Diary of Melville Miller
The following is a transcript of the diary of Melville Miller's voyage from London to Adelaide, South Australia in the Clipper Ship City of Adelaide – June 1st to August 20th 1871. The copy was presented to the council on 27th April 1980, by Mrs T Foxlee of 12A Adams Hill, Keyworth, Nottinghamshire, England, NG12 5GY.
Melville Miller was the nephew of Robert Miller, founder of Miller Andersons.
Route of Voyage
Melville Miller recorded the coordinates of the ship in many diary entries, from which the following route can be traced.
- 1 Route of Voyage
- 2 Diary
- 2.1 June 1st, 1871, Thurs
- 2.2 June 2nd, Friday
- 2.3 June 3rd, Sat.
- 2.4 June 4th, Sunday
- 2.5 June 5th, Monday
- 2.6 June 6th, Tues
- 2.7 June 7th Wed.
- 2.8 June 8th, Thurs
- 2.9 Friday 9th June
- 2.10 Sat 10th June
- 2.11 Sunday 11th June
- 2.12 Monday 12th June
- 2.13 Tuesday 13th June
- 2.14 Wednesday 14th June
- 2.15 Thurs 15th June
- 2.16 Fri 16th June – Distance 170 miles.
- 2.17 Sat 17th June – Distance 205 miles.
- 2.18 Sun 18th June
- 2.19 Monday, 19th June – Dist 170 miles – off Canary Islands 50 miles.
- 2.20 Tues 20th June
- 2.21 Wed 21st June – Longest day. Distance 165 miles.
- 2.22 Thurs 22nd June – Distance 128 miles.
- 2.23 Fri 23rd June – Distance 46 miles.
- 2.24 Sat 24th June – Dist 109 miles.
- 2.25 Sunday 25th June – Dist 54 miles
- 2.26 Monday 26th June – Distance 80 miles. Lat 7º N Long 23º W
- 2.27 Tues 27th June – Dist 53 miles. Lat 6 deg 28’ Long 23º 25’.
- 2.28 Wed 28th June – Dist 85 miles.
- 2.29 Thur 29th June – Dist 66 miles.
- 2.30 Fri 30th June – Dist 169 miles. Lat 1.46 Long 25º 27’ W
- 2.31 Sat 1st July – Distance 191 miles. Lat 1.3’S. Long 26 deg 56’ W.
- 2.32 Monday, 3rd July – Dist 139 miles.
- 2.33 Tues 4th July – Dist 83 miles.
- 2.34 Wed 5th July – Distance 95 miles.
- 2.35 Thur 6th July – Dist 229 miles.
- 2.36 Fri 7th July – Dist 244 miles.
- 2.37 Sat 8th July – Dist 244 miles.
- 2.38 Sun 9th July – Dist 118 miles.
- 2.39 Mon 10th July – Dist 53 miles.
- 2.40 Tues 11th July – Dist 143 miles.
- 2.41 Wed 12th July – Dist 139 miles.
- 2.42 Thur 13th July – Dist 32 miles.
- 2.43 Fri 14th July – Dist 157 miles. Lat 29º Long 23º.
- 2.44 Sat 15th July – Dist 237 miles.
- 2.45 Sun 16th July – Dist 198 miles. Lat 34º, Long 17º.
- 2.46 Mon 17th July
- 2.47 Tues 18th July – Dist 233 miles. Lat 35º 42’. Long 7º 508.
- 2.48 Wed 19th July – Distance 240 miles. Lat 36º 20’ S. Long 2º 57’ W.
- 2.49 Fri 21st July – Dist 228 miles
- 2.50 Sat 22nd July – Dist 211 miles.
- 2.51 Sun 23rd July – Dist 242 miles.
- 2.52 Mon 24th July – Dist 180 miles.
- 2.53 Tues 25th July – Dist 293 miles!!
- 2.54 Wed 26th July – Dist 219 miles.
- 2.55 Thurs 27th July – Dist 149 miles. Lat 41º S. Long 34º E.
- 2.56 Fri 28th July – Dist 204 miles.
- 2.57 Sat 29th July – Dist 208 miles.
- 2.58 Sun 30th July – Dist 199 miles.
- 2.59 Mon 31st July – Dist 165 miles. Lat 43º S. Long 51º E.
- 2.60 Tues 1st August – Dist 242 miles
- 2.61 Wed 2nd Aug – Dist 244 miles.
- 2.62 Thurs 3rd Aug – Dist 232 miles.
- 2.63 Fri 4th Aug
- 2.64 Sat 5th Aug – Dist 171 miles.
- 2.65 Sun 6th Aug – Dist 220 miles.
- 2.66 Mon 7th Aug – Dist 235 miles.
- 2.67 Tues 8th Aug – Dist 243 miles. Lat 42º. Long 43º.
- 2.68 Wed 9th Aug – Dist 238 miles.
- 2.69 Thur 10th Aug – Dist 245 miles.
- 2.70 Fri 11th Aug – Dist 244 miles. Lat 40. Long 107.
- 2.71 Sat 12th Aug – Dist 220 miles.
- 2.72 Sun 13th Aug – Dist 202 miles.
- 2.73 Mon 14th Aug – Dist 160 miles. Lat 38º 29’ S. Long 119º 48’ E.
- 2.74 Tues 15th Aug – Dist 135 miles.
- 2.75 Wed 16th Aug – Dist 220 miles.
- 2.76 Thur 17th Aug – Dist 243 miles.
- 2.77 Fri 18th August – Dist 177 miles.
- 2.78 Sat 19th Aug – Dist 34 miles.
- 2.79 Sunday 20th Aug
- 2.80 Monday 21st August
- 2.81 Tues 22nd Aug
- 2.82 Tues 29th Aug
- 3 References
My wife and I having mutually agreed to leave our native country and to try our luck in the antipodes – with heavy hearts we took farewell of my dear mother, brothers and sisters and little nephews, on Saturday morning, May 13th 1871. Our feelings on leaving all those, amongst whom I had spent nearly all my days and with whom I had shared many joys and many sad trials, were more painful and agonising than I am in the least way able to describe. My dear old home, too, with all my favourite haunts around it seemed to me more beautiful than ever on that memorable morning, but leave it I must, never perhaps again to look upon the scene of so many happy memories.
The drive to Markinch Station and the crossing from our own coast to Granton were the two sorest times we had to battle with; from the steamer we saw for the last time (we concluded) the Lomonds and several other of the old favourite hills. This last look produced in both of us a horrid chokey and sickish sensation, which was not got over till we had reached Edinburgh and lost sight of the good “Old Kingdom”. However, on our way to Galashiels – when at Millerhill Station – the Lomonds once more appeared in sight, but so faint that we could just see them and no more. This was the last peep of home.
On our way south we visited several friends at Galashiels, Selkirk and c., also at Kendal, where we spent a delightful 3 days. Our next halt was at Birkenhead, where we remained 10 days with Sarah’s Father and Mother. Our stay might have been even more so, had it not been that wee Jack Macdonald – our nephew – was lying ill with water in the head almost the whole time of our visit. The poor little sufferer died 4 days after we left.
London was our final visit before sailing. We stayed with Miss Rutt, 5 Highbury Crescent, whose kindness and attention we shall never forget. While in London we visited Aunt Locke, who was also extremely kind, and took a drive in the Park, where we saw the cream of the British Aristocracy in full swing.
All this, however, is a digression from the subject I intended to treat of – (the Diary of our Voyage) so I will now begin:
June 1st, 1871, Thurs
Left Miss Rutts at 9.30 am., and drove (Miss R accompanying us) to Shadwell Basin, London Docks – when we found the ship “City of Adelaide” (1500 tons register) lying there; the bustle and excitement going on in and about her being a very clear evidence of which was the outward bound ship amongst the hundred that lowered their stalwart masts up in the air – having with difficulty and considerable risk got Miss Rutt, Sarah and myself on board, and having made our way over spans, cables, and endless confusion of ropes andc – we reached the saloon, and next our cabin, in which we were to spend the greater part of the next 3 months.
We had not been long on board before we were joined by Uncle John, Aunt Mary Peat, Sam Elder, John and Arthur Young; with them we went on saloon deck, from where we could see the remainder of the cargo put in the hold and the hatches closed.
All being now ready for sailing, the crew had to be got on board. This was no easy task. Mates and Stewards had to go up to the public houses on the Docks and pull them out. They brought them all down, every sailor having about six or eight old chums shaking hands with him and wishing him “all that’s good for him”. Every man was as “Fu’s the Baltic” – scarcely fit to stand far less walk. In course of an hour or so all were on board – some not till the last moment – when the vessel had been moved off the quay, about 6 feet, at which distance 6 or 8 of the “not so bads” sprang onto the sides and seized hold of ropes andc – the fellows inside having to pull them in.
