SAILING ALONE AROUND THE WORLD (completed 2+3) (2/3)
From Captain Joshua Slocum@21:1/5 to All on Fri Jan 25 20:18:07 2019
[continued from previous message]
to twenty, and that of three lighthouses built on it since 1880, two have
been washed away and the third will soon be engulfed.
On the evening of July 5 the Spray , after having steered all day over a
lumpy sea, took it into her head to go without the helmsman's aid. I had been steering southeast by south, but the wind hauling forward a bit, she dropped into a smooth lane, heading southeast, and making about eight knots, her very best work. I crowded on sail to cross the track of the liners without loss of time, and to reach as soon as possible the friendly Gulf Stream. The fog lifting before night, I was afforded a look at the sun just as it was
touching the sea. I watched it go down and out of sight. Then I turned my
face eastward, and there, apparently at the very end of the bowsprit, was the smiling full moon rising out of the sea. Neptune himself coming over the bows could not have startled me more. "Good evening, sir," I cried; "I'm glad to
see you." Many a long talk since then I have had with the man in the moon; he had my confidence on the voyage.
About midnight the fog shut down again denser than ever before. One could almost "stand on it." It continued so for a number of days, the wind
increasing to a gale. The waves rose high, but I had a good ship. Still, in
the dismal fog I felt myself drifting into loneliness, an insect on a straw
in the midst of the elements. I lashed the helm, and my vessel held her
course, and while she sailed I slept.
During these days a feeling of awe crept over me. My memory worked with startling power. The ominous, the insignificant, the great, the small, the wonderful, the commonplace - all appeared before my mental vision in magical succession. Pages of my history were recalled which had been so long
forgotten that they seemed to belong to a previous existence. I heard all the voices of the past laughing, crying, telling what I had heard them tell in
many corners of the earth.
The loneliness of my state wore off when the gale was high and I found much work to do. When fine weather returned, then came the sense of solitude,
which I could not shake off. I used my voice often, at first giving some
order about the affairs of a ship, for I had been told that from disuse I should lose my speech. At the meridian altitude of the sun I called aloud, "Eight bells," after the custom on a ship at sea. Again from my cabin I cried to an imaginary man at the helm, "How does she head, there?" and again, "Is
she on her course?" But getting no reply, I was reminded the more palpably of my condition. My voice sounded hollow on the empty air, and I dropped the practice. However, it was not long before the thought came to me that when I was a lad I used to sing; why not try that now, where it would disturb no
one? My musical talent had never bred envy in others, but out on the
Atlantic, to realize what it meant, you should have heard me sing. You should have seen the porpoises leap when I pitched my voice for the waves and the
sea and all that was in it. Old turtles, with large eyes, poked their heads
up out of the sea as I sang "Johnny Boker," and "We'll Pay Darby Doyl for his Boots," and the like. But the porpoises were, on the whole, vastly more appreciative than the turtles; they jumped a deal higher. One day when I was humming a favorite chant, I think it was "Babylon's a-Fallin'," a porpoise jumped higher than the bowsprit. Had the Spray been going a little faster she would have scooped him in. The sea-birds sailed around rather shy.
July 10, eight days at sea, the Spray was twelve hundred miles east of Cape Sable. One hundred and fifty miles a day for so small a vessel must be considered good sailing. It was the greatest run the Spray ever made before
or since in so few days. On the evening of July 14, in better humor than ever before, all hands cried, "Sail ho!" The sail was a barkantine, three points
on the weather bow, hull down.
