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right. The direction in which the centre is moving may be assumed from the latitude of the observer; but if any doubt exists, the vessel must be laid-to, and the observation repeated until the track, as determined by the varying bearings of the centre, can be projected on the chart.
We may apply these rules to the problem presented to us in the “Sunbeam. The gale commenced with the wind at N.N.E. During two days the direction of the wind remaining the same, we supposed ourselves to be contending with an ordinary straight-line gale; but when the wind shifted from N.N.E. to N.W., with a rising barometer, it was clear that we had been laying-to on the outer edge of the left-hand semicircle of a revolving storm. With the wind at N.N.E., the bearing of the centre was E.S.E., with the wind at N. it was E., and at N.W., N.E. The centre had therefore been travelling from the S.W. to the N.E.
When the gale which has been described subsided, we were 277 miles from Bermuda. On the 1st of December we were able to shake the reefs out of the mainsail and foresail, and set the squaresail, fore-topsail, and top-gallantsail. On the 2nd of December, at four A.M., the revolving light on Gibb's Hill was visible on the port bow. At seven A.M. we took a pilot, who informed us that a north-east gale of great violence had been experienced at Bermuda, and that the flag-ship had been driven on shore. At ten A.M. we entered the Ship Channel, an intricate passage commanded by numerous fortifications of modern construction, and armed with powerful guns, including a few of no less than thirty-five tons. At one A.M. we passed the Northampton, still aground, surrounded by the Canada, • Scorpion,” “Viper,' and • Vixen.' It was a distressing spectacle, but every man was working with determined energy to haul the ship off into deep water. In the night, to the profound satisfaction of all concerned, these efforts were crowned with success.
On comparing notes with the naval authorities at Bermuda, it was evident that we had been contending with the same gale which had visited their islands, and the centre of which had probably passed about a hundred miles to the eastward. In our position, 250 miles further west, the gale was less severe, an advantage clearly indicated by the comparative readings of the barometer, which with us never fell below 29.82, while here it dropped to 29:46.
Our total distance froin Nassau to Bermuda was 1,203 miles, of which 949 were performed under sail and 254 under steam.
The description of the Bermudas must be of the most general character. They were discovered in 1527, and first settled by the English in 1612. The islands, some hundreds in number, lie on the south-east edge of a coral reef twenty-one miles in length, and from six to twelve miles in breadth. They are composed of sand and limestone. The surface is undulating, but the highest hill does not exceed 300 feet. The cedar is the principal tree. The valleys contain a rich soil, capable of producing every variety of fruit and vegetable. The Bermudas, lying in the centre of one of the most stormy regions in the Atlantic, are famous in literature as the muchvexed Bermoothes, the scene of Shakespeare's Tempest.
Two centuries ago the fertility of these islands was sung by Andrew Marvell in his poem “ The Bermudas :
He gare us this eternal spring,
He makes the figs our mouths to meet,
Our expenditure in the dockyard in pay and wages amounts to 30,0001. a year, and 327 workmen are employed in the workshops. The storehouses and residences for the officers of the yard are of the most solid construction, built in stone during the period when Bermuda was one of our largest convict stations. These extensive buildings are surrounded by massive fortifications, and flanked by a noble range of barracks and the palatial house formerly occupied by the Resident Commissioner of the Navy Board. The floating dock is a structure of vast proportions, capable of lifting the largest ironclad.
Bermuda acquired its present importance during the war between the Northern and Southern States. From its geographical position it may be regarded as an outwork for the defence of the West Indies, and being nearly midway between the cruising grounds of the northern and southern divisions of our squadron in those seas, it is the most convenient point on which our dockyard expenditure could be concentrated. In this lonely group of islands we have created another Gibraltar. Every hill bristles with fortifications, and the great difficulty of the defence would consist in the want of men to furnish an adequate garrison for works of such wide extent. The present garrison is 1,600 men, and the expenditure for military purposes is 142,0001. A little army of 6,000 men would be required for an effective defence, and there are obvious objections to the cost which would be incurred for the maintenance of such a force. No policy can be more fatal than that of creating foreign stations in positions where they are not absolutely necessary, and steam and the telegraph have done something to lessen the relative importance of Bermuda.
We were eight days at Bermuda, our stay having been prolonged by easterly gales. At length a sudden change took place to more propitious weather, and we at once proceeded to prepare for sea. Our departure was perhaps the most stirring scene of the whole voyage. As we steamed out of the Camber, between two lines of men-of-war moored to the quays, the band of the noble flag-ship, the • Northampton,' gave forth a melodious farewell, and flags flying from the mast-head of every ship in the squadron conveyed kindly wishes for a prosperous voyage, a merry Christmas at sea, and a safe return to the distant shores of old England. It was hard to part from friends who had shown us so much kindness.