I began to think we were in queer hands, but the Captain said it was always the way, and that they never counted on the crew doing much the first day – other hands being on board to work the ship.
All being now complete the bell was rung for all to get off the ship who wished, so accordingly we took farewell of Uncle and Aunt, Miss Rutt and all except Arthur Young, who accompanied us to Gravesend. The tug then towed us slowly out of the basin into the river, we all the while standing at the stern waving handkerchiefs and kissing our hands to those who were standing seeing us off. The greater part of the passengers were in tears, but Sarah and I bore up like bricks, indeed like stoics, not that we had not feeling, but we could not realise our position; having lost sight of Uncle John and the others, we descended to our cabin, when I unpacked bedding etc, and made matters pretty straight for the night.
We then had dinner, which we took wonderfully well under the circumstances. Soon after this we reached Gravesend, opposite which we cast anchor. Here Jessie Davidson joined us, with Cousin Mary and a Miss Scott. They escorted Jessie to her cabin (next ours) when they made all in order for her and after a sad leave-taking, left by small boat – Cousin Mary being in a very sad state of grief and tears.
Several other passengers came on here, among whom was a Mr Binks, who, I fancy, will be a very jolly companion for me while on board. Finding were not to sail till next day, Sarah and I went to our births early, glad to get a rest after our fatigue of London sight-seeing – than which nothing is more wearing out.
June 2nd, Friday
Found our beds very comfortable and slept sound. We lay here at Gravesend till half-past 5 pm when the anchor was weighed, the tug steamer towing us out of the river into the Channel – the land on both sides of the river looking very beautiful. On getting into more open waters the sailors were all alive, unreefing sails and preparing for a breeze – the tug now going full steam.
By 10 pm we were clear of the Thames and the River or Mud Pilot as he is called. We were now in the Channel, a stiff breeze from the North blowing and the sea running pretty high. This, with the sails being unfurled caused the ship to lie over considerably and roll about a bit. Sea sickness now showed itself. Jessie and Sarah being among the first to give in. I followed in due course!!
After having gone to bed an hour or so, the vessel gave a pitch and roll that cleared the shelves behind my berth of all on them. Oranges, small boxes, andc, which I had carefully stowed away in the sublimest order.
June 3rd, Sat.
Had a stormy night, slept very little, but not sick again. Took our breakfast well. We are now going about 8 knots an hour along the SE Coast of England the white cliffs looking very fine in contrast with the peculiarly emerald green water. We broke the last link today; the tug left us at 1 o’clock am and the Channel Pilot at 3 pm. He went off at Ventnor, Isle of Wight, in a Cutter, which came out on chance of a pilot wishing to come off – the distance from Ventnor was about 2 miles, 20/- was the fare bargained for after first demanding 60/-!! We were now fairly clear of land, as far as our wants were concerned. So the ship’s head was pointed to the open sea. At 7 o’c land was lost sight of, the last glimpses being more like a faint cloud than anything else – this was the last of our “ain countrie”.
June 4th, Sunday
Both had a bad night – been very sick, Jessie Davidson too. Me only able to rise to breakfast, of which, however, I took very little. Tea beastly, Coffee good. Generally worship today, but as nearly all the ladies are laid up, we had none. I walked about on deck till 3.30 and had to give in again and get back to my berth; Sarah not able to rise, being very sick, but not vomiting – the worst kind of sickness, I am told, but not so disgusting as my sort, which is always on the shortest notice, and I’m all right again.
June 5th, Monday
This morning the three of us all alike bad. Had breakfast, lunch and dinner in our bunks. Towards night we got up, and went on deck, but feeling very queer and nasty. Very bad myself, but fighting hard to shake it off. I am suffering from my old trouble a good deal – have no appetite – get sick on hearing the bells for meals, a whiff of a pipe passing me almost fit to turn me up, I fancy I am at my worst now. I feel so empty and weak. Sarah and Jessie are very so, but not so bad as I am.
June 6th, Tues
All three improved, having slept sound and taken decent breakfasts – at 12 o’c the Captain took his observation, showing we had come 189 miles in the last 24 hours. I was much interested in the method of taking the longitude and latitude with the quadrant. Was astonished in finding my watch, which was set to London time on the 1st inst., to be 55 minutes fast – the result of our having been sailing westward from the sun.
Had music to-day for the first time. Mr Binks sang with Jessie D’s accompaniment. I also made my “debut” by singing the “Stirrup Cup”, which though not quite a nautical song, I sung very well!! In the evg. I was obliged to play concertina on deck, which gave great pleasure I’m told!!
From 9 o’clock till 11 o’clock were occupied admiring the ocean and the wake of the ship, which was bright and flashing like phosphor for about 20 yards behind us.
June 7th Wed.
Today we are all “a-coming to ourselves”, just as we were told by Aunt Melville, Mrs Peat and others who had experienced sea life. They said we would have a week of it. We were on deck before b’fast., which meal, on our descent, we did ample justice to. Considering our former feebleness.
12 o'c log 186 miles, beautiful weather, bright and sunny, cool breeze from NWW. Tonight some excitement was caused amongst us passengers by a school of Porpoises dashing and plunging past us. I think there must have been about 60 or 70. The hurry they were in was most laughable, and gave one the idea of a lot of lunatics escaped from some Asylum. There they skimmed along the surface, then bang they went with a splash through a large wave, coming up again in about half a minute with a snort like a “sou” – and then in again and so on till they outstripped our view.
We have numbers of Mother Carey Chickens flying about and behind our ship. They are about the size of Blackbirds and not unlike them in appearance, but fly like swallows, and never appear to rest, but keep on the wing continually.
Tonight about 9 o’c when dark another shoal of Porpoises made their appearance, which, in the phosphorescent sea as described above, gave them the likeness of great sea serpents. We could see them 200 yds behind us coming plunging along direct for the ship, and rushing right at the sides, which they appeared to smell, and then dive away on their pathless way.
June 8th, Thurs
A lovely day, with a gentle steady NW wind – the sun is already almost vertical and very hot, Lat 40º 36’ N Long 16º 18’ West. Our distance made in last 24 hours is 180 miles; by the map I see we are almost opposite Lisbon.
We are all gradually getting into our usual health and spirits. I am quite well, but Sarah is not yet out of the Dr's hands.
Today the Captain made for us a lot of rope quoits, with which we had some games on deck. It is good fun and will help keep us employed. Another great host of porpoises just gone past, about 500, great fun watching them in their mad haste. The passengers, which I will try to describe, are gradually becoming acquainted with each other, the nasty stiffness having almost disappeared. I think we have been very fortunate in our fellow travellers.
1st Captain John Bruce, a Perth man – very fine looking and a thorough gentleman. Kind, communicative, and most intelligent, enjoys a joke and laughs heartily, which I always like a man to do – he is about 30 years old and unmarried.
2nd Dr Jay – Surgeon of the ship – a slight made “loon” – pleasant but very quiet, about 25 years old. He does not appear to be up to much, but we will be better able to judge by and bye.
3rd Willm H Binks – a West Indian production, but brought up in Australia. Came to England in April to see the country and do some business. While in Britain he went over the English, Scotch and Irish Lakes and scenery – speaks high of the Trossachs and Loch Lomond. He is a gentleman in every sense as far as I have known him. He is, however, very fond of admiration and flattery, but is very good-looking with eyes as black as sloes, and a rich brown complexion, black moustache and whiskers.
4th Mr Fidge – an elderly gentleman, going to Adelaide for the 3rd time. He now takes out his wife and two daughters. He is a common looking chap about 62 years old. He has made his fortune by farming near Adelaide. He emigrated about 30 years ago from Kent, where he was a common labourer at 2/6 a day, scarcely able to keep body and soul together he says. He took a Government section shortly after he came here, for which he paid 20/- an acre, and by steady industry got it paid off and took more. He is now worth, I am told, about £30 000.
5th Mrs Fidge – a quiet common person, blind as a bat, she lost her sight about 2 years ago. The blindness came on gradually after her return to England about 10 years ago. She is a fine example of resignation and contentment – never making a grumble.
6th and 7th – Mrs Critenden and Miss Fidge – daughters of the above mentioned couple. They are like their parents common ignorant people, and hideous in their looks.
8th Mary – their servant and sister-in-law, an impudent cat, but very good looking, larks with the stewards at every opportunity.
9th Mrs Harvey – from Brighton. Goes out to join her husband, who is in the service of an engineering company, who are about to construct a railway to Port Augusta. She is a very handsome, stylish lady, with very high notions of her position in the world.
10th John Harvey – 16 years old, son of the above. A tall lanky boy, very sharp and intelligent – fond of fun and up to all kinds of pranks.
11th Louisa – daughter about 14 years – a very beautiful ad handsome girl, very intimate and often with Jessie and Sarah.