Then came the night. My ship was sailing along now without attention to the helm. The wind was south; she was heading east. Her sails were trimmed like
the sails of the nautilus. They drew steadily all night. I went frequently on deck, but found all well. A merry breeze kept on from the south. Early in the morning of the 15th the Spray was close aboard the stranger, which proved to
be La Vaguisa of Vigo, twenty-three days from Philadelphia, bound for Vigo. A lookout from his masthead had spied the Spray the evening before. The
captain, when I came near enough, threw a line to me and sent a bottle of
wine across slung by the neck, and very good wine it was. He also sent his card, which bore the name of Juan Gantes. I think he was a good man, as Spaniards go. But when I asked him to report me "all well" (the Spray passing him in a lively manner), he hauled his shoulders much above his head; and
when his mate, who knew of my expedition, told him that I was alone, he
crossed himself and made for his cabin. I did not see him again. By sundown
he was as far astern as he had been ahead the evening before.
There was now less and less monotony. On July 16 the wind was northwest and clear, the sea smooth, and a large bark, hull down, came in sight on the lee bow, and at 2:30 P.M. I spoke the stranger. She was the bark Java of Glasgow, from Peru for Queenstown for orders. Her old captain was bearish, but I met a bear once in Alaska that looked pleasanter. At least, the bear seemed pleased to meet me, but this grizzly old man! Well, I suppose my hail disturbed his siesta, and my little sloop passing his great ship had somewhat the effect on him that a red rag has upon a bull. I had the advantage over heavy ships, by long odds, in the light winds of this and the two previous days.
The wind was light; his ship was heavy and foul, making poor headway, while
the Spray , with a great mainsail bellying even to light winds, was just skipping along as nimbly as one could wish. "How long has it been calm about here?" roared the captain of the Java , as I came within hail of him. "Dunno, cap'n," I shouted back as loud as I could bawl. "I haven't been here long."
At this the mate on the forecastle wore a broad grin. "I left Cape Sable fourteen days ago," I added. (I was now well across toward the Azores.)
"Mate," he roared to his chief officer - "mate, come here and listen to the Yankee's yarn. Haul down the flag, mate, haul down the flag!" In the best of humor, after all, the Java surrendered to the Spray.
The acute pain of solitude experienced at first never returned. I had penetrated a mystery, and, by the way, I had sailed through a fog. I had met Neptune in his wrath, but he found that I had not treated him with contempt, and so he suffered me to go on and explore.
In the log for July 18 there is this entry: "Fine weather, wind south- southwest. Porpoises gamboling all about. The S.S. Olympia passed at 11:30 A.M., long. W. 34 degrees 50'."
"It lacks now three minutes of the half-hour," shouted the captain, as he
gave me the longitude and the time. I admired the businesslike air of the Olympia ; but I have the feeling still that the captain was just a little too precise in his reckoning. That may be all well enough, however, where there
is plenty of sea-room. But over-confidence, I believe, was the cause of the disaster to the liner Atlantic , and many more like her. The captain knew too well where he was. There were no porpoises at all skipping along with the Olympia ! Porpoises always prefer sailing-ships. The captain was a young man,
I observed, and had before him, I hope, a good record.
Land ho! On the morning of July 19 a mystic dome like a mountain of silver stood alone in the sea ahead. Although the land was completely hidden by the white, glistening haze that shone in the sun like polished silver, I felt
quite sure that it was Flores Island. At half-past four P.M. it was abeam.
The haze in the meantime had disappeared. Flores is one hundred and seventy- four miles from Fayal, and although it is a high island, it remained many
years undiscovered after the principal group of the islands had been
Early on the morning of July 20 I saw Pico looming above the clouds on the starboard bow. Lower lands burst forth as the sun burned away the morning
fog, and island after island came into view. As I approached nearer,
cultivated fields appeared, "and oh, how green the corn!" Only those who have seen the Azores from the deck of a vessel realize the beauty of the mid-ocean picture.
At 4:30 P.M. I cast anchor at Fayal, exactly eighteen days from Cape Sable.
