Imagini ale paginilor

of the Cape storms there is a track of ocean at which steady wind prevail. Not so with the Horn. Graham's Land is so near to the Horn that when a rotatory gale blows in this region it extends from shore to shore. Captain Forbes, knowing such to be the case, and also that a westerly current set near the Horn, sighted land, and, availing himself of the northern side of the centre of the gale, had the combined aid of the wind and current-whilst the other captain was on the south side the centre, with a strong head wind; on attempting to get north, the wind was still ahead, and he at length gained his latitude by beating to windward. Although this remarkable voyage was so worthy of commendation, the last voyage home, which so much disappointed the friends of Captain Forbes, was that which raised him far higher in my esteem than anything he had previously accomplished. We ought not to appreciate always the amount of ability displayed by a mariner by the shortness of the time occupied by his voyage, except we take into consideration the circumstances under which such voyage was accomplished. In their first voyage from Australia, Captains Boyce and Forbes (in the "Eagle" and "Marco Polo ") had the advantage of an Austral summer; in the last they had to contend with an Austral winter. In June last we find at Melbourne four captains whose ability stood the highest for accomplishing a homeward voyage-Captains Boyce of the "Eagle,” M‘Kay of the "Sea," Coleman of the " Kent," and Forbes of the "Marco Polo." With the month of June south-east winds set in-a circumstance which might be regarded as the most unfavourable for a homeward voyage. According to the chart, this appeared to be a head wind-the most unfavourable that could blow. First started the "Sea." Confident in the superior sailing qualities of his ship, Captain M Kay started at his time, contrary to the advice of those with whom he was connected. From Melbourne to Wilson's Promontory there are a series of headlands running out southward. He left Melbourne on the port tack, but having made what he considered sufficient southerly to weather these easterly headlands, he tacked; but nearing too closely one of these headlands, he lost his ship and his own life. Next started the "Kent," Captain Coleman; and in giving an account of his run against the "Marco Polo," I shall take his own letter in the Times as my authority. He succeeded in getting out at the east of Bass's Straits five days before the "Marco Polo." Then the "Marco Polo" started, south-east winds still prevailing. But Captain Forbes was better acquainted with the surface of the globe he had to navigate; he perceived that the port tack was that which would lead him more directly to his port than the starboard tack, and he ran out, therefore, at the western entrance of Bass's Straits. Now, if we

refer to the chart as our guide, with a south-east wind, the starboard tack is that which appears to lead to Cape Horn, and the port tack appears to lead in an opposite direction. But on referring to the globe we find that the reverse is the fact: the port tack takes us towards the Horn, whilst the starboard tack takes the ship further from that Cape. Captain Coleman acknowledges that the "Kent," which on the 5th of June had left Melbourne, at seven a.m. of the 26th of June, was seen astern of the "Marco Polo," which had left Melbourne on the 10th of June; but it is equally true that before ten a.m. the "Marco Polo" was astern of the "Kent," and that the "Kent," with a foul wind from the north-east, walked out dead to windward of the " Marco Polo," and at eight a.m. ou the following morning the "Marco Polo" was eight miles dead to leeward, bearing south-east, with the wind at north. If Captain Forbes were to conduct a hundred voyages he could never receive a higher testimony in favour of his nautical skill. By setting at defiance old conventional rules, by losing sight of the distorted figure of the earth as represented on the chart, he cut off the "Kent," which had started five days before-a ship which Captain Coleman's testimony proves to be a far better sailing vessel than the "Marco Polo," and commanded, too, by a captain of high nautical skill; in fact, the unfavourable account he gives of himself in this letter is the only disparagement that can be adduced against the ability of Captain Coleman. He tells us that, with the wind north-east, the "Kent" walked out dead to windward. For what purpose? If to prove the weatherly qualities of the "Kent," he may have accomplished his object; but if he imagines he neared his port by such a course, he has much to learn before he will win the race against some of our Liverpool captains, although he may command a ship of superior sailing qualities. The "Marco Polo," however, the next morning, was found dead to leeward of the "Kent"-the very situation she ought to be in. It appears that the "Marco Polo," after sailing south and west for some hundreds of miles, finds the wind from the north and west; she then takes the great circle track, which leads to 60° on this parallel, with fine westerly winds, until, 141 W., she is stopped by ice close packed, and is obliged to beat to northward to clear this ice. Notwithstanding this untoward circumstance, which prolonged the time of her voyage four or five days, she still had cut off the "Kent," which had started five days before her. Having thus run to northward and cleared the ice, she again ran away to the southward, first to shorten her route, and next to obtain more favourable winds, and by her old route weathered the Horn, when again the "Marco Polo" is found ahead of the "Kent;" but to use the words of Captain Coleman, "neither did on that occasion the flying


ship have any advantage over the Kent,' but rather the reverse." The "Kent" was telegraphed in the Downs one day before the "Marco Polo" was sighted from Holyhead-the distance to the Downs being 165 miles or thereabouts greater than to Holyhead. This is one example of the great value to be attached to superior skill for conducting composite sailing, in which both captains were possessed of more than the ordinary amount of ability. If we judge from Captain Coleman's account, the " Kent" is a ship that should have made the voyage from Australia in ten days less than the "Marco Polo;" instead of which, allowing one day for the difference of distance of the Downs and Holyhead, still the "Marco Polo" accomplished the run in three days less time.