12th another Harvey – a boy about 12 years – a “rum deil” never out of mischief, or done meddling with other folks’ affairs. He is a spoilt child and needs his father badly to look after him.
13th Miss Towler – a fat fashionable silly old maid about 40 years, and weighing about 15 stone. Her get-up is a treat. On her head she wears – like a snail’s buckey on a neep – a sealskin turban, from under which hangs in a graceful corkscrew fashion her scanty locks of fair hair, which in their turn play wantonly on her piggish neck and elephantine shoulders. Her jacket is of Blue, trimmed with fur, which her Furrier brother in London procured for her at a fabulous cost. She is in love with the Captain, we fancy, and is already quiet jealous of Jessie and Sarah. Her conversation is one of our greatest treats at present – her bow is a long one and she can pull it to the end, her conscience is elastic to any extent – her lies are therefore devoid of all appearance of truth. She talks continually of her rich brothers and relatives, and of her extreme intimacy with a brother of the late Prince Consort, who she said was very anxious to buy up and drain the “Rolling Zuiderzee”. She knows nothing of anything but London, and talks like a cockney dropping her H’s all over the place. Her grammar is fearful.
14th Mrs Martin – a little good looking young widow about 24; She goes out with her child and sister to join a minister brother in Adelaide. She is a nice person but very quiet. Her husband died 3 months after their marriage.
15th Baby Martin – about 2 years old – as pretty a child as ever I saw. Her name is Emily. She is very peevish and cries too much for my taste. This little being has escaped sea-sickness as yet.
16th Miss Williams – sister of Mrs M, a quiet religious looking mortal and ugly as possible. Mrs M and she don’t pull well often.
In the saloon along with the passengers described we have the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Mates and 1st and 2nd Steward. The Mates dine at the same table with us. The Fore Cabin passengers I will not say anything about, as we see very little of them.
Friday 9th June
Wind fallen to almost a calm. Log at 12 o’c 96 miles – the sea is like a lake so smooth and quiet – not a ship been seen for several days. The view is one vast circle of water. Very grand but becoming monotonous if such a word can be used. Today we have had the awning put over the poop deck; the sun is becoming so hot. 9 pm. Though having such a hot sun we have a short day, the sun rising at 6 and setting about 6.30. Our evenings are therefore long, but pass very pleasantly, with music, card playing, andc.
Sat 10th June
Dull day, nothing occurred worthy of mention. All the ladies on deck reading, or at needlework. Gents smoking, reading or quoiting. There is a lot of fish following in our wake called Bonnetta (Bonitto?). The Captain at first thought them young sharks, so we got a “dad” of pork and a great iron hook attached to a rope. We did not catch any however, but had the amusement only.
Sunday 11th June
A Scotch mist this morning, but cleared up about 10 o’c, the sun coming out as strong as ever; had prayers and singing in saloon, the crew and fore cabin passengers all present. Sighted Madeira about 2 o’c pm. It has the appearance of a long black cloud at first, but on nearing became very clear and beautiful. Spoke a barque about 6 o’c which turned out to be French. We got so near them as to be able to speak to them by voice, but their answers were unintelligible. All we understood was a dog which barked when our mate shouted “What ship is that”? (The first question generally put to a ship). We saw a large whale to-day spouting finely, not more than 50 yards from the ship.
Monday 12th June
Lovely morning but too calm. I was surprised on getting up this morning and looking out of my cabin window to see land quite close, it was Madeira. We had been becalmed all night, and were now in considerable danger of being carried by the tide on to the rocks, the island being right between us about 30 miles long by 10 or 12 broad; the coast (SW side) as we saw it is a continuous precipice ranging from 200 to 300 ft high with here and there large breaks or clefts, where with the field glass I got from Drysdale and Mary I could distinguish (6 miles off) a village and a church, also long rows of vines growing, or proceeding further we saw then the clouds, which continually hang over the island, rose a little, large vineyards on the slope above the cliffs. The whole scene reminded me much of Loch Long and the Kyles of Bute.
From a book of the Captain’s I find this is one of the delightful islands of the World, being always temperate, and has rain sometime in every day of the year; 8 pm got into the trade winds about midday and are again on the way.
Tuesday 13th June
No Trade winds yet; got a cheat. We are again in a helpless lot, almost totally becalmed. It is most unpleasant; the sun is within a few degrees of being vertical, the heat from about 11 o’c to 3 o’c being quite unbearable (Ther 72 degs in the shade). Glad to keep below, as even under the awning the heat is awful; the decks are actually painful to the feet. We are all well and ready for our food however.
Tonight we have had dancing on the Poop Deck – hot work, but very jolly; one of the sailors played the concertina. Two of the crew danced the hornpipe in true style, every note being marked. It was splendid.
Distance 199 miles.
Wednesday 14th June
11 am still in “quiet waters”. (I wish they were “by”, or we by them) the vessel is rolling about lazily from side to side, speed about 1 1/2 knots per hour – horrid work. The heat is awful to-day, had to adopt our puggeries to preserve our few brains from being affected. Ther 75 shade – had a foursome dram meeting in Bink’s cabin tonight. He is a very jolly and extremely kind fellow – like me he has been brought up in the “Rag Trade” (as he calls Drapery). I have had a good deal of information from him about the Colony and the trade there.
Thurs 15th June
Breeze on today and are going along about 5 knots an hour. Distance made since yesterday 101 miles. Heat is still very great, and were it not for the comparatively cool breeze would be unbearable. Nothing but reading going on with us all – no inclination for quoits or even walking about. At 4 o’c had a change in the wind – evidently the “trades” at least, magnificent sunset.
Fri 16th June – Distance 170 miles.
Into the trade winds now and no mistake – all of us knew that before bedtime last night; no sickness but lots oft humps and bumps from the pitching of the ship. J D says she is all black and blue (a neat thing in brides!!) The sea is running small hills like “pepper knowe” but not quite so substantial – the vessel splitting through the top of them and riding over them most majestically. She has, however, been rolling to a great extent; both Jessie’s and our cabin have been deluged by the sea coming through the port holes which we left open for air. Had fits of laughter at dinner, everything running from side to side of the table as if on legs; all three of us took a good dinner, not being at all affected by the motion of the ship.
Sat 17th June – Distance 205 miles.
Sighted a large ship this morning outward bound. By noon we had gained greatly upon her, and by 3 o’c were alongside. We then spoke to her by signal, my acting as clerk to the Captain. She was the “Hindostan” – an iron ship from Liverpool, bound to San Francisco with Coals and iron (Pig) 15 days out.
We were very much interested in the mode of signalling. It is done with long narrow flags, which are drawn up in fours at a time to the end of the gaff. Each flag represents a consonant. BDLM is hoisted – the ship spoke to – turn up their Marryatts Code, and find it means “City of Adelaide”, and so on, reference having to be made each time to the signal book. The Captain tells me in the old code. Vowels were also used; the consequence was that all the most abominable words of the English language came out.
While signalling we were about 1/2 a mile distant from the “Hindostan”, but with Drysdale’s binocular I could pull myself almost on board – our having finished signalling, we gradually left her behind, but their not liking such treatment, commenced putting up extra sails, stays etc., but it was all in vain. The good ship “City of Adelaide” was too much for her, and by 6 o’c was fully 6 miles ahead.
Tonight Jessie and I have been playing and practising hymns and c for tomorrow. Heat fearful, sea very high, so all ports shut, dreadfully chokey and sickening when below.
Sun 18th June
To-day we are only 4 miles ahead of the “Hindostan”. She was alongside of us during the night. She is, however, again losing distance. A fine ship she is too.
Had prayers, reading and singing on deck under the awning – about 50 present. I led the singing, tune “Evans”, went well, but I started it rather low, only the one hymn sung. In the evening we had more singing, with piano accompaniment.
I have been picturing you all at home today, and fancy I can see Aggie and Nelly lying on the grass in front of the house, with Toozie under a tree in the shade, John and the three boys down at the Leven, and Mother at the window thinking of Sarah and me perhaps.
Monday, 19th June – Dist 170 miles – off Canary Islands 50 miles.
Saw a lot of seabirds – today the weather is sultry and hot – 75 degs in the shade. Glad to keep in the saloon or cabins, which, now that the sea has fallen, are better aired, and are much cooler than deck. The “Hindostan” went on a different course last night, so have the ocean (what we see of it) to ourselves again.
This afternoon we have seen about a dozen large shoals of flying fish, each shoal numbering from 500 to 1000. They have wings like gauze of silvery whiteness and look like a swallow for 100 to 200 yards, and dive again with a splashing sound like throwing channel in a dam. Two of them struck the rigging and fell on board. They were brought into the saloon while we were at tea. I put one in a plate and the Captain gave him some tea, after which he began to flutter his wings like a bird and prepare for flight, but it was only his death struggles – the ladies however screamed and made no end of a row.
Tues 20th June
I am almost useless today. The heat is really dreadful. No fun to be had – the wind is actually hot – 77 3/4 degs in shade. Sighted the “Hindostan” again today, and exchanged the usual courtesies, showed the ensign flag.
Had a long conversation with Miss Towler on deck tonight. She tells me she goes to Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney to sell goods from samples. She has 32 firms to sell for, - Eng., Scot., and Irish, all kinds of stuff. Her chief branch is Wines and Spirits – but has samples of Tobacco, pipes, glass bottles, all sorts, Capsules, wire fencing, door maps, drapery goods in silks, velvets etc., also groceries and confections, Wholesale entirely. She is a sharp clever business woman, and I have no doubt may do very well, but it is an odd thing to find a woman traveller, and especially with such a miscellaneous stock.
Wed 21st June – Longest day. Distance 165 miles.
Ther 78º in shade, everyone in a state of dissolution, especially me. I do not know how I am to exist in Australia, when the heat is often over 100 degs. We find the bath a great comfort. I have a plunge and a shower every forenoon – the water is extremely salty, which, I think, must be very healthful.
We have seen another whale today, a small one, spotted like a leopard – the tropical species. He was so near we could see the hair on his back, quiet bristly like a seal’s. the sight of flying fish is so common now that we pay little attention to them.
Had a meet in Bink’s cabin tonight, - had great fun. After breaking up I went on deck with the Captain and had a smoke and remained till 1 am enjoying the cool breeze.
Thurs 22nd June – Distance 128 miles.
Ther in shade 84deg. “Melting Moments”. I awoke about 6 o’c in the morning and found myself in a dreadful state of perspiration and sleeping with no clothes, only my nightdress. I am getting quite alarmed – even now while I write the perspiration is running down my face. I feel very much the want of thin clothing. I wish I had taken Purves’ advice and got some. The Captain is all in white and looks so cool and comfortable. I will know better next time what to provide for the voyage!! Sarah and Jessie feel the heat greatly also, but not so much as I do.
We are almost becalmed today, and the slight wind we have is a head one, causing us to tack which makes slow work. We are nevertheless all very happy and have not begun to weary. The Captain, moved with compassion for my sufferings in the heat, has kindly lent me a fawn alpaca coat which I wear without a vest and feel much happier now
This is Mother’s birthday – long life and happiness to her is our mutual wish.
Fri 23rd June – Distance 46 miles.
Ther 82 degs. Temp of sea 80 degs – passed early this morning 4 ships homeward bound. One passed quite near. We hope to be able to send letters some of these days, the line being the great meeting place.
We have had heavy rains during the night, indeed a regular deluge – heard it on the deck over our heads. The sailors are all busy working on deck and aloft among the ropes and halyards, substituting new ones for the old. Others are making fast on the sides, hen coops, sheep pens and c in anticipation of rough weather in the stormy South. We have had no roughness yet.
11 o’c am calm again, but cooler considerably, a change we appreciate after the close sickening heat we have had to endure for the last 5 or 6 days. Saw the Southern Cross tonight for the first time, but was much disappointed in it, after all I had heard. It is only four bright (stars sketched) so! – not half as fine as the “Plough”, which is never seen in the South. So it, like other scenes, has gone from our gaze. The moon and stars look grand here at sea.
Sat 24th June – Dist 109 miles.
Ther 84 degs. Painfully hot. I am nearly exhausted, having been in one continued perspiration for 6 days. I am like my mother in regard to heat, and have been wondering what she would have done had she been with us. We are again in “Still waters” into which I would, with pleasure “Run deep”, were it not for the danger of sharks.
Captain Bruce made a narrow escape a few years ago while attempting to bathe at sea. He was lowering himself down a rope, when one of the sailors shouted “there’s a shark” which sure enough there was. He, as a matter of course, came into the ship again unbathed – bathing at sea is never now sanctioned. The shark seen by the sailor was caught 1/2 an hour afterwards and measured about 8 ft long. We hope to catch one soon.
I think “Humdrums” a better name for this part of the briny deep. It is such slow work here. About 7 o’c tonight the sky became black with clouds all round and by 7.30 broke in such torrents of rain as I never did see or hear of – during the deluge the crew were all out and active securing the fresh water which rushed off the poop deck. This they poured into tanks and c. Rain water we find much better for washing than distilled ocean.
Sunday 25th June – Dist 54 miles
Again a bright sunny day as hot as ever. Spoke a barge “Charlotte” from Liverpool to Valparaiso – 25 days out, 3 days more than us. (We like other ships date from the time the Pilot left) So much for C of A’s superiority.
Had Worship in saloon in the evg. JD accompanying the singing on the piano.
While sailing along about 6 o’c the ship was taken aback by a wind, nearly sending the masts out of her. The Captain sent all ladies below, and shouted “all hands” at the top of his voice. The winds here are most treacherous and keep changing every 10 minutes. The poor sailors have little rest. We often give them a pull with the ropes.
Monday 26th June – Distance 80 miles. Lat 7º N Long 23º W
Exceptional to the general rule, the wind, which came so suddenly last night, has proved a steady one, and though not what is called fair is better than knocking about in these horrid calms. The Captain thinks we are clear of them now.
As expected we have sighted numbers of homeward bound ships, but all too distant to speak. We, however, signalled one tonight at 5 o’c. She was very distant, but by bearing down upon her got within signalling distance, and having shown the Ensign and her showing hers, we asked if they would take letters, which she at once answered “Yes” to – so down to our desks we went, only 1/4 hr to write being allowed I managed a hurried, incoherent note to mother; Sarah wrote to Birkenhead and added a few lines to Mimi.
When all was ready the life-boat at the starboard side was lowered and went off with 4 sailors and 2nd mate. The sea being rather high – great waves indeed, the boat’s progress was a sight of no small interest to us – there was a good quarter mile between the ships. However, they got safely there and having delivered the letters and a lot of newspapers returned again all right – the sailors almost exhausted, one of them a young lad as white as a sheet – she was the “Sammendal” from Bombay to Liverpool and looked a fine ship. The Captain was a rough American, and was very rude, and never said to the crew of our boat “hae ye a mouth”. They, however, got their glass on returning – the ships were both hove to during this affair.
Tues 27th June – Dist 53 miles. Lat 6 deg 28’ Long 23º 25’.
5.30 pm still on the tack; begun at 3 o’c. Yesterday; had head winds for 2 days, which accounts for the short distances gained on our course; the 3rd mate tells me we have gone over 80 miles tacking but 53 miles is all the progress on our course.
The putting the ship on another tack – or as it is called “about” is very interesting. It has only been done 4 or 5 times since we sailed. 1st the Captain shouts out “Clew the Mainsail”! which is done in 5 minutes by about 14 men, then the Spanker and Crawjick, or Crossjack – the sailors all the while singing some well known chorus at the pitch of their voices – these sails being furled. The Captain takes the wheel and waits a steady time of the breeze then all at once sings out “Hard a lee” – they let go the sheets and tacks (ropes holding the sails) and when the ship has come round and got the wind in the sails on the wrong side, the captain calls, - “Maintopsail haul” – when round go the yards like a shot, and with a rattling noise and a few cracks the sails were again full, and off we go on another tack.
Wed 28th June – Dist 85 miles.
Heat gradually becoming less oppressive. Ther 80 or nearly so. We saw a dozen large whales today spouting away like railway engines going through a deep cutting – nothing to be seen now and then but the steam. They were about 500 yards off. We are going about 7 knots an hour against head wind.
There was a horrible spectacle seen to-day about 12 o’c while we were at lunch – the dead body of a sailor floated past the ship. It was seen by the Captain and the man at the wheel. We suppose he must have fallen from the ship at night.
Thur 29th June – Dist 66 miles.
I am not quite well this morning – have threatenings of my old complaint. I got relieved of my breakfast somewhat suddenly, but after dinner which I took well, felt very much better. I have not smoked all day. The sea has been very much rougher since morning and occasionally gives us a “jaw” on the saloon deck. Saw a lot more whales tonight called “Thrashers” from the way they splash with their tales.
Fri 30th June – Dist 169 miles. Lat 1.46 Long 25º 27’ W
Ther 79. Tearing along gloriously this morning. Expect to cross the line early tomorrow morning – this being the last day of the month the crew have been having great demonstrations.
It must be understood that sailors on account of their proverbially improvident habits have a month’s pay advanced them before they sail, so that they may get whatever they require for the voyage. They are paid by cheque, which is cashed or taken as payment by a party who knows them, then those parties (who have changed sic a liberal sum for discounting) immediately after the ship has sailed and her crew told, go to the Agents and cash their cheques – of course any sailor who has not joined the ship makes the cheque he gave his friend, or broker, null and useless, - well having got their month’s cash before earning it.