The American consul, in a smart boat, came alongside before the Spray reached the breakwater, and a young naval officer, who feared for the safety of my vessel, boarded, and offered his services as pilot. The youngster, I have no good reason to doubt, could have handled a man-of-war, but the Spray was too small for the amount of uniform he wore. I could never make out. But I
It was the season for fruit when I arrived at the Azores, and there was soon more of all kinds of it put on board than I knew what to do with. Islanders
are always the kindest people in the world, and I met none anywhere kinder
than the good hearts of this place. The people of the Azores are not a very rich community. The burden of taxes is heavy, with scant privileges in
return, the air they breathe being about the only thing that is not taxed.
The mother-country does not even allow them a port of entry for a foreign
mail service. A packet passing never so close with mails for Horta must
deliver them first in Lisbon, ostensibly to be fumigated, but really for the tariff from the packet. My own letters posted at Horta reached the United States six days behind my letter from Gibraltar, mailed thirteen days later.
The day after my arrival at Horta was the feast of a great saint. Boats
loaded with people came from other islands to celebrate at Horta, the
capital, or Jerusalem, of the Azores. The deck of the Spray was crowded from morning till night with men, women, and children. On the day after the feast
a kind-hearted native harnessed a team and drove me a day over the beautiful roads all about Fayal, "because," said he, in broken English, "when I was in America and couldn't speak a word of English, I found it hard till I met some one who seemed to have time to listen to my story, and I promised my good
saint then that if ever a stranger came to my country I would try to make him happy." Unfortunately, this gentleman brought along an interpreter, that I might "learn more of the country." The fellow was nearly the death of me, talking of ships and voyages, and of the boats he had steered, the last thing in the world I wished to hear. He had sailed out of New Bedford, so he said, for "that Joe Wing they call 'John.'" My friend and host found hardly a
chance to edge in a word. Before we parted my host dined me with a cheer that would have gladdened the heart of a prince, but he was quite alone in his house. "My wife and children all rest there," said he, pointing to the churchyard across the way. "I moved to this house from far off," he added,
"to be near the spot, where I pray every morning."
I remained four days at Fayal, and that was two days more than I had intended to stay. It was the kindness of the islanders and their touching simplicity which detained me. A damsel, as innocent as an angel, came alongside one day, and said she would embark on the Spray if I would land her at Lisbon. She
could cook flying-fish, she thought, but her forte was dressing bacalhao. Her brother Antonio, who served as interpreter, hinted that, anyhow, he would
like to make the trip. Antonio's heart went out to one John Wilson, and he
was ready to sail for America by way of the two capes to meet his friend. "Do you know John Wilson of Boston?" he cried. "I knew a John Wilson," I said,
"but not of Boston." "He had one daughter and one son," said Antonio, by way
of identifying his friend. If this reaches the right John Wilson, I am told
to say that "Antonio of Pico remembers him."
Squally weather in the Azores - High living - Delirious from cheese and plums
- The pilot of the Pinta - At Gibraltar - Compliments exchanged with the British navy - A picnic on the Morocco shore.
I set sail from Horta early on July 24. The southwest wind at the time was light, but squalls came up with the sun, and I was glad enough to get reefs
in my sails before I had gone a mile. I had hardly set the mainsail, double- reefed, when a squall of wind down the mountains struck the sloop with such violence that I thought her mast would go. However, a quick helm brought her
to the wind. As it was, one of the weather lanyards was carried away and the other was stranded. My tin basin, caught up by the wind, went flying across a French school-ship to leeward. It was more or less squally all day, sailing along under high land; but rounding close under a bluff, I found an
opportunity to mend the lanyards broken in the squall. No sooner had I
lowered my sails when a four-oared boat shot out from some gully in the
rocks, with a customs officer on board, who thought he had come upon a smuggler. I had some difficulty in making him comprehend the true case. However, one of his crew, a sailorly chap, who understood how matters were, while we palavered jumped on board and rove off the new lanyards I had
already prepared, and with a friendly hand helped me "set up the rigging."
This incident gave the turn in my favor. My story was then clear to all. I
have found this the way of the world. Let one be without a friend, and see
what will happen!
