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White Wings Vol I. Fifty Years Of Sail In The New Zealand Trade, 1850 TO 1900

Among The Ice

Among The Ice,

the Margaret Galbraith had a narrow escape of ending her career in 1893, when bound Home from a New Zealand port. "Before sailing," writes Mr. H. N. Burgess, of Auckland, who was second officer of the ship, "we had instructions on the Homeward trip round Cape Horn to keep a good look-out for ice, as a lot of it had been reported by other ships that had preceded us. We used to take the temperature of the sea water every evening, especially during misty weather, the idea being that the presence of an iceberg lowers the temperature of the sea, and if the thermometer showed anything out of the normal we would know we were in the vicinity of ice. In addition to taking this precaution I used to go up to the cross-trees at sundown, or send a hand aloft to see if there were any signs of ice about on the horizon.

"After we had got well round the Horn, and to the north of the Falkland Islands, the weather grew warmer, and there was a perceptible rise in the temperature of the sea water, so we naturally thought we had passed the danger zone and relaxed the precautions we had been taking. This had been going on for two or three days, when one night we had a marvellous escape. It was evening, in the second dog watch, the weather squally and thick from the north-west, and the air was full of strange noises, something like distant thunder. Peering to windward I thought I saw ice, but the wind being comparatively warm I felt that I must have been mistaken. However, I called the skipper. He had a look round, but could see no ice, and told me that I was not likely to see ice in those latitudes with the temperature of the sea water between 45 and 50 degrees.