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Afloat at Last
A Sailor Boy's Log of his Life at Sea

written by "Hutcheson, John C. (John Conroy)"
...sitor, everything being lashed down that was likely to get blown away, and life-lines rove along the deck fore and aft, the same as when we were making ready to weather the Cape of Good Hope, it was late in the afternoon. At four o’clock, the commencement of the first dog-watch, the barometer had fallen further down the scale to 29.46; while, an hour later, it was down to 28.96, the wind increasing in force almost every minute and the sea growing in proportion, until the very height of the cyclone was attained. The dinghy, which was lashed inboard behind the wheel-house, was blown bodily away to leeward, the ropes holding it parting as if they had been pack-thread, heavy squalls, accompanied with heavy rain all the time beating on us like hail, and bursting over the ship in rapid succession; but the old barquey bravely stood it, bending to the blast when it came, and then buoyantly rising the next moment and breasting it like the good sea-boat she was. At “six bells” the barometer fell to its lowest point, 28.60, when the violence of the wind was something fearful, although after this there was a slight rise in the glass. During the next half-hour, however, the mizzen-topsail, which Tom Jerrold and I, with Gregory to help us, had fastened as we thought so firmly to the yard, was blown to ribbons, the spanker getting adrift shortly afterwards and being torn away from its lacing to the luff rope, scrap by scrap. The main trysail, also, although only very little of it was shown when set, now blew away too, making a great report no doubt; but the shrieking of the wind was such that we couldn’t hear anything else but its howling through the rigging, the captain’s voice close alongside of me, as I sheltered under the hood of the companion, sounding actually only like a faint whisper. The typhoon now shifted from the north-west to the westwards, and the barometer, rising shortly afterwards to 29.20, jumped up thence another twenty points ...

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