Bibliographic Information

The Plough Boy Journals

The Journals and Associated Documents

The Plough Boy Anthology

19th Century American Whaling

Bonin Islands

Pitcairn's Island

Dictionaries & Glossaries

Ashley's Glossary of
Whaling Terms

Dana's Dictionary of
Sea Terms

No. 9.

W. H. Macy

Ballou's Monthly Magazine
Vol. LXVI, No. 3 (Sep 1887)
pp. 231-236.



No. 9.

Search for a New Eldorado. – Departure of the "Garrick." – She Founders at Sea. – Proctor Proves that He was not Born to be Hung. – Return of McDougal and his Party to the Beach. – Sailing of the "Argyle" for Cape Town.

      About this time there was considerable excitement about a new island, supposed to lie about two degrees to the southward. The " Ripple," while on her return passage from Desolation, had experienced much thick weather, and been drifted far out of a direct course. While boxing about in the fog, they had seen land, or, at least, what all on board supposed to be land, but had little opportunity to examine it, still less to determine its position by observations. But this was enough to stir a fever in the minds of the more enterprising spirits. If land existed in that direction, it was, doubtless, well stocked with phocae, and rich cargoes of oil and skins awaited those who should first succeed in making a landing there.

      As the tenders must lie idle a few days, waiting for their lading, it was thought the time might be given to the search for this Ophir, and an expedition was accordingly determined upon. The " Woodlark," with both captains, King and Comstock, was to sail in company with the "Ripple." The vessels were to diverge and take different routes, so as to pass over as much ground as possible, both returning to the anchorage within a week.

      I was surprised when Dave Bryant came over to my outpost on the south-west beach, and announced to me his intention of sailing in the " Woodlark " on this cruise. He had, at this time, nearly recovered his strength, but was hardly able, as yet, to play his part in the arduous duty of beach-work.

      "What has started you on this wild-goose chase?" said I.

      "I want to be doing something, Joe," he replied. "I can't bear this inaction any longer, and the labor of tramping the beach and rolling casks of blubber across the island is too heavy for me. I can fill a better man's place on board the schooner, and a week's cruise will do me good, I think. Besides, if there is an El Dorado out south here, I want to be one of the first to see it."

      "Ay, there's the rub. I'm afraid, Dave, that not even your love for the little Nereid can overcome that harum-scarum love of adventure. However, I don't blame you. I wish I could go, too; but I suppose I must be tied down to my drudgery here, for the present."

      "Well, good-by, Joe. I must be back to the north beach within an hour or so, for I am to go in the boat with the admiral. And then for a stretch up into unknown seas! 'Prospecting,' eh, Joe! Good-by for a week. Take good care of Carrie while I'm gone, and don't let her be lonely." And my friend struck a beeline for Daphne Cottage.

      Within a couple of hours afterwards, the sails of the two schooners, distended by a cracking breeze, came into view over the low land of the Point, and passed rapidly into the dim distance.

      Towards sundown of the same day, the wind piped on from the northward, and increased during the night to a gale exceeding in fury anything which we had yet experienced. It was impossible, even at our partially sheltered position on the lee side of the " tussock land," to carry on our regular duty the next day; and everything was hidden from view by the mingled gloom from the mists of heaven and the sands of the earth. The angry sea, heaving down along shore, broke into the arc with a force that swept all before it, and the low, flat part of the Point was completely submerged. Many elephants which had been killed by several parties were washed away and lost. Small heaps of blubber, which had not yet been backed up to a place of safety, were scattered far and wide, while carcasses and skeletons in every stage of decay were knocked about like footballs.

      The fury of the gale did not prevent our going abroad to attempt to save what we could of the property which had cost us so much toil to obtain. In doing so, we came upon several casks, which had, probably, been washed off the deck of one of the vessels at the anchorage. . I knew they could not be ours, as the "Woodlark" was far


away in search of the supposed island. But it was a time for every gang of men to save what they could, and fix all questions of ownership afterwards.

      In trying, with two others of my shipmates, to roll one of the casks up beyond the reach of the sea, 1 lost my footing, and was thrown on my back in the seething caldron of waters. Luckily I escaped being crushed by the casks, but a block of ice, one of the thousands broken off from the sea-face of the Glacier, was thrown upon me with great force. My comrades seized and dragged me up to the higher ground, where the pain of a broken arm soon restored me to consciousness.

      Here was an unfortunate situation for a cripple! surrounded by men who, though full of sympathy for me, knew as little about repairing an injury of the kind as I myself did. There was no surgeon on shore, for Doctor Churchill had returned to the " Garrick," and, so far as communication was possible at that time, might as well have been at the antipodes. The nearest place where I could make a harbor was Daphne Cottage, and there, drenched, shivering, and nearly mad with pain, I presented myself before Captain McDougal and his lovely daughter.

      The captain did the best he could for me, and set the bone as well as he knew how. I remained with him all night, and, but for the pain of my arm, would have passed the time very pleasantly. Rawlings, who came in late in the evening from the beach, reported the fury of the storm to be abating. But it would be many hours ere the force of the breakers would subside, and, probably, two days must elapse before I could see the surgeon.

      With the light of morning came clear weather, and we were all astir at an early hour. Spite the pain from my bandaged arm, I accompanied Mr. McDougal and Carrie to the north beach, and our first glances were directed toward The Bight. All the vessels still hung to their anchors, plunging and pitching, though dimly seen against the sterile background. The captain took a look through a pocket telescope which he had brought, wiped it, and silently handed it to me.

      "Look at the 'Garrick,' " he said. " See if you make out anything new or strange."

      "She has her ensign set at the gaff," I replied, " and—and—it's union down!"

      "I thought so, too," returned McDougal, quietly. "But I wouldn't say so till some one else had looked."

      "What can be the matter there, father?" asked the young girl, who stood close at his side.

      "She may have parted one of her chains; or she may be dragging, perhaps. But she doesn't seem to have altered her position by the land. I can't think what else can have happened."

      As soon as Rawlings joined us, he proposed to climb the Glacier, to see what he could discover by looking down upon the anchorage. But he had been anticipated by Morgan, who came to bring us the intelligence that the bark appeared to have started a bad leak, as the pumps were going steadily, and the water gushing from her scuppers both sides. He had observed the signal as aoon as day broke, and had ascended the bluff and looked down upon her.

      Nothing could be done by us, and it was necessary to wait all that day before we could know more. When, at length, the sea had gone down sufficiently for Proctor to send his boat, orders were received for McDougal and his party to abandon all and come on board as fast as possible. There was no time for argument or delay. The bark was leaking very badly in the bows, in consequence of straining during the gale. The only course to be adopted was to get under way at once, and proceed to Three Island Harbor.

      They might, perhaps, be able to so far repair the ship as to return; but, as this was doubtful, the voyage must, for the present, at least, be abandoned, and the whole force would be required at the pumps. The necessary arrangements were hurried up, and the whole party were ready to embark within an hour. Everything was left as it stood, for it was possible that they might return.

      Carrie, as she shook my hand at parting, left with me a letter for Dave, which she had hastily written after the order to embark had arrived.

      "This will explain all to him," she said. "If the ship returns to Hurd's Island, I shall be on shore again; if not I will write again from Desolation by the next vessel. Good-by, Joe; I hope we may meet again soon."

      I echoed this hope, and she took her place in the boat without trusting herself to say more. She could not conceal her feelings


from me, much as she had, of late, schooled herself to hold them under control. She was, of course, anxious about her lover, who was at sea when a heavy gale came on, and who, if he returned safe, would naturally be equally anxious about the fate of the " Garrick," until he could see or hear from her again.

      The captain of the "Adelaide " offered to keep company with the bark, if her sailing was deferred till he could have a smooth day to raft off his cargo. But Proctor could not afford to wait even one day; and the leak was not so heavy as to excite apprehension of immediate danger, especially as she would have more than forty men on board to work her pumps.

      Two days of fair weather succeeded that of her departure, and the time was improved by us in rolling our casks to the beach, and having everything in readiness for loading the " Woodlark." I was unable to do anything myself but oversee the others; but my arm seemed to be doing well, thanks to McDougal's rude surgery.

      Our work was finished just in time. The "Woodlark" was absent only five days, and in response to our signal that all was ready for her, came directly to anchor off the rafting-place at the Point.

      Her consort also arrived the same day. They had been in chase of fogbanks, it seems. At all events, they had found no land, though the weather had been favorable, and they had not felt the gale to the same extent that we had on shore.

      Dave Bryant seized my hand at landing with the grip of a vice. He did not seem to notice my arm in a sling.

      "Where's the' Garrick ?'" he demanded, almost fiercely. "Where's McDougal?"

