17th November 1832

Boisterous weather; glad should I be if the day for taking an everlasting farewell of the Rio Plata was near at hand.

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal:
It is not prudent for any vessel drawing more than ten feet water to remain under sail in this part of the river, while it is dark, unless a good pilot is on board; and even the best practical experience is not always a sure guide, so uncertain and fluctuating are the currents and depths of water. There are a few simple precautions, useful in such circumstances, of which I may be excused for reminding young sailors. A ground-log ought to be hove frequently, and compared with a common log; there should be a leadsman in each chains, one, at least, of whom should sound constantly: the deep-sea lead ought to be used now and then, even in shallow water, as a check upon the hand-lead: from the vessel's draught of water to two fathoms more than that depth, the hand-line should be marked to feet, by alternate marks of dark-coloured hair and small line: strong lanterns should be suspended under the chain-wales, near the water, but close to the ship's side; while a careful person ought to superintend the leadsman, and occasionally take a line into his own hand, so that by 'plumbing' the bottom himself he may ascertain how far reliance is to be placed upon the leadsman's opinion.

In the Plata, as well as in many other pilot-waters, to feel the ground thus is often more useful than knowing the precise depth of water, or even the colour, or nature, of the bottom.

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