Diary of Frederick A. Edelsten

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The following article is comprised of extracts from a diary kept by Frederick Alexander Edelsten, a passenger on board the City of Adelaide in 1867.[1] The diary entries are valuable as they offer detailed accounts of what life was like on board the City of Adelaide on voyages.

Voyage to Adelaide in 1867
Under command of Captain John Bruce
Departure port London
Departure date 25th July 1867
Arrival port Semaphore
Arrival date 12th October 1867
Voyage duration 79 days
Port of Call
Port of call Plymouth
Arrival 29th July 1867
Departure 29th July 1867

Contents

Voyage Route

Voyage of the 'City of Adelaide' from London to Adelaide in 1867.
24 Jul
1 Aug
5 Aug
8 Aug
11 Aug
17 Aug
02 Sep
Mrs Obdahl
11 Sep
15 Sep
19 Sep
24 Sep
12 Oct
Voyage of the 'City of Adelaide' from London to Adelaide in 1867 from the Diary of Frederick A. Edelsten. Position of death (red) is approximate.


Diary extracts

July 1867

Wednesday 24th

Embarked in the City of Adelaide at 8.30pm... leave the basin at 5 am tomorrow.

Thursday 25th

Went on deck at 6am... vessel just started... tugging until dark... feeling rather squeemish.

Friday 26th

Violent thunderstorm at 1.30am... the motion made me very ill and the steward had to help me into bed.

Saturday 27th

Feeling seedy... wrote a few lines to Sam... put my fishing lines out - no fish all day... have sailed only 5 3/4 miles... lights of the French coast are now in sight... have seen many vessels today among them a French Chasse-marse... we are 100 miles from Plymouth.

Sunday 28th

I am in fact getting comfortable... we have had no service, smoking and drinking is the most fashionable way to spend Sunday. At 8pm I watched the sun go down...

Monday 29th

My birthday [19th birthday; was born 1848]. Went on shore at 12am and came aboard again to lunch... sailed to the breakwater and picked up 2 or 2 [unreadable]. Governor and girls left in at 5pm. John M. stayed till after 7pm... set sail leaving Plymouth with a fair wind and an ebb tide... Mrs Pearson got beastly drunk...

Tuesday 30th

... hardly moving... Captain Bruce has just seen a young shark... have now got our places at meals fixed for us... that beggardly shark finished up taking my spinning bait... jelly fish have been floating... have seen a whale and two or three shoals of porpoises.

Wednesday 31st

... sea a trifle rougher... sailing 7 knots... just in the Bay of Biscay... began some Grecian today... very hard to do anything but yawn on board ship... there is but one person on board who I really like and that is old Mr Fidge...

August 1867

Thursday 1 Aug 1867 -  Awoke sick... should be all right at once if I could pull at a tankard of bitter... distance travelled since midday yesterday till noon is 217 miles Lat 45° 1' Long 10° 27'.
Thursday 1 Aug 1867 -  Awoke sick... should be all right at once if I could pull at a tankard of bitter... distance travelled since midday yesterday till noon is 217 miles Lat 45° 1' Long 10° 27'.
Thursday 1 Aug 1867 - Awoke sick... should be all right at once if I could pull at a tankard of bitter... distance travelled since midday yesterday till noon is 217 miles Lat 45° 1' Long 10° 27'.

Thursday 1st

Awoke sick... should be all right at once if I could pull at a tankard of bitter... distance travelled since midday yesterday till noon is 217 miles Lat 45° 1' Long 10° 27'

Friday 2nd

Long 13° 19' W Lat 42° 6' - Distance 216 miles... am now on my sea legs... have spoken to three vessels today and yesterday... Yesterday we spoke the Sirocco and today two other vessels, one a Scandinavian bearing the adjoining flag... I have actually ventured to smoke...

Saturday 3rd

Long 15° 16' Lat 39° 41' - Distance 171 miles... getting very fond of my cabin and shall not like to leave it... My German is getting on and I think it is not impossible but that I shall know a good deal by the time I arrive in Adelaide...

Sunday 4th

Long 16° 8' Lat 36° 45' - 192 miles... off Gibralter [sic] some 500 miles and distant from Madeira 220 miles... Service on board is solemn but at the same time ludicrous... Mr's Carey, Wells and I are determined to set the hymns next Sunday when methinks [??] shall do better... Life on board ship is true solitude... polite to all more especially to those even I most abhor, no friend with whom to chat...

