I am deeply grateful to Paul Fuller (great-grandson of Captain James Horne) who sent me this previously unpublished account and gave permission for its inclusion on this site).


DISMASTING OF THE “ LOCH GARRY”
OFF THE CAPE OF GOOD HOPE - 1st August 1889
(An account by James Horne (Junior) who was serving as mate on his father’s ship
written up by his brother George F.T.Horne)

On Friday the gale which in the morning had moderated recommenced to blow with much misty rain from the North ; the topgallantsails which had been set were clewed up and furled and at 3 p.m. all hands were called to shorten sail and the Ship was put under fore and main lower topsails. The gale now increased with violence and the sea commenced to rise. From 8 p.m. to midnight it blew with fearful force, squalls succeeding one another with cyclonic strength every few minutes. From 12 to 2 a.m. the gale speedily became worse blowing so hard that it was impossible to stand  without being lashed; the night was pitch dark, the wind travelling overhead at a terrific rate. At length the climax was reached in a squall baffling description. About 2 a.m. the wind shifted to West and a huge sea struck the ship carrying away the jiboom, the fore topgallant mast and the fore topmast head. Fifteen minutes later the main topmast and mizzen topgallant mast and mizzen topmast head were seen to go amid a shower of sparks caused by falling ironwork, but such was the violence of the wind that scarcely any sound was heard. Before this took place the cabin doors had burst in and poop ladders and hencoops washed away.
The gale now blew with as much violence as before but the squalls were less frequent; the barometer touched 28.75, which was the lowest reached. Huge seas came tumbling aboard but weather cloth and after yards kept the ship up to the wind. The upper main topsail yard which was banging about the deck quickly demolished the storage companion and startled the women below with the sudden inrushing water; there was a little screaming at this point but otherwise everyone was calm and collected.
Daylight at last dawned revealing a terrible mass of broken spars; the yards that were left were quite beyond control and the braces being all carried away were flying from side to side, threatening every moment to come down on our heads. As soon as it was light enough, all hands on the Ship commenced to cut away the wreck, which being suspended from the main cap lower topsail and main yards was swinging out to leeward and coming back with terrible force against the Ship’s side; every moment we expected to see a plate burst and the Ship sunk. Everyone seized what tools they could and armed with these hacked away at shrouds and stays and the rest of the entanglement in an endeavour to free the ship from the wreckage; the seas were making a clean breach over the vessel and the rolling was fearful. Although all worked with a will it was not until nightfall that we had the satisfaction of seeing the mass of broken spars, wire chain etc. float away.
About 5 p.m. one tremendous sea buried the vessel, the fore end of the ship going right under water. So far was the ship down that our best and only remaining lifeboat was carried right off the skids and lifted uninjured over the side. The fore topsail yard and remaining part of the fore topmast were swinging about as the main had done; we managed however to secure this by lashing it to the ship’s side.
Our attention was next attracted by the way in which the cro’ jack yard had taken charge, rushing from one tack to the other, cockbilled one way now and then cockbilled another. Every moment we expected to see it carry away and go crashing through the deck. The passengers in the saloon were all removed right aft and the chronometers on which the navigation of the ship depended were packed in feather pillows and taken to a place of safety. We now attempted to lash the cro’ jack yard. Throwing a three inch line over it we doubled it and ran it to the capstan: in a moment it was fast and in another instant it had lifted the capstan right out of its place, snapped the rope like a piece of thread and was tearing about as wildly as ever. Other lines were tried with a like result until at last a 5 inch bolt rope got hold and steadied it.
It was now dark and nothing more could be done but wait for day. At 7 p.m. the gale which had taken off a little began to blow with increased violence; the seas sweeping over the ship but we hoped if the hatches would only hold to pull her through. At 8 p.m. after lurching over in a way which no words can describe, with one fearful and awful crash the main mast, main yard and lower top yard staggered for a moment and then disappeared over the side. Crawling forward over the wreckage to the foc’sule we endeavoured to get the men out believing that all was over, the report having been spread that the ship was settling down; only one man Matheson AB , came out. Fortunately the main mast had fallen with such a crash with such force that it had carried everything away with it with the exception of the stays and these were speedily cut; nothing further could be done but just to wait. At 2 a.m. the mizen mast went; the noise of the mast breaking and sweeping away the skylight sounded like a death knell; our last hope had disappeared. A few of us scrawled last messages, sealed them in bottles and flung them over the side and composed ourselves as best we might to await what now seemed to be the inevitable end.
But with its last fury the storm seemed to have done its worst and the ship, instead of foundering continued to float. Once more dawn began to break and not only dawn but the sun, the sun which we had not seen for three days and never thought to see again. I staggered to my feet and looked round; except for a man hanging sleepily over the wheel there was not a soul to be seen: all hands, worn out, had crawled into any corner they could find. So soon as I recovered from the stupefaction of finding myself alive I took stock of the situation: the foremast, fore yard and lower topsail yard were still standing. In flash I saw that if we could secure them we were saved. I dashed below, broached a case of brandy and having tossed off a tumbler scrambled aft and served out a generous ration to such of the crew and passengers who could be roused.
There is no more to tell for how we cleared the decks, secured the yards, set sails and navigated the ship 2,000 miles under a foresail and fore lower topsail, is it not written in the log book of the “Loch Garry”?

