"I went in at the hawse-hole and came out at the cabin window." It was thus that a certain North Country shipowner once summarised his career while addressing his fellow-townsmen on some public occasion now long past, and the sentence, giving forth the exact truth with all a sailor's delight in hyperbole, may well be taken to describe the earlier life-stages gone through by the author of this book. The experiences acquired in a field of operations, that includes all the seas and continents where commerce may move, live, and have its being, have enhanced in value and completed what came to him in his forecastle and quarter-deck times. He learned in his youth, from the lips of a race now extinct, what the nature and traditions of seamanship were before he and his contemporaries lived. He has seen that nature and those traditions change and die, whilst he and his generation came gradually under a new order of things, whose practical working he and they have tested in actual practice both on sea and land.
ow and had begun to unroll the chart which indicated the approaches to his destination, when he became horrorstruck, and rushing up the cabin stairs called out, "All hands on deck! Hard, a port!" The mate excitedly asked, "What's the matter?" "The matter?" said the infuriated and panic-stricken skipper, "Why the b----y rats have eaten Holland! There is nee Rotterdam for us, mister, this voyage." But in spite of a misfortune which seemed serious, the mate prevailed upon this distinguished person to allow him to have a share in the navigation, with the result that the vessel reached the haven to which she was bound without any mishap whatever.
It was not unusual for those old-time brigs, when bound to the North in ballast, to be blown off the land by strong westerly gales, and these occasions were dreaded by the coasting commander whose geographical knowledge was so limited that when he found himself drifting into the German Ocean beyond the sight of land, his resources became too heavi