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VEFHEYEN, (PHILIP) AN eminent Dutch Anatomist, laboured as a husbandmar till he was twenty-two years of age, when he gained a place at the university of Louvain, where he studied medicine, received his doctor's degree, and obtained a professorship.
IN CASES OF SHIPWRECK CONTINUED.
LIFE-BOATS. ALTHOUGH it does not appear that a hetter method has
yet been conceived of saving the lives of Seamen, when wrecked on a rocky coast, or in situations where the ressel drives up almost elose to the beach, than that of establishing a communication betwixt the ship and the shore, by means of a rope thrown over the vessel, in the inanner described in our last number; yet, in cases of shipwreck on a low sandy coast, or where the vessel may be stranded at some distance from the shore, the LIFE-BOAT may certainly be resorted to as Die most likely mean to ensure success.
Various descriptions of Boats have been invented from time to time, which, on account of some peculiarity in their structure, or other property, gives them a claim to this appellation. So early as the year 1777, a number of trials were male on
An unimmergible Boat, invented by M. Bernieres, (Director of the Bridges and Causeways in France,) before a number of spectators, by which it appeared, that it could not only be rowed about without danger of sinking, though manned by 8 men, and completely filled with water; but, that
, when by means of a rope tied to the top of the mast, it was hove down so as the mast touched the water, it would immediately recover itself on the rope being let go, or loosened from its hold.
In 1785, Mr Lukin, a coachmaker of London, obtained a patent for his improvement in the construction of boats and small vessels, so that they will neither overset nor sink ; but what we would particularly draw the attention of to at this time, is
THE LIFE-BOAT Invented and built by Mr. Henry Greathead of South-Shields.
The particular construction of this boat, is minutely des cribed by Dr. GREGORY in his Encyclopedia, and, according
* Mr. Lukin's invention is described in WILLICH'S Dom. Encyclo pedia, Vol. I. p. 298.
to that author, it originated from the following circumstances. " “In September 1789, the ship Adventure of Newcastle, was stranded on the Herd Sand, on the south side of Tynemoutil haven, in the midst of tremendous breakers; and all the crew dropped from the rigging, one by one, in the presence of thousands of spectators; not one of whom could be prevailed upon by any reward, to venture out to her assistance in any boat or coble of the common construction.
On this occasion the gentlemen of South Shields called a meeting of the inliabitants, at wbich a committee was appointed, and premiums were offered for plans of a boat, which should be the best calculated to brave the dangers of the sca, particularly of broken water. Many proposals were offered; but the preference was unanimously given to that of Mr. GREATHEAD, who was immediately directed to build a boat at the expense of the committee.
This boat went off on the 30th Jan. 1790; and so well has it answered, and indeed exceeded erery expectation, in the most tremendous broken sea, that since that iime not fewer than two hundred lives have been saved at the entrance of the Tyné alone, which otherwise must have been lost. Mr. GREATHEAD stated before a committee of the House of Commons, that he had conceived the principle of the invention of the LifeBout from the properties of a spheriod, which “ if divid. ed into quarters, each quarter is elliptical, and nearly resem, bles the half
' of a wooden bowl, having a curvature with projecting ends: this thrown into the sea or broken water, cane not be upset, nor lie with the bottom upwards.” And the following Description of, and Instructions for manuging the Life-Boats, invented and built by thut gentleman, were commu. nicated by him to one of the original Dunhur Life-Boat commitkee, who reprinted and distributed a number of copies for the information of sea-faring men and others on that part of
" These BOATS are built of two sizes, one to row with ter. oars, the other with eight, for the conveniency of those places where a larger number of hands cannot on a sudden be obtained ;-each of these Boats du require two men besides the rowers, who ought to be acquainted with the sets of the tides where the Boat is likely to be used; these are to station themselves, one at each end of the Boat, equipped with a long sweep, for the purpose of steering ;---for by the Boat being made fore-and-aft perfectly similar, she rows and steers. either way with equal ease ;~and he whom the rowers face becomes steersman; the other must be very careful to keep bis sweep out of the
T'he rowers row double-banked, with their oars slung over an Iron Thole, provided with a Grommet, which enables the rowers, merely by facing about, to row either way without turning the boat,
a circumstance of infinite importance in broken water. In going to a wreck, if more than one point of land from which to send of the Boat can be obtained, it will be found advisable to launch her so that she may head the sea as much as possible ;-the steersman must keep his eye fixed upon the waves or breakers, and encourage the rowers to give way as the Boat rises to them ;--the Boat thus aided by the force of the oars, launches over the waves with vast rapidity, without shipping any water. It is necessary here to observe, that there is often a strong reflux of the sea near stranded vessels, which se quires both dispatch and care in the people employed, that the boat be not damaged by striking the wreck ;-after leaving off which, should the wind blow toward the land, the Boat will come on shore without any other effort than that of steering.
“ These Boats are painted white on the outside, this colour more is mediately relieving the eye of the spectator, at her rising from the hollow of the sea, than any other; the bottom is at first varnished for the more minute inspection of purchasers, but which may be painted afterwards if preferred. The Oars she is provided with, are made of fir of the best quality, having found by experience that a rove ash our that will dress clean and light, is too pliant among the breakers, and if made strong and heavy, the rowers are sooner exhausted, as the purchase is necessarily short from their roming double-banked; thi circumstance makes the Fir Oar, when made stiff, much to be pre ferred; sh: is also furnished with Pouys, or Sets, being better calculat "ed than boat-hooks to push off from soft sand among the breakers.
"N. B. I would strongly recommend practising the Boat in rough 'weather, by which means experience will be gained, and the danger become less, from the well grounded confidence the people will
hare in the boat.
