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SA CASTAWAYS ATE PENGUINS AND GRUBS

The sinking of the ketch Miss Evelyn . . . the dreary, despairing weeks on a barren island when they had to eat penguin meat and grubs to keep themselves alive . . . these are the highlights of the story of castaway Alexander Hay, continued from page 1. Days of misery on barren isle

BY ALEXANDER HAY

We sailed out of Port Adelaide on the lovely evening of Friday, August 12, hoping to make Beachport by Sunday. But we made little     progress, and it was not until sundown on the Monday that we sighted the coast between Robe and Beachport.

IT wa» tw rJanflrrotiii to at* ?* tpmpt to ro in with a /rrsh so»ifh-ra«f-»rly blowing and a strong am running, *o we decided to hove to until morning. But Beachport was not for us. The wind went round to the north and it was so risky I had no option but to run down the coast towards Port Fairy. We were being blown a long way to the south, and the seas were getting higher every minute. We saw a light which we guessed was on King Island. By Thursday seas were breaking very badly over the boat. I tried to take in the jib, but it got away from me and split my left hand rather badly.

Our luck hadn't changed by Friday. Suddenly there was a splintering and crashing, and the bowsprit broke off short, littering the deck with blocks, splinters of wood, and a tangle of rope and wire. A tremendous squall from the west came up, the masthead light fell and cut open my face. perhaps now I can let my Journal take over this account: Friday, August 19 It was a foul night with icy rale beating down. The stump of the mainmast was still reasonably firmly stayed on, but the stump of the mizzen mast was wobbling about precariously. I secured It as firmly as possible with rope halliards, to await the possi bility of repairs in daylight.

The wind continued to rinf. and a change of wind confuted the sea Into a maelstrom. The Miss Evelyn plunged madly about, with the wreck of the bowsprit at one end and the dangling mlezen Ball at the other. Just before daylight, when I was trying to reset the staysail to get the ship under command again, there came a sudden crash at the after end of the ship. The remains ot the mizzen mast went clean overboard with a great splintering and upheav ing of the deck, uprooting the bilge pump, and allowing the water on deck to pour down on top of the engine. There seemed little we could do except say our prayers.

'Bailed for lives'

WjTITH the pump damaged, ' there was nothing for it but to bail with the bucket. There was 19 in. of water in the engine room in spite of all I did to plug the deck. Thelma had to help me by hauling the buckets through the trapdoor and emptying them overboard. I was getting very tired. My damaged hand was turning green and my face was very swollen. Sunday, August 21 Last night the fates played a grim jest. With the Southerly coming In and the wind moderating, I turned in below for my first sleep since the storm began. But about 3 a.m. I was awakened by being pitched out of my bunk. A new gale had sprung up, and It lasted for an hour. I am not ashamed to admit I was in a state of abject fear. Monday, August 22 Bailed all night, snatching only a few minutes' sleep in the wheelhouse. Went to see Thelma in the cabin at daylight — only to find leak developed that end of ship. Gallantly Thelma volunteered attend bailing that part of ship. I did not have the courage to tell Thelma. But with the leaks and the water coming in from above, we cannot stay afloat much longer. At the

first sign of water smooth enough for the dinghy to be cast off, we must abandon Miss Evelyn and make for the nearest land. Tuesday, August 23 By some miracle the seas have calmed overnight. We are abandoning Miss Evelyn at once. Our position is a matter of guesswork rather than calcula tion, but I imagine 40 miles on the north-east course should bring us to Wilson's Promon tory. The dinghy already contains some stores. We shall take our bedding, clothes, personal be longings, matches, flares, rockets, and tobacco. ? Our water jar contained one gallon, but we felt confident of making the mainland with these suDDlies.

Mr. Hay

Mr. Hay

Miss Bennett

Miss Bennett

Indeed, by the time the dinghy was loaded with our new waterproof kapok mat tresses, suitcases, and tin trunks, beside our bedding and sundry overcoats, there would have been room for little more. Just as we left, a passenger plane passed nearby, apparently having deviated a little from its direct course. I hoped they would report us to Melbourne, but I feared that they would have thought, if indeed they thought at all, that we were en gaged in fishing. I pulled at the oars all day Tuesday. Thelma tried to re lieve me at the oars for a moment at sundown, but found, rowing very difficult. The night was very long, bit terly cold with periodic rain storms which kept us con stantly sopping wet. During the early hours we sighted Deal Island lighthouse to the eastward. It told me the island we were making for was Curtis Island. Day broke at last. We were both practically numb from the waist down and drenched. If we had another such night in the dinghy the consequences might have been disastrous. So I decided to push on to Curtis Island and spend the next night there irrespective of what it might be like. It was much further than it seemed. After battling all day with a side wind and a tide dead in our teeth we reached here about four in the afternoon.

Perilous landing

THE island appeared most forbidding, and I could   at first find no safe landing place. Finally we made an attempt to get in to a sort of natural dock running into the sloping slime-covered rocks at the south-east corner of the island. I rowed in and jumped ashore. After much trouble I unloaded the dinghy. The big tin trunk being particularly hard to handle. This contained all my clothes, all Thelma's good clothes, her fur coat and Jewellery, my opals, and our small stock of spirits and medicines. It must have weighed more than two hundredweight in all. We managed to drag the remainder of our luggage up the rocks, but in our stiff and weakened condition we had to leave the trunk lower down, Sitting on a ledge. of rock, and secured there with a long, heavy rope.       Our first need was shelter        

for the night. The rocks were very steep, jagged, slimy, and most uninviting. We thought that by climbing the hill to the nearest trees we might make a fire to warm our miserable bodies and find some comfort. Our path led through the penguin rookeries, where grass tussocks hid the treacherous burrows, and birds were con stantly underfoot. We reached the trees only to find them growing on a steep slope of loose and wet black soil. The matches would not strike, so all we could do was scrape a rough shelf in the hillside, wring out the blankets, and huddle under them and our waterproofs. Strangely, we slept well. This morning we returned to our landing place. Thelma collapsed. In a deep cleft in the rocks, open to the sky but sheltered from some of the wind, I found a good camping spot, with a natural fireplace. So I climbed down to Ihe

landing and during the morn ing have succeeded in bringing up all our gear with the aid of a rope — with one most im portant exception, my tin trunk. The sea has claimed it during the night. Wednesday, Aug. 31 We are not feeling very well, and have nothing left but two tins of bully beef. We have tried cooking limpets, but found them impossible to chew. So today, with many mis givings, I caught a young penquin, dressed it, and pre sented ft to Thelma to cook. We expected it to be rank and fishy. It was, however, sur prisingly nice. We have been as economical as possible with our water, as the only water I have been able to find on the island seeped down the rocks below the rookeries. It Is amber in color and smells of guano.   (Continued in next column.)

                                                                                                                                 

MR. ALEXANDER MAY looking out from the cove on Curtis Island in which he and Miss Thelma Bennett lived for 25 days as castaways. In front of him, at left, is the shelter they built with ti-tree branches and rocks.

MR. ALEXANDER MAY looking out from the cove on Curtis Island in which he and Miss Thelma Bennett lived for 25 days as castaways. In front of him, at left, is the shelter they built with ti-tree branches and rocks.

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