Diary of James McLauchlan
James Anderson McLauchlan (21 years old) kept a diary between the 30th May and 19th August 1874 which described life on board the City of Adelaide during the voyage to Australia of 1874. The diary begins with his departure from Dundee, Scotland, aboard the steamer SS Anglia and continues aboard the City of Adelaide.
The diary ends at about the time that the ship reached the proximity of Kangaroo Island. This is a few days before the ship ran aground on Kirkcaldy Beach on the 24th August 1874. The grandson of James McLauchlan noted that the existence of the diary was not known for many years as James "didn't think anyone would be interested to read it". When asked why the diary was not completed, James answered that he had "run out of note book paper".
The diary is posted here with the kind permission of Ian McLauchlan, great-grandson of the author.
Please note: spelling and abbreviations are as written in the diary. Some modifications to the punctuation were made to the context of the diary by the present owners, in order to attain readability, and in a few instances notes have been placed in the text for clarification - where this occurs here, we have placed these inside [square brackets].
Saturday May 23 1874
After taking an afft. leave of all my Friends and Relations in Monifieth, Dundee and neighbourhood I stepped on board the S.S. Anglia one of the Dundee & London Shipping Company’s splendid Boats. I shall never forget the feeling that came over me when first I put foot from my native land, I felt that now had come the tug of war and that I was (for I had never been from home before) now fairly launched on the Ocean of life to fight my own battle, but I was determined to persevere and do what I could. After a waving of hats and Handkerchiefs to friends on the shore we at last got under way and steamed from the Docks * with a good many passengers some of whom like myself were bent on finding a home in a distant land there were I think six different families all for Canterbury N.Z. And some eight or ten sailors just newly home from Calcutta in the second cabin of which I was also an inmate. I didn’t know much about the first cabin passengers for I saw little of them all the voyage. Well we passed the Stannergate down by Broughty Ferry where I saw (and answered) some well known handkerchiefs waved by friends who promised to recognise me in passing. In a very short time I could see Monifieth also in the distance. Such a thrill passed through me when I saw it, it being the place that most of all I loved…my birthplace…and in it my old Mother, my brother and a married sister (besides some more friends and relations still lived) therefore it was no wonder I felt my heart beats. I took a last longing look of it knowing that it might possibly be for the last time. However it also soon passed from view and we sailed majestically into the broad German Ocean. We had not long left the Firth of Tay when it came on to blow very fierce accompanied with a heavy swell which made me feel glad to get to my berth.
* about 8 o’clock p.m
Sunday the 24th
When I awoke on Sunday morning I found the ship rolling and pitching at (to us landsmen) an awful rate. I attempted to rise and get on deck but as soon as I got on my feet I felt as sick as a dog. I got myself supplied with (what the Jolly Steward was pleased to call) a “Jelly Pot” but what was in reality a thing in which to empty the contents of our disarranged stomachs and I was not long in making use of it. I felt all the horrors of seasickness the whole of that day, it was so bad that some of the deck-hands were sick also, and some of the sailors from Calcutta were as bad as any of us. The women and children were the worst for the steward was not able to attend to us all. However, towards evening the wind fell a little and I also fell asleep.
I awoke this morning in rather a better state…the heavy swell that knocked us up the day before was almost entirely gone. After I had a wash and breakfast I felt quite refreshed and went up on deck, the morning was beautiful and I found a good many of my fellow-passengers also up enjoying the fine breeze that was blowing. Towards midday however it became very thick and foggy. We had to go along very wary blowing the whistle at intervals to let vessels know of our presence. There was an almost continual blowing of whistles or fog horns and beating of gongs from the different vessels around us. As we drew near the Mouth of the Thames we had to cast anchor and wait until the fog cleared off for it seems there are a number of sand banks about that part which are very dangerous. However it did clear off and we reached London without any accident about 10 o’clock. When we reached the wharf as good luck would have it the first face I saw was that of an old friend and shopmate who was staying in London, and who very kindly offered to take me to his lodging for the night which I was glad to take advantage of.
Tuesday and Wednesday the 26th & 27th
Were spent by my friend and I in looking through some of the principal places in London.
The day on which we ought to have sailed was mostly spent in getting my Baggage down to the West India Docks and in having a look through the good ship “City of Adelaide” which was to be my home for the three months to come, she did indeed look a goodly vessel. She is what is termed a full rigged ship being square rigged fore and aft…her tall rakish masts make her look very graceful, she must be very fleet too for the Boatswain tells me she made the last voyage to Australia in seventy five days which was a remarkably quick run. I had a look through her ‘Tween decks the place allotted to us intermediate Passengers. It is divided into three apartments, the Fore Hatch to us single men, the Main Hatch to the Married Folks and their children below twelve years of age (all above that age going to the Fore Hatch), and the After Hatch to the single women. They all appeared as roomy as could be expected under the circumstances considering that there is to be about 250 of us stowed in them. The ship does not appear to have been in the Passenger line before for everything had to be fitted up new for us which of course was a great benefit as we got it all clean to go into. I saw a good many of my future mates also down looking though her. We were informed that she was not going to sail until Friday at 10 o’clock so I came back to the Hotel in Whitechappel in which I was residing to spend my last night in Great Britain for a time at least.
I got up this morning shortly after six had breakfast then went out and caught the Blackwall Buss which landed us almost at the docks. (It is wonderful how cheap you can ride on these Busses,…. some of them run a distance of 5 or 6 miles and all they charge is two-pence & they run in all directions throughout the town.…of course the advantage they have got is that suppose you have only a short distance to go the charge is still the same). Well we reached the docks and got aboard about 9 o’clock and by 10 a.m. we were under weigh for Plymouth where we were to take in the most of our Passengers. We were taken in tow by the Steam Tug “Uncle Sam” and warped slowly out of the docks, it was necessarily a slow process having to work our way through a perfect maze of shipping. However with patience and perseverance we did get through it, taking in late Passengers and sailors at different parts of the Quay. As soon as we got outside the Locks, all hands gave three splendid parting cheers which was answered by the onlookers on shore and then all joining together gave one last tremendous cheer and all was silence. Soon after we were called down to dinner, which was the signal to commence to our regular routine of duty. We were all divided off into Messes of 9 each with a Captain over each, whose duty it was to get the provisions and give each his portion…but our Mess agreed to take turn about at it. Well we had dinner, which consisted of Broth, Roast Beef and potatoes…a very fair start. We were only sorry that it was to last for a very limited period (they are obliged to give us fresh provisions always when in the vicinity of any Port …that is if it is possible to land). After dinner we agreed that two of us should take day about washing dishes…you would laugh to see us awkward fellows with our shirtsleeves up doing the slop work. However my turn comes tomorrow. I have got an Englishman from Birmingham for my mate. Our Mess consists of three Scots miners from the Glasgow district, an English miner from Durham, two fellows from Norfolk (I don’t know what their occupation is yet), and a Swede who doesn’t know a word of our language (he has got a brother, a sailor, on board but still poor fellow, he is very lonely sitting by himself all day long…I was very glad to see that none of them tried to take the advantage of him…everyone seemed to feel for him and tried to assist him as far as possible at meal time). The Englishman before mentioned as my mate and myself make up the rest. We reached Gravesend about 6 o’clock where it seems we have to wait for some time for our Captain and the Government Inspector. As soon as we cast anchor the bell rang for Tea which consisted of Tea and plain bread and butter. After that was discussed we went upon the Forecastle to watch the homeward bound ships coming in of which there were a good many, most of them cheering as they passed. About 9 we went below to bed. We were supplied with mattresses, blankets and all our bedding, in fact with the exception of sheets which we had to get ourselves. I was very fortunate in having everything I required in a small chest which I kept for every day use…some of them had everything in their large chests which of course were stowed below and can,t get to them for three weeks yet. They had to go about borrowing from the rest of us, which is a thing I hate.
Well we did get to bed as best we could, for myself I was very comfortable. Our beds were all arranged in the order of our messes…that is they ranged along the side in tens, 5 above and 5 below with a table between each and a pretty broad passage up the centre from end to end. It is pretty well ventilated just now but I am afraid when we get our full complement and reach the Tropics we will be short enough of air. The lights were put out about 10 and after a little chaffing among ourselves we all fell asleep.
We arose this morning and found ourselves still at anchor. I went on deck and washed myself (we are to get fresh water until we reach Plymouth, after that it seems we have to take salt water. We are all supplied with Marine Soap for that purpose.) After we had got that done and our beds rolled up (we smooth them out first then roll them up, mattress and all, then put on a strap with a buckle round them to keep them together) it was then time for breakfast which we did ample justice to. It consisted of a large tin full of coffee, bread and butter. Then came my portion of the work. My mate and I got stripped and our shirt sleeves tucked up to our shoulders. I got a pail and some hot water and then commenced in earnest. I did the washing part, my mate the drying. We were very awkward at first but after a little while and exercising a little patience we managed it. Everyone went to what he thought proper to bask in the sun and watch the numerous vessels going up and down, or to his books of which a good many as well as myself seemed well supplied. About 2 o’clock dinner was served. Pork, cabbages and potatoes were the order of the day. Our dishes were all of tin, and each man got a large mug and a teaspoon for his coffee or tea, a shallow plate, a fork, a knife and a tablespoon for his dinner.…besides a tin for sugar, one for butter, one for salt, one for mustard and a pepper box…a barrel for bread, one for water, a large triple tin for holding broth, beef, and potatoes, a basin for washing ourselves in, and a large slop pail. These last being for the whole mess. So I think if we were once in right working order we will be pretty comfortable. I disliked the washing of the dinner things worst of all…they were so very greasy and our water was so very limited. However we did manage to get through it also. In the afternoon our Captain came on board together with the Inspector. Everything being satisfactory we once more got under weigh in tow of the steam tug about 6 o’clock for the first stage of our journey. When we got down a little bit we passed a great many pleasure boats well loaded with passengers (I was informed that it was a Government Holiday in honour of our Queen’s Birthday). There was a great deal of cheering among them, some of their Bands playing very appropriate tunes such as “The Emigrant’s Farewell”, “Auld Lang Syne” and others. Soon after we went below and had a song and some music from a Melodian (there seems to be a good many musicians amongst us) then the most of us “turned in” for the night.
Sunday May 31st
We arose this morning about 7 o’clock, went on deck and found ourselves far down the Channel, we could see Dover with its beautiful chalk cliffs quite distinctly and the French coast on the other side could be seen in the distance. We were making rather slow progress as the wind was dead against us. The scenery though was beautiful and varied…that helped to keep us wearying. As the day wore on we could hear the church bells ringing which put me in mind of home. In my mind’s eye I could see all the well-known forms wending their way to our village church…forms which, (oh hard the thought), I may never see again…if such should unhappily be the case, at least they will never be forgotten as long as I live. I was very much disappointed that there was no Service today. I expected it the whole day but nobody seemed inclined to officiate and the day passed much the same as any other day would. However I fancy if we were once fairly at sea there will be a regular service. Towards evening we could see Dungeness the place where the ill-fated “Northfleet” went down. I have no doubt the remembrance of that vessel’s sad end was brought keenly back to the minds of many of my fellow passengers. Before we retired some of us read a chapter of the bible and sung a psalm after which we turned in.
