Extract of a Letter from an Officer on board H. M.S. Cove to a gentleman in tins neighbourhood:—
“H. M. 8. Cove, off the Lewis, 4th Febr., 1839.
“We sailed from Stromness on Monday, the 11th ult; on the 13th we had heavy gales from the northward and westward, with hard squalls of snow and hail, which weather continued without intermission till the 28th, when it was such as neither I nor the oldest seaman on board ever saw equalled—blowing a perfect hurricane from N.W., with a most tremendous sea, and heavier falls of hail and snow than I ever supposed could come down. At about half-past four, one of the lieutenants and myself having the watch, and being lashed to the mizen rigging, a most awful sea broke on our starboard bow; I shut my eyes, expecting, when I should again open them, to see the ship dashed into ten thousand pieces; I felt myself almost suffocated with the volume of water which burst over me, and, on opening my eyes, saw the ship on her broadside, the bow-sprit lying alongside the bulwarks, all washed away, and to every appearance on the point of going down. But God in his infinite mercy gave a few minutes’ interval between the seas, which enabled her to right and come bow to the sea again, before the succeeding one washed the deck fore and aft. The orders were given coolly by Capt. Ross ‘to have every thing ready, to hoist the main-stay-sail and drop the goose-wing of the fore-sail, down mizen stay-sail and try-sail, and up the helm at the same moment’—and most trying and anxious moments they were during the time the ship was paying off; she, however, did pay off beautifully; the wind got aft the beam, the main yard was squared, and we were comparatively safe. To give you any idea of my feelings, would be impossible; not a soul on board supposed it possible the ship would have ever recovered herself. The cry on the lower deck was—‘the ship is going down; her bows and side are all stove in—’ this, however, was not the case. She now, notwithstanding the wind and swell, scudded beautifully; but it was blowing in the most awful manner I ever saw; in thirty-six hours afterwards it became moderate, when we found ourselves all but a perfect wreck. The carpenters have reported one large iron knee in the forehold broke in two, one of the beams all adrift, and a fastening knee loose, many of the treenails started, and the coverboard on the bows broken, all the deck ends forward started, bowsprit gone, &c. So you observe that our damages are pretty serious. We expect to get into Stromness to-morrow, having a fine breeze from S.W., and are running along seven knots an hour, under the lee of Lewis, about nine miles off. The captain is, without exception, the finest officer I have ever met with, the most persevering, indefatigable man you can imagine. He is perfectly idolized by every one. The degrees of frost have not been very considerable, not having, I think, been more than 14°; but, for all that, every one has complained of the severity of the cold, owing to the tremendous winds and the rolling of the ship, which has prevented our keeping our limbs in exercise by walking. We have been in company with ice-bergs; and the aurora borealis has been almost every night splendid beyond my powers of description. Stromness, Friday (5th) 11 a. m.—We have this moment anchored.”-