The passage home from Bermuda was accomplished without difficulty. The winds now freshened into heavy squalls, now subsided to gentle airs, but the direction was mostly favourable, and in the eighty hours ending at noon on the 10th of December we had accomplished under sail a distance of no less than 687 knots. A calm succeeded, with a high barometer, and the voyage to the Azores, a distance of 713 miles, was completed under steam.
On the 20th of December we were early on deck, to see the rosy tints of dawn on the peak of Pico. This island, like Teneriffe, rises from the waves a perfect cone, attaining an elevation of 7,613 feet, and visible in clear weather seventy-five miles. The summit alone was clear. Below, the mountain was veiled in a fleecy robe of clouds. Fayal was seen on the port bow, faintly looming through the mists of the Atlantic. As we neared the islands a fresh breeze sprang up from the north, wbich became fitful and uncertain under the lee of the land. A summer's day was not unpleasantly spent in abortive manæuvres under canvas, and in a closer contemplation of the sterile but magnificent slopes of Pico. We saw an endless succession of beautiful effects of light and shade, of sunshine and shadow, as the eddying winds now closed and now withdrew the encircling robe of clouds. Toward evening we were again under steam, and the following morning we reached St. Michael's.
The extensive gardens of the wealthy nobles are the chief attraction of Punta Delgada. The trees and shrubs belong rather to the torrid than the temperate zone.
Palms and tree-ferns luxuriate in this balmy climate. The very hedgerows are camellias, and acres of pineapples ripen under glass, without artificial heat. The oranges, for which St. Michael's is renowned, are grown in large enclosures near the sea, surrounded by lofty and massive walls, which protect the blossoms from the Atlantic gales.
St. Michael's possesses a natural wonder in its geysers, which closely resemble those of Iceland. These geysers, or hot springs, burst forth in the centre of an extensive and beautiful valley, containing numerous craters of extinct volcanoes. One of these craters has become a lake four miles in circumference.
It is easy to conceive the desolation of the scene in the period when the surrounding heights were first lifted up, and all the recesses of the hills were aglow with volcanic fires. Time has wrought a magic change. It has given a rich colouring of purple to the bare
precipices of lava. It has covered the more gradual slopes with a fresh green mantle of turf. Dark groves of fir trees, with an undergrowth of rhododendrons, surround the fertile and highly cultivated plain, and every bank and hedgerow is adorned with an exquisite variety of ferns.
On the 24th of December we steamed from Punta Delgada to Villa Franca, a distance of fifteen miles. At dusk we proceeded under steam for England, and at nine P.M. the light on the east end of St. Michael's was lost to view. Christmas was observed with the singular medley of religious and other observances which old English custom has not only sanctioned but enjoined. The mastheads and yards were decorated with laurel and holly, and the crew were regaled with the traditional fare. At noon we made sail to a southerly wind which carried us in four days a distance of 883 miles. Daybreak on the 29th of December revealed the familar indications of our approach to the Channel. The gloomy skies of our northern latitudes were overhead, sailing ships were converging from all points of the compass on the Lizards, and steamers were constantly passing, both outward and homeward bound. They were of the type well known in the trade via the Suez Canal, and were evidently on the direct line between Liverpool and Cape Finisterre. Tracing this line on the chart, and assuming it to represent our longitude, we proceeded to check the latitude by taking a line of soundings with Sir William Thompson's patent sounding machine. We succeeded in fixing the position so accurately that when the glow from the electric lights on the Lizard was first seen, reflected from the overhanging clouds at a distance of forty-five miles, the lights bore precisely as we had calculated on the port bow, showing that we were steering a direct course for Plymouth.
On the morning of the 30th of December we entered the Sound. The hanging woods of Mount Edgcumbe, the fortified heights of Mount Batten, Drake's Island, and the terraced platform of the Hoe, present a scene scarcely surpassed in any seaport of the world. These beautiful features were but dimly seen through the gloom and mist which hung along the land.
This record of a successful voyage may be concluded with a few statistics, which will interest yacht-owners and officers serving in gunboats. The total distance traversed since leaving Malta was 11,506 miles, 7,704 under canvas, and 3,802 under steam. The total consumption of coal was 120 tons, or one ton for every thirtythree miles of steaming. The average speed maintained throughout the voyage was seven knots an hour. The time at sea was sixty-nine days thirteen hours, and the best run under sail was on the 27th of December, when 260 miles were logged.
Looking back on the recollections of the cruise which has been described, a few reflections naturally present themselves. A visit to
the colonies cannot fail to impress the traveller with the high tone,