Monday June 1st
The 1st of June broke on us when we were far out in the Channel. We could just see land in the distance…still we could see that it was a bold rocky coast with a hill now and again in the background, which was quite a novelty to us coming to England. The wind was very light today and the sun very warm, which caused a very disagreeable smell from the Pigs’ Stye, which was uncomfortably close to our quarters…its inmates keeping up an almost incessant squealing which was anything but music to our ears. There was some 6 or 8 pigs all huddled into the smallest possible space. The sheep, of which there is some 8 or 10, and some ducks comprized all our live stock, of the lower animals at least. It seems their forte here to put as much as they can in the least possible room. In the afternoon the Tug left us to our own resources after which our progress was necessarily much slower as we had to beat up against a head wind, taking long reaches away out to sea and then in again almost close to land. In the evening the wind died away which left us rolling about in the swell, the sails flapping idly against the masts and rigging. Two or three of my mates began to feel the effects of the rolling in the disagreeable sensation of sea sickness. I have not myself felt in the least put about as yet.
This morning after breakfast we had a new task imposed upon us in the shape of scrubbing out our apartment. There was a good deal of grumbling by some of the malcontents for none of us were aware we would have it to do, however, we had to submit. We were supplied with brushes brooms & co. not forgetting a bricklike affair they called a Holystone and which we had to rub back and forward on the planks to take off the superfluous pitch. Well we got ourselves with a soft fatty sort of a substance they called soap and 2 or 3 pails of water, then set to it in earnest.…there was one from every mess (each to take turn about) and his duty was to scrub the place occupied by his mess. We scrubbed it all over first with a stiff broom soap and water, then got a long handled scrubbing brush with a piece of India rubber nailed on it to act as a scraper. We scrubbed it well with that brush then applied the scraper. With it we scraped it all to one place then dried it with a mop. It is far from being white yet but there is a decided improvement. In the course of a week or two I think we will have it tolerably clean as we have got to do it twice a week. There has been a pretty stiff breeze today but still dead ahead, it has had the effect of keeping all the girls below with the exception of two, who appeared splendid sailors. I do hope the fair ones are not sick, but as yet there is no means of knowing, for they are so kept under by their Matron…a very hard old lady who appears to think it would be an offence punishable with death, for any of us to speak to them. I am afraid she will have enough to do keeping them under when she has her full complement. We passed close to the Isle of Wight and in the afternoon we had a fine view of it. It appears a very large Island and most of it under cultivation (at least the part of it we saw). We came so near that we could see them working in the fields. The south eastern coast seems bold and rocky and the western more level and sloping towards the sea.
We have made very little progress today. In the morning we reached a place called Start Point then took a long tack away out to sea and in the evening came back almost to the very same spot which was very disheartening indeed. We are all very tired beating about the Channel. The monotony was only relieved by the number of Fishing Smacks which we were continually passing. They were engaged in their daily occupation of trawling for fish, and very large and fine boats some of them seemed. We always got a cheer or a wave of a “Souwester” from their hardy crews as we passed. Some of the sailors say we may have to knock about the Channel all the week yet as the winds are so fickle here which is a very poor prospect.
This morning our prospect was brighter for the wind had shifted a little during the night which allowed us to make a good run. By the time we got on deck we could see the coast of Devonshire…the one we wished to reach. Towards midday we were lucky enough to get within hail of a Tug which immediately came to us. It proved to be the “Volunteer” steam Tug of Plymouth which took us in tow and brought us to the wished-for haven about 6 o’clock. In the afternoon we had to go through the whole process of cleaning again to have everything tidy for the new-comers. Plymouth appears to be rather a nice looking town, though necessarily a little scattered and irregular, the ground being so uneven. It appears very well fortified actually bristling with guns in fact, for there is Forts and Batteries all around the semi-circular bay on which the Town is built. This bay is protected on the outside by a splendid Breakwater so that shipping can lie comparatively safe from the heavy southern swell which would otherwise sweep right into it. I don’t think there is any extensive Dock accommodation. At least I saw no appearance of it and there was none of us allowed on shore, so I could not inspect it. After writing some letters for home to be ready in the morning, I turned in.
This morning we were surrounded by numerous small boats in which were a number of fruit vendors, grocers and others with their different wares to sell…and indeed they did drive a good trade for an hour or so. I did not think much of their goods which were of an inferior quality and which they sold at exorbitant prices. All our chests which were down below and marked “wanted” were brought up on deck to give us an opportunity of getting anything we required…so for an hour or two all was bustle. I did not need much out myself but I had a look into it to see how it had fared. I never saw such a confusion, everything was turned upside down. Some pots of jelly my Mother put in suffered very much. They were all lying here and there but by good luck none of them was broken…although two of them had run out a little not having been properly fastened. Some of my clothes were a little soiled, but it was a wonder they were not a great deal worse for they were not very particular with them. I saw them bundled down into the Hold. The Plymouth passengers’ luggage next came on board then the whole was quickly stowed below again. We were greatly amused by the number of pleasure boats, most of them having Ladies on board, that were sailing about the Bay and round about us…our good ship appeared an object of great interest to them. Among them was one boat’s crew of which we took particular notice…it was a fine looking little skiff manned by two Man o war’s men, regular Jolly Tars they seemed to be who were giving two Ladies a sail, and indeed they appeared to enjoy it very much. They pulled the boat round about us twice…the second time one of them who had a keg between his legs (a thing which I suppose would hold about two gallons), stood up in the middle of the boat and held it to his lips and drank success to our voyage. He was rewarded with a regular round of cheers from our vessel. With that he went off singing “Auld Lang Syne” in which he was accompanied by his female companions. After Tea our future companions came on board from a Steamer, and a very motley crew they seemed by the look of. I at once said they were mostly Irish, and it turned out to be true. The single men were ordered to come on board first. It was laughable to see a great big six foot Irishman coming alongside of a little fellow who did not appear to be much above three feet. Another fellow came with a concertina in his hands playing. One of my mates at once christened him the “Shah” because he appeared rather odd with a crimson smoking cap on and a funny looking sunshade hanging from it. The married folks and children came next, then the single women and a good many respectable nice looking young women there were among them. I think there were nearly 150 in all. After the first tumult was a little settled, a benevolent gentleman went about amongst us distributing tracts, a great many of us then gathered round him and got a good spiritual advice in a well meaning discourse which we would all do well to remember. After singing a hymn or two he gave an excellent prayer suitable to the occasion and then departed. There was also a Clergyman also officiating in the Cabin to the passengers there. Shortly after 9 the Emigration Agent went ashore. We all gave him a cheer which he answered wishing us all success. Some of them started up singing and dancing which was not very consistent with what was going on a little before. However it was not largely patronised. We all turned in about half past ten but not to sleep for there was a continual chattering kept up till well on to the small hours. However exhausted nature must submit and we at last fell asleep.
The first thing we heard this morning was the rattling of the windlass as they were heaving up the ponderous anchor and we knew they were preparing for a final departure. I got on deck and found we were still riding at anchor (they had only got up a part of the chain) and that we were waiting for the letters. After breakfast they did come, then all was bustle. Some were up aloft getting the sails loosed and ready, the rest were at the windlass getting the anchor up, and in a very short time it was hanging at her bow. Then the Tow Line was made fast and put aboard of the Steam Tug which was lying by all ready, and about 10 we were once more under weigh. This time (if all went well) it was to be without another halt until we reached our destination which I pray God we may all reach in safety. The Tug took us outside the Breakwater and clear of the Coast and then left us. The Pilot also left us and put ashore in his little boat, thus we were left to our own resources, but, we were not long in taking advantage of the means we did possess, for in a short space of time every stitch of canvass was set and we were dancing merrily over the dark blue waves with a Northerly breeze to the time (or tune?) of 9 knots an hour, with our human freight of 276 souls [there were actually at least 282 passengers on board]. I trust we will all keep our health and have a prosperous voyage…if so we may be tolerably happy. I can scarcely tell how I felt as I saw the shores of Old England fade from view. We all watched it as long as we could, but about midafternoon it was so far in the distance that we could not distinguish it from the clouds that hung about. Then we felt we were alone on the mighty waste of waters with but our good ship between us and destruction. However, the novelty of our situation and the bustle on deck getting everything in order, soon forced thoughts of Home for a time at least out of our heads. Indeed it is surprising how soon we all suited ourselves to the circumstances in which we were placed and commenced our daily routine of duty. This evening two or three began to get sick, one of them the “Shah” before mentioned, was very bad. We passed two or three homeward bound ships throughout the afternoon.
This morning I awoke and found the ship rolling and pitching very much which made me feel that the sooner I was up on deck the better…which I did and felt better of the fresh air. I took my breakfast on deck too but I did not require much. About 11 o’clock the bell rang for Service which is to be held every Sunday. I don’t think it was largely attended. I did not go by myself for I felt that I could not even read a book. We passed two ships, one an Englishman the other a Yankee which our Captain signalled, but as we were not allowed on the Poop (that being the place allotted to the girls), we did not have an opportunity of knowing what the conversation was. About midday the wind freshened and we were running along at a splendid rate with the wind on our quarter which I fancy is her best sailing point. At twelve the Captain took observations and found we had covered a distance of 192 miles. In the evening the sailors told me we were crossing the mouth of the famous Bay of Biscay. I suppose we have passed it at a favourable time for it is tolerably smooth. I turned in soon for I did not feel very well.
When I got up this morning there was vomiting in all directions and I soon felt I could not stand it long myself. I ate a little breakfast and hurried up on deck, but I was not to get much good of it for in a very short time I gave it all to the fishes…after that I felt a little relieved. I was not nearly so bad as on the occasion of my coming from Dundee for that time I could scarcely stand on my feet I felt so weak. About midday I vomited a sort of Bile which had been lying in my stomach after which the sickness wore off and I felt entirely better. I think the most of us have been more or less sick. At twelve the Captain found we had made the splendid run of 262 miles which is considered excellent sailing. In the evening one of the sailors contributed a good deal toward our amusement by playing some excellent tunes on a Melodian which I think is the largest and best one that ever I saw.
I got up quite refreshed and felt as ready for breakfast as ever I did and which I did ample justice to. I flatter myself I have got over all my sickness now. On looking over the ship’s side I was surprised to see a very large shoal of porpoises, some of which appeared to be about 6 or 7 feet long. They were very beautiful swimming along a foot or two below the surface and every now and again coming up to “Blow”. We stood and watched them for hours during which time they had followed us for miles sporting like children. We also saw some stray birds now and again, I fancy of the swallow kind, and who I suppose were seeking some other shore to spend the summer months. During the last 24 hours we have travelled 228 miles which though less than yesterday is still good sailing. The wind has shifted a little being now in our rear, which keeps us from taking advantage of all our sails, therefore our speed must necessarily be less. In the evening we had some singing. Two or three of the married women favoured us with a song…one of them was a very good singer. They were accompanied with a concertina ably played by the “Shah”. Indeed I think he is the best at it that ever I heard. He can keep all the parts going apparently with the greatest ease.
