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ot hear of my goin

g to sea, and without their consent I could not be accepted, so that idea had to be abandoned. I was determined to be a sailor, however, and kept

my eyes open for a chance of

getting away

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on one of the fishing-vessels sailing out of Hull, among which were still many of the old sailing-boats, which have now been almost entirely displaced by the steam-trawle

age, when I was sent
rs. When I had

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been at home ab

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out six months

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the longed-

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for chance came. I

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got to know that one of the trawlers was to sail at a very early hour one morning, so, stealing out of the house before any of the other memb

e educated at the li

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ers of the family were about, I made my way down to the docks. This being before the days of the

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large tonnage steam-trawlers, the vessels carried only about five hands, and finding that the b

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oat on which I had set my mind was in need of a cook and cabin-boy, I offered my services, and w

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as duly signed on. My knowledge of the work was nil, but, to my surprise and delig

ht, the captain asked no awkward questions, and I found myself 4 enrolled as a member of the crew of my first ship, which was bound for the North Sea fishing-grounds, and was expected to be away for about three months. I was very seasick on this first voyage—the only time in my life that I have ever suffered from that complaint—and the life proved less attractive than I had expected. In those days the lads on the fishing-boats were very badly treated, and though I had not so much to complain of in this respect, I found it a very trying life at the best. The work itself was very hard, and I was liable to be called up at any hour of the day or night to prepare hot coffee or do anything that any member of the crew

"ttle tow is available for the ridiculously low, one-time cost of n of E That's right, I'm practically giving it away!鈥?

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wanted me to do. It was on this voyage that I had a very narrow escape of being drowned in a gale which we encountered. We had taken in the second reef of the mainsail, which hung over like a huge hammock, and I was ordered aloft to

ngelfingen

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team member

Gretchen J. Mcdonald

perform the operation known as reefing th

e lacing. As I was crawling along the sail a heavy sea struck the ship, carrying the boom over to the weather side, which caused the sai

, where my follow me follow me follow me
team member

Gretchen J. Mcdonald

l to flap over and pitch me head first int

o the sea. Fortunately for me, the accident was witnessed by the crew, one of whom seized a boathook, and, as I came within reach, manag

parents h follow me follow me follow me
team member

Gretchen J. Mcdonald

ed to catch me by the belt, and so succeed

ed in hauling me on board again, 5 feeling very miserable and, of course, drenched to the skin, but otherwise none the worse for my a

ad some re follow me follow me follow me
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dventure. With this exception, there was little out of the ordinary in my life on

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the trawler, unless I mention an experience I had when we were ly

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ing off the then British island of Heligoland. It was the custom

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for the captains of the various boats to go ashore all together, i

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n one boat, on Sundays, and the crew also often took advantage of

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the opportunity of a run ashore. One Sunday they had all gone asho

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re, leaving me in sole charge of the ship, my principal duties bei

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ng to prepare the dinner and stoke the boiler of the donkey-engine

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so as to keep steam up ready for hauling up the anchor at a momen

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t’s notice. Soon after th

ey had gone some lads came off i

n a shore-boat, and as I could speak German we were soon on the best of terms, and of course I had to give them biscuits and show them round the ship. So engrossed was I with my new-found friends that I forgot all about the boiler, until I noticed a strong smell of burning. We all raced to the engine-room, to find that the boiler was red hot and had set fire to the

r had. This ea

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woodwork round it. Not knowing what else to do, we chopped away the woodwork and t

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hrew it overboard, and so prevented the fire spreading. Scenting trouble ahead, my friends took

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to their boat and cleared out, while 6 I decided that it would be wise to disappear for a tim

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e also, and so hid myself in a part of the ship where I thought I was least likely to be found.

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The captain made a big fuss when he discovered the damage, and I heard him calling loudly for me

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, but I thought it would be wise to remain out of sight until he had had time to cool down; so I

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stayed where I was, turning up again next morning. He did not say much when I appeared, probabl

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y because he thought awkward questions might be asked if any bother was made as to

why a youngster like myself

had been left in sole

charge of the vessel. I returned to Hull after six month

s with the fishing fle

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et, fairly sick of life on a trawler, and with my mind made up to try for something better in the seafaring line. My great idea was to get abroad and see something of the world, and I should, so I thought, stand a better chance of doing this if I went to Liverpool and tried to get a ship there. Having no money—my entire worldly possessions consisted, at this time, of a few spare clothes—I set out to walk the

rly educat

whole distance from Hull.

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he very difficulties only seemed to make the idea more attractive; so I started boldly off. Having no very clear idea of the route to be

7 followed, I made for Yor

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e the little food I could allow myself, I pawned my spare clothes at different places on my way, and helped out my scanty meals with an oc

casional raw turnip or carro

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get through without being reduced to begging. Of course I had nothing to spare for lodgings, and used to sleep out during the day, continu

ing my journey at night, and

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t this was my greatest hardship. After a rather weary journey I eventually arrived in Liverpool, very footsore but in good spirits, and f

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inding a lodging-house in the sea-men’s quarter of the town, kept by an old sailor who was willing to take me in on tru

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st until I got a ship, I took up my quarters there, agreeing to repay him as soon as I got a berth. I still had a stron

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g inclination for the Navy, so I applied at the recruiting office, but, as I could not show my parents’ consent, they r

t public will

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efused to accept me, and I had to look elsewhere. At last I got a berth on a tugbo

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at, called the Knight of St. John, which was going out to Rotterdam to tow a barque, the Newman Hall, into Liverpool. 8 While at Rotterdam I managed to get into another scrape, but, fortunately, it was not a very serious one, though I suffered some discomfort. It was known on boa

