should the hoped for port not be reached, was preferable to being swamped in the Bay of Biscay
From the best data available, under the circumstances, an imaginary position was assigned the vessel and a course determined upon, which it was hoped would lead into some safe anchorage; for any port in a storm is a sailor's snug harbor.
Trusting to “that little cherub that sits up aloft and keeps watch on poor Jack
,” the helm was “put hard up,” the close-reefed fore topsail “sheeted home,” and the little craft went off before the wind like a thing of life and proudly said to the foaming seas, “follow
follow, as though frantic to get on board, but however given to taking them in over the bows, the Stonewall
refused them admittance over the stern.
To “scud” so small an ironclad so little above the water's edge was a dangerous evolution, but necessity makes its own laws, and this was one of those cases in which success proved the propriety of adopting the exceptional rule.
The coast of Spain
lay ahead, but what part of it was the doubtful question soon to be solved.
The pulsations of every heart beat quickly, and every eye was anxiously strained to descry, midst the obscurity of the atmosphere, the crescent shaped contour of the coast, in which lay the port hoped for. Not more joyously did the cry of “land O!”
find an echo in the hearts of Columbus
' crew, than it did in the hearts of the Stonewall
's on this occasion, when the anxiously looked for haven was seen directly ahead.
None but the wearied mariner, after days of doubtful contest with the angry elements, can appreciate such deliverance from the dangers of the sea. This was the happy lot of the Stonewall
, as she steamed into the snug harbor, leaving the raging of the gale behind, and dropped anchor in the placid, hospitable waters of Ferrol
The usual visits of ceremony were made, and on calling on the Captain-General
, who was an “old salt” holding the rank of Admiral
, the character of the Stonewall
was stated, and the object of her visit to have certain repairs made and to procure a supply of coals.
Permission was politely granted, and authority to employ such hands from the dock-yard as might be required.
is one of Spain
's principal naval stations.
I should not pass over the admission of the Stonewall
into this port without expressing the obligation under which she lay for this very courteous, hospitable reception at the hands of the Captain-General
and others, of which there remains a pleasing remembrance not soon to be forgotten.