The ship was rolling so much that many of us never slept all night scarcely, there was such a continual creaking and rattling of tins. About 6 o’clock she gave an extra lurch which set our Teapot rolling into the middle of the floor…after that I arose and indeed it was after a great struggle that I got into my trousers for I have not got my sea legs yet. We saw a good many of the same kind of birds throughout the day also two or three ships in the distance but not near enough to signal them. It came to my turn to scrub the floor today, which we did tolerably well in about an hour. The sailing today has been 200 miles, the sailors are all very well pleased with our progress, they say there is some lucky fellow on board and are therefore in good spirits. We are all expecting to rough it though, when we get south of the Line. I have been stargazing tonight and indeed the night is beautiful, the sea seems as if all ablaze. The Phosphorous is so brilliant. I am going to watch if possible the downward course of the Pole Star which we lose sight of after we cross the Line.
The wind has chopped round until it is almost right ahead, which causes us to go off our course a little. The Ocean now brings me in mind of the River Tay in the summer when I used to go a fishing. It is so smooth there are no waves at all, the ship goes along without any rocking whatever just as if she was on a Lake. We had quite a novelty for dinner today in the shape of a plum pudding which one of our messmates made. We get a certain quantity of flour with raisins or suet 3 or 4 times a week to do anything we like with. They cook anything we make, and indeed the pudding was very nice, it reflects great credit to his ingenuity. It seems we have only made 186 miles in the last 24 hours, which shows a decrease, but it seems it is generally the case that we have light winds and sometimes calms as we near the Equator. This evening an unseemly disturbance arose, some senseless illintended fellows had been annoying the Irish Roman Catholics at their nightly devotions by throwing things at them and making a noise, which caused some words. The Doctor, however, happened to come down and put an end to it by giving the miscreants a reprimand. It said very little for them. I am sure it was a lesson they might all have profited by.
There is still a light head wind yet but I think they are expecting to get into the Trade Winds soon for they have been preparing some extra sails and tied another boom to each end of the yard arm for them. We have lost sight of all Birds now not having seen any for two days. The distance travelled for the day has been 212 miles. She seems to be a faster sailer than the generality, for any ships that we have seen yet we have passed. We are seeing more and more every day. We had preserved meat and preserved potatoes for dinner today, which was a fine change from the salt Horse (as the sailors term it) which had almost taken the skin off my mouth. Our baker (the same I mentioned yesterday) made us a piece of short bread for Tea, which would have been very nice but was unfortunately spoiled in the firing being burned almost useless. After tea some of us had Gymnastics on the rigging which was a source of amusement until it turned dark, after which we were delighted with a musical performance comprising a number of wellknown tunes on the Cornet by the Second Mate, accompanied by the “Shah” on the Concertina.
This morning was so warm I could not lie in bed. I got up before six to get the air and a more beautiful morning I never saw. It was almost a calm, the ship not making above two knots. The water under our bows was almost alive with a species of Fish called Bonita…a very clean looking well made fish of a light colour. They kept jumping above the surface of the water every now and then as if they were playing themselves. One of the passengers who was supplied with fishing tackle tried to catch some of them but they would not take his tackle, consisting of a long line and hook with a small painted fish fastened on it. I fancy they are somewhat of the same nature as our Mackeral which indeed they somewhat resemble in form. The distance travelled today was 178 miles. I’m afraid we will have a poor reckoning tomorrow if the wind does not freshen a little. This is a beautiful night…one befitting the end of so beautiful a day. The sun went down about 7 o’clock (I was going to watch him going down for I have never had the opportunity of seeing him dip as it were, in the Ocean, it having always been so cloudy…but I forgot it until too late) and in little more than a quarter of an hour it was quite dark but very starry…they all appear very brilliant. I watched Venus going down about 9, it is astonishing with what rapidity it makes its exit showing that we are (although it scarce costs us a thought) rolling along at an immense rate on course through space.
It is still very warm and the wind very light. We saw a number of flying fish which is the first I ever saw, and what I have often wished to see. They appeared to be about a foot long and something like a Salmon Trout, I suppose they had been chased by some other fish, although we saw no appearance of any. Some of them rose about 2 feet above the surface and flew perhaps 10 or 12 yards. Some of them I believe fly much farther than that. I dressed myself (for the most of us make a little distinction of Sunday) and went to the Cabin where I heard the English Church Service read over by Capt. Bowen. In the afternoon we sighted a good many ships which we were making fast up to. There were as many as 10 all in sight at one time some of them larger than ours. We have only made 94 miles today the wind is still very light. I had a great misfortune today. I had just put on my straw hat (which was a fine large one) for the first time since we sailed…the wind being light, I neglected to tie it on. I had scarcely come on deck when a sudden gust of wind blew it right over into the sea so I had to bid farewell to it. I was rather sorry about it for it was the only one I had. I will feel the want of it very much when we reach the Tropics. There was an evening service which I attended and then turned in.
We still see some ships around us, two or three of them are the same we saw on Saturday morning. There is one the “Collingwood”, an Australian Clipper, seems determined to fight every inch, she has been abreast of us all day. After breakfast all our chests were brought up on deck again. I did not require anything so I never opened mine. I don’t know why they are taking them up so often, I only expected it once a month, indeed I don’t want mine up every week for they get a very rough handling. We came within two or three miles of Farro Island one of the Canarie Group. It does not appear to be a large Island but is very high…it looks like an immense hill for it rose out of the Ocean with its sides gradually sloping until it was lost in clouds. Of course we only saw the west side of it. Our run was found to be 134 miles for the last 24 hours. The weather is very fine still with rather more wind than yesterday which makes it cooler, our apartment though is very warm. I looked at the Thermometer before I went to bed and found it over 80 deg.
Still abreast of the “Collingwood”. I never saw a more equal match, at one time we came almost within speaking distance then she wore ahead for a short distance but we soon made it up again. There has been some preparations making for slaughtering some of the monsters of the deep, the Second Mate set some of them to work cleaning shark hooks and sharpening a sort of a Harpoon which looks rather business-like. I suppose we will soon be into the region of sharks. Today the distance travelled has been 130 miles. This evening I had the pleasure of witnessing a most glorious sunset. I have often watched the downward course of our greatest Luminary but never till tonight have I seen the Horizon clear of clouds…about half past six he began to dip as it were in the Ocean, casting a red parting gleam across the undulating expanse of water. Nothing could have been more beautiful. The clouds, which at the same time were lit up as of Gold, were so varied that you could fancy you saw cities with their spires and minarets. It looked indeed like some fairy scene, but like all the pleasures we have in this world it lasted just for a moment…a few moments more and we were in darkness. It was just as the poet says “like the snowflake on the river a moment white and tyne its gone forever”.
This morning broke on us much the same as the most we have seen…indeed there is so much similarity between each day both as regards our work and the weather too, that it would grow very monotonous were it not for our books, and an occasional wink or a smile of recognition from the Ladies. For although their old Matron looks very sharp after them, yet they do sometimes find an opportunity to give us a nod. They say the stolen waters are sweet. I believe it is actually so in this case, for we all enjoy a wink on the sly knowing that they are kept so much under restraint. The wind has shifted again to our quarter that is to our right rear but is still very light, it allows us however to take advantage of some extra sails which they have placed on the end of the Fore Yard Arm, so we are going along wonderful. We have traversed 134 miles today. In the evening after dark we had a grand display of fireworks consisting of Blue Lights which burned with an intense brilliancy, and Rockets that mounted beautifully into the air and then exploded. They were used as signals to our antagonist who was still in his accustomed place abreast of us and were answered by him in the same manner. They looked very beautiful in the darkness which surrounded us.
This morning a rather curious circumstance happened in the shape of a Birth and a Death both about the very same hour. The bereaved parents were Irish, the child about 9 months old being their first born, died about half past one. At 11 the bell tolled for its burial, the body having been sewed up in sailcloth and loaded at the feet was placed upon a board projecting over the ship’s side and held by a man at one end in a slanting position. It was then covered over by the Union Jack. The Captain read over the impressive Sea Burial service in the middle of which at a given signal it was consigned to the deep. A feeling of awe spread over us all as we heard the dull plunge for we knew that it was shut from our view forever. At 12 it was found we were in Lat 21o 58’ N. Long 23o 5’ W. Distance travelled 140 miles for the 24 hours, so that we are now fairly within the Tropics, and indeed had it not been that we have been favoured with a fine cool breeze from the north, we would feel it for the sun is now nearly vertical. As it is, the pitch is already beginning to boil up between the seams. In the evening we had another strange visitor being a Flying Fish who I suppose having been hardly pressed by his natural enemies the Bonita, took to flight and flying very high cleared our bulwarks and came on board. I am afraid he found himself in the words of the old saying “out of the frying pan into the fire”, for one fellow who happened to notice him soon put an end to his existence. He was something of the shape of a herring about the body but had a flat snout and forehead and was 10 inches long, the wings being about 6. They look prettiest when flying in the water.
On looking over the mighty expanse of water almost the first thing I saw was a large Blue Shark, the first we have seen. I saw his huge back in the distance right ahead, a moment more and he was gambolling alongside of us. He appeared very quick in his movements as he turned over on his side for an instant as if for his prey (although I saw none) and then went out of sight. He was so sharp I could not seem him properly but he appeared to be about 8 feet long. His back was of a dark blue colour and had a huge fin erect on it; his belly was white. We saw numberless Flying Fish throughout the day sometimes in droves of 50 or 60 which were very beautiful. They made a sort of hissing noise when they all entered the water at once. We head it quite distinctly a distance of 30 or 40 yards off. Our reckoning for today was 182 miles. We have now got into the North East Trade Winds which blow always in the same direction. Towards evening it freshened up driving us before it at from 8 to 10 knots.
We saw some more swallows today and a pretty large dark looking bird the sailors called a Cape Pigeon. They are always a welcome sight for watching their movements helps to keep us from wearying. Things on board have begun to assume a serious aspect. There are I believe four of the young people down with Scarlet Fever, one of them, a little girl about 8 years old is very bad. The distance today is 204 miles. This afternoon our old friend the “Collingwood” bore hard upon us and tried to cross our Bow, but our Captain out-manoeuvred him, so he had to go round our stern which he passed within a 100 yards. As he was doing so we gave him a great cheer which he answered and then went a mile or two to the westward of us.
