Page:Colymbia (1873).djvu/15

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
9
A VOYAGE AND ITS END.

in a few days felt as much at home on the sea as though I had been a sailor all my life. We were favoured with the finest weather imaginable all the way to Cape Horn, which we doubled in gallant style, and then bore up in an almost northerly course, running parallel to the west coast of South America, at about one hundred miles distant from land.

Our captain, whose aim it was to make a voyage of unexampled rapidity to Queensland, thought that if he crossed to the north of the line and got into the region of the prevalent north-east trade-winds, which are so much stronger and more certain than the south-eastern trades, he might thus be enabled to reach his destination more quickly than by pursuing a more direct course.

We accordingly held to our northerly direction and every day approached nearer to the torrid zone. The change from the extreme cold of Cape Horn to the warmth of the tropics was pleasant enough at first, but, as we neared the equator, the heat became overpowering. The wind that had hitherto favoured us began to shift about from one quarter to another, and occasionally dropped completely, letting our sails hang idly from the yards.

We had been subject to these caprices of the wind for some days, when the weather became extremely sultry and a sudden fall of the barometer announced an approaching storm.

Our captain, who, to do him justice, was well up in nautical knowledge, and, though a theorist, was a careful and prudent sailor, saw reason to apprehend a storm of some violence. To provide for the worst he had the boats looked to, saw that they were ready for immediate use, and that the life-boat in especial lay