HC Deb 24 June 1864 vol 176 cc256-7

said, he wished to ask the Secretary to the Admiralty, Whether it is true that the Transport which conveys the troops from Cape Coast Castle to the West Indies is likely to pass through a belt of 600 miles, in which only calms and light winds may be expected; and if the mean limit of the north-east trade wind in August is now considered to be in the 13th degree of north latitude?


, in reply, said, he was obliged to his hon. Friend for having put the Question, and he would state on what grounds the Admiralty had given their orders for the transport to proceed in the way she was about to do. Captain Richards, hydrographer to the Admiralty, in a paper dated the 21st of June, 1864, says with regard to the passage from Cape Coast to the West Indies— The middle-passage is simply the passage across the ocean from continent to continent, and, of course, any ship crossing from Cape Coast to the West Indies must make it. Either a sailing vessel, or a vessel towed by a steamer, or a steamer alone, leaving Cape Coast in July or Au- gust, bound for Barbadoes would steer to the southward for 300 or 400 miles, until she got into the south-east trade and out of the Guinea current, which sets along the coast of Africa to the eastward, at the rate of thirty miles a day. She would, if towed, get into the south-east trade in two or three days, and the equatorial current would then set her at the rate of thirty or forty miles a day to the westward. The south-east trade reaches to the northward of the equator in July, and she would make her westing with that wind, hauling to the north—west when she got into the meridian of 30 degrees W. (having run from 1,200 to 1,500 miles), by which course she might expect to pass through but a narrow belt of variable winds, and reach the north-east trade in 7 degrees or 8 degrees N., perhaps with no greater detention than one or two days. The distance between Cape Coast and Barbadoes is about 4,000 miles, and probably either a sailing vessel or a steamer would take a month to make it. A sailing ship like the transport employed should certainly make the passage as quickly as a paddle steamer. She would get into the south-east trade in three days from leaving Capt Coast, and once into that wind experience has always shown that sickness contracted on the Coast of Africa speedily disappears. And he says likewise— In the days of Horsburgh ships crossed the belt of variable winds too far to the eastward, and, consequently, were much delayed. Modern experience has shown that by crossing the line well to the westward no such delays are experienced.