A small flagstaff having also been erected to-day, a flag was displayed for the first time from the beacon, by which its perspective effect was greatly improved. On this, as on all like occasions at the Bell Rock, three hearty cheers were given; and the steward served out a dram of rum to all hands, while the Lighthouse yacht, Smeaton, and floating light, hoisted their colours in compliment to the erection.

[Monday, 5th Oct.]

In the afternoon, and just as the tide's work was over, Mr. John Rennie, engineer, accompanied by his son Mr. George, on their way to the harbour works of Fraserburgh, in Aberdeenshire, paid a visit to the Bell Rock, in a boat from Arbroath. It being then too late in the tide for landing, they remained on board of the Lighthouse yacht all night, when the writer, who had now been secluded from society for several weeks, enjoyed much of Mr. Rennie's interesting conversation, both on general topics, and professionally upon the progress of the Bell Rock works, on which he was consulted as chief engineer.

[Tuesday, 6th Oct.]

The artificers landed this morning at nine, after which one of the boats returned to the ship for the writer and Messrs. Rennie, who, upon landing, were saluted with a display of the colours from the beacon and by three cheers from the workmen. Everything was now in a prepared state for leaving the rock, and giving up the works afloat for this season, excepting some small articles, which would still occupy the smiths and joiners for a few days longer. They accordingly shifted on board of the Smeaton, while the yacht left the rock for Arbroath, with Messrs. Rennie, the writer, and the remainder of the artificers. But, before taking leave, the steward served out a farewell glass, when three hearty cheers were given, and an earnest wish expressed that everything, in the spring of 1808, might be found in the same state of good order as it was now about to be left.

II--OPERATIONS OF 1808

[Monday, 29th Feb.]

The writer sailed from Arbroath at one a.m. in the Lighthouse yacht. At seven the floating light was hailed, and all on board found to be well. The crew were observed to have a very healthy- like appearance, and looked better than at the close of the works upon the rock. They seemed only to regret one thing, which was the secession of their cook, Thomas Elliot--not on account of his professional skill, but for his facetious and curious manner. Elliot had something peculiar in his history, and was reported by his comrades to have seen better days. He was, however, happy with his situation on board of the floating light, and, having a taste for music, dancing, and acting plays, he contributed much to the amusement of the ship's company in their dreary abode during the winter months. He had also recommended himself to their notice as a good shipkeeper, for as it did not answer Elliot to go often ashore, he had always given up his turn of leave to his neighbours. At his own desire he was at length paid off, when he had a considerable balance of wages to receive, which he said would be sufficient to carry him to the West Indies, and he accordingly took leave of the Lighthouse service.

[Tuesday, 1st March]

At daybreak the Lighthouse yacht, attended by a boat from the floating light, again stood towards the Bell Rock. The weather felt extremely cold this morning, the thermometer being at 34 degrees, with the wind at east, accompanied by occasional showers of snow, and the marine barometer indicated 29.80. At half-past seven the sea ran with such force upon the rock that it seemed doubtful if a landing could be effected. At half-past eight, when it was fairly above water, the writer took his place in the floating light's boat with the artificers, while the yacht's boat followed, according to the general rule of having two boats afloat in landing expeditions of this kind, that, in case of accident to one boat, the other might assist. In several unsuccessful attempts the boats were beat back by the breach of the sea upon the rock. On the eastern side it separated into two distinct waves, which came with a sweep round to the western side, where they met; and at the instance of their confluence the water rose in spray to a considerable height.

Records of a Family of Engineers Page 53

Robert Louis Stevenson

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