Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Chance

The Captains of the world hated Captain Paddy Gilroy of the American ship Chance, beyond reasons that the old tub was more profitable than merchantman, because every unhappy sailor jumping ship and starving could always find a home on the good nature of Paddy.

His crews were native, mongrel and sometimes white, but they all were devoted with love for the ship's Captain who governed his ship without governing any of them.

Paddy was cursed soundly and often for his asylum he afforded sailors from other ships. It became worse after a gale in which Paddy catching a whale ran into port at New Zealand while the other ships thought they could ride it out with whales alongside and soon found their ships shattered and whales cut away, with the smiling red faced, half bald Irishman has added to the stores of the Chance.

It was on one such following expedition that Paddy was out with three other whalers and weather had begun to blow. They had entered the Straights by New Zealand when the wind cut around north and blew the four ships directly at the breakers on shore.

Paddy was in the worst jeopardy as the Chance was already almost on shore about to be crushed. The other ships though with whales on their sides hung on desperately as they were not about to let Paddy out nerve them.
The gale continued and the ships drifted ever closer to the rocks and breakers which were now a mass of white mists like Niagara Falls.

Soon enough in a panic one ship cut her whale away and put up sails to attempt a break for safety. Sooner the other two ships cut their whales loose and put up sails to try and escape, but there was the Chance now almost on the rocks with whale in tow and now almost disappearing in the mists of the crashing sea on land.

The white crew was terrified on the Chance with only the natives trusting in their great sea Captain, as the Chance shuddered in the thunder of the breakers. No one could hear a thing in that din, and just as all had made their final screams in prayers in leaving this earth, the crew noted that the ship had settled in the tempest just a bit, and upon looking back, there stood Paddy beckoning to them in hand signals calmly, that it was time to trim the yards, and with that the Chance plunged through the breakers and settled like a duck in a pond upon calm waters before the crew could comprehend what had happened the anchor was dropped and all was calm.

The deck hummed under the sailor's feet as the storm raged around them, but in this one pocket which Paddy knew of and took his vessel, all was safe and secure.
Secure to cut up their whale and process the prize and as the weather cleared to just a gale, Paddy ordered out a kedge (an anchor) beyond the breakers, and the ship was warped out of her nest to the Straights again.

The story was not yet finished as one of the crew soon sounded that a whale was seen rolling among the breakers, one of the whales cut loose by the other ships.
Paddy sent his boats to secure the prize by a rope, and soon tied onto the Chance the whale was hauled off shore and put alongside the ship to be towed into port.

Captain Paddy Gilroy was the nothing of hero worship by looks in being an odd looking little man, but his seamanship was the best in the world, and no one could match him in the waters about New Zealand.

Yes while other ships were pulled apart in storms, Paddy would not only keep his prize, but afterwards take the prizes they had cut loose to save themselves.......all on a profitable tub of a boat, beyond her years and one which should have been collected on in insurance.

Paddy Gilroy Captain of the Chance and father of a tribe of half breed Islanders of his name.