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December 4-5, 1850

The 4th December (Wednesday) in Lat. 27 56′ N. Long 121 59′ E. we passed an English War Steamer. We with the N. E. Monsoon were running off before the Wind, whilst the Sphinx (for such I found from the signal book to be her name) with all her yards and topmasts down was steaming her might against the Wind one moment rising over the waves so that her paddle box wheels were nearly out of the water, at another burying herself deep in the sea with the white spray dashing over her entire hull. Who is there who does not admire the beautiful exciting sight of beholding a ship in a rough Sea ploughing her way through the “Wine Coloured deep”? I have often thought that amidst all My Father’s Pictures (upwards of Two hundred in the house) of Italian Madonnas, French Landscapes &c, &c, the one which has always pleased me most was the “Margaret Hastings” under topsails beating up against the Sea & a large Vessel in the background running before the Wind. This picture was (when I left home) in My Father’s dining room over the door.–A Great number of fishing Junks were in all directions & it was really surprising to see with what skill the little fishing boats in that heavy sea would avoid the waves merely with a skull. Mac. told me that in Madras his Barracks were near the beach, the Madras surff so Celebrated over the World, said he, was not much higher than the spray which these little San-pans avoided so well. –The seins or lines were stretched along the Sea their places being marked by branches of bamboo. I had often heard that the Fuhkein Men were daring fishermen but never would have dreamt that a small San-pan with three men would survive one moment so great a Sea as the one in which we then were.

Our good weather was not at an end for in the China Sea bright days do not last long. In Lat. 23 17′ N. Long 118 54′ E. we had very bad weather. Here towards the South of Formosa as we opened the Bashee Passage between Formosa & Luzon Veins of Chow Chow Water occasioned by Contrary Currents met us in all directions. In vain would Martinez run the Brig before the Wind, Contrary Waves would dash her on her side as if never to rise again.–Our Fore Mast was Cracked and began to give way near the deck besides the Water was gaining on the pumps.–