Sir Edward Sullivan, Lord Brassey, C. E. Seth-Smith, G. L. Watson, R. T. Pritchett, Sir George Leach, the Earl Of Pembroke and Montgomery, E. F. Knight and Rev. G. L. Blake Date Published:
2013/07 Page Count:
392 Softcover ISBN-13:
978-1-78282-117-5 Hardcover ISBN-13:
The gentleman yachtsman's companion—in two volumes
Towards the end of the 19th century a series of books was published by the Badminton Library of Sports and Pastimes covering a variety of leisure activities in considerable depth. Many of the volumes consisted of essays, each written by a specialist contributor, covering different aspects of the sport or pastime. Many of these authors were members of the British oligarchy and aristocracy who were well placed, by experience, knowledge and the capacity to devote time and resources to these activities, to become acknowledged experts able to provide unmatched expertise and anecdotal information to their readers. The series was of sufficient value to warrant the approval of the Prince of Wales at the time. One of the best of these comprehensive guides is a substantial two volume edition which considers all aspects of yachting both technically, in terms of the construction and performance of the vessels, and as a sport and pastime. Leonaur has reproduced this superb guide to yachting for the modern reader. Each volume contains a substantial and interesting collection of data, diagrams, design drawings and a host of other illustrations. Volume one covers ocean cruising, Corinthian deep sea cruising, yacht design development, sliding keels and centre boards, experiences of schooner racing, racing small yachts in the Solent and cruising in the Baltic, accounts of fifty-tonners, five-tonners and five-raters and much, much more. There is something in these volumes to fascinate every yachting enthusiast as well as those interested in the history of yachts and sailing.
Leonaur editions are newly typeset and are not facsimiles; each title is available in softcover and hardback with dustjacket.
The heaviest gale ever experienced by the Sunbeam was off Flamborough Head, in 1881. I embarked at Middlesbrough on the evening of October 13, intending to sail for Portsmouth at daybreak on the following morning; but, finding the wind from the south and the barometer depressed, our departure was deferred. At 9 a.m. the barometer had fallen to 28.87°, but as the wind had changed to W.N.W., and was off shore from a favourable quarter, I determined to proceed to sea. We were towed down the Tees, and as we descended the river I conferred with the pilot as to what we might anticipate from the remarkable depression in the barometer. He was of opinion that a severe gale was at hand, that it would blow from the north-west, and that there was no reason for remaining in port. The tug was accordingly cast off at the mouth of the Tees, and we made sail.<br>
Foreseeing a storm, topmasts were housed, boats were secured on deck, and we kept under close-reefed canvas, setting the main and mizen jib-headed trysails, double-reefed foresail and forestay-sail, and reefed standing jib. As the day advanced no change took place in the weather. The wind blew strongly, but not with the force of a gale, and the sea was comparatively smooth. Meanwhile the barometer continued to descend rapidly, and at 2 p.m. had fallen to 28.45°. As nothing had yet occurred to account for this depression, my sailing-master remarked that it must have been caused by the heavy showers of rain which had fallen in the course of the morning. I knew from former experiences that it was not the rain, but the coming storm, that was indicated by the barometer. It had needed some resolution to quit the mouth of the Tees in the morning, and at mid-day, when we were off Whitby, a still greater effort was required to resist the temptation to make for a harbour. No further incidents occurred until 3 p.m., when we were nearing Flamborough Head. Here we were at last overtaken by the long impending storm. Looking back to the north-west, over the starboard quarter, we saw that the sea had suddenly been lashed into a mass of white foam. The hurricane was rushing forward with a velocity and a force which must have seemed terrible to the fleet of coasting vessels around us.<br>
Before the gale struck the Sunbeam our canvas had been reduced to main and mizen trysails and reefed standing-jib; but even with the small spread of sail, and luffed up close to the wind, our powerful little vessel careened over to the fury of the blast until the lee-rail completely disappeared under water—an incident which had never previously occurred during all the extensive voyages we had undertaken. Such was the force of the wind that a sailing vessel near us lost all her sails, and our large gig was stove in from the tremendous pressure of the gunwale against the davits. We took in the jib and the mizen-trysail, and, with our canvas reduced to a jib-headed main-trysail, were soon relieved of water on deck. For an hour and a half we lay-to on the starboard tack, standing in for the land below Burlington Bay. We were battened down, and felt ourselves secure from all risks except collision.<br>
The fury of the wind so filled the air with spoon-drift that we could not see a ship’s length ahead, and in such crowded waters a collision was a far from impossible contingency. At 6 p.m. we thought it prudent to wear, so as to gain an offing during the night, and gradually drew out of the line of traffic along the coast. At 9 p.m. the extreme violence of the hurricane had abated, and we could see, through occasional openings in the mist, the masthead lights of several steamers standing, like ourselves, off the land for the night. At midnight the barometer was rising rapidly, and the wind gradually settled down into a clear hard gale, accompanied by a heavy sea, running down the coast from the north.<br>
At 6 a.m. we carefully examined the dead reckoning, and, having fixed on an approximate position, we determined to bear away, steering to pass in mid-channel between the Outer Dowsing and the Dudgeon, through a passage about ten miles in width. We were under easy sail; but, under the main-trysail, double-reefed foresail, staysail, fore-topsail, and reefed jib, we scudded at the rate of eleven knots. A constant look-out had been kept from aloft, and at 10 a.m., having nearly run the distance down from our assumed position when we bore away to the north end of the Outer Dowsing, I established myself in the crosstrees until we should succeed in making something.<br>
After a short interval we saw broken water nearly ahead on the port bow. We at once hauled to the wind, steering to the south-west, and set the mizen-trysail. The lead showed a depth of three fathoms, and we were therefore assured that we had been standing too near to the Outer Dowsing. The indications afforded by the lead were confirmed by sights, somewhat roughly taken, and by the circumstance of our having shortly before passed through a fleet of trawlers evidently making for the Spurn. In less than an hour after we had hauled to the wind we found ourselves in the track of several steamers. At 3 p.m. we made the land near Cromer, and at 5.30 we brought up in the Yarmouth Roads, thankful to have gained a secure shelter from the gale.