The picture shows the tide is well out in Portsmouth harbour. Not fully out, but only about an hour after the tide had turned and was going up. When we were out walking yesterday, the tide was pretty much fully in. The range in the tide was really brought home to me, between low and high over the last two days has been at least 4 metres (12 feet ish).
Why am I talking about the tide in Portsmouth Harbour when the title is the Clipper Storms? I’m getting towards the end of the book, more than 3/4 of the way through. As a chronology of the Clipper Ships the book is naturally reaching a close. The graceful clipper ships ultimately will not bee able to compete with the steamers.
In an earlier post about the clipper ships I painted a picture of little loss of life and ships. Oh Dear, how wrong I was. This last part of the book is a litany of loss. Most of the time it is due to the storms of the Roaring 40’s and Cape Horn, ships being broken up at sea and being driven on to the rocks. Loss of life, and injuries resulting in amputation. Horrible Seas. In the day of the clipper ships, crew would have to be up the 100ft high masts, standing on a swaying rope, hauling in sails so solid with ice that they had to punch and kick them to make them manoeuvrable.
Waves three times higher than the ship wash over them washing people overboard, smashing deck fittings, ripping sails off their masts, bringing those 100ft high masts crashing down either on to the deck or over the side where the risk is run of them crashing in to the ship and holing them. Of the stories I’ve read one thing that did surprise me was the compassion of people. I must admit that I thought that they would think of life as cheap – far from it. Courageous rescues, efforts to save lives. One story in particular, although gory – the amputation by a medically unqualified captain and the determination that the injured man would be saved were documented in detail.
The book has not yet, soon it will though. I am thinking about the next book and have not yet made up my mind. Perhaps the Hubble book, or Secret Britain. Who knows. In he meantime, I continue with the story of those graceful sailing ships; The Clippers.