Friday 1 January 2016

Partial Reproduction of Captain's log, HMS Braakel (National Archive - ADM51/1462)

Piraeus (Travels in Greece, R. Chandler, 1776)

Captain George Clarke's log of the British man-of-war, Braakel, which ran aground entering Piraeus harbour on December 23, 1802.

[Captain Clarke was the brother of the mineralogist and fierce critic of Lord Elgin, Edward Daniel Clarke].
"I have already mentioned the dangerous Navigation of the Archipelago, and it is considerably increased as you advance towards Porto Leone; particularly if the Ship is of any great burden. At the close of the year 1802, the Braakel of 54 guns, commanded by my brother Capt. George Clarke, was sent on this hazardous service: which he accomplished at the most imminent risk—the following extract from his Letter will illustrate the danger which Falconer so well describes:

"From the ignorance of the Pilot, the Braakel, when in stays, struck at midnight on a point of land, that forms the entrance of the harbour of Porto Leone, eight miles from the town of ATHENS. I contrived to land a quantity of Provisions on the Rocks, and was obliged to order half the guns to be hove overboard; at the same time a Sheet Anchor, and Cable, were got out astern to heave the Ship off, which we in vain attempted for many hours: at length, to our great joy, being assisted by the Wind coming strong right off the Land, we swung round off, and rode stern to wind by the above mentioned Anchor. In about an hour the Weather changed; the Wind shifted, and placed the Ship with a strong Gale, and heavy Sea, close to the Shore. The Cable was instantly cut, and we made sail to get round the northern extremity of the point; when the Pilot, again mistaking the Land, we anchored in a wrong position, yet clear of the Rocks; until the wind shifting, placed the Ship in the middle of a second dark stormy Night. We came slap on shore, along-side the Rocks: fortunately the Ship lay tolerably easy, being assisted by the Anchor; which owing to the Wind shifting, brought it well out on the starboard Bow. Day-break at length appeared, and the Gale shifted again: hove on the Anchor, and succeeded in getting her off after a few hard knocks, the loss of a little Copper, and part of the false Keel. Made sail again, weathered our danger, and anchored for want of Wind; when, a breeze springing up, we got safe into Porto Leone. In performing this we lost the Sheet Anchor, the Stream, and the Kedge. On leaving this Harbour we were driven back three times; when I bore up for Port. Oliver, in the Island of METELIN, where there is an Harbour beyond description safe, and spacious. I do not think this is generally known; or what is more, that the Turks build Frigates there; one of 32 guns was at this time on the stocks." G. C.
(The Shipwreck, a Poem, Wm. Falconer, ed. J.S.Clarke (1806) pp.207-208)

December 23, 1802 Port Lyon at noon __ distance 2 or 3 miles. [he gives description of various bearings and distances]. 14 past 2 the ship struck the ground in __, called all hands, put launch, fired guns for assistance, took out a stream anchor astern, hove upon it and broke the anchor close to the stock, got some of the guns aft. Carried out a kedge with a hauser hove upon it but to no purpose it coming home (?) sent a boat onshore for assistance. At 10 came alongside a vessel and a party of men from the shore. Took up the sheet anchor at astern, hove upon it but could not move her. At noon light breezes and cloudy. People employed starting water and hoisting of provisions and sending them onshore and getting the guns aft to lighten her forward being afloat abaft (?).

December 24, 1802 (ADM51/1462 - Braakel) Friday, light breeze and cloudy. People employed land provisions ahead of the ship, at sunset fresh breeze and squally. Threw overboard 16 guns and several cask of provisions. At 1 a.m. a heavy squall from the northward swang off the shore and the sheet anchor bro’ us up f_ the sails slipped the sheet cable and hoisted up __ stay sail. The wind shifting to the southward and blowing strong. Let go the small bower in 20 __ __ a cable when we again took the __ and swinging with our broadside to the rocks. At daylight light breeze with a heavy swell from SE hove up the small bower and with help of the swell got up anchor and towed into prt piarus [sic] at noon. Came to with the small bower in 6 fathoms water. Ran from the ship the pilot we took in at Smyrna to pilot us to Athens.

December 25, 1802 Braakel at anchor in Piraeus.

December 28, 1802 Tuesday "...[getting ship] ready for getting cases of antiquities of Lord Elgin."

December 29, 1802 Wednesday "...rigged a raft to take onboard the cases of stone. Towed the raft out of the harbour and weighted with sheet anchor."

December 30, 1802 Thursday "...Received onboard several cases employed stowing them away on the lower deck."

December 31, 1802 Friday "...3 cases employed stowing them away in the hold.

January 4, 1803 Tuesday, "more cases, employed stowing them away. Up anchor and weighted further up the harbour. Came to in 4 ½ __ Moored."

January 5, 1803 Wednesday "4 cases stowing them away in hold."

January 6, 1803 Thursday "Employed as yesterday, 2 cases got them on the lower deck."

January 7, 1803 Friday "Employed as above."

January 8, 1803 Saturday “…received two small cases…”

January 10, 1803 “sent the launch and cutters to endeavour to get the guns, but it coming on to blow hard, was obliged to desist.”

January 11, 1803 “stowed the sheet anchor. Towed out of harbour the raft and weigh _ pounders.”

January 12, 1803 “towed the raft in and got onboard the 6 pounders.”

January 15, 1803 Saturday, fired a salute of 11 guns as the English consul coming onboard. Towed the raft out and weighed two 12 pounders.”

January 17, 1803 weighed three 12 pounders & one six.

January 18, 1803 hoisted guns in. Punished John Hardman with 60 lashes and James Barnes with 24 lashes, each for theft.

January 19, 1803 weighed three 12 pounders. Got in three guns and towed the raft out.

January 25, 1803 was lying outside the Piraeus.

January 25, 1803 Onboard 14 (or six) cases of Antiquities. Employed hoisting them in.

January 26, 1803 Employed as yesterday.

February 2, 1803 at 11 am. sailed HMS Diana (Elgin to Malta).

February 4, 1803 Made sail out of Port Piarus [sic], at 10 punished James Barnes with 36 lashes for theft.

The Braakel spent the rest of the year in the Aegean mooring at Martalena, Smyrna, Constantinople and was in Valletta harbour from December 22, 1803 until January 25, 1804.

Elgin's booty, having spent almost a year as ballast, was transferred to the Prevoyante and on to England.

It is not unreasonable to assume all costs for transportation were borne by the Royal Navy.