Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Captain Smales and Paddle Steamers

"Thursday, 26th January, began with a heavy N.W. and Westerly gale with a very high sea running. The 'Magdala' was behaving splendidly. About 11 a.m. I remarked to the Mate who was on watch at the time "Isn't she a fine sea boat?" It was his first voyage in her as he had only joined in Glasgow. A little while after, I was standing on the lee side of the bridge watching the heavy rollers as they rolled away to leeward in the hurricane squalls that came along at short intervals and as I stood there the words of the hymn came to my mind "He plants his footsteps in the sea and rides upon the storm". There was something awe-inspiring in the long heavy billows as they rolled away to leeward, clear of the ship. We had had no observation of the sun since we left Glasgow and I made the dead reckoning at noon to be Lat. 53 - 11 N. Long 15 -57 West. Somewhere about 260 miles West of Ireland. At 10 minutes past noon, during a hurricane squall, ship not steering at the time, a huge mountain of a sea - tidal wave in fact - came rolling and towering above us on the starboard beam. Just a black mountain of water with a white crest on the point of breaking. The ship had not the ghost of a chance, she simply could not rise to it but just gave a sickening roll to wind-ward and the mountain fell on her and rolled right over her from the fore rigging to the main. Over she went and buried her port rail, listing to 46 degrees measured later. What happened was, 600 tons of coal in the bridge space and No.2 tween deck was thrown bodily to Port. The front of the funnel was stove in and the whistle lanyards tightened with the whistle having been knocked inside the funnel. It was howling away full blast inside!"
Find out what happens next here.
I came across this story while browsing the fascinating Paddle Steamer Picture Gallery (yes, that is Acker Bilk on Margate Pier). Link…


Anonymous said...

You need to update your link re Captain Smales.
It came from my site which has now been updated to

coincidentally the picture of Acker Bilk was taken by my father. small world
best regards

tellurian said...

Done. Thanks for letting me know about the update.