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The Secret of the Sands The "Water Lily" and her Crew   By: (1851-1922)

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The Secret of the Sands The "Water Lily" and her Crew By Harry Collingwood Published by Griffith and Farran, London. This edition dated 1879.


The attention of the public has been directed, on more than one occasion within the last few years, to voyages of a more or less lengthy character, undertaken in craft of very small tonnage; and a great deal has been said and written concerning the foolhardiness of such undertakings. This, however, is more apparent than real, though much must necessarily depend, in such voyages, on the adventurer's skill as a seaman and his nerve and self possession in critical moments. Almost, if not quite, as much will also depend upon the design, construction, and equipment of the craft in which such an adventure is undertaken; but where all these conditions are favourable, the actual danger may be reduced in quite a surprising degree.

Such voyages, however, if of any considerable length, are sure to abound in adventure; and, in selecting one as the groundwork of my story, it has been my aim to endeavour at once to make it interesting and readable to those who have a liking for the sea and for nautical adventure, and to convey a few useful hints (gathered from my own experience) respecting the design and management of small craft, and of the precautions which are so absolutely necessary in the navigating of them.

But it must be distinctly understood that, in selecting this subject, I have had no intention whatever of advocating, or recommending, such voyages, or of underrating the risks which, under the most favourable circumstances, they involve; my purpose has simply been to combine a little information with, I hope, a great deal of interest and amusement; and if my book serves but to while pleasantly away an idle hour or two for the general reader, or conveys a scrap of useful information to the young yachtsman, that purpose will be fully accomplished.

Harry Collingwood.

October , 1878.

Volume One, Chapter I.


It was the last week in the month of November, 18 , when the event occurred which proved to be the primum mobile of the following adventures.

The weather, for some days previous, had been unusually boisterous for the time of year, and had culminated, on the morning on which my story opens, in a "November gale" from the south west, exceeding in violence any previous gale within the memory of "the oldest inhabitant" of the locality. This is saying a great deal, for I was at the time living in Weymouth, a most delightful summer resort, where, however, the feelings are likely to be more or less harrowed every winter by fearful wrecks on the far famed and much dreaded Chesil Beach, which connects the mis named island of Portland with the mainland.

We had dined, as usual, at the primitive hour of one o'clock; and with Bob Trunnion about whom I shall have more to say anon I had turned out under the verandah to enjoy our post prandial smoke, according to invariable usage. My sister Ada would not permit us the indulgence of that luxury indoors, and no conceivable disturbance of the elements could compel us to forego it altogether.

We were pacing the verandah side by side, quarter deck fashion, with our hands behind our backs and our weeds between our teeth, making an occasional remark about the weather as the sheeted rain swept past us, and the trees in the distance and the leaf denuded shrubs in the garden bowed before the fury of the blast, when a coastguardman, whom I had occasionally encountered and spoken to in my rambles, came running past, enveloped in oilskins and topped by a sou' wester.

As he went by, seeing us, he shouted, "Ship coming ashore in the West Bay, sir!" and was the next minute at the bottom of the hill, en route , as fast as his legs could carry him, for the town.

Our house was situated in a pleasant suburb called Rodwell; the high road which passed our door led direct to the Smallmouth Sands, at the farther extremity of which was the Chesil Beach; and we conjectured that the coastguardman had come from the beach along this road to give notice to the chief officer stationed in the town... Continue reading book >>

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