The first month to a sailor is like a dead month, and when this month terminates they make a horse of a flour barrel, straw and old sails, and with rope attached to it, tug him all round the deck – 8 or 10 men pulling and one on his back, all the while singing the good old chorus, “If he dies we’ll tan his skin, if he lives we’ll ride him again” – having finished this performance, the horse is hoisted to the end of the mainyard – a man on his back all the while – swinging backwards and forwards as the vessel rolls. When hoisted all the way up the man gets on to a stick on the rope above the horse, and with his knife cuts the rope below him, letting the horse fall into the sea, the men cheering lustily.
This entertainment lasted from 6 to 7 o’c. The Capt then sent up some splendid rockets, which burst in showers of stars. The next game was Neptune’s visit – (Neptune by one of the sailors)
Neptune (at the bow) - “Ship ahoy!! What ship is that!!?”
Capt (on the poop) - “City of Adelaide”
Nep - “Is Captain on board?”
Captain - “Yes!!”
Nep - “Can I see him?”
Captain - “Certainly!!”
With these preliminaries – Neptune ascends the poop stairs to saloon deck and makes his bow – his get up was first class, a short loose cloak of teased ropes or oakum – trousers out of sight below it, legs painted or stained dark brown, face and hands the same. Great long beard and moustache of oakum, splendidly made, and on his head a crown of tin, and in his hand a trident of same metal. To complete the representation he had thrown over him immediately before coming aft 3 or 4 buckets of water, giving him the appearance of having just come out of his reputed element – being moonlight when he showed himself the water made him shine and glisten beautifully. The whole thing was capital.
Tomorrow is to be a great day with the sailors. We will be across the line then.
Sat 1st July – Distance 191 miles. Lat 1.3’S. Long 26 deg 56’ W.
Crossed the line at 5 o’c this morning, so we are now in Southern Seas. According to a very old custom this day is observed as a half holiday – preparations for the afternoon’s amusement have been going on for a week or 10 days.
At 2 o’c Neptune and his spouse (Amphritite) preceded by two bears and followed by first his secretary, doctor and four policemen, then two barbers and their clerk, who rolled before them a great tub like “Elshenders” only twice as deep, having reached the open space adjoining the mainmast the procession halted; the tub wheeled over and filled with water, the tub arrangement was for the operating of the barbers upon those of the crew, and 2nd class passengers who had now for the first time crossed the line.
Well, all being ready the Secretary reads the programme, or order of the day, naming those whose unhappy lot it is to be a victim of the sport. (Several got off by paying the price of a bottle of rum) – the first culprit was the butcher of stockey, as he is called from Navy to look after the livestock. The Bobbies soon caught him, only twice round the decks and a few tumbles on the top of him, getting him shoulder high they carried him up to Neptune, who in exercise of his power commands him to be shaved. He is then placed on a board across the tub, the two barbers sharpening their razors meanwhile (great wood affairs about 3 ft long in the blade). Then the lathering commences from a large pail of suds with a white-washing brush (the poor culprit of course is blind-folded), having soaped his head, neck and face, it is all scraped off again, then he has a shampoo in the shape of a pail of water over his pate, drenching shirt, trousers and all, this done he has the board pulled from under him, and into the tub he goes, right over head and ears; the two bears then dive in on top of him, and fight there to the serious alarm of us passengers, who felt anxious about the poor butcher boy. However, they all got out evidently none the worse, but very wet.
I have omitted to say that previous to his shaving, he is examined by the doctor, who feels his pulse, and asks a lot of questions. When he makes his answer the barber who is standing near, stuffs a soapy brush in his mouth.
The next unfortunate was the cook’s mate, then 2nd steward, 3rd midshipman, two 2nd class passengers and some sailors, and last of all the barbers themselves – all of whom went through the same ordeal as the butcher, causing immense fun to themselves and we passengers, though I must say they were often too rough.
Several of the young sailors gave the bobbies some work to catch them – running up the rigging and crossing from mast to mast, sliding down the ropes like squirrels – “the guardians of the peace” were very good imitations of the genuine London blue bottles – Black glazed waterproof coats with a row of crosses on the collars and Black sou’westers on their heads. Belts with big buckles around their waists; for batons they had pieces of sailcloth rolled up and tarred.
Mrs Neptune was a regular “girl of the period”. – chignon of immense size, made of teased oakum and done up in big plaits, bonnet (a borrowed one) of new style, veil and c and c. She was personified by a young lad Curtis, a very fine looking lad of 17 years. He made a really pretty girl – during the hunt for culprits for the tub; one lad Reid being nearly caught, crossed on the top stay from the foremast to the main, more than 40 feet separate and an awful height from the deck – he escaped as well deserved, - on the fun finishing, the Captain sent 3 bottles of rum to enjoy in the forecastle.
Soon after dark, Neptune bade us all adieu, having completed his 24 hours on board, his departure was in the following style, a splash was heard and then a half barrel full of tar and other combustible materials was set fire to and dropped over-board this was to light Neptune home.
This light kept in sight till we had to go to tea; it was often lost for a few minutes, but both it and us being on the top of the wave together, was seen finely. This over, dancing commenced and was kept up in a lively manner till nearly 10 o’c. We on the Poop Deck, only onlookers, there was no room, nor wish for us below. The moonlight was splendid, the sea like a sheet of silver (very roughly engraved!!) – I stood long, gazing over it – a thing I often do and very fond especially when my pipe goes well. We all went to bed about 11 o’c, feeling very tired with our continual hanging about.
Sunday 2nd July – Dist 173 miles Beautiful day. Sun still very hot. Ther 80 deg shade. Had service at 11 o’c. (English Church read prayers, collects andc.) Sung with piano accompaniment. The rest of the day passed very much as usual – reading to ourselves till 6.30, smoking and pacing the deck till 11 o’c when the moon was well up, making the scene one of magnificent grandeur, the huge rolling waves adding greatly to its beauty.
Monday, 3rd July – Dist 139 miles.
I had a slight illness last night, but through consulting the Dr in time am all right today. Sarah has had washing this morning – handkerchiefs, towels and c. The cabin has been the drying green – strings all over the roof. The sailors washed for Mr Binks the other day, but tore the greater part of his things useless, so Sarah in her usual way, rather than be so served did them herself.
10.30 pm overtook and spoke barque “Abbeholme” from Liverpool to Brisbane, Queensland. We got so near her as to be able to converse quite audibly. She was 33 days out from the Downs. We are 29 out; the Captain of this ship knew Captain Bruce and exchange compliments and a considerable amount of chaff also. We received an invitation to come on board, but being rather late postponed it till morning, when, if within rowing distance, we would pay them a visit. The “Abbeholme” had 16 passengers – we were 37 – but the first mate said 45 to be on the big side!!
By request of the ladies, we sung “Come where my line lies dreaming”, and by same parties’ desire I had to play my concertina. Capt Bruce, in his fun, said he had a lot of good musicians on board, which of course resulted in their demanding a proof. It would have been better for us to have given no proof, as our attempt proved the Captain a big liar. My waltz on the concertina brought a volley of applause, so much for my vanity my saying so.
Tues 4th July – Dist 83 miles.
We have had little or no wind since midday yesterday. The “Abbeholme” is about 6 miles aft this morning. The Capt however fully intends boarding her today, and if he does, I am to accompany him. He will require to back ship for an hour to let her up to us. I hope he does as we want some change in our programme to enliven us a bit.
This day is some of our birthdays: Alexander’s or Aggies’s, I fancy. I cannot remember exactly. I never could mind birthdays all my life.
12 o’c noon. “Abbeholme” 10 miles behind – no chance of us boarding her; a good breeze up, and is carrying us away from her. “City of Adelaide” has few equals in going powers. Our Navy passed every ship we have come upon.
Wed 5th July – Distance 95 miles.
Glorious breeze this morning; it came about 6 o’c am – going over 10 knots at present – about 12 o’c sighted a homeward bound ship, just like a speck on the distant horizon (8 miles off) – in 15 or 20 minutes we were alongside each other, both about 1/2 a mile separate. We were both going so fast we only had time to report ourselves to her. We had no time to receive her signals, not even to get her name. She acknowledged our signals being understood by the “answering pennant. Sarah and Jessie sickish today, but able to be on deck. The motion of the ship is greater now than it has been all the way.
Thur 6th July – Dist 229 miles.
Going it in style today. I have been along at the bow for about 2 hours this morning seeing the ship tearing up the mighty deep. She can send the biggest waves in two, driving them back in foaming torrents and clouds of spray to the distance of 30 and 40 yards. The sea is running so high today, we have had to have our outer ports closed – the waves every now and again splash right over the saloon deck. It is fortunate that the heat has moderated; else we should have been choked in the cabins for want of air.
