for taking observations.
Only the heaving of the log at two-hour intervals gave any indication of speed, and the reckoning was necessarily inaccurate.
Well realizing the danger, the captain picked his way carefully along, and for a time successfully.
After four days second mate Hinckley
was on deck in the early morning watch, and at four o'clock found they were still in the treacherous China Sea
and near Pratas Shoal, which has been the graveyard of many a noble ship besides the Living Age
. Here is the story he tells:--
Day by day the Living Age
nosed her way through the dangerous shoals of the China Sea
At four in the morning of the fifth day out Captain Hinckley
, who was the watch on deck, realized that the ship was near Pratas Shoal.
The course was changed to avoid it, but owing to the unreliability of the log line reckonings the ship did not pass the shoal as Captain Hinckley
, who was keeping a sharp lookout, supposed she had done.
He was confident that open sea was ahead.
He peered through the fog, and saw ahead what appeared to be a breake(, although as the sea was heavy he was not sure but that it was the crest of a rising wave.
A sudden fear of great danger swept over him and he rushed forward to see if the lookout was on the alert.
Just as he reached the main hatchway the Living Age
, sinking in the hollow of a huge wave, struck bottom with a tremendous crash.
Rising with the following sea, she floated and pushed on, but only for a brief moment.
Then she settled again, crushing her bow against the rocks, and stuck fast.
All hands rushed on deck.
Instant destruction was looked for every minute, as the ship was being pounded terrifically by the mighty breakers.
The crew turned to the boats, but before they could cut the lashings the sea tossed them like egg-shells out of sight, two
on top of the forecastle and one on the davits being washed away.
Thinking that he would have to swim for his life, Captain Hinckley
rushed to his stateroom to take off the heavy underclothes he wore under his oilskins, with the shrieks of the panic-stricken crew rushing about on deck ringing in his ears.
He found Mrs. Holmes
, the captain's wife, sitting on his sea-chest, clad in her husband's pants and the mate's coat and vest.
“ Have you a ditty box?”
she asked Captain Hinckley
“ Yes,” said he, and handed her his own box from a shelf above his head.
, as calmly as if she had been in her own sittingroom, selected from the box needles and thread, which she carefully