Passing the island of Pico, after the rigging was mended, the Spray stretched across to leeward of the island of St. Michael's, which she was up with early on the morning of July 26, the wind blowing hard. Later in the day she passed the Prince of Monaco's fine steam-yacht bound to Fayal, where, on a previous voyage, the prince had slipped his cables to "escape a reception" which the padres of the island wished to give him. Why he so dreaded the "ovation" I could not make out. At Horta they did not know. Since reaching the islands I had lived most luxuriously on fresh bread, butter, vegetables, and fruits of all kinds. Plums seemed the most plentiful on the Spray , and these I ate without stint. I had also a Pico white cheese that General Manning, the American consul-general, had given me, which I supposed was to be eaten, and
of this I partook with the plums. Alas! by night-time I was doubled up with cramps. The wind, which was already a smart breeze, was increasing somewhat, with a heavy sky to the sou'west.
Reefs had been turned out, and I must turn them in again somehow. Between cramps I got the mainsail down, hauled out the earings as best I could, and tied away point by point, in the double reef. There being sea-room, I should, in strict prudence, have made all snug and gone down at once to my cabin. I
am a careful man at sea, but this night, in the coming storm, I swayed up my sails, which, reefed though they were, were still too much in such heavy weather; and I saw to it that the sheets were securely belayed. In a word, I should have laid to, but did not. I gave her the double-reefed mainsail and whole jib instead, and set her on her course. Then I went below, and threw myself upon the cabin floor in great pain. How long I lay there I could not tell, for I became delirious. When I came to, as I thought, from my swoon, I realized that the sloop was plunging into a heavy sea, and looking out of the companionway, to my amazement I saw a tall man at the helm. His rigid hand, grasping the spokes of the wheel, held them as in a vise. One may imagine my astonishment. His rig was that of a foreign sailor, and the large red cap he wore was cockbilled over his left ear, and all was set off with shaggy black whiskers. He would have been taken for a pirate in any part of the world.
While I gazed upon his threatening aspect I forgot the storm, and wondered if he had come to cut my throat. This he seemed to divine. "Senor," said he, doffing his cap,
"I have come to do you no harm." And a smile, the faintest in the world, but still a smile, played on his face, which seemed not unkind when he spoke. "I have come to do you no harm. I have sailed free," he said, "but was never
worse than a contrabandista. I am one of Columbus's crew," he continued. "I
am the pilot of the Pinta come to aid you. Lie quiet, senor captain," he
added, "and I will guide your ship to-night. You have a calentura , but you will be all right tomorrow." I thought what a very devil he was to carry
sail. Again, as if he read my mind, he exclaimed: "Yonder is the Pinta ahead; we must overtake her. Give her sail; give her sail! Vale, vale, muy vale! " Biting off a large quid of black twist, he said: "You did wrong, captain, to mix cheese with plums. White cheese is never safe unless you know whence it comes. Quien sabe , it may have been from leche de Capra and becoming capricious - "
"Avast, there!" I cried. "I have no mind for moralizing."
I made shift to spread a mattress and lie on that instead of the hard floor,
my eyes all the while fastened on my strange guest, who, remarking again that
I would have "only pains and calentura," chuckled as he chanted a wild song:
High are the waves, fierce, gleaming, High is the tempest roar! High the sea- bird screaming! High the Azore!
I suppose I was now on the mend, for I was peevish, and complained: "I detest your jingle. Your Azore should be at roost, and would have been were it a respectable bird!" I begged he would tie a rope-yarn on the rest of the song, if there was any more of it. I was still in agony. Great seas were boarding
the Spray , but in my fevered brain I thought they were boats falling on
deck, that careless draymen were throwing from wagons on the pier to which I imagined the Spray was now moored, and without fenders to breast her off. "You'll smash your boats!" I called out again and again, as the seas crashed
on the cabin over my head. "You'll smash your boats, but you can't hurt the Spray. She is strong!" I cried.
