right, however, to mention, that these accidents are so very rare, that during all the time I was in India I never witnessed one.
There is still
a second surf to pass, which breaks on the inner bar, about forty or fifty
yards nearer to the shore.
I forget, however, exactly the method by which this is encountered.
All I recollect is, that the boatmen try to cross it, and to approach so near the beach, that, when the next wave breaks, they shall be so far a-head of it that it may not dash into the boat and swamp her, and yet not so far out as to prevent their profiting by its impulse to drive them up the steep face of sand forming the long-wished for shore.
The rapidity with which the masullah boat is at last cast on the beach is sometimes quite fearful, and the moment she thumps on the ground, as the wave recedes, most startling.
I have frequently seen persons pitched completely off their seats, and more than once I have myself been fairly turned over, ...
... and with all
the party, like a parcel of fish cast out of a basket !
In general no such untoward events take place, and the boat at length rests on the sand, with her stern to the sea.
But as yet she is by no means far enough up the beach to enable the passengers to get out with comfort or safety.
Before the next wave breaks, the bow and sides of the boat have been seized by numbers of the natives on the shore, who greatly assist the impulse when the wave comes, both by keeping her in a straight course, and likewise by preventing her upsetting. These last stages of the process are sometimes very disagreeable, for every time the surf reaches the boat, it raises her up and lets her fall again, plump on the ground, with a violent jerk.
When at last she is high enough to remain beyond the wash of the surf, you either jump out, or more frequently descend by means of a ladder, as you would get off the top of a stage-coach ; and turning about, you look with astonishment at what you have gone through, and thank Heaven you are safe !
The return passage from the shore to a ...
... ship, in a
masiillah boat, is more tedious, but less dangerous than the process of
This difference will easily be understood, when it is recollected that in one case the boat is carried impetuously forward by the waves, and that all power of retarding her progress on the part of the boatmen ceases after a particular moment.
In going from the shore, however, the boat is kept continually under management, and the talents and experience of the steersman regulate the affair throughout.
He watches, just inside the surf, till a smooth moment occurs, generally after a high sea has broken, and then he endeavours, by great exertions, to avail himself of the moment of comparative tranquillity which follows, to force his way across the bar before another sea comes.
If he detects, as he is supposed to have it always in his power to do, that another sea is on the rise, which will, in all probability, curl up and break over him before he can row over its crest and slide down its back, his duty is, to order his men to back their oars with their utmost speed and strength.
This retrograde ...
... movement withdraws
her from the blow, or, at all events, allows the wave to strike her with
diminished violence at the safest
point, and in water of sufficient depth to prevent the boat taking the ground injuriously, to the risk of her being turned topsy-turvy.
I have, in fact, often been in these masullah boats when they have struck violently on the bar, and have seen their flat and elastic bottoms bulge inwards in the most alarming manner, but I never saw any of the planks break or the seams open so as to admit the water.
It is very interesting
to watch the progress of those honest catamaran-fellows, who live almost
entirely in the surf, and who, independently of their chief purpose of
attending the masullah boats, are much employed as messengers to the ships
in the roads, even in the worst weather.
Strange as it may seem, they contrive, in all seasons, to carry letters off quite dry, though, in getting across the surf, they may be
overwhelmed by the waves a dozen times.
I know of nothing to be compared to their industry and perseverance, except the pertinacity with which an ant carries a grain ...
... of corn up a wall, though tumbled down again and again.
I remember one
day being sent with a note for the commanding officer of the flag-ship,
which Sir Samuel Hood was very desirous should be sent on board ; but as
the weather was too tempestuous to allow even a masullah boat to pass the
surf, I was obliged to give it to a catamaran-man.
The poor fellow drew off his head a small skull-cap made apparently of some kind of skin, or oil-cloth, or bladder, and having deposited his despatches there-in, proceeded to execute his task.
We really thought,
at first, that our messenger must have been drowned even in crossing the
inner bar, for we well nigh lost sight of him in the hissing yeast of waves
in which he and his catamaran appeared only at intervals, tossing about
like a cork in a pot of boiling water.
But by far the most difficult part of his task remained after he had reached the comparatively smooth space between the two lines of surf, where we could observe him paddling to and fro as if in search of an opening in the moving wall of water raging ..
... between him
and the roadstead.
