Krakatoa - Deadly Tsunami

Captain Lindeman made a decision which saved the lives of his passengers and his ship (the G.G. Loudon).  Recognizing he could not make port at Telok Betong (because of damage the town had already sustained from one of Krakatoa's tsunamis), he decided the best way to stay alive was to turn the ship toward sea.

We learn more from Captain Lindeman's log:

The air grew steadily darker and darker, and at 10:30 a.m., we were in total darkness, just the same as on a very dark night. The wind was from the westward, and began to increase till it reached the force of a hurricane. So we let down both anchors and kept the screw turning slowly at half speed in order to ride over the terribly high seas, which kept suddenly striking us presumably in consequence of a "seaquake" and made us dread being buried under them.

Awnings and curtains from forward right up the main mast, three boat covers, and the uppermost awning of the quarter deck were blown away in a moment. Some objects on deck, which had been lashed, got loose and were carried overboard; the upper deck hatchways and those on the main deck were closed tightly, and the passengers for the most part were sent below. Heavy storms. The lightning struck the main mast conductor six or seven times, but did no damage. The rain of pumice stones changed to a violent mud rain, and this mud rain was so heavy that in the space of 10 minutes the mud lay half a foot deep.

Kept steaming with the head of the ship as far as possible seaward for half an hour when the sea began to abate, and at noon, the wind dropped away entirely. Then we stopped the engine. The darkness, however, remained as before, as did also the mud rain. The barometer at that time stood again at 763.25mm. Sounded the pumps. No water. Let the crew and also such passengers as were on deck work at throwing the mud overboard. At 2 p.m., the barometer was 763.30. The mud rain changed into a light ash rain.

Later, survivors of the volcano's onslaught - including those who were aboard the Loudon - wrote about what they'd observed.  One such witness - the ship's engineer, N.H. van Sandick - left this account:

Suddenly we saw a gigantic wave of prodigious height advancing toward the seashore with considerable speed. Immediately, the crew . . . managed to set sail in face of the imminent danger; the ship had just enough time to meet with the wave from the front.

The ship met the wave head on and the Loudon was lifted up with a dizzying rapidity and made a formidable leap ... The ship rode at a high angle over the crest of the wave and down the other side. The wave continued on its journey toward land, and the benumbed crew watched as the sea in a single sweeping motion consumed the town. There, where an instant before had lain the town of Telok Betong, nothing remained but the open sea.  (See, also, Catastrophe! The 100 Greatest Disasters of all Time, by Stephen J. Spignesi, page 93.)

Clip from the BBC production Krakatoa:  The Last Days.  The scene depicts the deadly tsunami which followed a devastating, eardrum-shattering volcanic blast on August 27, 1883.

See, also:

Last Days of Krakatoa

Krakatoa - Ash Fall

Krakatoa - Loudest Sound in Recorded History

Krakatoa - Loss of the Fourth Point Lighthouse

Krakatoa - Fatal Pyroclastic Surge

Krakatoa - After the Disaster

Media Credits

Clip from the BBC production, Krakatoa: The Last Days.  Copyright, BBC, all rights reserved.  Clip provided here as fair use for educational purposes and to acquaint new viewers with the program.  Online via BBC's Channel at YouTube.  

Written by:    

Colin Heber-Percy
Michael Olmert
Lyall B. Watson

Sam Miller


Alan Eyres
Greg Smith

Rupert Penry-Jones
Olivia Williams
Kevin McMonagle
Originally aired on BBC One - May 7, 2006

Passages from Captain Lindeman's ship's log, online courtesy The Discovery Channel.


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"Krakatoa - Deadly Tsunami" AwesomeStories.com. Oct 07, 2013. Feb 17, 2020.
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