Monday 5 Aug 1867 - Long 17° 9' Lat 33° 49' - Distance 172 miles... very close and hot today... at teatime (7pm) we sighted Madeira.
Monday 5 Aug 1867 - Long 17° 9' Lat 33° 49' - Distance 172 miles... very close and hot today... at teatime (7pm) we sighted Madeira.
Monday 5 Aug 1867 - Long 17° 9' Lat 33° 49' - Distance 172 miles... very close and hot today... at teatime (7pm) we sighted Madeira.

Monday 5th

Long 17° 9' Lat 33° 49' - Distance 172 miles... very close and hot today... at teatime (7pm) we sighted Madeira...

Tuesday 6th

Long 17° 59' Lat 31° 30' 145 distance... Spoke to the brig Cocquette of Liverpool 13 days out bound for the River Congo... climbed into the maintop this morning... Several people had their cabins filled with water... am rather getting to like some of the people on board...

Wednesday 7th

Long 19° 45' Lat 28° 29' Distance 210 miles... tried the ships tobacco today... my rifle was brought out of the hold today and placed in my cabin... by no means bad but very strong... we are now directly opposite the Canary Islands and distant from them 70 miles.

Thursday 8th

Long 22° 13' Lat 25° 46' Distance 210 n miles... slept all afternoon... not feeling quite up to the mark... some flying fish flew on board and were grabbed.. I have been inspecting them...

The frigatebirds are a family, Fregatidae, of seabirds. They are also sometimes called Man of War birds or Pirate birds. Since they are related to the pelicans, the term "frigate pelican" is also a name applied to them.
Flying fish are of the family Exocoetidae. Flying fish can make powerful, self-propelled leaps out of water into air, where their long, wing-like fins enable gliding flight for considerable distances above the water to evade predators.
The albacore, Thunnus alalunga, is a species of tuna in the family Scombridae.

Friday 9th

Long 23° 27' lat 22° 39' Distance 199 n miles... myriads of flying fish... sometimes five hundred at a time would rise... making a loud fluttering of wings... pursued by large fish (bonitos and albacore)... rise to escape them only to be seized... by the "Frigate" bird...

Bonito are a tribe of medium-sized, predatory fish in the Scombridae family, belonging to the Sardini tribe.

Saturday 10th

Long 24° 35' Lat 20° 03' Distance 169 n miles... have seen a great many bonito today...

Sunday 11th

Long 25° 35' Lat 17° 37' Distance 159 n miles... a Norwegian vessel spoke to us, asking if had a doctor on board... they sent a boat for him... he found the Captains wife seriously ill and in such a state as to require constant medical attendance... Captain Bruce promised to remain in sight 48 hours... saw Cape Verdi Islands... St Antonis the nearest...

Monday 12th

Still signalling the Niva... Mrs Obdahl worse, doctor there all day... Four homeward bound vessels in sight... sent letters home by "[illegible]" and a letter to [illegible] by Star of Erin... Mrs Obdahl has come on board and I fear is not likely to recover... have done no German today... find it requires a great effort to do any...

Tuesday 13th

... have not taken the latitude for the last day or two... close now to the "Vigia" reef... has not been seen for four years now and it is supposed has been removed by volcanic agencys...

Wednesday 14th

... wind has been against us all day and yet we have made 103 knots due south... porpoises jumping within two yards of the ship... on deck until 12pm... moon never shines this brightly in England. I could read with ease the smallest print...

Thursday 15th

... have made three copies of the letter to E.K.P... a pound of my tobacco is gone mouldy... quite unfit for my use; the sailors however think it very good... Lat 10° 28' Long 24° 54'Dist.72... really sailed 138 miles but only made 72 to the south... spoke the vessel Graf van Linburn and City of Madra...

Friday 16th

Lat 8° 55' Long 23° 30' Southing 93 miles... very damp and close and altogether unpleasant... sea is about as level as a mill pond...

Saturday 17th

9.30am 80 degrees in the shade Lat 8° 8' Long 22° 29' Southing 47 miles... spoke the Sattira from London to Bombay 20 days from Lands End... saw a lunar rainbow this evening... top of the Southern Cross is just visible...

Sunday 18th

... found my books and slippers taking a swim and water oozing in from the bathroom... Doctor gets in a flurry over rats and other fallow deer, last night I saw him standing on a camp stool and poking at them with a pair of scissors...

