Narrative of the surveying voyages of his majesty's ships Adventure and Beagle (vol.2): between the years 1826 and 1836 : describing their examination of the southern shores of South America, and the Beagles's circumnavigation of the globe

1833. GALES CllITICAL TIME. 125 in again ; and although every change of wind was turned to account, as far as possible, but little ground was gained. On the 11th we saw that wild-looking height, called York Minster, ' looming ' among driving clouds, and I flattered my- self we should reach an anchorage ; but after tearing through heavy seas, under all the sail we could carry, darkness and a succession of violent squalls, accompanied by hail and rain, obliged me to stand to seaward, after being within a mile of our port. All the next day we were lying-to in a heavy gale — wearing occasionally. At three in the morning of the 13th, the vessel lurched so deeply, and the main-mast bent and quivered so much, that I reluctantly took in the main-topsail (small as it was when close- reefed), leaving set only the storm-trysails (close-reefed) and fore-staysail.* At ten, there was so continued and heavy a rush of wind, that even the diminutive trysails oppressed the vessel too much, and they were still farther reduced. Soon after one, the sea had risen to a great height, and I was anxiously watching the successive waves, when three huge rollers ap- proached, whose size and steepness at once told me that our sea-boat, good as she was, would be sorely tried. Having steerage way, the vessel met and rose over the first unharmed, but, of course, her way was checked ; the second deadened her way completely, throwing her off" the wind ; and the third great sea, taking her right a-beam, turned her so far over, that all the lee bulwark, from the cat-head to the stern davit, was two or three feet under water. For a moment, our position was critical ; but, like a cask, she rolled back again, though with some feet of water over the whole deck. Had another sea then struck her, the little ship might have been numbered among the many of her class which have disappeared : but the crisis was past — she shook the sea off" her through the ports, and was none the worse — excepting * I have always succeeded in carrying a close-reefed main-topsail (five reefs) in the Beagle, excepting on this and two other occasions ; but were I again under similar circumstances, I think I should try to carry it even then — for some time longer.