About 11 I went to church. The service has held in the Poop which being supplied with an awning was much cooler than the cabin. As soon as we came down, the first melancholy news we heard was that the little girl who was so ill yesterday had died between 11 and 12 o’clock. Poor little thing just 2 or 3 days before, she told her Mother that she dreamed she was going to die and be cast into the sea. Little did she think it was so soon to be fulfilled. Between 2 and 3 o’clock she was consigned to the deep…about Lat 13 o 37N. Long 27 o 58’ W. The Mother, it seems, with her two children a boy and the girl was going to meet her husband in Australia…it will be a sad meeting for them. About midday the wind freshened and we gradually left the “Collingwood” behind until about sunset we lost him altogether in the haze that enveloped the horizon so that we have now passed every ship that we have sighted. The distance traversed today is 204 miles, again very steady sailing. There was an evening service but I did not feel inclined to go. Indeed I never thought more of our own Presbyterian sermons than I do now…the English Church Service is a poor apology for them.
Passed without any incident worth mentioning everyone amusing himself according to his particular taste…some in playing chess, cards or dominoes, others in reading some interesting book, but the most part, especially the Irish portion, in sleeping or watching the Flying Fishes which were seen in great numbers at intervals. Indeed it is astonishing how the time flies…the time never gets heavy on my hands. We have a regular form to go through every day. In the intervals I am occupied on a book so that I am never at a loss for something to do. It is a source of amusement to us to listen to the bells with which they mark the flight of time. Our ship is supplied with two of them, one on the Poop and the other beside us on the Fo’Castle…the one on the Poop is rung first by one of the cabin inmates where they keep the correct time, and is immediately responded to by the one for’rard. It was some time before I could tell the time by them but now they are as familiar as a clock. They never ring more than 8 bells…that is 8 distinct tolls or nocks with the tongue to which is attached a short rope for that purpose. 12 o’clock is 8 bells, then it begins again at half past 12 and strikes one, adding one more every half hour, 8 bells being rung every four hours. The watch between 4 and 8 in the evening differs from the rest. It is called the Dog Watch. They ring 4 bells at 6 then begin at 1 again but ring 8 bells at 8 o’clock as usual. The reason for it is to change the watch so that they will get turn about of night work. The distance is 166 miles.
After breakfast I had another performance to go through and a new one to me for I never had it to do before. It was in the shape of washing some of my linens. I got a chance of some fresh water and thinking it would be better to have as few dirty things as possible I took advantage of it. Persons don’t know what it is to live until they leave home, for I am sure a year ago I never imagined I would have to do things I have been doing this last month. However I did get a commencement when I was a little boy. I used to see my Mother washing, the way she went at it came vividly to my mind and was a great help to me at this time. My materials were very limited all I could get for a tub was a little pail we washed ourselves in. However in process of time with a little elbow grease I did manage it and had them tolerably clean although the sailors laughed at me for being so long at it for they are all good washers. Towards evening the wind got very light and changeable, we are now in what the sailors call the Horse Latitudes, that is I understand between the Northeast and Southeast Trade Winds and where it is most subject to calms. The night was very clear and starry and very warm…we could see the Southern Cross quite distinctly right ahead…the Pole Star also astern, getting very low. Down below it was excessively warm, the Thermometer stood at 94o. We spoke to the Doctor for a windsail to send a flow of air down. the married folks having two, and the young women one, but it seems we are not to get it in a hurry. A good many sleep on deck… I have never done it…we lie sweating with nothing covering us but a sheet. Distance 174 miles.
I got up early this morning and had a glorious bathe in a barrel which the sailors use when washing decks. I really never felt anything so delightful. I filled the barrel about halffull and got one of my mates to pump on top of me so I had quite a shower bath… a good many afterwards followed my example…the one pumping to shower the other. The wind died away to a dead calm after sunrise, and here we lay under a burning tropical sun…as the Poet said, “as idle as a painted ship upon a painted ocean”,…with nothing to be heard but the sails as they flapped idly against the masts with every roll of the ship. It happened to by my turn to scrape and clean (every sixth day) our apartment. I never got such a sweat in my life. It was actually running down our breasts in streams. However, like everything else it came to an end. The sailors were kept at it pretty hard all day trimming sails to take advantage of the puffs of wind which shifted about very much. About sunset the sky began to look very black and ominous with every sign of a thunderstorm. I could easily see our cautious Captain was not very sure about it for he took in all the higher sails and made everything snug. However, it passed off, we did indeed get a pretty heavy shower (which was taken advantage of by some of them for washing purposes) and then a pretty stiff breeze, but nothing serious happened. The rain which was the first we have got since starting, was a great blessing for it helped to cool the air. The distance today…130 miles.
When we awoke this morning the breeze was light but towards midday it freshened up from the Southeast so that the sailors supposed we had got fairly into the Southeast Trades. They have begun to prepare for rough weather which they expect by the time we reach the Cape; in anticipation of which, they have got up from the hold great coils of new ropes to make Halliards and other tackle, and in a week or two they are going to bend an entire set of new sails. Our evenings which were getting very long (it being dusk dark by 7 o’clock) and wearysome for we always sit on the Fo’castle until bed time, are getting quite delightful by the appearance of the moon which is well on in her first quarter. Indeed we now look forward to a pleasant chat in the evening as a relief from the burning sun for as it is still nearly right overhead there is very little shelter from it on deck. Distance 76 miles.
A great outcry arose today against some of the Irish portion of the passengers in consequence of some of them having been seen literally moving with live stock (lice). It is a God’s blessing that they mostly sleep beside each other and when on deck too they always keep by themselves. It’s almost laughable to see how studiously each of us avoid them. I am very glad that in the square in which I sleep, comprising 20 beds, the whole came on at London and with one or two exceptions are all Scotsmen. Without prejudice I can safely say that the portion that came on at London were by far the most respectable. We have seen nothing as yet in our beds though I’m afraid we won’t be long when the others are so bad. If they had come on board clean there was nothing to hinder them from keeping clean as everything was quite new, indeed, some of the Irishmen that sleep on deck have never had off their clothes for about a fortnight just actually breeding them. Distance 136 miles.
We awoke this morning to hear the melancholy intelligence that another of our number had been consigned to the deep, a young Irish girl about 25 years of age. Poor girl, it seems she has been badly since ever she came on board. She had been very bad with fever for a day or two previous and died about 2 o’clock this morning and was buried about halfpast 5. There are two places right amid ships beside the cook’s galley and capable of holding 6 or 8 persons converted into an hospital for the worst cases, and has already 2 or 3 inmates. I pray God it may soon be empty and always remain so. We are all begun to weary for a sight of a sail again, there has nothing been seen for two or three days, we are all glad indeed when something unusual comes in sight. Distance 110 miles.
There was service morning and night as usual but I did not go for I felt I was little better of it. I got quite lost in it, it seems to me to be so irregular, so I read my bible and thought of home. I could almost fancy I heard our old Parish Minister go through one of his excellent sermons. It is a strange thing that I have thought very little about home since I left. I am really astonished at it sometimes, for I leave in Scotland all that I love and reverence, and now going to a strange land where I am an entire stranger. It must be the novelty of the situation and the number of strange faces that keep me from thinking on the past. In my dreams, however, I am often back in old Scotland. I fancy if I was once landed and settled down I will feel it more. Distance 98 miles.
I got up early this morning and had another splendid bathe which I enjoyed very much. I would have liked it better if I could have had a swim which however could not be had, although indeed our cook went overboard and had a swim but was severely reprimanded by the Mate. It was indeed a dangerous sport in these Latitudes which are infested with sharks. At halfpast 7 this evening it was announced that we had reached the Equator. Immediately after, we heard the cry “Ship Ahoy”, then up came Father Neptune in the shape of the oldest seaman on board (they couldn’t have selected a better man for the office, he appears to be between 50 or 60 and is a regular old sea dog…can tell any amount of yarns). He came up with his Trident in his right hand like a sceptre and his lady on the other (one of the younger seamen with a woman’s gown and bonnet on made a firstclass lady). He was dressed in a long flowing robe thrown loosely over his shoulders and a crown on his head. He went aft under an escort to the Poop where he was received by the Captain, after carrying on a conversation for some time relating to the ship and the voyage, the most of which I lost. He wished us a safe journey and then came forward again… after which a Tub with some inflammable material in it was set on fire and cast adrift, he was then supposed to be off to his Ocean Home again. The seamen were not allowed to go through the usual ceremonies which take place on such an occasion on account of the sickness on board. At any rate there was only one boy among the crew who had not crossed the Line before, and they are not allowed to practice on passengers. However, they fired rockets and burnt blue lights in honour of the event. Some of the passengers showed their ignorance by wondering where the Line was that everybody was talking about, for they couldn’t see anything, others have been wondering for sometime how we are to get over it. Distance 124 miles. Lat 30.
This morning another has been added to our list of dead, the deceased being a young child about 9 months old, died about 4 o’clock and was buried about 9…the bereaved parents are both Scots from the Glasgow district. In the afternoon we had a good laugh at the poor Baker (he is engaged as Baker for the outward journey only and is going to stay in Adelaide and is about 22 years old). He had been amusing himself running up and down the Foremast and just as he had reached the Crosstrees one of the sailors knowing he had no business there went up with a rope and tied him to one of the stays where he was left for some time exposed to the jeers of those below. The Boatswain however, after he thought he had enough of it went up and loosed him. Distance 160 miles.
Wednesday July 1st
July commenced on as beautiful a day as I could ever wish to behold, the sun rose most beautiful without a cloud on the sky a nice cool breeze blowing. I thought on home and remembered that my old comrades and shopmates were at this time enjoying themselves, it being the Summer Holidays. I wondered if they would have the same beautiful weather but I doubt it much. We have been very lucky having had an uninterrupted spell of good weather for the last five weeks. This afternoon another of our number is lost to us forever, she was a young Irish girl of about 21 years of age. She had been very bad for two or three days previous and at last succumbed about 5 o’clock and in about half an hour afterwards she was committed to the deep. It is awful to think how little ceremony there is, the breath is scarcely out before they are slung over…in this case it was even quicker than usual. They intended to sink her bed with her, but horrible to say it had not been loaded enough to sink all, for the body just gave a plunge and rose to the surface again. I was very glad it was dark when it happened for a good many did not know. She has left a brother on board. It will be a good thing if he never hears it. The sailors say it will sink as soon as the bed gets saturated. Distance 178 miles.
I have been thinking today, now that we have got everything in working order, that we could be very comfortable together if it was not for the dirty habits of some of our Irish neighbours. I don’t mean to say they are all alike, there are some of them very nice clean fellows. I was speaking to some of my mates that came on at London, and they seemed to think so too…that if we had not taken in any more at Plymouth we could have made a little paradise of it and been so happy, for we are begun to like the fare pretty well. Of course the hard biscuit and salt meat was a great change to us but time works wonders. We get that preserved meat twice a week which is a nice change besides pea soup the one day, and rice the other, the only thing we don’t like is the preserved potatoes. I never heard one say he liked them. We sometimes get porridge and molasses which is very nice when they are carefully boiled, but they are sometimes a little burned. We also get a loaf for the mess twice a week. The other days we always get flour, suet and raisins to make puddings, cakes, or anything we like…so we always have something tasty every day. In fact we are getting on fine if it were not for the great drawback. We can’t even sit down on the Fo’castle (the place allotted to the young men), with freedom, for we don’t know but what we will walk away with a family or two of that most obnoxious of vermin…and unless the whole make an effort to clean themselves it will not be of use for one or two of us to do so. In the afternoon we passed a large mail steamer within a couple of miles which was signalled but I don’t know with what result. Distance 146 miles.
