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The Diary of James Brogden, August 1871 – December 1872

25 August 1871

25 August 1871

Hard head winds and little progress. How I wish I could have ended here for the day – but alas! When the smokers were taking their final whiff and all the others about to retire, on a sudden we heard the cry “Helm hard a port”. The engines were stopped, “stand clear” was given, and on each side the ship we saw a dark object pass; some saw “an iceberg”, into which the ship had run. But the cries of men, oh! those agonising cries! the call for the life buoys, the order to ship the boats, left no doubt we had run down some vessel. It was too true. We had run into a barque amid ships, and literally cut her in halves, the fore part of the ship going down on the port side, and the other on the starboard side, - both parts settling down in the deep before they cleared our ship leaving a page 4 creamy foam, and a few spars and planks as the indication of what had been. We tore down all the buoys we could see or get, but at once had to consider our ship and position. Meantime the ladies and all other passengers rush up on deck – such a scene! I felt there was no hope if our ship was damaged, and in a few words with my friend we came to the conclusion that in case the boats were taken to those in them must be inevitably lost. I rushed down to ascertain about my boy in bed. He was still asleep, and I felt that it were better so, if the ship were to go down. Soon after I had gone into the cabin the carpenter came from examining the fore part of the ship and I was cheered by his words “Our ship is not injured so far as hull is concerned that we can find”. I rushedhurried on deck repeating this, and the words passed like a talisman impossible to describe. The boats had been put off for assistance, and presently one returned with only one man saved. A long search brought no result from the other boat. One man only out of a crew of twelve, and that man was in bed asleep, and cast out into the sea with the vessel opened! We learned that she was the Norwegian bark “Annette”, Captain Beckwith, from Portsmouth, bound to Quebec in ballast. After a delay of about an hour, we again steam on, but sleep or rest for any this night is impossible; a deep gloom settles on every heart and thoughts like a whole history pass thro’ the mind. The night was not so dark but the “forewatch” could have seen the approaching vessel; and indeed he did so, but did not order the ship to stop as soon page 5 as he saw the light, and thus we went into it full speed. It appears certain however that the collision was inevitable.