previous next
[736] awaited in silence the denouement. The thunder rolled and crashed, as if the skies were falling in pieces; and the lightning—sheet lightning, streaked lightning, forked lightning— kept the firmament almost constantly ablaze. And the rain! I thought I had seen it rain before, but for an hour, Madagascar beat the Ghaut Mountains. It came down almost literally by the bucketfull. Almost a continual stream of lightning ran down our conductors, and hissed as it leaped into the sea. There was not much wind, but all the other meteorological elements were there in perfection. Madagascar is, perhaps, above all other countries, the bantling and the plaything of the storm, and thunder and lightning. Its plains, heated to nearly furnace-heat, by a tropical sun, its ranges of lofty mountains, the currents that sweep along its coasts, and its proximity to equatorial Africa, all point it out as being in a region fertile of meteorological phenomena. Cyclones of small diameter are of frequent occurrence in the Mozambique Channel. They travel usually from south-east to north-west, or straight across the channel. We took one of these short gales, which lasted us the greater part of a day.

Leaving the channel, and pursuing our way toward the Cape of Good Hope, we sounded on the Agulhas Bank on the 7th of March---our latitude being 35° 10′, and longitude 24° 08′. This bank is sometimes the scene of terrible conflicts of the elements in the winter season. Stout ships are literally swamped here, by the huge, wall-like seas; and the frames of others so much shaken and loosened in every knee and joint, as to render them unseaworthy. The cause of these terrible, short, racking seas, is the meeting of the winds and currents. Whilst the awful, wintry gale is howling from the west and north-west, the Mozambique, or Agulhas current, as it is now called, is setting in its teeth, sometimes at the rate of two or three knots per hour. A struggle ensues between the billows lashed into fury by the winds, and the angry current which is opposing them. The ground-swell contributes to the turmoil of the elements, and the stoutest mariner sometimes stands appalled at the spectacle of seas with nearly perpendicular walls, battering his ship like so many battering-rams, and threatening her with instant destruction. Hence the name of the ‘stormy cape,’ applied to the Cape of Good Hope.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Stout (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
March 7th (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: