Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Landing adventures at Natal 1871

The Beethoven’s machinery (cargo) is not yet landed. The weather has been unfavourable, and in consequence, the steamer is not to sail tomorrow as originally intended; her mails are postponed to Monday. The swell outside has been very heavy. The Natal was to have taken a supplementary mail, which was advertised to close the morning after the regular mail at five o’clock, and two passengers trusted to get on board by some boat – unfortunately as the morning turned out rough there could be no communication. Mr MOHR, the German explorer*, is one of the two unfortunates. It is particularly annoying to him, as his luggage, containing the results of his trip, is parted from him, and consequently in some danger of being lost. The Beethoven leaving so soon after the mail steamer, will enable him to rejoin without much loss of time.

There was such a heavy swell on part of the time that the two steamers were lying outside as to make the Natal roll almost gunwales under and shipping water over the side …The Beethoven, from her superior size, although also very uncomfortable, did not roll so heavily. I heard that in the process of shipping cargo, a chain-hook swinging about in the air struck one of the Natal’s men with such force in the chest that he died shortly after. It will be a wonder if the boiler or pan on board the Beethoven which they intend trying to unship, will get successfully on shore without accident.

The boatmen have had experience of landing machinery from outside lately. The Margaret Wilkie although she came inside to unload the most unwieldy portions of her cargo, did unload some large pieces from outside and the boatmen got so terrified that they were like to decline going out any more to her. They used to have to flee for their lives sometimes, when some of the heavy pieces of machinery were swinging about in mid air, pendulum like, above their heads. The landing of the Beethoven’s heavy boiler and pan is a problem which has yet to be wrought out and as yet except at the first, they have not had favourable weather for it.

An intending passenger by the Natal has had the courage to try the point, whether passengers, embarking or disembarking, must pay the boatmen, or whether the passage-money paid does not entitle him to be placed on board and landed at the ship’s expense. Many passengers have objected to the charge, but in the hurry and anxiety of leaving and arriving, they have not had the courage or opportunity to stand out against it, and this time one has, although his luggage was already on board.

The Natal took a box of diamonds away, the property of the agents Messrs Escombe, Gladstone & Co, value some £1,500 or £1,800. The Beethoven takes away from the Natal Bank the largest shipment of diamonds that has yet left the colony - insured for £10 000, but various estimated by the owners to be worth £25,000 to £40,000. Among them is the largest South African diamond yet found, Lucas’s 107 carat gem. I think there are not a dozen larger diamonds in the world.

Mr COODE’s report on the Harbour Works is carefully conned here. Mr MILNE’s pertinent reply to congratulations on its agreement with his works and plans is “Aye, but you have spent your money.” The bitterness of the disappointment is, no doubt, after this lapse of time, past to him. The captain of the Beethoven expressed astonishment when he saw the Breakwaters, at their being erected nearly a mile from the entrance, as anyone with common sense but perhaps a skilled engineer, would do; strange how too much elaboration of the senses seem sometimes to dull what is called the balance of the senses, common sense ...

Mr BAINES, the explorer of the interior, is in town just now. We hope to hear soon of his giving the promised lecture. The drawings, and water-colour sketches of up-country scenes, are interesting in the extreme; they would form invaluable illustrations to a book of his travels. Perhaps they may appear in that form some day.
 
[Source: The Natal Witness 28 Feb 1871]
 
See passenger list of the Beethoven at www.genealogyworld.net/rose/maritime/beethoven.html



*Edouard Mohr, the German explorer, visited the Victoria Falls in
1869. He was returning from this trip with various trophies and specimens he had collected,
when he tried to board the ship Natal, as described in the above press report.

No comments: