Saturday 21st February – very fine weather. Strong breezes and foul with much sea.
Sunday 22nd – strong gales and dark gloomy weather in the morning, – cloudy but fair day & more moderate. After a shower in the evening, fine weather and light winds with heavy swell.
Monday 23rd – wind now strong, now light but always foul. No progress made or making. Showery morning – fine day.
Tuesday 24th – strong gales – laying to. Dull gloomy weather, with drizzling rain & occasional smart showers.
Wednesday 25th – very heavy storm – tremendous sea. Squally weather with frequent falls of hail, during which the wind blew awfully. Drifting back. Thermometer 40*.
Thursday 26th – gale still continues – not so violent. Weather cloudy but more settled. Very high sea driving us to leeward. Thermometer 48*.
Friday 27th – light variable airs variable weather. Thermometer 52*.
Saturday 28th up to noon – rainy weather. Fresh and foul wind. Thermometer 56*.
But alas our hopes of a fair wind were raised only to be thrown down again. The appearances in the weather & sky from which experienced seamen are accustomed to draw their conclusions, and only served to render us more discontented than if we had never hoped. It is now generally thought that as we have had Easterly winds all November & December, during which months, in nine cases out of ten, Westerly gales prevail, the latter will be found to blow strong in March & April, the very months which are peculiarly appropriated to the Easters. In other words it is believed that there will be an interchange of periods betweens Easterly and Westerly winds. Hence it is that the Packets, which left Falmouth in November and December have had extraordinary quick runs to and from Halifax – contrary I believe to their own expectations. Hence it will possibly be that we, who sailing when we did might otherwise have looked forwards to a short voyage, will occupy a very long time in reaching Halifax, and perhaps as long in returning.
That we have not so far formed an erroneous opinion on this point, the experience of this week amply confirms. First of all we had strong & foul gales – during which we could carry however some little sail & have steerage way thro’ the water. Then came a lull – a sort of breathing space to the winds, which seemed to veer & vary with every half hour, & apparently to be seeking some point whence to blow. Tho’ the wind was light, a heavy continuous swell was seen to roll from the Westward, causing the Packet to labour & roll in a most unpleasant manner. This was decisive as to the expected direction of the next steady breeze – nor did we entertain a doubt, because the wind then was not blowing from that quarter, or because to clouds seemed to rise rapidly from the opposite way.
At last on Monday night the gale commenced its long premeditated attack and soon encreased to such a degree of violence, that we were compelled to furl all and lay to, sometimes under no sail at all, at other times under a small foretopmast staysail, hoisted on the main boom as a storm sail. Until Thursday we lay in this condition – one of the most unpleasant in the world. The wind blew with tremendous force, which during passing squalls, was aggravated an hundred fold – roaring, whistling & rattling the shrouds & ropes, as if struggling to find a vent from some narrow aperture. The sound at different times resembled the wind sighing and moaning amidst the countless leaves and branches of a forest, which as you know is one of the most melancholy sounds one can ____ to have to listen to, when difficulty, uncertainty and danger encompass you around, in a situation where all your nerve & presence of mind are required to ward off or meet impending danger.
And the sea – what is it like when tossed to and fro by the waves? It is only like unto itself – it possesses a character of awfulness, and, if you like it, of sublimity, which has no parallel in appearances or objects on land. When the heavens are enveloped in deep darkness, occasioned by heavy louering, low impending clouds interposed between you and the sun, the mountainous billows of the troubled ocean look dark as ink, except when the tops, reaching far into the air, become crested with the white foam which contrasts more fearfully with the pitch colour of the body of waters. Oh what a cheering relief it is, when the sun, bursting from his prison of clouds, sheds a bright glare over the sea, and deprives it of half its imagined horrors. We hail his presence with joy and under his influence feel elevated with the hope that our storm will soon pass over, when but a few moments before his appearance we were inclined to fear, that its duration would be interminable – or at least protracted for weeks.
As we were far removed from all rocks and sands, and had plenty of sea-room, our sole anxiety arose from the apprehension that some of the many heavy waves which passed from side to side of us, should fall in board and carry away our masts or cause us to founder. Our Master was particularly anxious on this point, not being fully aware of the excellent qualities of our vessel. He did all that lay in his power to guard against any accident, & provided before hand the means to be used, should we lose our foremast or any spars.