When first the admiralty did me the honour to publish my tables, I anticipated a greater amount of improvement from its application to what I denominated windward great circle sailing than from any other of its practical uses. Although with respect to composite sailing it has been employed with a degree of success surpassing my most sanguine expectations, still, in working a ship to windward, in very few instances am I aware of its having been brought into application. The case I have just given of the "Marco Polo" leaving Melbourne is a fine illustration of this application, and is in fact the idea which suggested itself to the mind of Captain Forbes when he made the boast, which has subjected him to animadversion, that he would turn a foul wind into a fair; for practical purposes, he has kept his word. Windward sailing [ thus describe:

When a ship cannot, on account of adverse wind, sail directly to her port, she obviously ought to be put on that tack by which she nears her port by the greatest proportion of the distance sailed. It is also evident that she must do this when her track deviates by the least amount from the direct line which connects her with her destination; or, in other words, when she is put on that tack which deviates less from the true course than the other tack. In adopting this rule it must however be especially borne in mind, that the true course alone can serve as a guide in choosing the tack; and that the great circle, and not the rhumb, is this true course. But, since the mariner is more conversant with the rhumb than the great circle, too much attention cannot be directed to the importance of making this distinction between these two courses in connection with windward sailing. In crossing the Pacific, the rhumb course frequently deviates four points from the true course: under such circumstances it is impossible that the mariner can navigate his vessel with advantage if he fail to make himself acquainted with the great circle course.

The term "windward great-circle sailing" is employed with special reference to these facts. This new form of describing the application of the true course is rendered necessary on account of the prevalent erroneous opinion-that "to a sailing vessel great circle sailing is of comparatively little value;" and that "steamers, being in a measure independent of the winds, could more readily than sailing vessels avail themselves of the advantages of great circle sailing." The reverse is the fact to a sailing vessel, the advantage of being guided by the true course, when contending with adverse winds, is fourfold as great as that which is conferred on a steamer. Thus, for example, the increase of distance arising from the direct track being diverted two points is only 1 mile in 12: but if a ship that sails six points from the wind deviate two points further from the angle of the true position of her port on account of the wrong tack being chosen, she cannot in the least degree near her port; whilst, under the same circumstances, the knowledge of the true course would enable the mariner so to choose his track as to make good 84 miles by a run of 12 miles.

The rule for windward great circle sailing is as follows:-Ascertain the great circle course, and put the ship on that tack which is the nearest to the great circle course.

We can give no better illustration of an extreme case of this application of great circle sailing than that already given of the "Marco Polo" leaving Melbourne. Had that ship stood on the port tack 1000 miles, with the wind S.E. by E. she would have neared the Horn 874 miles; whereas, if the "Kent" had stood 1000 miles on the starboard tack, she would have been 200 miles further off from the Horn than when she started, although by the chart the reverse appears to be the case. To make use of the words of the Hydrographer in reference to this subject, this principle is valuable "not only in those strong and glaring cases where a large amount of distance may be obviously saved, but in the more everyday work of selecting the most advantageous tack on which to lay the vessel with a foul wind." Scarcely have I examined a chart or a log-book without perceiving that this is not perfectly understood. I am frequently informed that they could not get so far south as their intended maximum latitude. Now this is an impossible occurrence with a ship of ordinary weatherly qualities. If the wind be less southerly than E.S.E., she would undoubtedly do better on the port tack till she got into the regions of the N.W. trades; if more southerly, she could make easterly on the starboard tack.

In a New York voyage, if head winds prevailed, I proved seven years since that three days might be saved; and yet I have no reason to

[ocr errors]

believe that in such voyages it has ever been adopted, except by Captain Reed, of the "Iowa," in a late voyage. The success of this one trial was quite equal to that which I had anticipated.

Until within a few months the principles we have explained, and which have been employed with such signal success by sailing vessels, have been totally rejected in navigating steamers to Australia. I had promised to this Society a Paper on the best route for steamers to and from Australia, but now it is unnecessary; the "Harbinger" and "Argo" have solved the problem, and I hope that in a few weeks news from the Great Britain will confirm the fact. Up to within twelve months, steam to Australia might be regarded as a failure; that is, sailing vessels having made the direct passage in less time than steamers, we could not regard steam as a successful experiment in such voyages. The causes I consider to be, first, that the commanders have been bound, by contracts entered into by the directors of the companies to which their ships belong, to land mails or passengers at intermediate places which, on the chart, appear on the route to Australia, whilst, if they had consulted the winds and the globe, they would have perceived that such intermediate stations were undesirable; and secondly, that the previous experience of those in command of ocean steamers had led to a system of practice unsuitable to the management of steamers bound to and from Australia.

The principle ocean steamers had made their voyages within the regions of the variable winds: the consequence is, that in such cases the wind is disregarded in selecting the route, and out and home these steamers have been navigated by the shortest route. When the winds have been favourable, the sails have been employed; but when the wind is adverse, it is steamed up against. No other practice would be successful in these regions of variable winds; but in a voyage to Australia, in a route of upwards of 13,000 miles, steam is only required for about 3000 miles if the tracks of our sailing vessels be adopted. But instead of being guided by the winds we hear of one vessel, in steaming up against the winds, reduced to the necessity of falling to leeward for coals. Then, again, because by the Cape it is about 7 per cent. shorter than by the Horn, they have returned as well as gone by that route. Then, again, we have instances of three coaling stations out, and three coaling stations home; so that, if we allow four days for coaling, from this cause alone twelve days on each passage has been wasted. At length sailing vessels taught steamers to return by the Horn, and then the challenge was thrown in Australian newspapers in these words"Steam-ship Cleopatra,' guaranteed quickest route home." "Steam

« ÎnapoiContinuă »