      "And his daughter, you mean to say. Here, read," said I, presenting Carrie's letter.

      "I must go up to Desolation in the schooner," he said, as soon as he ran his eye over its contents. "I'll see the admiral at once about it."

      "And I'm going to see him, too," said I. "I would like to exchange and go up this trip. I shall not be able to use my arm for some weeks, and I'll tell him I want to see Doctor Churchill."

      Our applications were successful, and my place was supplied by the mate of the schooner, who was glad of the change for the time being. In a few hours our cargo was all on board, and we were under all sail for the great rendezvous, Three Island Harbor.

      We made good progress, with fair weather, all that day and night. But the next forenoon it blew on strong from westward, which brought us sharp by under double reefs, and the little "Woodlark" showed her old accomplishments as a diver. A sail was raised ahead about noon, and, as we drew near, we made her out to be a bark. She wore and stood towards us, and as she presented her broadside to us, she was instantly recognized. "The Garrick!" was cried by half a dozen voices at once; and, at the same moment, the British flag went aloft and blew out in the fresh gale, union down!

      Everything appeared to be in confusion on board, and the vessel herself to move sluggishly in wearing. We also thought she seemed deeper in the water than when lying at the anchorage. As we drew nearer, we noted that both pumps were going for dear life, and a board was now pushed out over the weather quarter, on which was chalked, in immense capitals, the one fearful word, "sinking!"

      Proctor appeared to have lost all control of himself in the emergency. In fact, as we learned afterwards, he was raving drunk, and had no longer any control either of himself or of any one else. McDougal had assumed the direction of affairs, and, with the assistance of Rawling? and the mate of the bark, had brought order out of chaos, and kept the nearly exhausted men at the pumps.

      We ran near enough to hail, and were informed that the ship was fast settling, the water gaining upon both pumps, in spite of their exertions. If we could save the lives of the crew, it was all that could be done. The wind was freshening, and there was every reason to expect a strong southwest gale that night.

      Carrie stood, seemingly calm and fearless, by her father's side at the taffrail, and recognized Bryant as we shot past, with a glad smile and a wave of her hand.

      "Just heave to, close under our lee," hailed her father. "We have boats enough to carry all hands—you needn't pull to windward."

      "All right!" and a wave of the trumpet was sufficient reply; and the little schooner came to the wind, as near the sinking ship


as was safe or prudent. We could observe all that was done on board, and even hear what was said whenever the voices were raised.

      There were five whale-boats on board the "Garrick," including the one which had been launched off the skids, and was now ready to sling over the side. The young girl took her place in the lee-quarter boat, of which Rawlings was to take charge. She seemed to demur a little at this arrangement, but a word from her father seemed to satisfy her. It was evident that he had assumed the responsibility of which Proctor had proved himself unworthy; and meant to see all the rest in safety before he left the wreck himself.

      As the first boat was being carefully lowered away, the drunken captain hoisted his clumsy figure over the rail, to be ready to jump into her. He was instantly seized from behind by some one, I could not tell whom, and jerked heavily back to the deck. A picked crew were ready to take their places in the boat, and she was pushing clear of the ship, when again Proctor, with the reckless agility of intoxication, jumped over to the mizzen chains, and, before he could be again seized, had slung himself off by a gripe. But he was too late. The boat had already passed from under him, and he hung for a moment, dangling.

      "Help, here!" shouted McDougal, as he jumped himself to his assistance. "Lay hold of him and haul him upl"

      But before this could be done, the poor wretch, with his feet braced against the ship's side, surged back heavily upon the worn gripe. It parted, and he fell with a heavy splash into the sea—fiat on his back.

      I saw his head once, as he rose directly under the counter, while the bark was making a heavy pitch that buried her whole figure-head. Then, with a quick recoil and "send-aft," she brought her quarters down over the spot. He was seen no more. McDougal gazed a moment over the taffrail, and turned away to watch the movements of the boat in which he had sent his daughter.

      As soon as he saw her in safety on the deck of the " Woodlark " he was fully himself again. The other boats were quickly despatched, he himself taking command of the last one; and without further accident, the whole complement of forty-two persons were crowded on board our little schooner, in addition to our own proper crew. The boats were cast adrift, and went dancing buoyantly away on the crests of the angry waves.