Ther down to 75 deg. This tempt we find very comfortable after our experience 84.086. We are tonight within 400 miles of the coast of S America (Brazil). The moon tonight has been very fine, the stars also shining out very brightly. I am sorry to say we are losing the “Plough” only the 3 stars visible of the handles tonight. The Captain is a thorough astronomer, and under him I am improving my knowledge greatly.
Fri 7th July – Dist 244 miles.
Wind keeping up splendidly; have had a splendid run since last night. Have been going 11 1/2 knots an hour for a good many hours during the night.
10 am – speed about 10 knots now. We are in the SE trade winds and have been for several days. I hope they will continue for a few weeks, by which time we will be round the Cape, and then go straight for Adelaide. The tempt today is very pleasant – more like dear old Scotland’s. We shall be having it cooler every day now, and when at the Cape we shall want our thick clothes the Captain says. Snow and hail we are sure to have he says.
Sat 8th July – Dist 244 miles.
On deck before breakfast. Saw a faint small cloud in the distance, Martin Vaz Rocks. Lat 20, Long 30 degs or thereabouts. About 10 o’c we got within 5 miles of them and with the field glasses enjoyed an inspection of them. From an account of them in a book of the Captain’s I find they are nothing but barren rocks with precipes all round – inhabited by nothing but all sorts of sea birds. Nothing grows on these rocks but a few short bushes. The island of Trinidad is about 6 miles farther West.
Sun 9th July – Dist 118 miles.
Having had a most wretched night of rolling, got up soon after 5 o’c this morning and went up on deck. We got becalmed about midnight in a heavy rolling sea. The ship rolled so far often as to alarm us all considerably. Jessie D came into our cabin about 2 am, she was so terrified and so sleepless with the rolling.
Mon 10th July – Dist 53 miles.
Still in a becalmed state – only making 1 knot per hour, a very depressing state of matters for us all, especially the Captain.
The rolling of the vessel goes on same as ever – from side to side there she goes incessantly, and no small degree of rolling either, often reaching 24 degrees as proved by the register in the Captain’s cabin. At meals everything on the table slides about in a most absurd fashion, causing plenty of laughter; of course we have the guards (or “Fiddles” as they are called) during rough weather, but they do not interfere with the peregrinations of cruet and pickle stands, tumblers, glasses, spoons, knives, forks and c, which keep sliding about in all sorts of ways with rattling glee, clattering all in a cluster at one side, then clatter back to the other, great fun at first, but very provoking when too often repeated. Jessie D goes into fits over this row. Her visibility is particularly keen. Saw an Albatross and some Cape Chickens today.
Tues 11th July – Dist 143 miles.
After almost 2 days of calm a breeze came on at 6 o’c last night from SW – the opposite of what we made such fine runs in last week. Previous to the breeze rising, I was standing with the 2nd mate, looking around the horizon and watching for wind signs (which I am already beginning to know) when a black cloud began to rise on the SW horizon, having risen and widened a good deal. It gradually left the horizon clear, then I began to feel a little wind on my face. Next the sails, which had been flapping themselves uselessly for so long, became quiet and began to fill; the breeze steadily increased and beginning to look as if it meant “business”. Orders were given to set all sail, which being done in about 10 minutes we found ourselves along about 8 knots and as steady as a rock – a welcome change from what we have had two days of.
8 pm , the breeze is now first rate, taking us steadily along at about 9 knots an hour, - “Blow, breezes, blow”!!
Wed 12th July – Dist 139 miles.
Ther 65 deg in shade. Again in a semi becalmed state – rolling from side to side, rendering it of greatest necessity when in our cabins to stand near something you can lay hold of and hold onto when the ship rolls, otherwise you are sure of being knocked about from corner to corner, thumping your shins and elbows against boxes and c. Since Monday the weather has become much colder, indeed now and then we have had to put on thicker clothing, and an extra blanket on our berths – all the passengers feel much better, and especially myself since we left the heat behind.
I caught the first Cape Pigeon this afternoon, with a long line and hook – a small piece of pork fat for bait. We have been trying for 3 days – anything for variety here.
Thur 13th July – Dist 32 miles.
Since midday yesterday we have almost totally at a standstill – a state of things the Captain cannot make out, as we should be having stormy winds here, indeed generally more than is so wanted. We are sure to have it soon now, as the sea for two days has been rolling along in immense waves or rather swells, some of them not a whit less in size than Balsillie laws, but being wide apart, allow the ship to pass over without much inconvenience to it or us. The Captain says those swells come a distance of 1,000 miles and are the result of heaving winds, into which we are gradually getting; the best and newest ropes are now in use, the old ones not being considered strong enough to face the tempestuous Southern Seas and winds.
Captain Bruce caught a 10 ft shark at 7 o’c this morning, but while being pulled along the side of the ship by the sailors, the rope for a moment got slack, and as he was not much hooked, got off. We were much disappointed on hearing of it. We were not up when it was hooked.
We caught another Cape Pigeon to-day which the Dr killed for me in professional style, by dropping a single drop of Prussic Acid in its eye – death was instantaneous – this mode of dispatch saves the plumage from being soiled and ruffled.
Fri 14th July – Dist 157 miles. Lat 29º Long 23º.
The wind improved slightly about 10 o’c last night and continues steady today, but we have lost so much time by light winds that the Capt doubts the possibility of our making the voyage in less than 80 days. This being Jessie D’s birthday, we have had a jollification over it. Capt Bruce, Mr Binks, the Doctor and I did a bottle of Sherry in her honour – for tea the cook made a splendid round of shortbread with “J D” and “Many happy returns” in white sugar on it. This was presented her on a big plate, which was afterwards handed round the table.
Sat 15th July – Dist 237 miles.
This morning we awoke to find ourselves again in one of those delightfully gentle breezes one reads of in poetry – scarcely enough to shake an aspen – quite disgusting!! However, about 10 am a change came with a vengeance, the beginning, I suppose, of the rough weather – this change, which has been daily or rather hourly expected for the last week – gave signs of its approach about an hour previous to its showing itself by a thick dark mist on the SW horizon. The Capt aware of what was coming, ordered all topsails to be furled. Foresail and mainsail to be clewed (drawn up at the corners), spanker and crawjack reefed and all the watch to be ready for business.
This was scarcely done when out burst the wind like a hurricane – roaring through the masts and yards like a storm in a forest. Then on dashed the rain and hail rattling on the deck like swan shot – very exciting and interesting. The crew in their leggings or rather boots and waterproofs, tramping about in small bands, working the different sails. Yo-ho-ing and singing in spite of the weather. There was a grand wild sea running, which I had to cease admiring for the time, great volumes of it being sent flying into the air by the ship and then driven back upon us by the wind, drenching my lower garments to rights.
The rough weather has made all three of us sick again – the motion of the ship is different from what it has ever been before o the voyage.
Sun 16th July – Dist 198 miles. Lat 34º, Long 17º.
During the night the wind fell a good deal, but at 10 o’c this morning on came the gale stronger than ever – the sea running high and every minute or two making great breaches from the bow right along the ship. “All hands” were now called and sent aloft to reef mainsails and topsails, a task that took 20 men to manage – numbers of whom had not time to get on boots or waterproofs, and as it was a deluge of rain aloft and endless shipping of water on deck these poor fellows got jolly wet and cold.
The weather prevented our having Worship till evening.
Mon 17th July
Having spent a wretched night of pitching and rolling we got up today to find our speed increased to 12 knots an hour, in fact just flying through the water – during the night, through which we slept very little – we could be in our berths and hear the seas break over the ship and come plunging and dashing on to the decks in perfect deluges. Besides hearing the seas breaking and rushing over her sides, we could feel them strike her, making her quiver from bow to stern, and bringing her for the moment to almost a dead stand.
We are still sailing under half sail – the gusts were so heavy last night that several ropes attached to the sails broke and left the sail cracking and banging like a cannon. We were on deck only a short while today – a glorious and magnificent sea of most fearful waves with great rolling crests of foam lay round us on all sides, but it was too cold to stand on deck. Ther now down to 48º, nothing like change of climate!!
Tues 18th July – Dist 233 miles. Lat 35º 42’. Long 7º 508.
Not feeling at all well. I went to bed about 9 o’c last night, after having taken some medicine – today I am about right again, but had breakfast in bed. Sarah and Jessie are first rate.
The weather to-day is fully more boisterous than yesterday , some heavy seas having broken over the ship. I went on deck in my big Pilot Jacket about 1 o’c and had not been there 10 mins admiring the awfully grand old sea of foaming waves that encircled us in all directions, when without a moment’s warning, a great wave rose and broke on the weather bow, nearly opposite the foremast.
