An extract from the Log of the 'James Baines' written in 1857 as broadcast on Anne's Rock Show - Monday 16th October 2017.
Nineteenth century newspapers are crammed with adverts for – and notices of passenger ships heading to the far off corners of the globe. One such ship the ‘James Baines’ set sail from Liverpool on the 5th January 1857 and arrived in Melbourne on Monday 23rd March after a total number of 77 days at sea.
Aboard, was a gentleman by the name of ‘Alfred Withers’ who recorded the daily events on board in a diary, which is now in the possession of the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich in London. Seven days into the voyage on the 12th January the ship encountered a ‘hurricane’ in the Bay of Biscay of which Alfred wrote:
“Wind West, very strong Gale, a perfect Hurricane, sea what is called mountains high, but that is all nonsense. Waves are nearer higher than 30 feet, that is plenty high enough for when the ship is in the furrow of the wave they look as if they would curl over it, the sails which were not furled, blew away one after the other with a noise like the report of a Cannon, we were at last reduced to two close reefed Topsails and a fore sail in tatters, ropes snapping in every direction. Boats stove in, part of the Bulwarks washed away, the sea breaking over the vessel in beautiful style, the second cabin about two feet deep in water a sea washing down the Hatchway. Boxes and Chests afloat below, Bedding saturated, Ladies in hysterics, some on their knees praying, the scene altogether, what with the wind howling in the rigging, the sea roaring about us, the crying, laughing, praying etc below can be more easily imagined than described.”
Although the ship did encounter further bad weather this alarming storm had to be by far the worst. Tune in to Anne’s Rock Show every Monday from 9pm on EGH Radio for more tales of Stowaways, a dropped baby and albatross purse …