NOTE: The book Lion of Scotland contains MANY errors, the following is presented as it is printed in the book with corrections in brackets.


Colin McDonald did not go to sea until he was nearly twenty, for his father's farm made the first call on his time. This fact was to influence his career greatly. He became a sailor who knew and loved horses. And horses played an important part in his life at sea for many years.

His first voyage was under Captain Jacob in the Melanesian Mission schooner Southern Cross. During the next few years, as he rose in rank, he became wise in the ways of men as well as in the ways of animals. When he was about ninety years old, looking back on sixty two years at sea, forty of them as captain (* see foot note), he could speak as follows: It is wrong to think that sailors are animals that have to be treated as such to maintain discipline. In the old sailing ship days I encouraged my men to respect me rather than fear me; and the result was that I never had the slightest trouble with them. I sailed with the roughest types, but when they learned my methods they were the staunchest fellows, and never wanted to leave the ships that I commanded."

A skipper who never swore at a sailor, and never logged one for failing to fulfill his orders would be rare enough at any time. But Captain Colin McDonald had his own ways of running a ship. One of his commands was the Euryalus, which took the second Australian contingent (was the second Victorian contingent +) to the South African War. Seasickness played havoc with many of the troops who came from the inland districts of Australia (Victoria). Becoming concerned, Captain Colin ordered soup to be provided to them. A few days later he stopped on his rounds to ask a weak and hollow-eyed soldier what he thought of the soup. " It's very good," came the answer, "but I can't afford to buy any more."

The Captains expression did not change, but, knowing that one of his cooks had been battening on the men, he decided on the best for of retaliation. A notice was posted for the troops stating that, through a mistake by the cook, they had been charged for the soup which should have been issued free. If they applied to the cook, however, he would be happy to refund their money.

The soldiers were Australians (Victorians), and by this time were recovering from their seasickness. They made sure by their claims that the cook did not gain from his attempt at profiteering. He could not refuse whatever they asked, and reached South Africa a sadder and poorer man.


* The numbers in this statement don't add up. Colin went to sea about 1871 (when he was nearly 20) His first command was no later than 1880 (Magellan Cloud), his last known command was in 1923. A newspaper article on Chief Officer H.M. Macdonald (The West Australian, Monday 31 October 1927),notes that Colin was living in retirement in Victoria. Given these known facts the most likely numbers are 53 years at sea with 44 as Captain.

+ Australia as a country did not exist until 1901 (the South African voyage was 1900). What are now known as States were at the time independent colonies each with their own defence force and minister of defence. Several contingents had been sent from the colonies of New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia in 1899.


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