January 4, 1820 – Off the mouth of the Rio De La Plate. – We are this morning experiencing a gale from the north. The violence of the wind has split several of the sails. We are now running under bare poles at the rate of 7 or 8 miles an hour. We reel to and fro and stagger like a drunken man. The tossing mountains around us skip like rams, and the hills like lambs. The foaming surges lash the trembling sides of our little bark and drench her decks; while the rain like hail pelts the poor sailors as they cling to the whistling rigging and the spray of the sea sweeps over the surface like the driven snow on a northern winter’s day. But he who said to the raging tempest, “Peace be still,” can and does afford us protection, and give us peace within. (Thaddeus Journal)
Jan. 4th, The last, a night of tossing—awakened by the cry, between four and five this morning, “all hands on decks” a strong gale having arisen suddenly.
The motion of the vessel was very great, few things keeping their position. We assembled as usual for morning prayers—read the 124 and 125 Psalms—sung three verses of Watt’s version of the former, soon after went to breakfast. Here, to a land spectator, methinks the scene would have been truly novel and amusing—in the midst of commotion he must have smiled, A view of a very different kind which presented itself, when, not long after, we looked out upon deck, was indeed, beyond my power to describe. Wave dashing upon wave, our little bark, dismantled of its noble sails, ascending one, and descending another? with its naked masts, riding at the rate of seven miles an hour. This is considered hut a sketch of the scenes we must expect to witness at the Cape.
But it was nobly grand I We are now a few degrees east of the mouth of that majestic river the Rio-de-la-Plata, fast approaching those tempestuous regions, so often the subject of conversation with us; Yet, there we shall be safe, attended by that GOD “who rules on high— And thunders when he please,—Who rides upon the stormy sky—And manages the seas.” What need we farther anxiety about the event, than to see to it, that we have grace to enable us to say, in the trying moment, if it arrives, “This awful GOD is ours, He shall send down his heavenly powers, Our father and our love, To carry us above.” (Sybil Bingham)
4. – I arose this morning somewhat apprehensive that the weather was not so pleasant as common. Going on deck I found the waves going over the ship & flying in every direction; very similar to what I have seen in a snow squall. I soon found it best to retire to my cabin which is my asylum in all times of trouble. This, though the most violent gale I have witnessed, the sailors tell us it is but a trifle compared with what we shall see in a few days. Several land visitors came on board who had been driven off the coast of Patagonia; such as butterflies, spindles &c. (Samuel Whitney Journal)