I found, when my pains and calentura had gone, that the deck, now as white as
a shark's tooth from seas washing over it, had been swept of everything movable. To my astonishment, I saw now at broad day that the Spray was still heading as I had left her, and was going like a racehorse. Columbus himself could not have held her more exactly on her course. The sloop had made ninety miles in the night through a rough sea. I felt grateful to the old pilot, but
I marveled some that he had not taken in the jib. The gale was moderating,
and by noon the sun was shining. A meridian altitude and the distance on the patent log, which I always kept towing, told me that she had made a true
course throughout the twenty-four hours. I was getting much better now, but
was very weak, and did not turn out reefs that day or the night following, although the wind fell light.
I just put my wet clothes out in the sun when it was shining, and lying down there myself, fell asleep. Then who should visit me again but my old friend
of the night before, this time, of course, in a dream. "You did well last
night to take my advice," said he, "and if you would, I should like to be
with you often on the voyage, for the love of adventure alone." Finishing
what he had to say, he again doffed his cap and disappeared as mysteriously
as he came, returning, I suppose, to the phantom Pinta. I awoke much
refreshed, and with the feeling that I had been in the presence of a friend
and a seaman of vast experience. I gathered up my clothes, which by this time were dry, then, by inspiration, I threw overboard all the plums in the vessel.
July 28 was exceptionally fine. The wind from the northwest was light and the air balmy. I overhauled my wardrobe, and bent on a white shirt against
nearing some coasting-packet with genteel folk on board. I also did some washing to get the salt out of my clothes. After it all I was hungry, so I
made a fire and very cautiously stewed a dish of pears and set them carefully aside till I had made a pot of delicious coffee, for both of which I could afford sugar and cream. But the crowning dish of all was a fish-hash, and
there was enough of it for two. I was in good health again, and my appetite
was simply ravenous. While I was dining I had a large onion over the double lamp stewing for a luncheon later in the day. High living to-day!
In the afternoon the Spray came upon a large turtle asleep on the sea. He
awoke with my harpoon through his neck, if he awoke at all. I had much difficulty in landing him on deck, which I finally accomplished by hooking
the throat-halyards to one of his flippers, for he was about as heavy as my boat. I saw more turtles, and I rigged a burton ready with which to hoist
them in; for I was obliged to lower the mainsail whenever the halyards were used for such purposes, and it was no small matter to hoist the large sail again. But the turtle-steak was good. I found no fault with the cook, and it was the rule of the voyage that the cook found no fault with me. There was never a ship's crew so well agreed. The bill of fare that evening was turtle- steak, tea and toast, fried potatoes, stewed onions; with dessert of stewed pears and cream.
Sometime in the afternoon I passed a barrel-buoy adrift, floating light on
the water. It was painted red, and rigged with a signal-staff about six feet high. A sudden change in the weather coming on, I got no more turtle or fish
of any sort before reaching port. July 31 a gale sprang up suddenly from the north, with heavy seas, and I shortened sail. The Spray made only fifty-one miles on her course that day. August 1 the gale continued, with heavy seas. Through the night the sloop was reaching, under close-reefed mainsail and bobbed jib. At 3 P.M. the jib was washed off the bowsprit and blown to rags
and ribbons. I bent the "jumbo" on a stay at the night-heads. As for the jib, let it go; I saved pieces of it, and, after all, I was in want of pot-rags.
On August 3 the gale broke, and I saw many signs of land. Bad weather having made itself felt in the galley, I was minded to try my hand at a loaf of
bread, and so rigging a pot of fire on deck by which to bake it, a loaf soon became an accomplished fact. One great feature about ship's cooking is that one's appetite on the sea is always good - a fact that I realized when I
cooked for the crew of fishermen in the before-mentioned boyhood days. Dinner being over, I sat for hours reading the life of Columbus, and as the day wore on I watched the birds all flying in one direction, and said, "Land lies there."