The wave rose 12 feet above the ship’s sides and dashed down on the deck in a solid mass of water. I was standing with the Captain when the sea rose. He saw it, and shouted out at the pitch of his voice to old Robins the mate, who was standing on the deck below. He however, had no time to clear out, but seized a rope. The sea came right on the top of him and knocked him down, then carried him right up against the sheep pens. When the water began to clear away, for there was at least 3 feet of it in depth where Robins was, we began to see the amount of damage done.
The great strong sheep pens of new wood were knocked flat. These contained 12 prize Leicester Rams, which were none the worse. Part of the bulwarks was stove in, a hencoop smashed in two (an empty one by good luck), pail, spars, rope etc., were carried right to the other side of the ship and left there in remarkable confusion.
The water found its way out in about 10 minutes, but not entirely, continual additions being made from the waves breaking over the sides. Mr Robins besides being drenched in this affair, got his back strained and had to knock off duty for the day. It is a wonder he was not killed altogether. Such is sea life I suppose!! There are crowds of birds flying in our wake picking up what they can get of what falls from the ship.
Since writing the above the wind has increased to a storm. At 9 o’c pm I went out to front of saloon where there is a strong bulwark of battens put up to prevent the sea rushing into or damaging saloon. It is placed right across the deck and is 4 feet high, so has to be jumped over whenever one wishes to go forward. There I stood smoking and listening to the rushing and roaring of the storm, and watching the seas break over the ship.
All at once a squall broke out with fearful violence sending the ship right on her side, and like the sound of a cannon snap went the main stay sail sheet (which means rope). Bang-bang went the sail like young thunder till it tore itself to shreds. All this occurred in pitch darkness and in heavy rains, which in my estimation made the exciting scene complete. When I say pitch darkness I mean very, very dark, but not so dark as not to be able to see a mast 10 yards off.
Wed 19th July – Distance 240 miles. Lat 36º 20’ S. Long 2º 57’ W.
Had a stormy night, neither Sarah nor I been able to sleep above an hour the whole night long – the ship rolling to an alarming extent, often threatening to go right over. We were glad when daylight appeared. The gale did not stop till about 6 o’c this morning, having during the night (1 o’c am) carried away the inner jib. By 10 o’c to-day the wind and sea had both fallen considerably.
Thur 20th July – Dist 248 miles. Wind again very high, the sea running small mountains and every few minutes breaking over the ship’s sides, keeping always about a foot of water on deck, which, with the ship’s rolling, keeps rushing from side to side, drenching up to the waist anyone who has to pass forward or aft. The weather is very cold 48º Ther – a great contrast to 84º, which we had a little more than a fortnight ago.
Fri 21st July – Dist 228 miles
“Weend a leetle too much aft” as old Fidge says, and what of it is rather light, so our pace is not so fast as we could wish. I hope it will so on return to what it has been for the last six days – for if it does and continues – we expect to make the voyage in 75 days or less; therefore, we shall only have to endure this somewhat monotonous and wearisome life for other 27 days or so.
Mr Binks and I took advantage of the light winds and slow pace to-day in trying to catch some of the pigeons and mollyhawks that follow in our wake. I was successful in catching a very fine Cape Pigeon which I gave the sailmaker, who had promised one to a friend.
They are beautiful, or rather “pretty birds” – rather larger than a wood pigeon with Black and White Mottled Bodies, white breasts, Blk and white spotted wings, with jet black head and beak, the wings and especially the breasts make handsome hat feathers. The Mollyhawks are a species of Albatross, with white bodies and black wings. They measure 8 feet across the wings – they have only come on the scene since yesterday.
My fishing propensity getting roused I determined on securing some of them, so at once got a strong line and large hook, for hours we tried but in vain. They dived down on the bait, screeching and gobbling alternately, twice I had them hooked, but as usual, when pulling in they got off.
One Mr Binks and I together pulled along till it was at the shipside, but on trying to lift him off the water, off he went – the hook was blunt. These beggars are as large as a swan, and worth catching. I hope to secure one or two ere we reach Adelaide.
Passed a large barque at 3 o’c to-day, labouring very much with the heavy sea.
Sat 22nd July – Dist 211 miles.
Had another wretched night of rolling. Neither Jessie, Sarah or myself been able to sleep beyond an hour or so. The morning has been very wet and cold, but changed for the better at midday; the wind altered and the sky cleared, allowing the sun (a great stranger of late) to shine out beautifully. Since 3 o’c the breeze has increased to a gale and since then we have been sailing and are at present going 14 knots an hour, the greatest we have attained on the voyage.
Sun 23rd July – Dist 242 miles.
Today we are much the same as yesterday, the sea running very high, breaking over the bulwarks every few minutes. Had no worship till evening, and then only with saloon passengers, the 2nd cabin folks not being able to get aft in safety. The seas are breaking so constantly over the ship. As we were concluding worship at 8 o’c, two separate seas struck the ship with a shock equal almost to her striking a rock. All the passengers got a great fright.
Mon 24th July – Dist 180 miles.
This morning we had beautiful sunshine with mild steady wind, the air being quite changed, all were on deck enjoying it, but at 12 o’c back came winter weather in all its force, bringing hail, sleet, rain and c. We are now in Lat 40º Long 20º, having passed the Cape at 10 o’c last night. We are, however, still steering Southwards as well as east, and will do so till we reach 42 deg or 43 deg, in which Lat winds are to be found that will take us direct to Adelaide.
This storm which today continues unabated has caused a deal of damage to the ship. On Sunday night the strong deal staircase leading from the deck to the poop was carried away to midships, and got very much damaged. The bolts and screws by which it was fastened were twisted and broken as if they were putty. A sea also broke over the saloon deck which stands 14 ft above the sea level, and smashed a strong oak hencoop to atoms, carrying 7 fowls to perdition. The most wonderful thing to me is how the sailors escape. They are knowing dodgers and are always on the alert, keeping both eyes and ears in full operation.
Tues 25th July – Dist 293 miles!!
That’s a run worth while! Vessel been rolling horridly all the night – neither Sarah nor I had any sleep worth going to bed for. We are both nevertheless in capital fettle with appetites that would ruin a poor man in a week.
The state of the weather today is much like yesterday – immense sea running with us, breaking over her stern every little while. The great waves then roll along her sides and being higher, rush over in tons of solid water. The great amount of sea she ships is owing to her being so heavily laden (she has 1500 tons of cargo in the hold) causing her to rise too slowly to the waves. She was never so heavily laden before the Captain says.
We are passed the worst of it now, however, and are thankful we have had so little inconvenience, comparatively speaking – about 3 weeks now and we shall again behold land and get our feet once more on terra firma, having come over 6000 miles of water – two thirds of the circumference of the globe itself. The mail steamers or ordinary come a different course and save over 3000 miles – sailing vessels must go the way they meet the best winds.
Wed 26th July – Dist 219 miles.
This has been a beautiful bright sunny day, like a June day at home. Mr Fidge and I played Mr Binks and John Harvey a game or two at quoits – it is good fun – we have not been able to play since we left the Tropics. This change is very pleasant no doubt, but will not suit our purpose. We want the strong breezes to carry us along. I omitted to note in yesterday’s observations that Tuesdays run of 293 miles is the greatest run the ship ever made in one day. It is 12 1/4 miles per hour average. Sometimes we were going 15 and at others 10. There was, however, a considerable current with us which helped no doubt to increase the distance made.
Thurs 27th July – Dist 149 miles. Lat 41º S. Long 34º E.
Weather much the same today, but rather colder I think. At 1 o’c the ship had to go on tack to the Southward, the wind having veered to South West. We saw a very fine fog-bow today. It is produced by the sun – the same as a rainbow, the difference being that a Fog bow has no colour only different shades of light, the inside ring being very bright, the next a little darker until when at the outside one it becomes the colour of a cloud. In size this fog-bow was about double the width of a rainbow.
There is little material for a diary in this quiet weather. The ship is as steady as a rock at present.
Fri 28th July – Dist 204 miles.
Had a lovely bright day with moderate wind. It is however getting colder every day. Ther now below 45º; to sit or read on deck now is out of the question. Glad to pace up and down to keep the necessary heat. We have been quoit playing from 10 o’c to 3 o’c with only 15 minutes stop for lunch. We find it produces both heat and not little amusement, especially when there is a bottle of ale at stake.
Jessie and I had a turn at music tonight – concertina and piano. Piano getting dreadfully out of tune.
Sat 29th July – Dist 208 miles.
Saturday again!! How rapidly the days fly here. It was teatime before I was aware it was the end of the week. There is so little to mark the days as they pass. The weather today is extremely cold, with occasional blasts of sleet and snow, quite wintry. Yet only seasonable in these latitudes at this time of the year. Have been quoiting as much as ever today. Old Fidge and I against the Dr and Binks. We had keen contested games. The ladies have been little on deck today, and when they were obliged to have thick shawls to keep warm.
