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[268] visitations, the officers and men began to look upon them as an imposition, in compelling them to appear on deck booted up to the knee. This round of amusement continued for three days to the monotonous music of the howling of the storm, and the contention of the sea with the skies; when the Stonewall's friend — the steamer that had befriended her at the anchorage, and now anxiously watched her performance in this terrific gale, in order to render other assistance if needed — telegraphed or signaled to know “how she was getting on” ; for at times when the Stonewall would be in the “trough of the sea,” partly submerged, there could be nothing seen of her. Knowing that her friend had some other important duty to discharge, with a heavy heart she replied, “all right, go ahead.” The steamer went on her way; in her construction she was better constituted to resist the gale.

Only a few hours had elapsed when it was discovered that all was not right, that water was flowing into the captain's cabin from “abaft” in a very unusual manner; and, although men were set to bailing with buckets, the water gained on them. The storeroom for the men's clothing and other purser's effects was “abaft” the cabin, whence came the water. On opening this apartment a very discomforting spectacle met the eye. The caps over the two “rudder heads” were, by the force of the sea, as the Stonewall would occasionally dive beneath, being gradually lifted, the bolts yielding to the pressure, and the water gushing in every direction with great force. Had these blocks been suddenly lifted from their places there would have been opened two holes of ten inches diameter each below the “water line,” apertures well calculated to endanger the safety of the vessel. A temporary repair was soon made by mailing the blocks into their places, and the rush of water partially arrested.

This disaster rendered it necessary to “put into” the nearest port for repairs; although the great consumption of coals would alone have caused this course to be taken, as but little headway had been or could be made “in the face” of such a gale. No observations for determining the geographical position of the vessel had been made for more than two days. The sun, moon and stars — those beacons by which the mariner shapes his course mid the trackless ocean — were obscured by the lurid clouds that spanned the firmament. With exhausted bunkers and paralyzed engine the Stonewall would have been a prey to the raging storm; she was not capable of contending under sail alone against a severe gale. To run the risk of being wrecked on the iron-bound coast of Spain,

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