After thoughts – October 1934 - Forty-five years have passed since that eventful night and I have been asked to add a few words dealing with the subsequent events in connection with the disaster.
The whole of the events remain in my mentality as if they happened yesterday, some more prominent than others. One I have never forgotten was the mainmast swaying till it snapped about four feet from the deck and falling on the starboard rail, crushing it and the bulwark for some seventy feet level with the scuppers. My father, for the first and only time in his life, put his hand on my shoulder and kissed me, remarking “goodbye my lad”. Another vivid scene is making my way forward and seeing all the men sitting on their sea chests. They had shaved and put on their go-ashore clothes. It was a practice amongst British sailors in those days, if time permitted and all hope had been abandoned to clean themselves and attire themselves in their best clothes. They held the impression that they owed it to God to enter his presence as clean and tidy as possible. There they sat holding on the bunk boards or any handy part of the vessel’s structure as the vessel lurched – lurched so violently that the boats davits slid from their sockets to the deck. The slush lamps swing with the send of the ship – dimly lighting their bronzed features.
And there was the breaking of that dawn – a multitude of birds sweeping over the vessel where masts and rigging had stood one hundred and fifty feet from the deck a few hours previously.
Again, the women. Two days after the dismasting the wind began to freshen and in the absence of bulwarks the seas began to roll on board. The captain decided to lighten ship. The crew were busy with jury masts etc.,. In the square of the main hatch was twenty tons of blasting powder; it was better over the side. The frightful rolling of the vessel now all the top hamper had gone might induce friction among the kegs. So a deputation of women fought their way to the poop and asked the captain to be allowed to jettison it. He consented. A line was found, a clove hitch passed around the waists of the volunteers and with the seas breaking over them through one corner of the main hatch, keg by keg was slid through the battered side till all was gone.
The “Garry” sailed some 2600 miles to Mauritius ; her best run under jury rig was 220 miles. She arrived safely and without incident. The passengers were transferred to a sailing vessel which landed them at Melbourne . No one was hurt and all maintained their health. Eventually a complete outfit was sent out from Glasgow . The vessel was re-rigged and she resumed her normal occupation.
The cause of the accident was the long wooden jiboom. All ships built subsequently to this experience were fitted with stump steel bowsprits.
The ship had no subsequent adventures and was sold in 1911 to be broken up. Her captain of 26 years, Captain James Horne (senior) came ashore at the same time after 62 years at sea (47 years in command). He felt his work was completed and died a few months later.


 

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