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a more burdensome character, and whose bodies are encumbered with clothing, have, without exception, yiven preference to the oar, as an instrument of greater power, and worked with more convenience.
And, truly, there is no more beautiful instrument than an oar, when we consider its simplicity, the ease with which it is worked; and the readiness with which its position is accommodated to the ever-varying motion of the boat and the sea's surface. It has often been proposedindeed, it is a favourite notion with theorists —to propel lifeboats by rotary paddle-wheels and screws, such as those of steamers; but the proposition is altogether an impracticable one, and its trial could only result in failure. Where great power and velocity of motion can be applied, as by steam, undoubtedly the rotary form is the most convenient mode through wbich to apply it, and accordingly, both screws and paddle-wheels work advantageously, until the rolling or pitching motion of a sbip becomes very violent, when great waste of power ensues ; for instance, when a ship rolls so deeply that the paddles are alternately too deeply immersed, and spinning round in the air ; or if a screw ship, when she pitches so much that the screw is raised to the water's surface, or lifted above it. When, therefore, it is considered how much more violent is the motion of a boat in a heavy broken sea than that of a ship, it will be readily conceived that a fixed machine, such as a wheel or screw, even if it could be worked on so small a scale by steam power, would do so at a still greater disadvantage. Whereas the oar, obedient to the quick eye and ready arm of the rower varies its position with every motion of the boat or wave, and in skilful hands is always working at
“ full power.”
But there is another point of importance not to be lost sight of. A paddle-wheel or screw cannot be worked in a lifeboat by steam power, but must be so by means of a crank worked by hand. Now it is known to everyone that the muscles of the human body are strengthened by use, and that, therefore, persons engaged in any particular bodily labour have those muscles especially strengthened that are constantly brought into play.
Thus, a sailor would stand little chance in a walking match with a professional pedestrian ; whilst the latter would as vainly attempt to overtake the former in a race over his ship’s mast-head. It follows then, tbat, apart from its other advantages, the oar is possessed of tbis especial one, that is in daily use by the only class of men on the coasts who are available to form the lifeboats crew, viz., the bardy race of fishermen and boatmen who earn their daily bread on our shores.
An oar being, then, the only instrument by which a lifeboat can be propelled, too much care cannot be bestowed on it. Its size, weight, length, material, width of blade, balance, mode of attachment to the gunwale; its height above the water, and above the thwart on which the rower is seated, and the distance of the thwarts and oars apart, are all points of much importance on which the speed of the boat, or its power to make way against a head-sea, much depend.
Fir oars have always been considered the most desirable for lifeboats, as they do not bend so much as ash oars, and as they float so much lighter in the water, and will therefore better support any persons in it in the event of accident. Experiments have been repeatedly made by the National Lifeboat Institution to test the relative strength of oars, when it was ascertained that an oar made from a good white Norway batten, or from a white Baltic spar, will bear as great a strain as any other, each being as free of knots as possible.
The length of an oar must of course be proportional to the width of the boat, and it should be so poised on the gunwale that the rower can raise or depress it or move it in any direction with the smallest effort. An oar should be not less than five inches wide in the blade, or it will expose so small a surface to the water as to cut through it, and so work on a too yielding fulcrum, with comparative loss of power.
The height above the thwarts, of the thowl or rowlock in which the oar works on the gunwale, should be sufficient to enable the rower to lift the blade well above the waves by depressing the loom or handle; but, on the other hand, it must not be so high as to require him to raise his arms above the level of his chest in rowing, in which case he will row with much less force, and be much sooner fatigued. A height of eight inches from the thwarts to the oar on the gunwale, will be found a suitable average.
Again the mode of confining the oar to the gunwale of the boat is of much consequence. The most common modes, in ordinary boats, are rowlocks and double pins, between which the oar works; but as the oar is liable to jamb in the rowlock or between the pins, when rowing in a rough sea, and thereby to get broken, or damage the gunwale, the oars of lifeboats have generally been worked in a rope grummet or ring, over a single iron thowl-pin ; a further advantage of this plan being that it enables the oars to lie along the outside of the boat when not in use, and thus saves the necessity of unshipping them and getting them in board on going alongside a wreck, which is a great advantage.
A new description of swivel-crutch, intended as a substitute for a grummet, has recently been planned for the National Institution's Lifeboats, by its Inspector, Capt. J. R. Ward, R.N., which is found to bave the advantages of the grummet, and to be more convenient in some respects.
As it will be found to be a very useful kind of crutch for general use in boats, we subjoin a sketch of it.