In fact, he was watching for a favourable moment, when, aftai; the dash of some high wave, he might hope to make good his transit in safety.
a great many seas to break before he attempted to cross the outer bar,
he at length seized the proper moment, and
turning his little bark to seaward, paddled out as fast as he could .
Just as the gallant fellow, however, reached the shallowest part of the bar, and we fancied him safely across, a huge wave, which had risen with unusual quickness, elevated its foaming crest right before him, curling upwards many feet higher than his shoulders.
In a moment he cast away his paddle, and leaping on his feet, he stood erect on his catamaran, watching with a bold front the
advancing bank of water.
He kept his position, quite undaunted, till the steep face of the breaker came within a couple of yards of him, and then leaping head foremost, he pierced the wave in a horizontal direction with the agility and confidence of a dolphin.
We had scarcely lost sight of his feet, as he shot through the heart ...
... of the wave,
when such a dash took place as must have crushed him to pieces had he stuck
by his catamaran, which was
whisked, instantly afterwards, by a kind of somerset, completely out of the water by its rebounding off the sand bank.
On casting our eyes beyond the surf, we felt much relieved by seeing our shipwrecked friend merrily dancing on the waves at the
back of the surf, leaping more than breast-high above the surface, and looking in all directions, first for his paddle, and then for his catamaran.
Having recovered his oar, he next swam, as he best could, through the broken surf, to his raft, mounted it like a hero, and once more addressed himself to his task.
By this time,
as the current always runs fast along the shore, he had drifted several
hundred yards to the northward farther from his point.
At the second attempt to penetrate the surf, he seemed to have made a small miscalculation, for the sea broke so very nearly over him, before he had time to quit his catamaran and dive into still water, that we thought he must certainly have been drowned.
... a whit, however,
did he appear to have suffered, for we soon saw him again swinging to his
Many times in succession was he thus washed off and sent whirling towards the beach, and as often obliged to dive head foremost through the waves.
But at last, after very nearly an hour of incessant struggling, and the loss of more than a mile of distance, he succeeded, for the first time, in reaching the back of the surf, without having parted company either with his paddle or with his catamaran.
After this it became all plain sailing; he soon paddled off to the Roads, and placed the admiral's letter in the first lieutenant's hands as dry as if it had been borne in a despatch-box across the courtyard of the Admiralty, in the careful custody of my worthy friend Mr. Nutland.
I remember, one
day, when on board the Minden, receiving a note from the shore by
a catamaran lad, whom I told to wait for an answer.
Upon this he asked for a rope, with which, as soon as it was given him, he made his little vessel fast, and lay down to sleep in the full blaze of a July sun.
One of his arms and ...
... one of his
feet hung in the water, though a dozen sharks had been seen cruising round
A tacit contract, indeed, appears to exist between the sharks and these people, for I never saw, nor can I remember ever having heard of any injury done by one to the other.
By the time my answer was written, the sun had dried up the spray on the poor fellow's body, leaving such a coating of salt, that he looked as if he had been dusted with flour.
A few fanams — a small copper coin — were all his charge, and three or four broken biscuits in addition, sent him away the happiest of mortals.
It has sometimes
occurred to me, that professional men, both in the army and in the navy,
ought to study all the tactics of these masullah boats, and to make themselves
acquainted with the principle of their construction.
Of what infinite importance to the army, for instance, might not fifty or a hundred of these boats have proved, when our troops were landed, through the surf, at the mouth of the Adour in 1814?
It is matter of considerable surprise to every one who has seen how well the ...
... chain pier
at Brighton stands the worst weather, that no similar work has been devised
The water is shallow, the surf does not extend very far from the beach, and there seems really no reason why a chain pier should not be erected, which might answer not only for the accommodation of passengers, but for the transit of goods to and from the shore.
this subject, I think it may be useful to mention, that by far the best
representation of this celebrated surf which I have ever seen, is given
in the noble Panorama of Madras, painted by Mr. W. Daniell, and
exhibited last year.
I rejoice to learn that this highly characteristic work will again be open to the public, in a more accessible situation than that in which it formerly stood.
View of Fort St. George in 1820 (detail).
Fragments of Voyages and Travels.
Third series, Volume 2,..
R. Cadell, Edinburgh,1832
Chapter III and Chapter IV.