The Ashburton, Captain King, arrived on Tuesday from London, having made the passage in 105 days ; she brings no report of interest, not having seen any vessels since leaving the land. The following account of the narrow escape the vessel had on her homeward passage last voyage will be read with interest.
She left Sydney with a cargo of wool, timber, &c., crew and passengers amounting to about eighty souls. After a moderate fine passage she reached latitude 43 ° 42 ' N., longitude 26° 56' W., up to which there was no appearance of heat from the cargo, nor yet of smoke, but a strong stench was experienced six or seven days previous, although no particular attention was paid to it beyond it being very disagreeable, and a survey taken of the hold, so far as possible. On the ninth day of July the stench became much worse and a light smoke was to be seen passing up out of the hatchways. On the following morning, Monday, we had a change of weather, the wind was N.N.E., strong, with rain; the stench became very strong, and after daylight the smoke became very thick, so much so that the passengers could no longer remain below deck. It was now very evident that the ship was on fire. The hatches were all battened down and every aperture whereby air could be conveyed to the hold was closed, the fire engine got ready, the boats all properly equipped and each person allotted to his boat, and everything prepared for the worst. It would be impossible to describe the awful scene of excitement that now took place - everyone on deck with their baggage ready to go (they knew not where) in the boats ; but about noon it began to calm a little, and Captain King called all the gentlemen passengers and officers of the ship together and proposed breaking out the cargo in search of the fire, and called on all to assist and keep good order while the crew were at work. The courses were hauled up, the small sails stowed, and the mainyard laid to the mast, and the hatches opened, when all hands commenced working coolly and steadily, a number of empty water casks and some lumber were thrown overboard to make room for stowing the wool on deck as it came up. Whilst the men were working the stench and smoke was almost unsupportable, and after getting on deck about 200 bales of wool they reached the fire under the lower deck near the pump well, the bales were drawn out and hoisted on deck and overboard a solid mass of fire ; further search was made, but, fortunately, all danger was removed, and before dark that night all the wool was stowed away below and everything in its place. The ship made all sail, steering her course, and every one on board relieved from the dreadful thoughts of fire at sea.
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