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is added, an Appendix, containing Remarks on various Subjeels, and on the particular Situation of the Centre of Gravity in a Ship, &c. &c. By William Nichelson. 410. 175 Boards. Gilbert.
A Seaman of the old school gives us the refult of the experience of above fifty years. He tells his plain tale without much regard to accuracy of diction ; but he amply compenfates for the defects in his style by the foundnefs of his judgment, the freedom of his remarks, the naïveté of his manner, and the strength of his piety. When he attempts to philofophise, we find it difficult to comprehend his meaning ; but the facts of which he was an eye-witness, and which he seems to have faithfully recorded, deserve the attention of every seaman. A few extracts will manifeft the character of the write er, and the inportance of his obfervations.
...I am rather of opinion that thip’s ręckonings are often much out, by their want of attention to the length of their half minute glasses, the measurement of their log-line, and to the heaving of the log. I have often failed in company with Mips that have been in a fresh gale of wind failing 8, 9 or 10 knots, when we have not gone so fast by one, one and an half, and sometimes two knots, yet they only failed a-breast, and did not go an inch a head of us; these tips must have many more miles on their log-board in 24 hours than we, and in running the distance of a thousand leagues would make a number of leagues difference ; this I have often experienced in a passage, that thips in company have made one fifth, or sometimes more difference in the distance run more than we had done, entirely owing to their paying no regard to the length of their glasses, and to their marking the log-line too fhort, which is an abominable and shameful neglect, as it can fo easily be avoided, and otherwise may be attended with the most dangerous consequens ces; and another great mistake in heaving the log is, the too often fending the young men and unexperienced people of the quarter deck to heave the log, who are entirely incapable of judging what allowance to make, whether there has been more or less wind, or more or lefs fail made, or if the wind has hauled more forward or. come more aft, since the log was last hove, &c. This is a matter that requires the nicest inspection and judgment of the most expe. , rienced and judicious officer, but it is too often neglected.
* People too frequently take it for granted, that the half and quarter minute glasses are the just length they are marked upon the end, cor sometimes both ends, with a pen and ink, 28, 29 or 30 seconds, swhich I have reafon to believe are marked by guess, without any regard to the true time, for which reason I have always made it a tale to try and prove the glasses before the thip failed out of port,
to proceed on her voyage to sea, and scarce ever found a glass marked right. I have seen one marked 27 or 28 seconds, which I have found upon trial to be full 30, and others that have been marked 30 seconds have not run more than 28. Thus people are led into an error, by marking their log line according to the time of the glass, as they find it marked, without trying or proving its exactness, which
very easily done, and what I would recommend to all commanders of thips to see done, as a thing of the greatest consequence to them, particularly in long voyages.
• And when the half minute glasses are found to be 30 seconds, which is what they should be, then should the log.line be marked 50 feet to each knot, that being, according to the opinion of those learned men who have measured a degree of the meridian in different parts of the earth, the most exact proportion to the ineasurement of a terrestrial degree, and is what I have always marked the log line, and in general I have found my reckonings as exact as most people's in either long or short voyages, and if it fo happens that a perfon should have no glass of thirty seconds, then let the log-line be still marked in the fame rule of proportion ; which is, if a glass of 30 seconds gives 50 feet to a knot, how many fhould a glass of 28 seconds give, Answer, 461, to a knot, &e.' P. vi.
To those officers of our nayy who despise the talents of a good feainan, and consider their whole duty as confined to the fighting of a ship, the following plain truths may be of service.
! I must beg leave to observe, that there is a fort of doctrine which I hope will never gain credit in the service, and which cannot be too much-discountenanced or reprobated, which is, that it is possible to be a good officer without being a good seaman, which I positively deny, it being a flat contradiction of reason and common sense; I believe it to be generally favoured by those officers who came too late into the fervice to be initiated into a seaman's duty ; withing at once to become officers, they were perhaps placed to command, instead of being placed in the tops, or other parts of the thip to be taught a sailor's duty. To say that it is possible for a man to be a good officer without being a seaman, is an affertion that no man who calls himself an officer can maintain, and which every
feaman, will call absurd. It may with equal truth be said, that an officer may at once be a good farmer, when to his cost he would foon find, that being ignorant in the mystery and labour of husbandry, he would be deceived by every person he employed, as that officer will most affuredly be, and with a risque to his reputation, who has not a knowledge of a feaman, and who is obliged to truft to his boatswain, should his fhip be disabled either in“ bad weather br in battle. It is well known, that when there. has been an exertion from the captain or commanding officet's own kridwledge, as a feaman, with what advantageorhd fervice has been
carried on, greatly to the good of it; lower masts have been get in and rigged, top-mafts have been got up after being carried away, in the fourth part of the time that the fame duty has been performed when entrusted to officers, whose abilities, whether good or bad, and the captain has been a judge of the duty. There is a confidence also which the men have in their commander ; when they find he is a seaman, the duty is carried on with a good will and a steady chearfulness, because they know that he is a compea tent judge of all that can be expected in the performance of their duty. So much for the seaman and the officer.
But how often has it happened, that a whole set of top-men have been flogged, because the top-gallant yards have not beeni got across so soon as other thips, though there has been the utmost alacrity shewn by those people; and perhaps from their over eagerness the mistake happened; but the captain, being a lubber himself, and having never rigged a yard arm, calls his zealous faila ors lubbers (who have as much pride for the ship he commands as himself) and flogs them at a venture, for not doing what he is not a judge of, and which often does not depend upon their best exertions. So much for the man who is neither the seaman nor the officer. This is what causes real discontent in the feamen,
• I therefore shall beg leave to draw a conclusion from what has heen faid, and leave it to those who are judges to decide upon it, and sure I am, that feamen like to be commanded by officers who are feamen, and greatly dislike and detest the idea of being commanded by officers who are not : the former may lead them to any, length that men can go, or the love and esteem for their officer can carry them, whilst the latter will neither carry nor lead them to perform any noble action that may tend to the good of the service, but will ever be discontented and unhappy whilst they are under such an officer's command. This shews the good or ill consequences of an officer's being a seaman or not, with respect to the good of the service.'
We agree with the writer, that a complete knowledge of the lunar tables, and the best opportunities of using theni,
ught not to fupersede the old admiral's LLL, or the three best guides to a sailor on coming near the channel, latitude, loga and look-out. A curious instance is recorded of dependence on lunar tables.
An instance we have had not many years since, when a navigator, reckoned to be of great and long experience in lunar obfers vations, was coming from abroad and bound up channel, he committed a blunder that the ignorant navigator could not have committed a greater; he got on the wrong side of the past, that is to say, he got into Mount's Bay in hazy weather, without knowing where he was, and it is not to this day known, whether he went to the northward, or to the southward, or to the eastward, or weste
ward of Scilly; how the ship got into Mount's Bay is a mystery yet unravelled, but it muft be acknowledged he was very fortunate, to escape the imminent danger the fhip must have been in no less than a miracle. It is things like this that navigators should observe and pay attention to, as it is better to improve by other men's miscarriages than our own. The idea of keeping the longi. tude, or being governed by the lunar observations after you strike soundings, is a mistaken idea ; your principal director and guide is the latitude and depth of water, which I have given in the following work; according to the depth of water, the exact distance to the westward of Scilly, or the Lizard, providing you are sure of your latitude, is the first principal thing to be considered; and the second principal thing is the depth of water.' P. xv.
Our old seaman seems to be prejudiced against the improved appearance of the officers of the navy. A man may possess the skill of the failors of former days, though he should be more attentive to his dress than they were.
• It is not hats and periwigs, powdered hair or filk stockings, fribbles or beaux, that are equal to the task required to be performed at this time, it must be men with heads and brains, the seaman and the officer, whose well grounded experience, accompanied with a firm resolation, with a constancy of mind peculiar to a brave seaman and a good officer, that must support the man at all times, but more particularly so at such times as I have juft mentioned. But I must beg leave to say, in my opinion we have lost a great deal of our feamanship in the last twenty years, and if it should happen that we should lose as much in the next twenty years, we thall become despicable feamen indeed; which I pray God forbid.' P. xviii,
But our author has, in general, true ideas of seamanship.
" A seaman' (he says), “ should be understood to be quite different from all other classes of men, he does not spring up like a mufiroom, it requires many years to make him a seaman, it is service at sea, and long experience, that must qualify him for a seaman, with fatigue both of body and mind, and must suffer many hardihips in 'acquiring the professional knowledge requisite to make him a good seaman, which is often forgot to be added to the merit of a seaman, who seems to stand friendless in a country, where the community at large should befriend him.'
An occurrence in Mr. Nichelson's practice points out the difference between following a crowd, and being guided by just principles.
• In the year 1748, I was in a man of war coming up channel from Plymouth, bound to the Downs, in the latter end of Ottober, there were 70 or 80 fail of thips in company, all bound up
channel; we were about 5 P. M. between Dunnose and the west end of the Owers, rather nearest the Owers, ard at this time nearly bigh water in the offing, the wind few round from SW. 10 fouth and SbE. with some rain, and continued between the SbE. and south all night, with drizzling rain, and began to fnuffle and blow fresh, which obliged us to take in our small fails and fingle reek the topfails, all the thips in company tacked and stood to the westward, but us in the man of war, who continued to stand 10. the eastward; my captain made use of the following argument with me, who at that time was master of the man of war, says he, it is very ftrange that you will advise our standing to the eastward, when all the ships that were in company have tacked and stood to the weftward; there must be many experienced men in so great a nume ber of thips, who are apprehensive of the danger of the Owers, by their discontinuing to stand to the eastward with the wind to the fouthward as it now is; and though I have a very good opinion of your knowledge and experience in the channel, yet I willi you not to be too positive in this matter, in standing to the eastward, which may be attended with serious or bad consequences, fould we not be able to weather the Owers, and especially as we differ in opinion from all the ships that were in company, who are all tacked and stood to the westward, and are now out of sight.
• To which I replied, fir, I am obliged to you for the caution you have given me, and reminding me of the danger or risque we may run, should we not be able to weather the Owers, and as to the ships that were in company, their tacking and standing to the westward does not give me any concern ; I compare a fieet of fhips to a flock of theep, one goes through the hedge and all the rest will follow ; I shall take no example from them contrary' to my own fenfe, reason and experience, there is no danger in our standing on to the eastward, the ship goes quick through the water, makes but little lee way, we will keep the lead constantly going, and as long as we can keep in 22 or 21 fathoms water, we need fear no danger from the Owers, but if we Mould fhoal the water to 20 fathoms, or under, we will tack and stand to the westward, The captain was satisfied with my reasoning, and we continued to ftand on to the eastward, the wind nearly south, the flip lay up no better than ESE all night, we kept the lead constantly going, and had 23, 22, 21, 22, 23, 22, 22, 21, 21 and 22 fathoms water, and never had less than 21 or 22 fathoms; the ship failed at the rate of 5 or 6 knots all night, the moon got up about 2 o'clock in the morning. At 4 A. M. faw Beachy Head bearing NbW, distance 4 leagues; at noon got into the Downs." I nuft here observe, the feet of ships that were in company with us in coming up the channel when we were off the west end of the Owers, did not get into the Downs till 30 hours after us. SU much for not following the croud, and making use of our own