CHAPTER XVIII. HONOLULU TO YOKOHAMA.
About 9 p.m. I was sitting in the deck-house, when I heard a tremendous crash, and, looking out, saw that the fore gig davits had been carried away, taking with them a piece of the rail, stanchion, and cavil. The gig was hanging from the after davits, one might say, by a thread, splashing and dashing in and out of the water, and crashing and splintering against the side of the yacht. All hands were speedily on deck; and in spite of the risk they ran, and of the remonstrances of their comrades, two of the gig's crew jumped into her with a rope, which they tried to pass round her. It was a difficult task in that heavy sea, and many times they failed, and we constantly feared that men, boat, and all were gone. Half a dozen of the crew caught hold of the rigging outside, put their backs against the yacht, and with legs outstretched tried to keep the gig off the ship's side, while all the loose gear was floating away out of her. At last there was a shout of triumph. The rope was round her, the men jumped on board the yacht again, whilst sailors, stewards, and passengers proceeded to hoist and drag the boat in, with all their might and main. Alas! she was only a wreck. Her sides were stove in, her planks were started, there was a hole in her bottom, and the moon shone through her many cracks.
Saturday, January 27th. - About two o'clock this morning the yacht plunged so heavily into a deep sea, that the jibboom, a beautiful spar, broke short off, and the foretop-gallant mast and topgallant yard were carried away almost at the same moment, with a terrible noise. It took about eight hours to clear the wreck, all hands working all night; and a very forlorn appearance the deck presented in the morning, lumbered up with broken spars, ropes, &c. The jibboom fell right across the forefoot of the yacht, and now looks as if it had been cut at for weeks with some blunt tool.
The weather cleared a little to-day, but there was still a heavy sea and nearly a head wind. The crew were busily engaged in repairing damages. Unfortunately, two of them are ill, and so is the carpenter, a specially important person at this juncture. No men could have behaved better than they all did after the accident. It was frightful to see them aloft in such weather, swinging on the ends of the broken spars, as the yacht rolled and pitched about. When it comes to a pinch they are all good men and true: not that they are perfection, any more than other men are.
Sunday, January 28th. - It is finer, but bitterly cold. Several of my tropical birds are already dead. The little pig from Harpe Island, and the Hawaiian geese, look very wretched, in spite of all my precautions.
We had the Litany at eleven, and prayer and a sermon at four; after which Tom addressed the men, paying them some well-deserved compliments on their behaviour on Friday night.
The decks were very slippery, and as we kept rolling about a good deal there were some nasty falls among the passengers. We had a splendid though stormy sunset, which did not belie its promise, for the wind shortly afterwards became stiffer and stronger, until at last we had two reefs down, and were tumbling about in all directions, as we rushed through the water. The dining-tables tilted till they could go no further, and then paused to go back again; but not quickly enough, for the glasses began to walk uphill and go over the edge in the most extraordinary manner. On deck the night looked brilliant but rather terrible. The full moon made it as light as day, and illuminated the fountains of spray blown from the waves by which we were surrounded. Without her heavy jibboom, and with her canvas well reefed down, the 'Sunbeam' rode through it all, dipping her head into the sea, shivering from stem to stern, and then giving herself a shake, preparatory to a fresh start, just like a playful water-bird emerging from a prolonged dive.
At midnight a tremendous sea struck her, and for a minute you could not see the yacht at all, as she was completely enveloped in spray and foam. Tom said it was just like being behind the falls of Niagara, with the water coming over you from every quarter at once. It was only loose stuff, however, for not a green sea did she take on board the whole night through. Our old engineer, who has been with us so long, made up his mind that we had struck on a rock, and woke up all the servants and told them to go on deck. I never felt anything like it before, and the shock sent half of us out of our beds.