Sunday, July 28, 2013

16 July 1859

We passed close to the reef the next day; it has a very dangerous appearance in the light, is about five miles long, and has a building on it commemorative of the loss of one of the East India Company's vessels (the George IV), which laden with passengers, was wrecked upon it and only a very few of its crew and passengers saved.
Our Voyage to New Zealand Per the Tornado (by a Glasgow Emigrant) Glasgow Herald December 19, 1859

July 16. Saturday. This morning the deck reminded one of the Exchange flags, and the sole topic is the proceedings of last night. The rocks on which we were so nearly on were the “Rocus Reefs” coast of South America. Today at 12 we passed them again.
  Campbell, Alexander. Letters and papers, 1859 - 1870. Auckland War Memorial Museum Library. MS 50

July 16th. A fine morning after a very eventful night. About midnight there was a strange bustle on the main deck and a cry of LAND AHEAD, BREAKERS AHEAD, we shall be on them in five minutes was confusedly uttered by many voices and at once the whole ship was one scene of mild confusion. Some dressed, others half dressed and many in their nightclothes were seen making to the main deck to prove the truth of the above statements just made (viz Breakers Ahead) and truth more ghastly we never seen. Though the weather had been dull god had given us a fine night and the full clear moon showed the bleached heads of a massive reef of rocks standing out above the sea against which the white spray could be seen dashing and foaming with awful force. To us it was indescribably awful. It had been said several times lately that the sight of land would be quite a treat but how mistaken. The sight was terrible in the extreme. To think that in a few minutes it might be to us and our families and a great host of prayerless sinners the very jaws of death. The captain (who it is said was drunk in bed) came on deck and I suppose he thought there was no chance of escape ordered the ship to be put round head foremost on the rocks but the chief mate (who is a thoughtful and clever seaman) countermanded his orders and no sooner had he given the word than the crew and passengers fell to the ropes and the ship literally spun around. We appeared so near the rocks that she was expected every moment to strike but life and death before us amid hopes and fears, the greatest possible effort was made and away we went back again to sea and passed in sight of the rocks today about ten o'clock but very little could be seen even by the aid of the glass. It is Cape St. Rogue coast of Brazil, South America. Nearly all appeared to own god's hand in our deliverance. May we all be more mindful of devine goodness saying with David praise The Lord o my soul and forget not all his benefits.
Booth, Thomas. Papers, 1857 - 1859. Auckland War Memorial Museum Library. MS 2002/56.

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