Early the next morning, August 4, I discovered Spain. I saw fires on shore,
and knew that the country was inhabited. The Spray continued on her course
till well in with the land, which was that about Trafalgar. Then keeping away
a point, she passed through the Strait of Gibraltar, where she cast anchor at
3 P. M. of the same day, less than twenty-nine days from Cape Sable. At the finish of this preliminary trip I found myself in excellent health, not overworked or cramped, but as well as ever in my life, though I was as thin
as a reef-point.
Two Italian barks, which had been close alongside at daylight, I saw long
after I had anchored, passing up the African side of the strait. The Spray
had sailed them both hull down before she reached Tarifa. So far as I know,
the Spray beat everything going across the Atlantic except the steamers.
All was well, but I had forgotten to bring a bill of health from Horta, and
so when the fierce old port doctor came to inspect there was a row. That, however, was the very thing needed. If you want to get on well with a true Britisher you must first have a deuce of a row with him. I knew that well enough, and so I fired away, shot for shot, as best I could. "Well, yes," the doctor admitted at last, "your crew are healthy enough, no doubt, but who
knows the diseases of your last port?" - a reasonable enough remark. "We
ought to put you in the fort, sir!" he blustered; "but never mind. Free pratique, sir! Shove off, cockswain!" And that was the last I saw of the port doctor.
But on the following morning a steam-launch, much longer than the Spray ,
came alongside, - or as much of her as could get alongside, - with
compliments from the senior naval officer, Admiral Bruce, saying there was a berth for the Spray at the arsenal. This was around at the new mole. I had anchored at the old mole, among the native craft, where it was rough and uncomfortable. Of course I was glad to shift, and did so as soon as possible, thinking of the great company the Spray would be in among battle-ships such
as the Collingwood , Balfleur , and Cormorant , which were at that time stationed there, and on board all of which I was entertained, later, most royally.
"'Put it thar!' as the Americans say," was the salute I got from Admiral
Bruce, when I called at the admiralty to thank him for his courtesy of the berth, and for the use of the steam-launch which towed me into dock. "About
the berth, it is all right if it suits, and we'll tow you out when you are ready to go. But, say, what repairs do you want? Ahoy the Hebe , can you
spare your sailmaker? The Spray wants a new jib. Construction and repair, there! will you see to the Spray ?
Later in the day came the hail: " Spray ahoy! Mrs. Bruce would like to come
on board and shake hands with the Spray. Will it be convenient to-day!"
"Very!" I joyfully shouted.
On the following day Sir F. Carrington, at the time governor of Gibraltar,
with other high officers of the garrison, and all the commanders of the battle-ships, came on board and signed their names in the Spray's log-book. Again there was a hail, " Spray ahoy!" "Hello!" "Commander Reynolds's compliments. You are invited on board H.M.S. Collingwood , 'at home' at 4:30 P.M. Not later than 5:30 P.M." I had already hinted at the limited amount of
my wardrobe, and that I could never succeed as a dude. "You are expected,
sir, in a stovepipe hat and a claw-hammer coat!" "Then I can't come." "Dash
it! come in what you have on; that is what we mean." "Aye, aye, sir!" The Collingwood's cheer was good, and had I worn a silk hat as high as the moon I could not have had a better time or been made more at home. An Englishman,
even on his great battle-ship, unbends when the stranger passes his gangway, and when he says "at home" he means it.
That one should like Gibraltar would go without saying. How could one help loving so hospitable a place? Vegetables twice a week and milk every morning came from the palatial grounds of the admiralty. " Spray ahoy!" would hail
the admiral. " Spray ahoy!" "Hello!" "To-morrow is your vegetable day, sir." "Aye, aye, sir!"
I rambled much about the old city, and a gunner piloted me through the galleries of the rock as far as a stranger is permitted to go. There is no excavation in the world, for military purposes, at all approaching these of Gibraltar in conception or execution. Viewing the stupendous works, it became hard to realize that one was within the Gibraltar of his little old Morse geography.