Figure 1, represents the inside of a boat's gunwale, with a section of the var within the crutch, the latter supported on the gunwale in the position in which it remains whilst the oar is in use; a, is an ordinary iron thowl-pin; b, the crutch, also of galvanized iron, which revolves round the thowl as an axis ; C, a clamp or chock, which receives the lower end of the thowl ; d, a section of the oar ; e, a short lanyard with a running eye, which is slipped over the head of the thowl whenever the oar is required to hang over the side ; f, the gunwale.
Figure 2, shows the oar when let go by the rower, and allowed to hang alongside outside the gunwale': a, the thowl; b. the crutch ; c, the leathering on the oar, to prevent chafe; d, the oar, as bung alongside; e, the lanyard spliced round the oar, below the leathering and nailed on to prevent its slipping round or along the oar; f, the gunwale.
The principle advantage of the swivel-crutches over grummets is, that they are of a more durable character, are fixtures, and so not liable to be mislaid or lost, and retain always the sanie size and shape, whereas a grummet is liable to stretch by use, when the oar will work too loosely in it.
In consequence of the occasional breaking of oars in the lifeboats, the National Lifeboat Institution has often called the attention of the coxswains of its boats to the importance of a sufficient number of spare ones being always carried in the boats when åfloat, either on service or for quarterly exercise.
It appears that not less than four spare oars are to be carried in the double-banked boats, or less than three in the single-banked ones; and that they are always to be lashed to the thwarts or central batten, so that they cannot be washed overboard, or be lost in the event of a boat being upset.
RECOLLECTIONS OF SANDHURST.
BY AN OLD CADET.
CHAPTER VI. Blackwater Fair, to which as I have already stated we were all looking forward in anticipation of some excitement to break into the dreary life we had been leading lately, is usually held during the first week in November and is, besides being a Fair in the ordinary sense of the word, a Cattle Fair. For a week or so previously therefore, the fields around Blackwater are gradually filled with cattle brought in to be sold; and as soon as they began to arrive, the cadets began to amuse themselves by visiting the fields where their scarlet coats soon roused the ire of bulls of even the least quarrelsome dispositions.
It was certainly a comfort to have something which, at this dull season, promised fun at least to talk about and prepare for. Indeed there was a good deal of preparation made for it, the most noticeable perhaps being the assortment of sticks which gradually found their way into college. Everyone who intended paying a visit to Blackwater on the present occasion, seemed to feel it his duty to secure a stick of the most formidable proportions, in the same way that Irishmen wonld have armed themselves prior to visiting Donnybrook many years ago. Bludgeons of the most villainous aspect were eagerly purchased at prices which were absolutely ruinous, compared to the amounts received on pay-night by those gentlemen cadets who bought them. The numbers on the caps too were, notwithstanding previous orders and punishment, again prepared for removal at a moment's notice, and a degree of still, orderly activity prevailed from which it might have been augured by an attentive observer accustomed to the ways of cadets, that some piece of mischief was concocting ; but as no one appeared inclined to notice anything of the kind, things were allowed to take their natural course.
It was not only by those who intended going to Blackwater that the approach of the Fair was regarded with interest, for many who never intended to go near it looked forward to it far more impatiently than those who did, and speculated perhaps on its doing them a good turn in the way of promotion. You might for instance hear it said in reply to a remark to the effect that so-and-so would probably be soon made a corporal. “Oh yes, Blackwater Fair will give it to him,"and the assertion would soon after become sadly though surely fulfilled. Blackwater Fair—the very name is redolent to cadets past and present of reduction from superior grades to “poor private," of rustication, removal, and dismissal, and many a poor fellow may still regret its very existence when the result of a folly committed consequent on irresistible temptation is brought home to him. The Fair was held within a mile of the college, and the most stringent orders were always issued forbidding all cadets to go within a certain distance of the spot, in fact Blackwater itself and some of the adjacent ground was before the event put “out of bounds” until further orders; but still the cadets had their liberty as usual, and were free to wander where they chose by running the risk of being reported if they ventured into the proclaimed district and were seen by the sergeants stationed there. Now anyone would naturally think that had the authorities really desired to prevent the presence of cadels at Blackwater, they might easily have taken effective measures for the fulfillment of that object by confining them to college for instance, or if such a measure be considered harsh, by ordering a general parade after dinner and marching the "column" out for a skirmish on the heath in the opposite direction. But no such steps were ever taken or apparently dreamt of, and although the cadets were told, very impressively certainly, not to go, yet just immediately afterwards they found themselves personally at perfect liberty to go or not as they thought proper, and enjoy the fun and frolic of a fair held in a dull country place at a dull time of year, and as they considered the order forbidding their visit a gross piece of injustice, and believed there was no fair reason why they should be debarred from the pleasure of going to Blackwater on this important occasion, it was determined by the majority of those to whom this order was addressed to act as if it had never been issued. A sort of secret comınittee was therefore established. This self-organised body took upon it the duty of ascertaining and