A great outcry arose today caused by a young fellow in our mess declaring he had got a sum of 19/6d stolen from him. He went to the Captain and stated his case, who sympathised with him but could of course do nothing in the case as they had only taken the money and left the purse. However during the day it came to be generally understood that it was all a ruse to raise the wind in fact his chum even went about trying to raise a subscription for him. It has been the means of a good many giving their money to the Captain to keep for them for greater security. This evening I beheld the moon rise in all her splendour. It is truly astonishing with what rapidity we see all the great Luminaries rise and set. We sometimes watch Venus going to rest, it is so bright and casts such a glare on the water that we actually thought sometimes it was the Moon, before we looked up. The nights are getting so long and wearysome that the moon is hailed as a blessing and indeed it is a very impressive scene, for the Ocean is like a lake it is so smooth…you’d see us sitting in groups talking together or watching her reflecting her rays on the slightly heaving expanse. Thus the nights pass pleasantly. Distance 138 miles.
Today we passed great numbers of what the sailors call Portugese Men of War and are in reality a kind of sun fish that float on the surface of the water. It seems they have it in their power to raise a flap on their body like a sail and use it as such taking advantage of any wind that may be blowing to waft them on their course. In the evening the clouds began to look very threatening as if it would rain. The wind sprang up to a 10 knot breeze which continued until 10 when in the twinkling of an eye the sails went flap against the masts the wind coming instantaneously from the opposite direction. The ship was driven stern foremast before it, the clouds at the same time had met right overhead like a great black arch, then down came a perfect deluge of rain. In the midst I could hear the cry “all hands on deck”, but I don’t think they were required for the wind fell back in the old direction. The rain continued for about half an hour and then stopped as suddenly as it came. The wind fell off too about midnight. I fancy we would have been in a very dangerous position when we backed, in the squall, if there had been a heavy sea running. As it was however it passed without any accident whatever. Distance 104 miles.
When we got up this morning there was no trace whatever of the last night’s squall with the exception of the well-washed decks and wet sails. There was indeed some of the beds of them that slept on deck in a miserable plight, as some ran below and left their beds all night. I have no doubt there was also a good many lives lost by being washed overboard, but there has been no death list kept. There was service as usual but I didn’t feel inclined. We passed a homeward bound ship about midday. In the afternoon the breeze freshened and we were running along sometimes at the rate of 11 knots. Distance 196 miles.
A great disturbance arose today in consequence of an Irishman who had lost his bed taking one belonging to one his mates. It was like to cause some fighting at first, but did not come to anything, the thief being the stronger party and the other not being able to prove the bed to be his (they are all too much alike, that unless marked with some private mark it is not possible to claim them). He had to let him keep it and lie on the bare boards. Such a wrangling, discontented, quarrelsome set of fellows it never was my lot to be amongst before, and please God never again. The wind is till keeping up finely. At daybreak she was making 11½ knots which is splendid sailing when on a wind, for she is lying as close to the wind as they can keep her. Distance 232 miles. Lat 17.32 Long. 30.20.
The wind is still fresh and our good ship going along so well that our Captain says he believes he will make Australia in about 30 days. This afternoon we passed about 4 miles to the westward of the Island of Trinidada which appears to be very small and rises abruptly like a huge rock from the middle of the ocean. I don’t think it can be an Island of much consequence for I don’t remember ever seeing it marked in any map. In the evening some of us had some singing to help pass away the night which we did very agreeably, the performance winding up with what is termed a Dutch Medley. That is, the whole sat in a ring then each in his turn singing a verse of any song he remembered then the whole joining in with the Chorus of Rule Brittania which made the old ship ring again. Indeed I think we could pass the long nights very agreeably down below, especially in the cold weather, with a little concert now and again. Distance 232 miles.
The wind has fallen considerably today. It seems we will lose the South east trade winds about the Tropic of Capricorn or 23 o south and which we will in all probability pass today. After that we won’t get steady winds until we reach the North west winds which take us to Australia. They are a complete study in themselves, those trade winds and their causes, but it is one which I don’t fully understand yet. Distance 126.
I have been thinking today that we are very well off compared to some, with regard to our water, for as we have a condenser on board, it keeps us always supplied with the very best of fresh water. With a little lime juice (which commodity each of us is supplied with weekly) amongst it, it is very cool and delicious. I have often heard it said that the water at sea got very bad and I believe it will if they depend entirely on the casks for it, but if taken with the Lime Juice it will be found very nice and refreshing. About midday we passed three ships two of them going in the same direction as ourselves, the other homeward bound which was signalled, and had it not been that we have fever on board we would have got letters taken home. I am glad to be able to state that the fever on board has every chance of disappearing with the warm weather. There are only two patients on board, one some chronic disease, the other fever but is mending favourably. In the afternoon the wind fell so much that we lay almost becalmed, any little there was being in rear of us. They got the stun-sails out once more (they had been laid fast) for it is by taking all the advantage they can of these light winds that we get out of these Latitudes. Distance 100 miles.
This morning a very ludicrous accident happened to me. We were to get half porridge half coffee for breakfast. The fellow whose turn it was to bring everything said they would not give him any porridge…but in fact he did not want to be bothered bringing it. So I went for it and got it, and in coming down the steps which were a little wet and slippery the ship gave a lurch and I was precipitated to the foot of the stairs, getting all the scalding porridge on my head and clothes. My ludicrous appearance raised a laugh among the rest but I did not care for that. I soon got scraped and all right again little the worse, except for my head a little blistered. The day being still very calm was taken advantage of by the sailors in putting up some new sails and taking down the old ones preparing for rough weather. About 10 o’clock in the evening a whale was seen almost close to the vessel to come up and blow five or six times and then went off. I did not have the pleasure of seeing it but one of my mates on whom I could rely said he saw it quite distinctly in the dim light, for it was clear and starry. Distance 86.
We passed another ship which turned out to be the “High Flyer”, one that left London three days before us and is reckoned a very fast sailer. It seems there is not many can compete with our gallant little ship. It is really lightsome to see the sailors…how happy they are and how nimbly they go through their work in the forenoon keeping the time as they pulled taut the ropes with a song. The secret is they get Saturday afternoon as a half holiday in fine weather, which is a great blessing to them as well as to us landsmen. I am sorry to say that it has not become general yet for there is not many ships that get Saturday afternoon and Sunday. In this one they don’t have to work unless in a case of necessity. The night being rainy we all got below and actually had a very nice concert which I hope is only the first of a series. Some of our Irish friends contributed a good deal to the night’s amusement. After 10 a good breeze sprang up from the Southwest. Distance 120 miles. Lat. 28:5 Long. 27:12.
I was awakened early by the rolling of the ship which was throwing me first on the one side of my bunk and then on the other. On getting on deck I could see there was a heavy sea running and the ship going perhaps 9 knots. The waves were coming broadside on, which was the cause of her rolling so much making it uncomfortable to walk on deck. At dinner time it was making the pea soup fly about in all directions. Each had to collar his dish and balance it according to the roll of the ship. We have begun to see numerous traces of being near the Cape, in the shape of flocks of Cape Pigeons. Some of them are beautifully marked, white and black, and are very graceful as they float on the bosom of the ocean or skim its surface; they appear about the size of our dove which they resemble very much in shape. This evening a most disgraceful fight got up between a young Englishman and an Irishman. They had been quarrelling all day and ended in a hand to hand encounter, which had it not been Sunday, might have been allowed to go on…for both deserved a good thrashing. As it was they ran a great risk of being put in irons and indeed I believe it would have done them a deal of good to have had a day or two to themselves. Distance 206 miles.
Was a most disagreeable day. The wind which blew pretty hard from the South West was accompanied with a heavy blinding rain and very cold lasting without intermission until late at night. The most of us that could get it done comfortably took to our bunks supplied with books. I am very fortunate in having a top bunk right below a skylight so that in very cold or wet weather I will be able to pass the time comfortably even profitably with a book, whereas some of my less favoured mates have to sleep it out. I pitied the sailors (hardy fellows though they all are) when they had to go aloft in the cold blinding rain clad in oilskins and with thin heavy seaboots on making it more dangerous for they can’t cling so well with them on. One sail (the Mainsail) being new and wet was as stiff as a board…all hands were sent up to take it in and a very hard job they appeared to have as the ship rolled very much. I am sure if any young would-be sailors had seen it, it would have cured them of all desire of going to sea. In the afternoon one of the cabin passengers caught one of the Cape Pigeons on the poop. He had a small hook baited with a piece of beef and which the bird came to make away with but found himself taken in and done for. It was a pretty large one and beautifully marked. One of the cooks I believe got it to stuff for him, as he could do a little in that line. After Tea we got a fiddle started and had a little dancing…some jigs and hornpipes were creditably done by some of our Irish friends. The atmosphere being so thick and cloudy the Captain could not take the sun…so we got no reckoning today.
By the time we had got up the rain had cleared off but the wind was fresh, the ship rolling very much. We have begun to know now what the sea is. We have all along been as if sailing on a lake but now if we don’t watch out we find ourselves being among water at the Leeside. At dinner by not exercising caution, our pea soup took wings and flew from the table to the middle of the floor and so we lost the best part of our dinner. Everyone has to be standing with his dish in his hand ready to receive his portion and look after it for it takes each all his time to look after himself. We are still seeing great flocks of seabirds….it affords us great please to watch movements…each flock is headed by a bird much larger than the rest…that appears as if he was King for they always follow him. They are daily getting more daring some of them hovering over the deck as if they were going to light. Distance for the two days 308 miles.