      We lost no time in filling away on our course, and, as the wind hauled to the southwest, we were soon enabled to give her a free sheet. The " Garrick" settled quickly, after the pumps ceased working, and when we last saw her she was wallowing helplessly in the trough, her deck flush with the sea. We soon lost sight of her, as the weather was hazy, and she had nothing aloft higher than stump topmasts, her light spars having been all sent down at Hurd's Island.

      We had ran so far by midnight as to make a partial lee from the gale under the south end of the great island of Kerguelen; and the next day, without further suffering than such as arose from the crowded state of our little craft, we entered Royal Sound, beat up past the three islands, from which the harbor is named, and anchored alongside the "Cerberus."

      Three Island Harbor, in Desolation, is a safe and almost land-locked haven, where ships may ride in perfect security the year round. For though the mountain gusts, or "woolies,"as they are called, blow down with great fury at times, they are not of long continuance, and no sea is raised by any wind which may blow.

      Our cargo was at once transferred to the ship, and there was nothing to prevent our immediate return. My friend Dave, who had now quite recovered from his dangerous wound, was, of course, quite exercised in mind as to his separation from Carrie McDougal; for the "Garrick's" voyage was now considered at an end, and all her crew, as well as the brig's, were at liberty to shift for themselves. They were, for the present, disposed of on board the various vesnels, each taking a share of them. McDougal and Rawlings were on board the "Cerberus," and the night before the schooner was to sail, word was given out for all the shipwrecked men to muster there.

      "Men," said the captain, when they were assembled, " the voyage is up so far as your obligation is concerned. But here we are, novhere, as one may say. There's no vessel going to leave this part of the world, this year, except the "Argyle" schooner for Cape Town; and she don't want all of us, though, no doubt, she'll give any of us a passage who may apply for it. If any of you want to join either of the American vessels,


of course you are at liberty to do so. But what I am coming to is this: We have live or six hundred barrels of blubber on the beach at Hurd's Island, some of it' made off' in casks, and some loose. We've plenty of empty casks, and provisions for a year. Now, I want to know how many will volunteer to winter with me on the beach, and work right on in the same employ? We can make up a good voyage by spring, and we must stay here until that time, anyhow, if we are a burden upon others."

      "What will we do with the oil that we get?" was asked by one of the officers.

      "Mr. Rawlings will go to Cape Town in the 'Argyle,'and from there he can soon gel passage to Hobart Town, and a vessel will be sent out at once."

      "I'll winter with you, sir," was the reply.

      "And I," said another.

      Twenty-five men, including all the crew of the " Daphne," and part of the bark's volunteered on the spot, and took passages in the three schooners. We put to sea the nest morning, with the captain and his daughter on board, the "Adelaide " sailing in company. The " Ripple" was to follow the next day, and Rawlings and the doctor were to come in her, to secure a passage in the Cape Town vessel.

      "Brown cow season" was about over when we again landed on the beach at Hurd's Island. The few elephants which had, until now, escaped being slain, were hardly worth the killing, being those who had lain several weeks among the tussocks, shedding all their hair and fat. At this time, they present that ludicrous, snaky appearance which entitles them to the expressive appellation of "slim-skins."

      But the best work of all was to come yet, in February and March, for this was the time for the advent of the " March bulls," as they are called; patriarchal old beasts which have attained immense size, a single specimen often making five or six barrels of oil, while the average yield of the cows is less than one barrel.

      Meanwhile, my arm was gaining strength, so that I felt it would be as strong as ever when the active duty again commenced. While the dull times, or " between seasons" lasted, we improved the time to land casks and provisions, which had been brought down in the schooner. We also took a pot ashore and built try works, that we might be able to boil our oil on shore.

      Daphne Cottage again sent forth its familiar smoke wreath against the background of the Rookery. Carrie had re-established her boudoir in the cabin of the Wreck, and everything seemed to run smoothly in its old grooves. The Cape Towners had already obtained oil enough to make up the lading of their schooner, and she hauled off her last raft from the beach a few days after our return. Rawlings and Doctor Churchill took leave of us all with hearty farewells on both sides, and the "Argyle" made sail, followed by the Godspeed of every man on the shore.

      It had been a cherished purpose with Dave to manage his discharge at this time, and secure a passage for himself and Carrie to the Cape Colony, where he knew his father had business relations which would make it easy for him to obtain all the credit he wanted; to be united to her there, and take her home as his wife. But he met with steady opposition from her father as well as from herself.

