HMS Cove

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Cove, 1836
Type: a Whaler owned by Messrs Spyvee and Cooper ; 380 tons
Hired : for a number of months in 1836 ;

21 Dec 1835 Commissioned at Hull by Captain James Clark Ross to sail to Greenland waters to search for eleven missing whalers : the William Torr, and Lady Jane, both of Hull ; Viewforth of Kirkcaldy ; Middleton of Aberdeen, were frozen in the land ice off the West Coast of Baffin's Bay, in about latitude 67 N. ; and the rest, including the Duncombe, Abram, Harmony, and Dordon, all of Hull ; Norfolk of Berwick ; Greenville Bay, Newcastle ; Lady Jane, Newcastle, were reported to be drifting in the pack ice. The Cove was also reported to be contacting settlements on the West Coast of Greenland in case they had any news.

Circa 3 Jan 1836 the Messenger is reported to have arrived at Hull with stores and provisions supplied by the Admiralty for the Cove for the forthcoming passage to Greenland waters.

In addition to Captain JC Ross ; Lieutenant Grozier ; Mr. Humphreys, master ; Messrs A Smith and R Jesse, passed midshipmen ; and Mr T Gallett, purser, have been appointed to the Cove.

The Ann, supposed tender to the Cove, has also arrived at Hull.

The Cove is expected to sail in the next week or so, once she has received her military stores from the citadel, and stores and provisions from the Messenger. (per Hull Advertiser).

Prior to sailing for the North it was reported that the Harmony and Duncombe of Hull had returned to England, the crew of the latter suffering badly from scurvy, and that the Dordon had become a wreck and her crew had been distributed amongst the other vessels.

Hull circa 5 Jan 1836 the Cove is reported to have departed for the Straits having been towed down the River by the Messenger. Lieutenant E Ommaney has also been appointed to the Cove.

9 Jan 1836 arrived off the Pentland Firthand anchored in Long Hope Harbour.

11 Jan 1836 departed for Hoy Sound and the Atlantic.

Following the departure of the Cove the remainder of the vessels trapped in the ice, excepting the William Torr, and Lady Jane, of Hull, had returned to England, however it was subsequently learnt, circa 13 Feb., that the Middleton was wrecked and her crew spread between the Lady Jane and the Viewforth, which would appear to leave the Greenville Bay as the only vessel which could not accounted for ?

14 Jan 1836 sighted two large icebergs in lat. 61 N., long. 6 W.

24 Jan 1836 having experienced severe gales arrived in lat. 59.5 N. More severe gales were experienced until 28th when a heavy sea damaged the ship, carrying away the bowsprit and bulwarks &c., and causing other damage. The vessel was put about, a dangerous operation, but by timing the waves perfectly the Captain achieved the object which took some of the strain off the masts, whilst the vessel retraced her course, and a jury bowsprit was rigged and other repairs made.

3 Feb 1836 sighted the island of St. Kilda.

5 Feb 1836 anchored in Stromness Harbour.

13 Feb 1836 Repairs having been made to the vessel she was ready to leave for the North again, but before she departed the Lady Jane arrived at Stromness in the morning with news of the other vessels, and the Viewforth in the afternoon came alongside the Cove.
It was found that out of the crew of 50 and those from the Middleton that 14 had died of scurvy and the cold, and the rest, apart from 7, who were manning the ship were so ill many hadn't been able to move for weeks or even months in some cases !!
Since the local population were reluctant to look after the sick men Captain Ross rented an empty building ashore, which was turned into a hospital and was fitted out with a lot of the equipment carried on board the Cove and by ten o'clock that night those most in need of care were ashore and receiving treatment.

13-20 Feb 1836 contrary winds detained the Cove in the region of Stromness.

24 Feb 1836 departed for the North again.

4 Mar 1836 arrived in long. 30 W. 4-27 Mar 1836 experienced bad weather and only able to proceed 100 miles.

7 Apr 1836 arrived on the edge of the ice in about lat. 54 N. long. 54 W. and constantly patrolled it in the hope of meeting the missing vessel, bad weather permitting.