About 8 this morning the wind freshened to a regular gale, gradually stitch after stitch was taken off until there was nothing left but the Lower Main Topsail which was kept up to keep her head to the wind, and here we lay almost as if at anchor (what the sailors term “Hove to”) with the waves now and again coming right over her like a sheet. (Indeed it was laughable to see the ignorance of some, who actually asked if she was at anchor. Such an idea, and us in a place where, if she was going down, I believe she would never reach the bottom). One great wave struck her amidships and knocked in a part of the bulwarks. I got drenched with one as I was going to the galley for our coffee (for it happened to be my turn to clean up and fetch the eatables). About midforenoon the sea was running very high and the wind still increasing. It caused the ship to roll so much that her lee gunwale was sometimes under water. Some of the women came on deck and sat down on a spare spar but were no sooner set down than the ship took a lurch and they were left sprawling on the deck among the water. One got herself severely hurt, another fainted and was carried down below where the rest soon followed. For a time the deck presented a scene of confusion, loose pieces of wood floating about and occasionally some luckless person found himself gliding on his back from one side of the ship to the other as she rolled back and forward. Down below things were even worse…tins were flying in all directions…and some of our water barrels got loose and were rolling about putting us in danger of getting our legs broken. Two or three of the forms got broken to pieces to lend variety to the scene. The front board of two of the beds was pulled off by some of them hanging on to save themselves, and the beds, and things they had in the bunks were sent flying on the floor. We got our dinner brought to the mouth of our hatch and served out in small quantities. About teatime it was at the worst, at least the sea was highest for it does not rise all at once like the wind, but gradually. Two of us went to the galley for Tea with a teapot each. We had no sooner got it than a sea struck her, and my companion was bundled into a corner and spilt half of it. I managed to get down below without accident and was going to the table when a fellow came up against me, and down I went to the Leeside where I got all the tea about me. The lower deck was so slippery that it was scarcely possible to keep our feet without a hold. All the tea we could get was about half a cupful each. However we know that we have to be pleased with small mercies here. I went on deck to have a look of the scene again. I had often wished, while at home, to behold a gale at sea and now I have it gratified. Indeed it is a wild looking picture…the wind roaring and whistling through the rigging so that we can scarcely hear ourselves speaking…the seabirds screaming as if delighted as they skimmed the surface daring the storm to its worst…while the waves rising like two rugged hills on each side of us as we lay in the trough, seemed as if they would engulf our tight little craft. But she rose to them like a duck…and as she was very light she took in comparatively little water…only occasionally an extra large wave would come on board. We all turned in early but not to get a sound sleep. Some in fact, never slept the whole night…the rolling was so great. I slept pretty well awakening now and again when she gave an extra lurch. Distance 202 miles. Lat 38.22 Long 20.4.
When we got up this morning the wind had fallen considerably. The sea also was going down as gradually as it rose, enabling us to get some sail set, which they did but still close reefed down. In the afternoon however it had toned down so much that they shook out all the reefs and we were once more scudding along as if nothing had happened to interrupt the harmony of our voyage and instead of rolling it was pitching now for a change. We soon began to see the effects of the straining she got, for the water began to find its way through the decks to our beds, some of which are almost afloat…I feel that I am very lucky in having mine tolerably dry. One of the sailors caught another splendid bird this evening which was skinned and cured. I fancy part of it would make a splendid ornament for a ladies hat, but I don’t know if Jack is keeping it for that purpose. Distance 33 miles…Lat. 38.10. Long. 19.25 W…so that we have lost 12 miles Lat and gained 33 by Long.
In the forepart of the day the wind was pretty fresh but in the latter part it died away altogether almost showing the baffling nature of the winds at this part of the globe, one day a gale and the next a calm. However, I am led to believe that when we reach the Longitude of the Cape winds will be steady and strong enough…and that we hope to make in a day or two. We are getting it cold enough now, in fact we are all glad to put on our overcoats when we appear on deck now…but it is fine and healthy weather…all the invalids being now perfectly recovered. About 8 o’clock we were all alarmed by the loud cries of Fire from the deck. After hurrying up (for I happened to be down below at the time) I was glad to find it was nothing very serious although had it not been promptly handled it might have been bad enough. It turned out to be one of the staysails that had been in too close proximity to the flue of the condenser and caught fire. It was seen however, before it had got any great hold and was soon cut down and extinguished. There was very little damage done but if it had got a little more time it might have caught the Foresail and then it would have gone right up the mast…and the result might have been something awful. The circumstance clearly shows that a good watch and the utmost caution is always necessary, more especially on board a ship. Distance 192.
Passed very quietly…a light breeze blowing. About midday it was very slack, the sun so much obscured that the Captain could not take his Observations …so we got no reckoning. The night however was pretty clear and the moon well on in her first quarter, once more shining bright and cheerful. Instead of having a concert again we had some innocent games with which we passed the night very pleasantly.
We were prisoners all day for it rained without intermission for four and twenty hours. Indeed I was miserable for all being down below, there was such a babble of tongues together with the wrangling now and again that always takes place when all are together,…made it impossible for us to read any, so the peaceably disposed had to lie in their beds all day. We have not seen the sun at all today therefore there is no observations today yet.
Was fair but still cloudy, the wind was right astern and blew pretty fresh and steady, the ship rolling a good deal. We always like the wind to be on the side or on the quarter, it keeps her steadier. A little disturbance arose in consequence of their refusing to cook some of our little extras, which he does without grumbling to the married folks or the young women,…so it was agreed that we throw all our fat meat and refuse to the fishes instead of giving it to him, which made the bully give in a little, for we have got rather better measure and less impudence since, …although it is still quite evident that they rob us of all they can to give to those that are continually giving two or three shillings a proceeding, which I hate. I intended giving something at the end of the voyage, but now I am determined to give nothing, nor am I myself in that matter. People going out in an emigrant ship have to contend with a great many inconveniences,…not only with regard to the cooks,…they are also often vexed with their companions in the mess being rude or dirty inclined. I find that two or three of us have the most of it to do because we want to keep everything clean and tidy. However, I think we will manage to rough it out now. No sun today…yet.
Early this morning a voice cried down our Hatchway “the Iceberg”…”come up and see the Iceberg”, whereupon some went on deck half naked and got properly laughed at. The voice came from the old sailor who I mentioned before as acting King Neptune when crossing the Line and who always takes a delight in trying to gull us Landsmen. We all like the rest of the sailors indeed. I could not have wished to have been among a better crew, they are all so respectable and agreeable among themselves and us that we all like to talk to them now and again making allowances for a yarn or two from some of the more volatile. On the whole, we can generally depend on the truth of any statement they make, indeed I wonder at their keeping their temper so well…their patience is often tried, for we are often in their way while working, and there is always someone asking questions at them, but they are always civil. Today I began to see evidences of our enemies, that loathsome vermin being spread over the whole of us, for I have now, for the first time in my life, got two or three on my body. It is very disheartening for there is no way of keeping ourselves clean, for when we put on clean clothes we just get a fresh family. There is nothing for it but to wear the clothes we have and throw them overboard when we land. Of course, in the meantime, we try to keep them down as much as possible. We were gladdened by a sight of the sun in all his glory today. It was found we had made 522 miles and were in Lat 42.53. Long 2.5.
The wind still pretty fresh but very changeable, the one time on our stern, the next it will be dead ahead so that I am afraid we won’t make the quick passage we have been led to expect. The school for the young children which was carried on by Mr. Kerslake, the same who was christened "The Shah", has been knocked off now on account of the cold weather. It had been going on, on deck until now, and it seems there is no accommodation for them below. It is a pity for there is no doubt it was a great benefit to them and it kept them out of mischief. Today we had another novelty in the shape of oatmeal cakes or Bannocks as we used to call them in Scotland. Our porridge for some time back had not been well attended to in the cooking. Sometimes they were burned and otherwise destroyed so we came to the conclusion we would use up the meal by making cakes, which as there was a little fat among them, were really excellent, and was a fine change from the hard biscuits which we were all tired of. I don’t know if it was my dislike of the biscuits and the fact of it being so long since I tasted cakes, but I must say I thought they were the best I tasted. Distance 198 miles.
In the forepart of the day the wind was light, but in the afternoon it freshened up to a nice breeze, which carried us along sometimes nearly 12 knots, and helped to raise our spirits a little. How true it is we are all the children of circumstances. The least thing raises our spirits and it takes very little to knock them down again. If everything had gone well, and all agreeable, we could have been happy. As it is, we are all wearying for land, so that is the reason our spirits are raised or depressed according as the wind is favourable or the reverse. They don’t seem to study our wants very well, for there are three of our messes without seats, and one without a table having been broken about the time of the gale.…nor do they seem in any hurry to mend them, although some have been sitting on the deck ever since. Indeed they were very temporary affairs from the first, never like being adapted for sea service. I am expecting to go right through my bunk the next time we get rough weather, if we do happen to encounter a gale. I was amused at some of my fellow passengers declaring their intentions of travelling by land when they come home again…the same route they say, that they bring horses to England, that is overland to India and from there home, never for a moment supposing that Australia is an Island thousands of miles from the nearest mainland. Distance 148 miles.
On getting up this morning I found the wind still fresh, and us going along in fine style which gave us the prospect of a speedy landing, the Captain himself declaring that he expected to land in three weeks. The weather is now very cold. It takes all the walking we can get on the Fo’castle to keep our feet warm. Indeed we enjoy the walk very much, although it is sometimes under difficulties we get it, with the rolling of the ship and the Fo’castle being small, it is necessarily limited. Just what we used to term a fisherman’s walk…“three steps and a spit”. We sometimes got a flying shower of snow or sleet which was excessively cold but did not last long. In the evening the clouds cleared away and exposed to our view once more our welcome friend the Moon in all her beauty, and under her pale light I spent a pleasant hour or two talking to the man on the watch (which is kept of course on all night, and is relieved every two hours), and then turned in. Distance today 266 miles (566 miles?) …being the best run we have had all the voyage.
The wind has changed about a good deal which is not a good sign and was for some time almost right astern but towards evening it fell away altogether. I got a good laugh at some of the Englishmen in our mess today, they used to chaff and jeer at us for eating our oatmeal cakes, declaring they were not fit for pigs, and that they would never taste them, but today they asked for a bit and after tasting it declared they would have their share after this. So we completely turned the tables on them and told them they should be more wary of what they said after this. After Tea it came on very thick and foggy accompanied with a drizzling rain, just what I have heard termed a “Scotch Mist”, very cold and disagreeable it was, it made us think more of our quarters down below which were tolerably warm, and where we spent a very happy night. Distance 198 miles.
We were again awakened this morning about 6 o’clock by the same conceited old Seaman crying to us to “come up and see the Cape Lights, and for those who had letters to take on shore, to get them ready”. He did succeed in getting some of the green ones up, of course to them that knew better, the idea was quite absurd knowing that we are about 400 miles south of the Cape. He has earned for himself the reputation of being able to tell some very tough yarns, in fact no one believes him. I don’t envy him his position although he seems proud of it for when we can’t believe a man’s word, it is not possible to respect him. He has already grown quite tiresome with his stories. The Fog which was very dense in the morning cleared off towards midday but returned as thick as ever in the evening. After Tea the Doctor in going his daily rounds congratulated us on good health (not one of us having been laid up the whole voyage) and said he was very happy yet astonished at it all. The other divisions, even the Cabin and the sailors too, have had some invalids. In the married place, after all their cry about cleanliness, at the present time there are about 20 lying badly again. There has been service as usual today. Distance 76 miles having been almost becalmed since last night. Lat 44.7. Long 18.3 E.