For some time we came on admirably and our spirits rose accordingly. This time many heavy seas struck us – but the tops only came in & did us no damage. But on Wednesday forenoon – as the Captain, Master & self, were anxiously employed in watching each fast succeeding wave, as it rose at some distance from us, rolled majestically its vast volume along and finally approaching our vessel, as if about to overwhelm it, sunk quietly under, only to rise as high on the other side – I say as we were thus watching, a wave suddenly rose near us, far surpassing in height & bulk any we had yet seen, being fully as elevated as our main top. We saw it coming on with inexpressible anxiety. It approached nearer & nearer, but did not seem likely to sink down before it reached us. We stood breathless for a few seconds – unable to stir from our exposed position – fascinated as it were – till it was so close that it appeared right over our heads. Instinctively we all fled into our poop cabin and hardly had we accomplished this ere the huge wave burst right in board, causing the vessel first to stand still then to quiver & shake like an animal endowed with sensation. The whole length of the decks was swept by the flood – the water rushed to & fro seeking to escape & fortunately, in expectation of such an event, one of the ports had been left open to leeward, whence it gushed to gain the general mass of waves. When we were first struck, I involuntarily closed my eyes, but soon opened them again in the fear of beholding our masts of boats gone. But thanks be to God, Almighty, the Creator and Preserver of all his creatures, we sustained no injury – when as has often been the case, a similar accident has sunk or dismasted many many vessels.
Providentially this was the only serious cause of alarm we had, and on Friday our minds were set at ease, for a time at least, by our having moderate breezes. The future is known to God. We fear we have still much bad weather to encounter – but we hope to encounter it in a humble reliance on the mercy and protection of him, who controlleth the winds & the sea.
As might be expected from what I have now stated, the weather was not to be spoken of favourable – but then during this week that was a matter of meer secondary consideration.
Saturday 28th Feb.ry from noon – Cloudy but fair weather. Fresh and foul wind.
Sunday 1st March – beautiful weather – Moderate & foul wind.
Monday 2nd – moderate and foul wind. Expecting change of wind. W.r variable.
Tuesday 3rd – strong breezes in the morning. Moderate at night – Foggy weather.
Wednesday 4th – favourable wind during the night – foul & strong during the day. Cloudy weather with slight drizzling rain.
Thursday 5th – moderate & foul gales. Cloudy weather at night rainy weather – Wind moderate & more favourable.
Friday 6th March – strong gales during the day, laying to – more moderate but still foul in the afternoon. Fine weather with occasional falls of hail & heavy squalls.
Saturday 7th – up to noon – continuous heavy rain. Moderate & foul wind from South & Westward.
Sunday at the commencement of this week was the 1st of March, and never did a finer day show out from the heavens. It is a common saying among sailors that when March comes in like a lion, it will go out like a lamb & vice versa. If this prove true we have but a dreary prospect to look forward to towards the termination of this month, and what will render the matter still worse, we shall, ere that time, most probably be near the coast of America, of all places in the world the worst to be near in tempestuous weather. But all hope for the best, and as the saying if faint heart never won fair or in other words, the nervous apprehension of coming evil never prepares but rather unfits the mind for applying all its power & energy to meet, counteract or ward off the same evils. Perhaps after all we are too hasty in assuming that March with us has come in like a lamb – for I am sure on three or four succeeding days, he has been roaring & raging like any lion of them all. Seldom have I met with more unsettled weather, or with that which has been so little beneficial to our progress. The wind has hung most pertinaciously to the Westward, never yielding a point in our favour except indeed when it blew a gale which rendered all nugatory, since we did not dare to set sail, but nolens valens went to leeward like a shot. On the abatement of the gale, the wind returned to our old spot. We have little more than half completed our task, and should we be still so unlucky as heretofore, my cracky the next packet that follows us is likely to reach Halifax as soon as we. To speak of the weather I can only say that is as cold & as uncomfortable as a man could wish to fall to the lot of his worst enemy. Dark gloomy is the best we can say of it, and rain drizzle, fog & hail the worst of it. I often wonder, & wondering at, admire how admirably my stock of patience hold out – much better I believe than our stock of provisions & water – call[?] why the more frequent & loud the demands upon the former, the more it rises in strength & increase, while alas for the latter, the consumption of every additional day subtracts most woefully from the grand sum total of the whole. The more is the pity _ for this sharp weather sharpens the edge of our appetite, & renders the cravings of hunger scarcely to be endured beyond the ordinary times of meals.