Before sailing I was invited on a picnic with the governor, the officers of
the garrison, and the commanders of the war-ships at the station; and a royal affair it was. Torpedo-boat No. 91, going twenty-two knots, carried our party to the Morocco shore and back. The day was perfect - too fine, in fact, for comfort on shore, and so no one landed at Morocco. No. 91 trembled like an aspen-leaf as she raced through the sea at top speed. Sublieutenant Boucher, apparently a mere lad, was in command, and handled his ship with the skill of an older sailor. On the following day I lunched with General Carrington, the governor, at Line Wall House, which was once the Franciscan convent. In this interesting edifice are preserved relics of the fourteen sieges which
Gibraltar has seen.
On the next day I supped with the admiral at his residence, the palace, which was once the convent of the Mercenaries. At each place, and all about, I felt the friendly grasp of a manly hand, that lent me vital strength to pass the coming long days at sea. I must confess that the perfect discipline, order,
and cheerfulness at Gibraltar were only a second wonder in the great stronghold. The vast amount of business going forward caused no more
excitement than the quiet sailing of a well-appointed ship in a smooth sea.
No one spoke above his natural voice, save a boatswain's mate now and then.
The Hon. Horatio J. Sprague, the venerable United States consul at Gibraltar, honored the Spray with a visit on Sunday, August 24, and was much pleased to find that our British cousins had been so kind to her.
Sailing from Gibraltar with the assistance of her Majesty's tug - The Spray's course changed from the Suez Canal to Cape Horn - Chased by a Moorish pirate -
A comparison with Columbus - The Canary Islands-The Cape Verde Islands - Sea life - Arrival at Pernambuco - A bill against the Brazilian government - Preparing for the stormy weather of the cape.
Monday, August 25, the Spray sailed from Gibraltar, well repaid for whatever deviation she had made from a direct course to reach the place. A tug
belonging to her Majesty towed the sloop into the steady breeze clear of the mount, where her sails caught a volant wind, which carried her once more to
the Atlantic, where it rose rapidly to a furious gale. My plan was, in going down this coast, to haul offshore, well clear of the land, which hereabouts
is the home of pirates; but I had hardly accomplished this when I perceived a felucca making out of the nearest port, and finally following in the wake of the Spray.
Now, my course to Gibraltar had been taken with a view to proceed up the Mediterranean Sea, through the Suez Canal, down the Red Sea, and east about, instead of a western route, which I finally adopted. By officers of vast experience in navigating these seas, I was influenced to make the change. Longshore pirates on both coasts being numerous, I could not afford to make light of the advice. But here I was, after all, evidently in the midst of pirates and thieves! I changed my course; the felucca did the same, both vessels sailing very fast, but the distance growing less and less between us. The Spray was doing nobly; she was even more than at her best; but, in spite
of all I could do, she would broach now and then. She was carrying too much sail for safety. I must reef or be dismasted and lose all, pirate or no
pirate. I must reef, even if I had to grapple with him for my life.
I was not long in reefing the mainsail and sweating it up - probably not more than fifteen minutes; but the felucca had in the meantime so shortened the distance between us that I now saw the tuft of hair on the heads of the crew,
- by which, it is said, Mohammed will pull the villains up into heaven, - and they were coming on like the wind. From what I could clearly make out now, I felt them to be the sons of generations of pirates, and I saw by their movements that they were now preparing to strike a blow. The exultation on their faces, however, was changed in an instant to a look of fear and rage. Their craft, with too much sail on, broached to on the crest of a great wave. This one great sea changed the aspect of affairs suddenly as the flash of a gun. Three minutes later the same wave overtook the Spray and shook her in every timber.
At the same moment the sheet-strop parted, and away went the main-boom,
broken short at the rigging. Impulsively I sprang to the jib-halyards and down-haul, and instantly downed the jib. The head-sail being off, and the
helm put hard down, the sloop came in the wind with a bound. While shivering there, but a moment though it was, I got the mainsail down and secured