About 4 this morning we were again awakened by some of the sailors who said there was a comet to be seen away in the east and any that wished to see it would have to be quick, but thinking it was all a ruse I lay still, and on getting up about 7 and going on deck, I found that it had actually been seen and that I had lost a splendid sight…one that I might never have the chance to see again, for it is going down, and is only seen shortly before sunrise. However, I consoled myself with the idea that I had at all events seen a large one (I remember having seen the large Comet of 1858). This affair reminded me very much of the story I have heard about he boy and the wolf…for had I not been led to put no faith in their word, I would certainly have been among the first to have been on deck. I asked one of the sailors with whom I am intimate to cry to me tomorrow morning if it was visible. The day was clear and frosty and in the afternoon the wind which had been light before, freshened gradually until it amounted to a very stiff breeze…the sails were taken in one by one until there was scarcely two thirds left and still we were scudding along with the wind on our starboard quarter at a fine pace which promised soon to land us. Distance 150 miles.
The Comet was only seen for about a minute this morning in the space between two clouds and was very low then. The wind is still keeping up in splendid style having been very steady all night…the day dull and very cloudy, so much so that there were no observations taken. In the afternoon the sea being pretty rough we took in a good deal of spray, one or two unlucky wights got properly drenched to the skin…now and again the ship rolling very much, threw some of our Tea things over to some of the other messes, who having lost some of their own, have taken ours to make up for it…at least we have been minus a mug and two or three spoons ever since. The moon being full, the evening was beautiful but very cold which causes me to take refuge beside the stove in the Fo’castle among the sailors where they being jolly fellows I spent an hour or two very comfortably and then turned in.
It being cloudy the Comet was not seen at all this morning. The wind about the same as yesterday I suppose, as we have now passed the Longitude of the Cape we have now got into the strong steady winds the sailors have been talking about. Towards midday it cleared off and the sun once more blazed forth, but what a difference from what it was a month ago…at that time we could scarcely bear it and was glad always to stand in the shade of the sails, but now when on deck we always try to be as much in the sun as possible, and even at that we stand shivering unless well covered. About sunset we had a very severe snow storm which lasted about half an hour…about 8 o’clock there was another of hail, accompanied with a very strong breeze of wind which, in fact, always more or less accompany these showers and are called snow squalls. I heard today that all the invalids are recovered again with the exception of one or two, and these are also doing well. I am much afraid we will have to lie for a week or two quarantine. Distance 492 miles. Lat 43.34. Long 32.53 E.
Was a fine, clear, beautiful day so as I had plenty of warm clothes on I spent a good part of the day on the Fo’castle watching our good ship as she bounded over the undulating expanse of waters like a frightened race horse. Sometimes indeed she staggered as she plunged into a large wave and then away she swept again as if she kept all her pent up energies for another grand burst. The sight was splendid for she looked like a thing of life as she flapped her gigantic wings now and again. At other times when the sun answered I have watched for hours together, the beautiful rainbows caused by him sending his rays though the spray. It was a very imposing scene …sometimes indeed they showed the colours as vivid as the brightest rainbow that I ever saw. They were seen to best advantage in the forenoon when the sun was shining bright and no broad side on to him. Distance 246 miles.
Was very foggy all day which ended in rain which made it disagreeable and kept us below the most of the day. It is very amusing to see the civility we get from the cooks now…they even come and ask if we would like a little more soup, or would we require a little hot water, a commodity which if we had asked even for our greasy dishes a week or two ago, we would have got nothing but insult, Now we get good measure of everything. The secret is we are drawing near the end of our journey and they are expecting us to subscribe two or three pounds for them. I am afraid they will be woefully mistaken, for I am sure, amongst all in the ship, they least deserve it. I can answer for the most of us young men at any rate, and I have heard complaints from some of the married folks too.
Saturday August 1st
Thus we have now commenced another month with what an awful rapidity the others have passed …it almost seems as if the last two were an entire blank and that they have been lost altogether, as indeed I may say they are, for this sleeping and eating existence does not suit me exactly. It also seems like a dream to me, this passing from the extreme heat of summer to the heart of winter…almost like the sudden changes of the Magic Lantern, the varied scenes of which I used to like so well to see. This morning was foggy but cleared off as the sun rose…In the evening it began to rain pretty heavy and about 8, the wind chopped round until almost right ahead, when it began to blow pretty hard, causing her to ship large quantities of spray now and again as she dashed into a wave, so to escape a drenching I went below expecting a better night’s sleep than I had the night before, for as the wind was astern, she rolled so much I could scarcely fall asleep. Distance 444 miles.
This morning found us still going ahead at the rate of about 10 knots an hour. As the day wore on however it slackened a little. We are still followed by a large number of sea birds mostly these Cape Pigeons, with now and again an Albatross to the very scene. We have however seen no large specimen of them, for I have read that they are often seen as much as 15 and 20 feet across the wings, from tip to tip, any that we have seen yet do not I am sure reach half that. Great numbers of these Pigeons have been caught from time to time. They are so tame with hunger that they fly at anything that is thrown overboard and are therefore an easy prey. It seems to me to be wanton cruelty to take advantage of them whilst satisfying the cravings of nature, and that only for sport, for they are no use for food. I would have excused one or two if they wanted a specimen for stuffing, but they slaughter the beautiful creatures wholesale. There was service today as usual but I did not attend. I am wearying for the time when I shall once more go quietly to church as I used to do at home, for somehow I can’t take with this English church service. Distance 216 miles.
Was rather dull, but was spent very agreeably in reading a novel, the best one I think I ever read. I am not much of a novel reader, however, not having indulged in anything of the kind for some years before…but somehow since I came on board here, there are times when I can’t read anything solid…anything that requires much thought, so that something light and easily digested is what comes to be most acceptable. On reading this one (The Secret of a Life), I found that it is possible to get much that is good, and many sterling principles, even out of a novel. In the evening wind again fell away to a very light breeze, at which we were not (although of course we have to take what we get) very well pleased….for we are growing regular sea dogs and like better to see her spinning along at the rate of 11 or 12 knots, even at the risk of getting a drenching. Distance 190 miles.
The first news we had was that another young child was added to our list of dead, and was buried about half past 9. The poor thing was such a sweet tempered little creature, that she was a general favourite with all on board, and was indeed christened by some the flower of the ship, for she had such a taking manner, and would in fact come to anybody even a stranger, and stay all day if they would keep her. On getting on deck and looking over the left side we could see a large ship hull down right abreast of us and going in the same direction. About midday we came within signalling distance of each other when she proved to be the “Otago” a full rigged ship of 992 tons and bound for Otago with 450 emigrants on board…all in good health…not a death having occurred among them. How different was the tale we had to tell. She sailed on the 30th May, the day after us, from London, so that we (by having to go to Plymouth) have made a better passage than her thus far. Towards 5 o’clock a fine breeze sprang up, and I could see the spirit of rivalry seize hold of our different commanders as they gave orders to crowd on sail after sail, until every stitch was brought to bear. Shortly afterwards we came within speaking distance of one another. I could distinctly hear one passenger ask if we had got pea soup for dinner (I suppose their dinners in general, like ours, consists chiefly in that commodity). Another asked if we had seen the “Shah” for some time….so a good deal of slang passed between the two. The “Otago” however being to windward took the wind from us and gradually forged ahead, then creased our bow and passed away to the south, and after dark her light was seen a little behind us as if we in turn had gone ahead. We have had no sun today, therefore no reckoning.
This morning nothing could be seen of the “Otago”. We were rather sorry, for we expected her company for a day or two to relieve the monotony. I think we have taken a good many of her feathered followers from her for we seem to have more than ever. There’s something funny in the idea of exchanging birds. I took a good laugh as the thought crossed me that perhaps our followers had told them there was something to be picked up, for we give them all our refuse instead of to the cooks. This afternoon the decks being wet and slippery, a poor fellow fell and broke his collar bone. He was a young Irishman and is the first invalid we have had in our apartment. The sailors, poor fellows, seem to have suffered a good deal, out of their small number there has been 6 on the sick list. There are two lying at the present moment very ill. The cooks had the impudence today to suggest that we should raise a subscription for them. I don’t know how they could ever expect such a thing after the usage we have got from them. However, we had a meeting to see what was to be done, and at the meeting, which was very orderly, it was almost unanimously agreed that the cook should get nothing, but that we should get up a subscription to give the fellow a little that some time ago said he lost his money,…and who in reality appears hard up…and give the remainder to the Baker (who, poor fellow, got his job taken from him some time ago and is to get no wages when he lands. He, not being accustomed to the ovens used at sea, had not been firing the bread as it ought to be, so the elder cook got it (the job) to do. The fact is, I don’t think he had a fair chance, for that cook did all he could against him…at any rate, he is entrusted with the firing of our little dishes which he does satisfactorily and is very obliging). It was thought best to have a second meeting some other time, and see how the money would be disposed of. Distance for the two days 390 miles.
This morning the Bully of a Cook tried to have revenge on the poor Baker, who was the innocent cause of last night’s affair, by striking him, keeping him from getting his breakfast, and otherwise annoying him….but was prevented from going any further by the timely interference of a third party. He is, I believe, awfully riled at the unexpected turn things have taken, so poor Baker will have to look out, he will not however be allowed to strike him. The day has been very dull but the wind pretty fresh with snow squalls at intervals which are excessively cold, and presents a very wild appearance with the sea around, dark and angry, and the wind whistling though the rigging; the sails too, cracking like whips, bring to my mind the visions I used to have at the fireside at home on a stormy winter’s night…when thinking on those at sea.
Early this morning the wife of a young Englishman gave birth to a dead child. All the other invalids are either better or recovering fast with the exception of one poor sailor who appears to me to be in a consumption and is very weak and broken down yet. It has been much clearer today, the wind still almost right astern and blowing pretty fresh so that we are all looking forward to our landing, expecting to reach our destination in less than a fortnight. I think the most of us don’t care how soon, there are some can scarcely walk with “chill blains” which I have escaped myself as yet, by keeping my feet dry and as warm as possible. There are two or three, however, who don’t care if we had to go as far again, being used, I suppose, to rough living, confessing in fact that they were never fed better in their lives. Distance 376 miles.
Was very squally, more especially after sunset, for at night they always blow stronger and are of longer duration than in midday, and were so fierce sometimes that they actually expected some of the sails to be blown away. We passed large quantities of sea weed telling us as it did Columbus of old, of Land ahead, and at no great distance. The eagerness which all gazed at it brought vividly to my mind those Spanish ships and their great Commander. I could imagine with what gladness those worn out mariners hailed it as a good sign…a sign of rest to come and close at hand…for even we (though unlike them we were sailing to a known country, and with nothing as yet at any rate to make us afraid) hailed it with delight, for it served to relieve the monotony, watching it as it passed at intervals, and suggested to our thoughts some unseen shore. The sun happened to be obscured about 12…We got no reckoning.