Monday 19th

... have made 102 miles due southing today... ground down several fish hooks so as to be ready for the albatrosses... now sailing towards "Africa"... Mrs Carey (the Doctors wife) has been ill for two or three days and is still so...

Tuesday 20th

... have been reading... Todays southing is only 23 miles and we sailed 162 knots... a short squall overtook us last night... frightening all the ladies... I have been playing whist with Mr Perry and others...

Wednesday 21st

We have been expecting Mrs Obdahl's death all day...

Thursday 22nd

Lat 44° Long 24° 55' Due southing 84 distance sailed 143... only way to read to advantage on shipboard is to come into the cuddy every evening after tea, reading on deck is great humbug...

Friday 23rd

Mrs Obdahl had the sacrament administered to her by Mr Prince at noon today... small service in the invalid cabin last evening... Mrs Pearson got drunk and went into Mrs Obdahl and threw herself upon her and [illegible] the poor woman till she was frightened out of her wits...

Solar eclipse of August 29, 1867
SE1867Aug29T.png
Map
Type of eclipse
Nature Total
Gamma -0.794
Magnitude 1.0344
Maximum eclipse
Duration 2m 51s
Coordinates 41.1S 34.9W
Max. width of band 189 km
Times (UTC)
Greatest eclipse 13:13:07
References
Saros Solar Saros 123 (45 of 70)
Catalog # (SE5000) 9205

Saturday 24th

Mr Prince is desirous of having readings every Tuesday and Friday evening... asked if I would deliver a lecture on the formation of coal....

Sunday 25th

Service under difficulties... things flying about... soup and tea were awkward...

Monday 26th

Busy at German...

Tuesday 27th

Adelaide Reading Society gave their first reading this evening... I had to write a programme and find out who could and who would help... a small barque passed us today...

Wednesday 28th

... Mrs Carey and Mrs Perry have promised to sing... todays southing 198 miles

Thursday 29th

... an eclipse of the sun is now taking place...

Friday 30th

... am copying some music for Mrs Perry and generally making myself useful...

Saturday 31st

... could not hold a reading last night due to Mrs Obdahls increasing illness... Mrs Pearson has not been visible for several days owing to the effects of a fall... sea beautifully calm... sailing about 9 knots...

September 1867

Sunday 1st

... sang hymns during the service... Mr Prince delivered a discourse on the mountain of sin... Southern Cross now high and lies on its side... the southern heavens are however much more striking and twice as beautiful as ours...

Monday 2nd

... Mrs Obdahl is sinking fast now and we do not expect her to be with us many hours... Lat 28° 34' Long 31° 34' Dist 141...

Tuesday 3rd

Mrs Obdahl died this evening while we were at tea... the funeral takes place tomorrow at 10am she will have (by her own desire) a coffin...

Wednesday 4 Sep 1867 - Mrs. Opdal - the coffin was placed on two planks... at the words "we commit her body to the deep" these were raised and the coffin slid off into the water: not however to sink: for as soon as it touched the water the lid burst open and floated away... Lat 30° 50' Long 27° 18'.
Wednesday 4 Sep 1867 - Mrs. Opdal - the coffin was placed on two planks... at the words "we commit her body to the deep" these were raised and the coffin slid off into the water: not however to sink: for as soon as it touched the water the lid burst open and floated away... Lat 30° 50' Long 27° 18'.
Wednesday 4 Sep 1867 - Mrs. Opdal - the coffin was placed on two planks... at the words "we commit her body to the deep" these were raised and the coffin slid off into the water: not however to sink: for as soon as it touched the water the lid burst open and floated away... Lat 30° 50' Long 27° 18'.

Wednesday 4th

Mr Prince read the service... the coffin was placed on two planks... at the words "we commit her body to the deep" these were raised and the coffin slid off into the water: not however to sink: for as soon as it touched the water the lid burst open and floated away... Lat 30° 50' Long 27° 18' southing 105

Thursday 5th

... resumed our whist last night... Lat 32° 21' Long 37° 96'... we are now off Paraguay... have been trying to catch Cape Pigeons all day...

Friday 6th

... trying to catch Cape Pigeons again... Mollyhawks and albatross are wheeling around... this afternoon we had athletic games on the poop, all sorts of racing with the Captain who pushed me over so that I fell into Mrs Price's arms...