01 One Fourth

rd that I could speak German well, so I was sent ashore to buy cigars and tobacco for the officers and crew. I must have been longer away than they expected, as when I got back to the quay the boat was gone. Having no money left, I was in a fix for a night’s lodging, u

02 One Fourth

ntil I noticed a small wooden hut on the beach, apparently unoccupied, so, taking shelter in this, I made myself as comfortable as possible and went to sleep. On waking the next morning I was astonished to find the shanty surrounded by water. It turned out to be a hut b

03 One Fourth

uilt for the use of bathers, and at high tide was always surrounded by the sea; consequently I had to stay where I was and wait more or less patiently until the tide went down far enough to enable me to wade ashore. While I was wondering what to do next I saw the tug co

04 One Fourth

ming along close inshore, and shouting until I attracted attention, I was soon aboard again. Having got our tow-line aboard the barque, we started on our return journey to Liverpool, but had scarcely got clear of land before it commenced to blow heavily, and the sea be

01 One Half

came so rough that we had to part company with the barque, which, fortunately, drifted back to 9 Rotterdam, while we found ourselves with only sufficient coal to take us into Dover. I did not stop long with the tug, as I came to the conclusion that there was little

02 One Half

chance of getting on in my profession if I was content to simply knock about from ship to ship. If I was ever to get an officer’s certificate, I must start by getting a berth as A.B. (able seaman), in an ocean-going ship, so that I could put in the four years’ regular

01 One Third

sea service which I should have to show before going up for my certificate, of which at least twelve months had to be on a sailing ship trading to foreign ports. I therefore looked out for a suitable berth, and at last shipped on a barque, the Lake Simcoe, trading to S

02 One Third

outh America. I had, as usual, my share of incident during the voyage. Whilst trading in Brazil, we made a trip up the River Amazon, during which I got a touch of yellow fever, and on arriving at Laguna, where we had to take some logwood on board, I was put ashore to

03 One Third

go into hospital. I do not know what alterations have been made since I was there, but at that time the hospital was a gloomy enough building, with heavily barred slits in the wall for windows, and used indifferently as hospital, lunatic asylum, and gaol, while the stro

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ng resemblance to a prison was heightened by the fact that the place was always guarded by a detachment of soldiers. 10 The hospital arrangements were disgusting and reckless, no regard being paid either to sanitation or the prevention of infection. All manner of diseases were mi

  • take into consideration.
  • At the age of
  • thirteen my schooling in
  • Germany ended, and I
  • returned home to my parents, w
  • ho wished me to continue my school
  • -days in Hull, as I had receiv
  • ed no English education whatever;
  • but I strongly objected
  • to going to scho
  • ol again, and, evading t
  • heir efforts to contro
  • l me, spent most of my time about the docks, w
  • atching the vessels in and out. By this
  • time my mind was bent on a seafaring life, an

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xed indiscriminately in the same ward, while the duties of orderlies and attendants on the patients were undertaken by some of the more harmless among the lunacy cases! One gruesome discovery which I made soon after my entry was that the establishment possessed only one coffin, wh

$100

ich had to do duty for each fatal case in

turn, being made with a sliding bottom, which reduced the work of lowering the corpse into the grave to a minimum. When a case ended

  • d I lost no opportunity of scr
  • aping acquaintance with sailors fr
  • om the different ships, whose tale
  • s of the various countries the

$200

fatally, the corpse was placed in this co

ffin—which was always kept in the ward—and taken out for burial, the coffin being afterwards returned to its place in the hospital

  • sited and the strange sights t
  • hey had seen fired my imagination
  • and made me more determined than e
  • ver to follow the sea. I prac

$300

, in full view of the other patients! As t

here were generally three or four funerals every day, it may be easily imagined that the effect on those left behind was not the mos

  • lived on the docks, and one of
  • 3 my greatest delights was to
  • pilot a boat round them, or to get
  • some of my many friends among

$400

t cheering. One other custom in the hospita

l struck me as very peculiar. When a patient became very bad the attendant generally gave him a spoonful of a substance which, from

  • lors to allow me to help with
  • odd jobs about a vessel, such as c
  • leaning up the decks or polishing
  • the brasswork; and I was fully

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the smell, I have since thought must have been opium. Whether or not this was merely given to relieve pain I cannot say: I only know that the patient invariably died soon after taking it. 11 One day the spoon was brought to me, so I asked the attendant, one of the harmless lunati

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cs, to place it on the table by my bedside. Occupying the adjoining pallet was a Brazilian soldier, who, waking up in the night, asked if he might have the stuff in the spoon, as he was in terrible pain. Thinking it might relieve him, I made no objection, and he eagerly swallowed t

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he lot. The next morning he was dead! After this experience, I was anxious to get out of my present quarters as rapidly as possible

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, and a chance came a day or two afterwards of which I at once took advantage. It happened to be Sunday, and my bed being close to o

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ne of the slits which served for windows, I heard the voices of some of the crew of the Lake Simcoe outside. I at once shouted to at

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tract their attention, and begged them to get me out of this awful hole. Recognisi

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ng my voice, they threw themselves on the soldiers guarding the place, and, after a struggle, managed to get in, and carried me off. I was fearfully weak, and scarcely able to stand, but they managed to get me aboard ship at last, where, with proper attention, I soon recovered. On the homewar

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d voyage we had terribly rough weather in th

e Atlantic, and the ship became top-he

avy, listing to such an

extent that th

e fore-yard-ar

ms were practica

lly in the w

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ater the whole time. For days we were drenched to 12

the skin with the big seas which broke over the vessel continually, and the hull

being practically under water, I wrapped myself in a bl

anket—having no dry clothing left—and kept my watch seated on the mast, which

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