Burning of the Windsor Forest 1864

Liverpool Mercury , Friday, March 4, 1864

The Windsor Forest, from Cardiff to Bombay was burnt on the 18th January.

Destruction of an American ship by fire

Information has been received of the loss by fire of the well known American ship Windsor Forest while on her passage hence to Bombay. No particulars are given further than she was burnt on the 18th January. She was a vessel of 1226 tons, built in Bath. U.S, and was but nine years old. She left this port on December 8th last for Cardiff, and after taking in a full cargo of coals sailed for her destination on the 23rd.

March 5, 1864

Owned by John MALCOLMSON, merchant this town, both ship and fright were fully insured.

Liverpool Mercury, Friday, March 11, 1864

The ship Windsor Forest, safety of the crew

The Aino, which has arrived at Queenstown from Callao reports having on 25th Jan last, in lat 5.20 N, lon 28 W, rescued from the boats, the crew, 25 in number of the ship Windsor Forest of this port, which vessel, was previously reported, was burned at sea on a voyage from Cardiff to Bombay. Before being picked up the crew had been 6days in their boats. The Aino put six of them on a French barque bound for Nantes, five in a Dutch schooner bound for Amsterdam, and landed the remaining 14 at Queenstown.

Liverpool Mercury, Tuesday, March 22, 1864

Fire at sea and the sufferings of a ship's crew

The Liverpool ship Windsor Forest, Capt John CURTIS, was burnt at sea on the 18th January last, in lat 12. 28 N. long 26 W. The crew took to the boats and the Captain thus describes the sufferings which he and his companions underwent :-

"Daylight came and with it no gleam of hope of sail, I saw no other course to pursue but to start for the line, which was 720 miles off. So with two small-boat sails, with oars for masts, I took the other three in tow and steered to the south in the following order, viz, my boat loading with sail, 2nd mate's lifeboat next, Flag, Capt EVANS, small boat next, and J. DREW last in lifeboat No 2. It was a short time before a blanket was up in one, and then another, until we got agoing, 2 or 3 mph. Our two lifeboats were built in Liverpool and very nearly worthless. My other two were 22ft boats and in fine order. It was so ordered in the short time to prepare, that we got a little of everything we needed, for amongst the rest we found three bolts of light canvas, with which the sailmaker and crew went to work and made small sails, so that the oars we had for masts could bear them, and after I had towed them for two days, I had the pleasure of seeing everyone as well able to get along as myself, and just as they were ready to cast off, the wind breezed up, and the sea made it so that it would have been impossible to tow them two hours longer. That night we lost the 2nd mate's boat, but found her after a few hours search and proceeded south again, looking at our little stock of water and feeling the hot sun.

All went well until the 24th, when the joyful sound of "Sail ho" thrilled through every heart, the wind and sea increasing. All was the excitement for the chase, and she was a fine large ship steering to the northward. But we could not get near enough to her for them to see us, so we sat with heavy hearts and saw her pass us, and then I kept away and picked up my other boats. On finding them I found the bottom of lifeboat No 1, giving out, and she was half full of water. It was a sad sight to us all, for our little boats were struggling for life. I asked the 2nd officer if he thought he could keep her up until daylight hoping it would moderate. To this his answer was, "If you say so, I will try it. I took another look and thought it was madness to attempt it, and trusting in the Almighty, I divided the men and the provisions and water, which was reduced to a 5gal jar, amongst the remaining three boats. Then all eyes were turned to the windward watching, and all looks were getting more anxious as the two small boats were shipping a good deal of water, got canvas up around the weather side, and felt a little more secure, when J. DREW in lifeboat No 2, came alongside and said his boat was failing fast. Then, for the first time I thought our fate was sealed, but as I told them that I never would leave them, I made up my mind if she went, to take the nine into the two remaining boats and all go together. I told him, I would shorten sail, and keep close to him during the night, and he must endeavour to keep her up until daylight. Day came, but no sail. Lifeboat keeping just above water, sea heavy, and trades strong. That morning every face told the expected tale, for the two small boats could not have lived one hour after we had taken DREW'S crew on board, for they were just living then, sea after sea coming into them.

Monday morning came at last, showing us the wind the same and the sea no better. Heavy hearts, and thoughts of dear ones and friends far away, came over us all. DREW said his boat could not hold out many hours longer, and my little stock of water through the night got salt water into it, and that was very bad. Each one took a piece of bread and ate it, but it was hard work with our mouths dry, we could not feel any moisture in them. When every heart was the heaviest, and no other alternative appeared to be before us, but death, the joyful sound of "Sail ho!" was given by the steward, and all strained their eyes to see which way she was going, but she was steering right for me. It was then you could hear the heartfelt, "Thank God" go up from everyone's lips.

She sees the sailmaker's boat first, and went slow to him, and when he got alongside his boat was half full of water. I came next, and it proved to be the Finland brig, Aino of Gurthwad, Capt WYBERG, who received us with all the kindness possible for a man to show and feel, and offered everything he had for us to wear, as there was nothing saved from my cabin, I not having a pair of shoes to my feet, and those who did save anything had to throw it overboard to lighten the boats. We picked up in lat 5. 20 N and 28 W. Had sailed 490miles, a south-by-west-half-west course, and were in the boats for six days

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