Saturday 7th

... cold weather increases... no birds caught yet... a few were shot this afternoon from the forecastle and dropped into the water...

Sunday 8th

... had a slight contretemps this afternoon... pelting Mr Fidge with onions (rotten) when one struck Mr [illegible] on the back and burst there... my apology set this to rights... he however spoke strongly to the Doctor, in fact we had a shower of Billingsgate [coarsely abusive language]...

Monday 9th

... had a few shots at a gull today... Wells is a very good shot and brought down a Trinidad Pheasant... The Ice Bird (also called the Whale Bird) is one of our followers... difficult to catch... weather is very cold now...

Tuesday 10th

Dr [illegible] very nearly caught a large bird today... entertainment this evening passed off with great aplomb...

Wednesday 11th

Nothing worth writing down except that Mrs Tuck has made a pass at the Captain and rendered herself very foolish in the eyes of all sensible passengers... Lat 41° 03' Long 6° 30'

The Cape Petrel (Daption capense) also called Cape Pigeon or Pintado Petrel, is a common seabird of the Southern Ocean from the family Procellariidae.

Thursday 12th

... first Cape Pigeons were caught today... the Doctor secured three of which I got one... I have now one beautiful skin nicely preserved and the back and breast of another - the backs of the pigeons I intend to have made into muffs...

Friday 13th

... got another cape pigeon and broke it up for Mr Prince - the back for myself... Lat 42° 11' Long 51° E Dist 195

Saturday 14th

Lat 14° 04' Long 5° 30' Dist 178... skinning pigeons all afternoon and preserving them... cape hens keep breaking our lines...

Sunday 15th

Lat 42° 52' Long 11° [illegible] 246 Distance... Awoke this morning with all the symptoms of arsenical poisoning... heavy seas keep breaking over and my cabin in swimming...

Monday 16th

Dr Carey caught a Cape Hen today... a large slate coloured bird with dark black eyes, legs and feet are fleshy grey, from tip to tip of the wings 4 feet, from beak to tail 19 inches... Lat 43° 02' Long 15° 58' Distance 204

Tuesday 17 Sep 1867 - the roughest and most unpleasant day we have had as yet... we are now just by the Cape... Lat 43° 07' Long 21° 15'.
Tuesday 17 Sep 1867 - the roughest and most unpleasant day we have had as yet... we are now just by the Cape... Lat 43° 07' Long 21° 15'.
Tuesday 17 Sep 1867 - the roughest and most unpleasant day we have had as yet... we are now just by the Cape... Lat 43° 07' Long 21° 15'.

Tuesday 17th

... the roughest and most unpleasant day we have had as yet... we are now just by the Cape... Lat 43° 07' Long 21° 15' Distance 231...

Wednesday 18th

... pleasanter than yesterday but still rolling... my hands are getting into a beautifully chilblainy state... Lat 43° 28' Long 25° 58' Distance 210

Thursday 19th

Lat 43° 32' Long 31° 51' Distance 260... caught a stormy petrel today... I am the taxidermist aboard and everyone is coming to me to have their birds preserved...

Friday 20 Sep 1867 -  Lat 43° 44' Long 37° 11' ... reading went off well and everybody seemed satisfied.
Friday 20 Sep 1867 -  Lat 43° 44' Long 37° 11' ... reading went off well and everybody seemed satisfied.
Friday 20 Sep 1867 - Lat 43° 44' Long 37° 11' ... reading went off well and everybody seemed satisfied.

Friday 20th

Lat 43° 44' Long 37° 11' Distance 237... reading went off well and everybody seemed satisfied...

Saturday 21st

... have been playing "the horned lady" this evening amid roars of laughter from all sides... am now always late for breakfast, and sometimes do not appear until lunch time - bed being the warmest place... Lat 43° 27' Long 41° 41' Distance 198...

Sunday 22nd

Very different weather from what we had this day last week... I split a few times during evening service... a rat rushed into the Cuddy and after receiving a few blows bolted into Miss Tuck's cabin and many flew in after it I among the number, we turned over everything even the bed but unsuccessfully... Lat 43° 41' Long 44° 55' Distance 140...

Monday 23rd

... skinned and stuffed an old buck rat today... Dr Carey dissected it... caught 3 more tonight and they await their fate...

