North East Coast

Sunset on 29 August 1914 was at 7.37 p.m.

The Rohilla reached a position off St. Abb’s Head shortly that time.

The weather was worsening.

With no navigation lights round the coast the ship had to be steered by dead reckoning. The last position fix by daylight was taken at 4 p.m. from then on it was a matter of calculation, timing and allowances for wind and tide.

They had covered approximately 45 sea miles since leaving Leith.

Captain Neilson set course for the Longstones Lighthouse which they passed at 7 p.m., some eight miles out to sea according to the Captain’s calculations. They could not see the hazard because the light was out and by then a full storm was raging. It was from this lighthouse that in 1838 Grace Darling and her father rowed out to rescue nine shipwrecked sailors at the height of a similar storm.

Another three hours would elapse before a new course had to be worked out. Dinner was served at 7 15 p.m. the Captain did not go down to the wardroom but remained on the bridge and ate there.

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Copyright © Ken Wilson 1981