2 May 1836 having passed Cape Farewell, entertained Mr. Neptune and his acolytes.

15 May 1836 boarded the Undaunted, of Kirkaldy, caught up with the news, and also experience a solar eclipse.

27 May 1836 arrived in lat. 65 and departed for Holsteinburg at lat. 66 56' 32" N., long. 53 34' 28" W., to join the bombs on 1 Jun.

Circa 1 Jun 1836 arrived Holsteinburg, but neither the bombs nor any mail had arrived. Proceeded to get on with repairs to the ship and sails and bring fresh water on board and enjoyed the friendship of this Danish colony.

13 Jun 1836 having made good repairs, farewells were said and departed for the North.

We soon reached the Riscol reef, which had trapped a great number of icebergs which were head South, which to the inexperienced eye appeared not to have any breaks, but with the Captain and Master steering the vessel a gap was soon found and the ship flew though the Narrow Passage, heading for the Whale Islands where contact was made with the recently arrived whaler Lord Gambier, and learned that the news from England would suggest that we were unlikely to see the William Torr coming out of the ice. Lieut Inman was sent in a boat to Lievely, at Disco Island for mail, but only returned with private letters and it was subsequently discovered that the Lady Jane, just arriving, was carrying the official mail, and with her a number of other vessel, some with masters who were amongst the missing 11 vessels, who paid their respects to Captain Ross and brought with them something to say thank you for the hardship the crew had experienced, and the following day fresh beef and potatoes were on the menu, albeit for just one very welcome meal.

26 Jun 1836 having made good repairs and ballast to replace the fuel, stores and victualling used, the ship departed for the Waygats Strait, arriving on the 30th. After passing through the Strait met the Swan of Hull, Dring, which was operated by the same company who owned the Cove. Also came across a large fleet of whalers waiting for the ice to recede from the coast of Greenland so that they could proceed to the North, and they sent over their boats with letters for England, but thick fog prevented the vessel from making any progress.

10 Jul 1836 the fog cleared and since the winds were light the ships boats were used to guide the Cove south through the Strait, retracing her steps southwards and on the 11th reached the Whalefish Islands, where the boats were sent ashore with mail.

11 Jul 1836 despite reports to the contrary and Captain would appear to have still held out some hope for the William Torr, so rather than heading for England, as was expected by the majority of the crew the vessel headed for the last position that she was reported by Mr. Tather of the Lady Jane, as being seen in the ice, and checking with the inhabitants along the coast of Labrador to see if there was any trace of the ship or, more likely, remnants of her crew, and so headed for the edge of the ice to the west.

30 Jul 1836 arrived in the Bay of Okkak in lat. 57 N. after trying for a number of weeks to reach the land through the ice flows. Here the Missionaries Unitas Fratrum have a mission, who stated that neither they nor any of the many Esquimaux who frequent the coast had seen any trace of the William Torr or her crew.

7 Aug 1836 after a few days watering etc. in the Bay of Okkak headed back out to sea via Saddle Island and the ice being much dispersed soon arrived in open water and headed back across the Atlantic for England.

17 Aug 1836 passed Rockal.

19 Aug 1836 sighted Cape Wrath.

23 Aug 1836 turned into the mouth of the Humber to land mail.

24 Aug 1836 anchored in Yarmouth Roads.

31 Aug 1836 returned to Hull.

26 Sep 1836 paid off.

it may be of interest to note that a cake of oil from the whaler William Torr was discovered by the Antilles, of Greenock, in lat. 46 11' N. long. 13 79' W. at about the same time that the Cove returned to England, with other items, such as casks, being found over time, which showed clearly how long they had been in the sea and suggesting that the William Torr, along with her crew, had probably been lost in the ice during the Winter of 1835/36

A summary of some of the salient points taken from the newspapers of the day and from a number of articles in the United Service Journal of 1837 etc.