86 TRANSATLANTIC PACKET STATION COMMISSION.
Rbm&ies to Queries.
9 ^Hagan, R.N.
Cork harbour is, as it is generally known to be, a most excellent one ; for the moment the Turbot bank is passed, smooth water and a safe anchorage are obtained.
It is also-easy of ingress and egress.
I consider Long Island Sound a very good port, for tempoÂ¬ rary purposes, such as for wind-hound vessels, also Crookhaven.
Valentia, being a blind harbour, is out of the question.
As to the others, they may be very good harbours, but the approach to them offers, in my humble judgment, insuperable objections as a packet station.
I have been in and out of Cork harbour hundreds of times in the night, in all weathers, it being a part of my duty to do so ; and I would as soon go out, in a steamer, at night as I would by day.
I have not been in and out of the others by night.
I certainly do consider, in common, I believe, with most seamen, that the west coast of Ireland is a very dangerous one in winter; the prevailing winds are from south-southÂ¬ west to west, and these bring thick-weather and a heavy sea, and it is of coarse a lee-shore 'with these winds.
Cork, most assuredly.
On approaching the coast I would take care to get into and then run down my longitude in the parallel of about 51Â°, until I was sure of being to the eastward of Cape Clear.
I should thereby .avoid
the currents and tides which are known to prevail on the dangerous coast between the Cape and the Blaskets.
I would be then indifferent as to the state of the weather or atmosphere; having passed the meridian of the Cape, I would haul up to the northward, make the Old Head of Kinsale, and run into Cork harbour in any weather.
Cape Clear, if clear weather ; the Old Plead of Kinsale, if thick..
Same as above.
I would not, under such circumstances, run for any port north or north-west of the Cape, nor do I think any prudent seaman would do so.
Most certainly, because the coast from the Cape to Cork is not a lee-shore with the prevailing winds ; and this being a most important feature in the case, I would beg most earnestly to impress the fact on the minds of the Commissioners.
If any accident hapÂ¬ pened, as I approached the coast I should not have a lee-shore to contend with; on the contrary, I should have ample sea-room ; but the coast being bold I should not be afraid (though disabled) of approaching it, and groping my way to Cork harbour, even in the thickest and worst weather.
I would say, emphatically, and without fear of being contradicted by any unprejuÂ¬ diced seaman, that so far from being prudent to run for any port north or north-west of the Cape under such circumstances, it would be an act of temerity, unless the weather was particularly clear and fine.
For Cork, without fear from thick or bad weather, for the several reasons already set forth.
Cork is open to the south-west; and, assuming that the wind would be from that quarter, I would be sure, so long as the ship steered, of being able to enter in safety.
Having thus presumed, without being asked, to reply to the Commissioners' queries, I consider it necessary to observe that I have no interest whatever in their decision.
I have the natural wish only that the port best adapted for the purpose should be chosen.
I studied the subject some years since, and wrote on it in the papers.
I then thought, as I now do, that Cork harbour possesses advantages over all its competitors.
I do not know what port on the other side has been fixed on.
1 cannot calculate, therefore, the actual savings in miles, nor do I care; but, supposing any port on the south or west coast is 200 miles nearer, say a day's run in fine weather, is this to be set up against the damages and difficulties involved in the homeward voyage ?
I say it ought not; for I affirm that the coast which is known to be approachable at all times, and the port which is known to be accessible in all weather, should be the one chosen, though the distance by water may not be shorter.
Vessels charged with Her Majesty's mail cannot, except under the most pressing circumstances, lay-to or slacken their speed.
On they must go.
The mercantile interest, public feeling, the public press, and national rivalship will be always ready to e\claim against a commander who was twenty-four hours after his time.
Hence he cannot exercise that prudence and precaution, which he otherwise would feel bound to exercise.
The Commissioners have therefore a serious responsibility thrown on them; it is not alone property, it is human life that is in their hands; and these considerations will, no doubt, occupy their serious attention.
The objections to a western port on the score of expense will not, I am sure, escape the attenÂ¬ tion of the authorities.
I take it for granted that the contract vessels will be employed, and not Pier Majesty's.
If so, it cannot be for*a moment supposed that any shipowner will offer his vessels on the same terms, from any of the ports named on the west coast, as he would do from Cork.
I think not; for I am satisfied that they would not be insured on the same favourable terms, and their passengers would not be so numerous.
This may be a matter of small consideration, but, when it is added to the other objections, it appears to me that it should not be without its weight.
Having expressed myself so confidently of Cork harbour, it may appear necessary to those whom I have the honour to address to state more distinctly my pretensions to advise on this important subject.
I beg therefore to repeat, in the first place, that I have no interest or friend to serve; and that I am alone actuated by a sense of public duty.
Entrusted with the command of Cork district for a period of eight years, and having performed my duties of inspection mostly by means of a small cutter allowed for that purpose, I must necessarily have made myself acquainted with its capabilities as a port of refuge, as well as qÂ£ general resort.
In the course of my service I have known disÂ¬ masted vessels frequently enter the harbour at night; even in thick and bad weather, I