      McDougal had felt it his interest as well as his duty, to remain on the island with the beach-gang, rather than to go home and leave Rawlings in charge. Though he held Bryant in the highest estimation, and was entirely satisfied as to his good character and connections, having sounded Fielding and others as well as myself, yet the canny Scot was not to be persuaded to part with his darling in this strange manner; nor did she herself desire it. If she went, her father must go, too, and that could not be the case at present. He had given his consent to the union, but would not listen to the impatient lover on the subject of spiriting his daughter away in this manner. She was young yet, he said; they must bide their time patiently, and not precipitate matters.

      "Well, Joe," said Bryant, as we stood looking at the sails of the "Argyle " fading in the distance, " it's tantalizing, but I suppose I must call my old philosophy to my aid, and submit to what I can't control. I am like Jacob of old, but I hope I may not have to serve so long for Carrie as he did for Rachel."

      "I am glad you can't have your own way, Dave, in this case," said I.

      "Oh, it's easy enough for you to take the thing coolly, where your heart is not interested."

      "But it is interested, though, perhaps, not in the same way as yours. My interest


is not so selfish a one as yours, in this particular case; and I can give due weight to both sides of it. McDougal is right, depend upon it. Just suppose yourself in his position—suppose, if you can, that Carrie was your daughter, and think of it carefully."

      "I acknowledge that I should feel very much as he does about it," he admitted.

      "Of course you would. And now, as regards the girl's own feelings, you yourself, Dave, cannot admire or esteem this girl more than I do. I should be sorry to abate one jot of this feeling which I have for her, or to see her lowered in the least degree from the pedestal where I have placed her in my thoughts. And I certainly should be obliged to do so, if she had shown herself willing to go, even with you, and leave her father under these circumstances."

      "You are right, Joe," said, my friend, after considering a bit; "and I must acknowledge that I should not love her so well myself. But Cupid, you know, is proverbially blind, and I confess I had not looked at it in just that light before."

      "And I confess, now, that I am a little selfish, too. For I don't want to be separated from her yet, nor from you, either. You know that I can't go to Cape Town, even if you went. And now, as the 'Argyle' is hull down, we may as well dismiss the subject, and make out our logs for the winter."

      We were disappointed in the "haul" at the opening of the "March bull season," which was not so large as we had reason to expect. Though the elephants were large, and in fine condition, they were not very numerous on the Point, and the majority of those taken were on the south-west beach, which much increased the labor of transporting and securing the blubber. The animals appeared shy and wary; for many were seen to show themselves in the roller and disappear again without landing. The beach was closely watched, night and day, by scouts from all the rival parties, and we were soon satisfied that the share of each would not be very large.

      Under these circumstances, Fielding determined to steal a march upon his competitors by exploring further up the west side of the island. He took me into his confidence, one night, asking me if I felt able to go with him. I reported myself ready for the expedition, for my arm was nearly restored to its original strength, and we left the Nest an hour before daylight the next morning, saying nothing of our intention to anyone. We both took guns with us, for these were our main dependence during " March bull season." These monsters were ugly customers to attack with the lance; but a bullet in the head made quick and sure work of them.

      Winding through the tussock-land and thus avoiding all the beach-walkers, we ascended the western spur of the Glacier, and found it more easily scaled than the other one. The way, however, was long and fatiguing, and the sun was well up before we reached the beach beyond. But we were rewarded for all our toil by finding a goodly number of fine bulls on the shore; and, in the course of the forenoon we had shot thirty, and put our mark on them. Returning to our quarters, a few men were sent out to skin them, as also to continue the hunt for more; and after this, two or more were detailed, night and day, to watch on that beach.

      As may well be supposed, the secret of our movements was not long preserved. But few days elapsed ere each of the other vessels was represented on the new ground, and the opposition ran as lively there as elsewhere. But we bad secured the first "cut," and had already a stout raft of blubber "skinned out."

      But the " tug of war" had not come yet. It was only to be saved and brought home by rafting it in " strings " and boating it down along shore. This was a delicate operation on the weather side of the island, by reason of the boisterous character of the weather. Three boats, one belonging to each of the schooners, were carried across the Point where it was narrow, and made ready for launching from the other shore; but we were obliged to wait more than a week before the weather looked sufficiently promising to venture the undertaking.


Author: Macy, William Hussey
Title: Beyond Desolation - No. 9.
Publication: Ballou's Monthly Magazine.
Vol/No/Date: Vol. 66, No. 3 (Sep 1887)
Pages: 231-236