From the care taken in the construction of this boat to prevent the necessity of her turning round, the hint here given to heud the sea us much as possible in going to a wreck, together with the caution respecting the strong reflux that might be expected when alongside of a stranded vessel, it must be apo parent, that from these circumstances considerable danger was to be apprehended; how astonishing, therefore, is it, that they should have been so little attended to, at the time the unfor. tunate disaster took place with the Dunbar Life-Boat on the 18th Dec. 1810.
By some accident, it is well known, the boat upset when she had just completed, or rather more than completed, her third cargo alongside of the Pallas frigate, which had been wrecke ed on that coast during the preceding night; but insteal of this being imputed to the proper and true cause, an unreasonable and unjustifiable prejudice seems to have been excited against the boat, as if it were to be expected that she could either perform impossibilities or work miracles. In order that the public may be the better able to judge for themselves
n this case, we shall first state some facts which we have btained respecting the accident from a most unexceptionable uthority, even to those who are too apt to allow their preju. lices to get the better of their judgment on such an occasion: Secondly-Hear what the inventor of the Life-Boat has to ay for himself: And, Thirdly-See how far both are borne ut in their statements by the testimony of an eye-witness, inconnected with either, and who beheld the whole of the nelancholy scene from the beach.
The authority we allude to, in the first place, is no less than that of Mr. David LAING himself, who had the command of he boat, was on board of her at the time, and had nearly paid the sacrifice of his own life in his laudable and humane at. tempt to save the lives of others*. The boat, according to the information we have received from this gentleman, had already succeeded in landing two cargoes, say to the number of 40 or 50 persons, and when it is considered that of the poor fellows who trusted themselves to the mercy of the waves, and endeavoured to swim on shore before the boat was launched, so few reached the land in life, even with their bruises, this certainly was no small matter; and this service it appears she accomplished in such a manner as to have excited the admiration of Mr. LAING, as he speaks of it in the highest terms; but it so happened, that in taking on board her third cargo, a considerable confusion ensued, in consequence of a number of people (beyond her capacity to carry) having crowded and continuing to throng into her from different parts of the wreck; during this confusion, and when the boat, to the people on shore appeared to be actually going down, Mr. LAING observ. ing the danger to be apprehended if she continued longer alongside, and seeing the difficulty that had been experienced, and time lost, in getting on board the Captain of the
* As the exertions of Mr. Laing in the cause of humanity ought to be kept in lasting remembrance, we subjoin, with pleasure, the following certificate received by him on a former occasion.
"This is to certify the Directors of the Dunbar Life-Boat, that every assistance was rendered to His Majesty's sloop Cygnet, on the 16th of October, by the crew in her, under the direction of Mr. DAVID LAING, whose own exertions were very great; also, that every benefit would have been received from her if the wind had remained on the shore,
"Her appearance over the rocks on the preceding evening gave great hopes to all on board, who had been so long in expectation of being cashed to pieces. ! Given under my hand, on board of H. M. Sloop Cygnet, in Leith Ruads, this 26th day of October, 1808.
Edw. Dix, Capt."
frigate, who had fallen down in a very helpless slate, unfox. tunately quitted his important post of steersman, and rushed to his assistance, when the boat immediately broached to, and was overwhelmed in the watery abyss. Mr. Laing and some others contrived to get on board the frigate, and part of the crew got on shore, but what surprised the spectators most, was that the boat did not recover her former position, but continued bottom up.
This unhappy result, with the particulars attending it, having been communicated to Mr. GREATHEAD, we chall allow him, in answer, to exculpate himself, which he did as follows, in a letter addressed to Mr. Lang, dated
South-Shields, 2d February, 1S11. "My former correspondence on the subject of the LIFE-BO 1T has buen with Mr MILLER : He, in his last letter expresses a wish that it should be with you on this occasion. The day after I wrote to Mr MILIER, I had occasion to go to Durham. On my road I met with a severe accident: from a tall I dislocated my right wrist, and received some other very severe bruises, which prerented my af. tending to a correspondence, in which my feelings are much interested.
" In my printed directions for the management of the LIFE-BOAT, I have always most strongly rec immended the keeping or the best end on to the sea, and to lay as short a time alongside a wreck as possible; if she should then be filled by accident by a thwart sea, on rising to the next sea, she dislodges the water over her quarters; but in the case of her being overloaded, and kep: athwart the sea, it counteracts her grand principle of action. As never an instance occurred of a Life-Boat upsetting before, I speak from the experiments I have tried with a model, when : have put it into the water, bottom up; the next rise that came put it in a right position. Fro:n this, I am strongly impressed with the idea, thit, after the DUNBAR LIFE. B0T upset, she had drifterl immediately into a situation where there was not water, or wheie she did not receive the benefit or free rise of the next sea, which should have repłaced her; and such a gulph as Mr M. describes the boat had to pass to reach the wreck, is subject to strong refluxes in broken and heavy sea. In such a situation, I must protest against the possibility of the Boat recoiling. (from her extreme breadth, being 10 feet, and her shear upwards,) where the people could either land, or get again on board the wreck, and if the Boat got entangled under the wreck, on the rise of the sea, she would either tear away the part, or upset, or have some other dangerous mution to free herself I could wish a reference to Capt: Reed's evidence in the Parliamentary Report, and to the general tenor of my printed Letters.
"I certainly, Sır, think your opinion juster, arising from a cool retrospect, than that of by.standers, affected by alarm. Under fears
, they are very inadequate judges; they are apt to look upon an event of this kind in the worst light, without paying due regard to the cause; and you, with the best intentions, in the situation you were