Capt Halley adviseth of his being leaky

Those following Halley on twitter will have read his recent log entries about the ship being leaky and the sand ballast clogging the hand pumps. On November 1, Halley was able to dispatch a letter to the Admiralty, explaining these problems and requesting remedial action.

The letter is addressed to the Secretary to the Admiralty, Josiah Burchett, and was sent from Portland Road (note “Lopps” is Halley’s abbreviation for Lordships):


Halley’s letter to Josiah Burchett dated 1 Nov 1698 (© National Archives (£), ADM 1/1871)

Honoured Sr

Last Saturday afternoon I past through the Downs to the Westwards, without anchoring, being unwilling to loose the opportunity of a fair wind; the next day it blew so hard as to put us by our Topsails, and yesterday being gott the length of Portland the Wind came up at West and W.S.W. which obliged us to putt in here. The Pink proves an excellent Sea boat in bad Weather, and sails reasonably well Large, but goes to windward but indifferently, which perhaps may be amended by finding her trimm. During the bad weather on Sunday, her streining opened some leaks which are considerable for a new shipp, and have discovered an evill wee did not foresee; for having only hand pumps, and our ballast being Sand, the bilge water with the motion of the shipp brings the Sand to the pumps and choaks them, and we have pumpt up abundance of Sand with the Water, which galls and wears the pumps. Wherefore my Officers have remonstrated the necessity of shifting the ballast for shingle as also of caulking her upper works, which wee find very leaky. I therfore humbly entreat that their Lopps please to send their Order to the Docks at Portsmouth and Plymouth, that if the Paramour pink come in there, they with all possible dispatch cause her ballast to be shifted for Shingle, and the vessell brought on the Wey’s, and searcht and caulked where need shall require. I hope two or three days may suffice for all we have to do.

I am Your most obedient Servt

Edm. Halley


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