A Voyage in the 'Sunbeam' Our Home on the Ocean for Eleven Months

#History #Expeditions & Discoveries
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Excerpt CHAPTER I. FAREWELL TO OLD ENGLAND. Masts, spires, and strand receding on the right,The glorious main expanding on the bow. At noon on July 1st, 1876, we said good-bye to the friends who had come to Chatham to see us off, and began the first stage of our voyage by steaming down to Sheerness, saluting our old friend the 'Duncan,' Admiral Chads's flagship, and passing through a perfect fleet of craft of all kinds. There was a fresh contrary wind, and the Channel was as disagreeable as usual under the circumstances. Next afternoon we were off Hastings, where we had intended to stop and dine and meet some friends; but, unfortunately the weather was not sufficiently favourable for us to land; so we made a long tack out to sea, and, in the evening, found ourselves once more near the land, off Beachy Head. While becalmed off Brighton, we all—children included—availed ourselves of the opportunity to go overboard and have our first swim, which we thoroughly enjoyed. We had steam up before ten, and again proceeded on our course. It was very hot, and sitting under the awning turned out to be the pleasantest occupation. The contrast between the weather of the two following days was very great, and afforded a forcible illustration of the uncertainties, perhaps the fascinations, of yachting. We steamed quietly on, past the 'Owers' lightship, and the crowds of yachts at Ryde, and dropped anchor off Cowes at six o'clock. On the morning of the 6th a light breeze sprang up, and enabled us to go through the Needles with sails up and funnel down, a performance of which all on board felt very proud, as many yachtsmen had pronounced it to be an impossibility for our vessel to beat out in so light a breeze. We were forty-three on board, all told, as will be seen by reference to the list I have given. We had with us, besides, two dogs, three birds, and a charming Persian kitten belonging to the baby. The kitten soon disappeared, and it was feared she must have gone overboard down the hawse pipe. There was a faint hope, however, that she might have been packed away with the new sails, which had been stowed in a great hurry the day before. Unhappily she was never found again, and the children were inconsolable until they discovered, at Torquay, an effective substitute for 'Lily.' The Channel was tolerably smooth outside the Isle of Wight, and during the afternoon we were able to hold on our course direct for Ushant. After midnight, however, the wind worked gradually round to the W.S.W., and blew directly in our teeth. A terribly heavy sea got up; and, as we were making little or no progress, it was decided to put in to Torquay or Dartmouth, and there await a change. We anchored in Torbay, about half a mile from the pier, at 8.30 a.m., and soon afterwards went ashore to bathe. We found, however, that the high rocks which surround the snug little bathing cove made the water as cold as ice. Nothing more having been heard of our poor little kitten, we can only conclude that she has gone overboard....
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