Tuesday 24 Sep 1867 - Lat 44° 29' Long 51° 01'.
Tuesday 24 Sep 1867 - Lat 44° 29' Long 51° 01'.
Tuesday 24 Sep 1867 - Lat 44° 29' Long 51° 01'.

Tuesday 24th

Lat 44° 29' Long 51° 01' Distance 270

Wednesday 25th

... have heard penguins braying but have not as seen any... A grand rat hunt tonight in the Doctor's cabin, we killed two... found that they had begun to eat his shirts in fact that they had eaten the tails off one of them...

Thursday 26th

... hauled up four Cape Pigeons tonight... no rats tonight...

Friday 27th

... finished Dr Carey's "Cape Hen" this morning and kept breaking the tenth commandment [Thou shalt not covet] over it every five minutes... the rats last night got Mr Sandover's bird and spoiled it...

Saturday 28th

... unpleasant day and beginning to blow... Mr Perry came to my cabin this morning to prepare Captain B. testimonial

Sunday 29th

... fed the birds this afternoon and made them very tame...

Monday 30th

Dr Carey and Cap. Bruce were in my cabin last night drinking champagne and smoking cigars until 12 pm.

October 1867

Friday 11 Oct 1867 - Lat 37° 43' Long 137° 47' ... we shall sight land about 12am tomorrow.
Friday 11 Oct 1867 - Lat 37° 43' Long 137° 47' ... we shall sight land about 12am tomorrow.
Friday 11 Oct 1867 - Lat 37° 43' Long 137° 47' ... we shall sight land about 12am tomorrow.

Tuesday 1st

Caught 4 mollyhawks today - immense birds... 7 feet from wing to wing...

Wednesday 2nd

... very rough today...

Thursday 3rd

... still rough... the carpenter's cabin has been washed in and the bulwarks damaged last night...

Thursday 10th

... last of our readings tonight... had some little speechifying... had a long talk with Mr Perry and Mr Wells in my cabin during which we walked into the affections of a bottle of champagne...

Friday 11

... A sea, a regular whopper, came into my cabin yesterday morning wetting all my things... Lat 37° 43' Long 137° 47' Distance 244... we shall sight land about 12am tomorrow...

Saturday 12 Oct 1867 - sighted Kangaroo Island is on the starboard and Althorpes Is. on the port side... Lat 35° 44' Long 136° 30'.
Saturday 12 Oct 1867 - sighted Kangaroo Island is on the starboard and Althorpes Is. on the port side... Lat 35° 44' Long 136° 30'.
Saturday 12 Oct 1867 - sighted Kangaroo Island is on the starboard and Althorpes Is. on the port side... Lat 35° 44' Long 136° 30'.

Saturday 12

... land in sight... nobody much excited... Mr Foale caught two cape pigeons before breakfast... sea calm... sighted Kangaroo Island is on the starboard and Althorpes Is. on the port side... Lat 35° 44' Long 136° 30' Dist 175... Captain Bruce and Dr Carey were presented with testimonials... their health proposed by Mr Prince... As it was Mr Perry's birthday his health was proposed and very heartily drank... Mr Sandover gave us a toast to prosperity in South Australia. Mr Foale responded and Mr Pearson moved that we should thank Mr Prince for the kind manner in which he had given his time that we might have divine service... Mr Perry proposed the City of Adelaide and her officers Mr Robins, Mr Watts, Mr Bruce, who replied in due course... as a conclusion I proposed the ladies to which Mr Lange [Lang] responded and we adjourned to the poop to smoke and chat... Mrs Luck went off last into a kind of hysterical fainting fit and alarmed some of us...

Sunday 13

Adelaide in sight... country looks pretty and seems hilly... steamer alongside, pilot came on board and we are now being tugged along and shall get over the bar tomorrow is the tide is high enough...

Monday 14

Left the ship and went ashore at the Semaphore Jetty. I was the first of the passengers who landed and passed the Customs easily; [illegible] into the town and found it pleasanter than I had expected.

Notes

  1. Some of the coordinates may be around the wrong way, the author himself admits that some are wrong during the month of October, and it seems likely that some of the others are too.
  2. Edelsten's coordinates and ship sightings may be compared with those published in South Australian newspapers after the City's arrival in Adelaide.
  3. Numerous spelling variations of the author's surname occur in records associated with the voyage but "Edelsten" is used consistently in birth, marriage, death and other official records.

References

  1. Diary of F.A. Edelsten, State Library of South Australia