Found us still flying along with the wind on our quarter, the sea very high, and coming on board now and gain, whole sheet drenching all who happen to be within reach. Had it not been that our ship is very light, we would have got our decks washed fore and aft. I find that they have placed us in the best place on the ship for all along we have been comfortable and dry, while the single women and married folks have been very much annoyed with it washing back and forward, and coming down their Hatches, wetting everything. It is still very cold yet but we are in hopes of getting into warmer weather in a day or two. They are all supplied with charcoal fires down below, with the exception of us single men, who are either not worth one or are supposed to be so hardy as not to require one. However, I don’t envy them for they generate a nasty sulphurous gas which is not only disagreeable but is unhealthy. By evening the wind had increased almost to a gale, the Barometer had been falling all day it seems, so they had taken in sail and were prepared for this. Distance 506 miles.
Very early in the morning we heard the wind blowing through the rigging as if it was a regular hurricane, then all at once a loud report as if a gun had been fired, followed by the violent lapping of a sail. I imagined that it was something blown away, it turned out to be a chain that had snapped, a chain or as the sailors call it, one of the topsail sheets used for keeping down the lower end of the Topsail. On getting on deck I found that it was blowing very fiercely. The sea around a perfect mass of foam (they had to put two men at the wheel). As far as the eye could reach, the spray flying upwards from the tops of the waves made it actually look like a thick mist, the waves running sometimes on a level with the rail, sometimes coming over until it was knee deep on the deck at the breakwater (which is placed in front of the Cabin). I got up on the Fo’castle to have a look at it, but did not stop long, the wind was so strong sometimes that if I had not kept a firm hold I believe I would have been blown over. We passed a piece of rope with what I took to be a part of a sail attached to it, which told that some ship had got a severe handling. To lend variety to the scene, there were heavy showers of hail all day, at intervals of about a quarter of an hour, the hailstones the largest I ever saw, sometimes as large as peas, and were driven with such force as to make it painful when struck in the face with them. After dark the wind increased and we were expecting a very rough night. On looking over the side before turning in, I was surprised at the brilliancy of the Phosphorous…it used to appear to us like fiery sparks, but now it floated about in large masses like lanterns on the water, and indeed, when seen on the top of a wave, it looked like some distant lighthouse. Distance 204 miles.
About midnight, and early in the morning, it blew very fierce, the sea so high that it washed one of the Hencoops off the poop, and loosing the rest broke some of them, killing nearly all of the fowls. The Captain and Mate at the same time were nearly washed overboard, the Mate got his leg severely bruised and is not able to resume his duties. Shortly after the fore Topsail was blown clean off the yard but was not lost altogether as the sheets held it in, so as soon as possible it was taken down and the ship “Hove To”, as it was safer to ride out the storm than to run. Then there was some hard work taking in sail. It took them two or three hours to take in the Topsail. It seemed as if it was going to beat them altogether and that it would be blown away, but at last they did manage to get everything snug, leaving nothing but the lower Topsail on the Main Mast. Then began the awful rolling again, two or three ran a very narrow risk of being killed by falling, and things rolling about the deck. There was one man (the storekeeper’s assistant) very near getting his legs broken. He was giving out our pork when a sea struck her, making her roll; he was sent flying to the Leeside against a wooden erection, the pork barrel flying after him, struck right between his legs with great force, knocking in two or three planks…he escaped without injury. About midday the Mizzen Staysail was ordered to be set to help to steady her, but was scarcely up when it was blown to ribbons. They then fixed a sail on the Mizzen rigging which helped to keep her to the wind…all were afraid the Main Topsail would be blown away, but it stood the test very well. Night came on, dark and gloomy, with an occasional shower of sleet, making it all the more cheerless and us glad to seek refuge below…where the comments passed on the weather and our situation, by the more timid ones, was almost laughable. However, all went to bed about ten as usual.
Broke on as much quieter than the day before. The sea also had fallen a good deal so that in the forenoon they got the Fore Topsail that had been blown off put up again, and everything put to rights. The two anchors which had got a little loose with the rolling, having slipped off the blocks and would soon have rubbed though the deck, were also relashed and put on new blocks so all was soon in working order again. After dinner it blew very hard, a sudden gust which did not last above two or three minutes, but while it did last was about the strongest we have yet experienced. It made her career over like a slender sapling in a storm, another moment and all was past. I looked up expecting to see our little bit of sail gone but everything stood out as she rolled back again, a pretty large wave came on board giving two or three a good ducking. We had a better sunset, the evening was beautiful, clear and starry, the stars I think even brighter than usual making us hope that we will resume our journey again by daylight at any rate. About 12, after we were all in bed, one of the small water casks in our apartment got loose and went rolling about, diverting us for sometime, for it was dangerous work to attempt to stop it. However, by good luck it turned on its end one time after striking on a pillar, and was then secured.
Very early this morning we heard the “Heave Ho” of the sailors and the clattering of the winch, which were very welcome sounds to us as it plainly told us that the fury of the gale had abated and that they were once more getting sail set. On rising we found that we were once more ploughing our way majestically through the briney deep, with the wind almost right astern, at the rate of 10 knots an hour. All the birds have left us now, except some species of the Albatross, the Cape Pigeons having left us about the time of the gale after journeying with us for hundreds of miles. We are now looking forward with hope to landing in another 7 or 8 days…those who have no friends to meet are already wondering what sort of a reception they will get in this land of strangers. All seem prepared “never to stick at stepping stones” and are determined to take the first honest employment that offers…if by any chance they cannot get work at their own particular calling, so I have no doubt we will all get work at something. The day has been pretty clear and not so cold as it has been for some time. I expect it will be daily getting warmer until we reach our destination. Distance 100 miles.
Found us still making good progress with the wind more on the quarter causing us to take in a little water now and again amidships, but which we have got quite accustomed to. I think some of us have got our sea-stomachs at last. I am only sorry we have been so long in getting them, but they say “it’s an ill wind that blows no one good” and in that case the birds would not have fared so well, for we manage now to eat all our meat. I am astonished at the quantities of fat pork that go out of sight, for I never used to care a great deal for the fat, but now if any is left at dinner it is kept for tea and then quietly discussed…in fact if any one was to see us here he would think we had lost our appetites and found a horse’s. Tonight at sunset we were once more gladdened by a sight of the new moon, it being 48 hours old. I have been told that it can be seen at sea after it has been 24 hours changed but although I have looked for it I have not had an opportunity of seeing it so soon, it being always cloudy. Second Mate sighted another whale at dinner. Distance 440.
Very early in the morning it blew very fierce, the waves striking her sides seemed as if a solid mass of two or three tons weight were thrown against her making her tremble from stem to stern, and then I could hear the swish of it as it rushed back and forward across the deck. I could also hear all hands called up to shorten sail, and in a short time she was stripped to her topsails. About 8 it fell a good deal, and sail was put on again. I was glad to see the Mate once more on his pins and on duty again. He is a regular old sea dog having weathered many a gale and having been a long time in this ship…he can handle and make her obey his will as if she were a thing of life. To tell the truth, I’d much rather see him on the poop than even the Captain, although he is a very nice man and a regular gentleman. Still, to my way of thinking there is more of the sailor in the Mate, at any rate, he has had more experience. This afternoon we had some soda presented us as a great favour and had a little put in a fruit cake, or as we call it, a dough. I could scarcely believe the difference, it is so long since I tasted anything with soda in it, that I thought it was delicious. If we had only known what was before us, we might have brought two or three little things with us…trifling in themselves, yet would have made us relish our food a great deal more. We have been congratulating ourselves on our continued good health, but I am afraid our turn has come now two young fellows have been very ill. The young man who broke his collarbone is mending rapidly. Distance 232 miles.
At breakfast time the Doctor happened to come down to see the invalids and was astounded to see a number sitting up in bed taking their breakfast. On learning there was nothing wrong with them, but that it was customary, he took down their names intending to give them a reprimand. To us it was nothing new…he might have seen it long ago if he had cast his eyes about him. There are some, I believe, who would not rise for weeks if nature did not compel them. I have actually seen some taking all their meals in bed and only rising after Tea, them in perfect health at the time. One of the invalids was taken to the hospital, the Doctor being afraid it was fever, after which our compartment was fumigated with Chloride of Lime and then Sulphur burnt. It is not generally believed that it is fever, but all seem to believe that the Doctor is a regular old Wife. This afternoon another disgraceful fight got up between one of the cooks and his younger brother, who is one of the passengers which did not raise either of the combatants in our estimation. I don’t know what was the cause of the quarrel nor did I see the fight, but I saw them both bleeding like pigs and felt that both had been punished as they deserved.
Have at last reached Australian waters having passed the Longitude of Cape Leeuwin, the south-western point of Australia, so that if all goes well we expect to see Adelaide about Friday or Saturday. A nice breeze has sprung up from the Land which sent her dancing along merrily, our ship being under a regular cloud of canvas. It reminds me very much of the weather we experienced in the Channel, the sea pretty smooth yet broken enough to send a shower of spray flying now and again over her bows. The northerly breeze, too, being comparatively warm…for unlike home the North wind here is warmest. It seems that two or three of the young girls have taken badly again…so the Doctor fearing that we are once more to be fever struck, compels us all the take three times a day, a teaspoon of mixture which he says possesses the wonderful power of preventing us from taking fever. We have all submitted, thinking at any rate it will do us no harm. After sunset it looked pretty squally, the lightning flashing intensely, brilliant in the south…but before bedtime nothing unusual occurred. Distance 460 miles.
We have already begun to see evidences of drawing near land, in the shape of numerous flocks of small birds called Quail, which the first time I saw them struck me as being very like the Flying Fishes we used to see when the sun was shining on them. They are remarkably quick in their movements and are generally in large flocks, sometimes I believe of two or three thousand. They actually appeared to me to be like soldiers drilling…the one time they would be like as if marching in column, and then getting some sudden command they would break up into sections as if for skirmishing. Nothing could be more beautiful. I sometimes watch them for hours (for the weather is so genial now that we can once more sit and read on the Forecastle) and try if I can to pick out their commanders and officers. I saw a rather novel mode of cleaning sheepskins…they were tied to a rope, the other end of which was fastened to the Bowsprit and dragged through the water, the ship going from 8 to 10 knots made them tolerably clean in two or three hours. Some of the lazy ones even tried to clean their clothes in the same manner but the experience was not altogether satisfactory. Distance 160 miles.
The wind has chopped round until it is right ahead, which is very aggravating, as we may have to beat about here for another week yet, and us not 300 miles from Kangaroo Island (a large Island lying about 60 miles out from Adelaide and which we have to pass close by). Two men were chosen today to gather in the subscription for the Baker, and in the evening a meeting was called …the majority of which voted that the Baker should get all the sum of ₤1:15:10 as it was not believed that the other had got the money stolen at all, and any who wished to befriend him could do so independent of this. He was then sent for and one of our number made some appropriate remarks and presented it to him, after which he made a suitable reply. He did indeed, poor fellow, appear to be very grateful. The married folks are, I believe, going to subscribe also. The night was very clear and beautiful, the moon shining very bright was so enticing that we spent an hour or two on the Fo’castle. A little before 10 the wind freshened, which caused them to take in the Royals, Top Gallantsails, and take a reef in the Mainsail, as the spray was coming on board like to drench us, so we went below.