When a ship is observed from certain English light-houses (Bishop Rock, Caldy, Casquets, Chapman, Coquet, Eddystone, Flatholme, Godrevy, Hanois, Holyhead, Longships, Needles, Outer Farn, Round Island, Skerries, Smalls, South Bishop, South Stack, and St. Tudnall) making signals of distress or to require assistance, the lifeboat or other aid is summoned by the use of the following signals – by day, an explosive rocket fired every 10 minutes ; by night, an explosive rocket followed after 10 seconds by a rocket giving a white light. The answering signal is a red flag by day and two red star rockets by night.

Only the following Scottish lighthouses signal for aid and the day and night signals are the same, viz., two explosive rockets in quick succession every 5 minutes until the answering signal of a red flag by day or two red star rockets by night is given, (Barns Nest, Bass Rock, Buchan Ness, Cantick Head, Covesea Skerries, Davarr, Douglas Head, Fidra, Halburn, Hoy, Killantringan, Kinnaird Head, Lang Ness, Little Ross, May, Noss Head, Pentland, Pladda, St. Abbs, Sanda, Scurdy Ness, Stornoway, Stroma, and Turnberry). 

From English and Scottish light-vessels the day signal D B is hoisted and two guns are fired … Read the rest


Having served at sea for a period of forty-two years, I began to have thoughts of retiring, and in 1885 I finally resolved to come ashore for good. I had been master of sailing vessels for fourteen years and in command of steamships for a dozen years, and never lost a ship. I had minor mishaps no doubt, but I never had a serious accident or lost a life at sea. I had not been very long ashore when I received an appointment from the Home Secretary to act as Nautical Assessor in Board of Trade Investigations throughout the United Kingdom. The appointment did not carry very large remuneration, but it was very gratifying to me, as I was the first Scottish sailor who had up to that time been appointed. work was very congenial, and I had now the opportunity of investigating the facts and circumstances of many a tale of the sea. The attitude of mind I brought to bear in these cases was that of friendliness to the shipmaster. I never could forget the innumerable perils with which the course of the most careful navigator is constantly beset, and if an error in judgement only had been … Read the rest