Sun 30th July – Dist 199 miles.
Oh! For a good roaring fire to heat our toes!! The cold is awful. Ther down to 39. Today is more like a Sunday than any we have had yet. The ship is almost at a standstill – from the same cause as Willie Hamilton’s “Jess” sticks in the path. Want of wind, the sea is also very calm and quiet, altogether making the scene very grand and beautiful. I suppose it is the change that gratifies one so much.
At Midday we were going so slow that the Cape Pigeons came round the ship and swam about in such numbers (500 at least) that the sailors, with their characteristic disregard for Sunday – set to with lines etc, and caught over a dozen. We didn’t behave so badly. We only looked on!!
There is a change for the better tonight. The wind has freshened a bit.
Mon 31st July – Dist 165 miles. Lat 43º S. Long 51º E.
I was glad to find when I woke this morning that we were again going along at descent speed – 8 knots an hour. The weather is raw and cold, the decks wet and dangerously slippy, so rather than contend with those disagreeables have, for the greater part of the day confined ourselves to our cabins or saloon, with preference being given to the former, when we three squat on the floor or berths, and read to our heart’s content in peace and quietness, to ensure which we take the precaution to draw close the sliding door of our cabin, thereby relieving our auriculars from the pain of enduring the incessant “twaddle” of some feminine fools in the saloon, whose tongues have little rest.
Tues 1st August – Dist 242 miles
We are all very glad today commence a new month, especially when we think that by the middle or latter part of it we shall find ourselves on land again, where to be we often have great longings. However, for myself, I could put up with other two months on board. I am getting so strong and feel so accustomed to the ship. Saw a young penguin today and a lot of porpoises.
Wed 2nd Aug – Dist 244 miles.
Plenty of wind today, rain and hail likewise, an out and out nasty squally day. Sails all reefed except foresail, fore lower topsail, and ripper topsail. Main, mizzen lower and upper topsail, only six sails in all instead of somewhere about 30 which we nearly always carry. To give an idea of the power of the wind, with this small amount of sail, we are going over 12 knots an hour – just plunging through it, hurling great waves back with her mighty weight, as if she were a great rock. Tons of water have come on board today, rushing over the deck about a foot deep. There is now never less than 1/2 a foot at all times. The bulwarks have again been smashed in today by the rude waves.
Thurs 3rd Aug – Dist 232 miles.
Splendid morning this quite bright and sunny. Ther up to 56º. This pleasant change is owing to the North winds which are always warm on this side of the line – not much heat in them at home.
I had a look at the Captain’s chart today. I generally do so once a week, to see where on the face of the globe we are. I find we have over 3500 miles to go yet, which with fair wind and weather we ought to manage in 14 days.
We will have to go on salt junk if we are much longer, as there are only 6 sheep (thin ones) and a dozen of things they term fowls left. We have had good fresh mutton every day since we left, but oh dear!! preserve from ship poultry – scrags!! They are generally half drowned before being “drawn”.
Fri 4th Aug
No change in weather today, clear and mild. Jessie and Sarah however, do not frequent the deck so much as they did, having become greatly attached to their cabins where they sit together and talk for hours and hours working and chatting. They get on grandly together, and are a great comfort to each other. I have been fishing for birds, and quoiting a good deal to-day, but am tired and sick of both and everything else. Will be glad to get on land.
Sat 5th Aug – Dist 171 miles.
Changes may be lightsome, but not so was to-day. We were all awoke this morning at 5 o’c by the noise of the crew on deck above our heads, “all hands” having been called and feet too, we maintain – to reef sail, a terrific gale having broke out. It has continued without intermission the whole day, only five sails set, giving the ship a very bare, unclad look, through there being a head sea. Enormous quantities of water are breaking over the ships sides. The rolling has been worse today than it has been the whole voyage. The crew had to put up with bread and cheese for dinner to-day, their whole soup and meat having been washed right out of the galley. The cook, poor chap, has had hard times lately, having to stand over the ankles in water – his pots he cannot get to stay on the fire, and loses half the soup each day – Jessie and Sarah are both sickish tonight. For the first time in my life I saw the Aurora Australis. It was very fine and clear, but not so grand as the Borealis.
Sun 6th Aug – Dist 220 miles.
Weather still very stormy. The bulwarks have been stove-in in 3 places this morning, and no attempt is made to repair them, as while this storm lasts it is dangerous to go so near an open hole – fearful seas breaking over us every minute – both sides at once often. Sometimes I can feel the ship sink a little with the extra weight. The Captain says she is bound to do so there often being 20 tons of water on board.
Mon 7th Aug – Dist 235 miles.
In a regular storm today, the sea such as I have heard describe, but never before witnessed; indeed I am amazed how the ship manages to get along at all, and suffers so comparatively little damage. While all at Breakfast today a sea broke over the saloon deck and broke the skylights, drenching Mr Binks and some others, whose seats unluckily were right under; Sarah and Jessie too came in for a share of the brine. The coffee cups were filled with it – dish of mutton chops deluged and sent flying all over the table. Bread rolls, etc knocked about in such a way as to make a clearance necessary and a fresh start made by those whose appetites had not been lost in the first engagement.
None of the passengers have ventured on deck today, except Binks, who likes to do “great things”; for my own choice I prefer to remain below, having had quite enough tumbles and knocks without running any useless risk. Every part of the ship is wet, inside cabins as well; there is a little puddle in both Jessie’s cabin and ours. We are wonderfully snug and happy all the same, endeavouring always to make fun of all the little mishaps that befall us.
Tues 8th Aug – Dist 243 miles. Lat 42º. Long 43º.
I have always been led to believe it highly imprudent to “halloa” before being out of the wood, so therefore, I must not yet rejoice having escaped “the perils of the deep” seeing we have 10 or 12 more days more of “life on the ocean wave” in prospect, but this much I can safely say that I never in my life before felt so thankful as I did this morning when the storm I am about to describe, partially abated.
The stormy weather which commenced on Saturday morning and continued all Sunday and yesterday increased at 8 o’c last night to a terrific storm, indeed such a storm as Captain Bruce never before experienced. Even the chief mate, Mr Robbins, who has been at sea over 40 years, never witnessed one more dreadful. Thunder and lightning, rain, hail, snow, accompanied by a hurricane that actually beat the masts and yards, as likely to be expected with such weather; the sea was not “like a lake” at 2 o’c in the morning; a fearful sea rose over the stern and came down on the ship in a crash, we below thought it had crashed in the deck. The man at the wheel was driven clean from the post and narrowly escaped being carried overboard.
The Captain, who was on deck the whole night, tells me the wave was at least 30 feet above the level of the saloon deck. When the sea broke we were all in our berths, but none asleep you may be sure – had never been sleepy – were too frightened. The thunder and lightening and state of matters generally put that out of our heads, but when the crash came and with a deluge of water into the saloon, I banged up and rushed out to see what was the matter.
I found the saloon floor in water about half a foot deep, which rushed about as the ship moved, dashing up the sides of the cabins, having also satisfied myself that no one was overboard or hurt, I returned to the cabin and tried to cheer up Sarah and Jessie. Sarah was pale as death, poor lassie, and was crying. Jessie was quite cool, but desperately grave. I gave Sarah a good glass of brandy and some heartening, which had the good effect of sending her off to sleep, which she enjoyed till half past 6, when again a sea struck her amidships (the vessel I mean!!) smashing in bulwarks and the strong breakwater on front of saloon, the water rushing in torrents into saloon doors. I then began to get alarmed, and began to think seriously of our awful position; I must really confess to being very, very much frightened. I got this feeling shaken off however very soon. Sarah was not so much alarmed this time (Dutch courage, I fancy!).
The Captain was on deck and as I said before, had been all night. He was on the point of “heaving to” when this last sea struck her, thinking serious damage was done, but on consultation with the mates let her drive – Mr Robbins considering it very dangerous to in such a sea. The damage to the ship has been considerable; large portions of the outside of the saloon have been wrenched off and carried away – 3 hencoops smashed like band boxes. Several accidents occurred to the crew – five are laid up, the Boatswain had his leg very much crushed by the breakwater falling on him.
During the storm the darkness was of the densest nature, the lightening most vivid (we saw it through the ports while in our berths). The thunder loud and rumbling, but not so distinct as that we hear at home, very likely from the absence of anything to rebound it or cause an echo.
The Captain and mates told me of a remarkable phenomenon they saw last night in the storm. The tops of the three masts, the ends of the yards, and the end of the gaff had a blue ball of fire flickering on each, which disappeared and returned simultaneously. They must have been a large amount of electricity in the air. I believe it is not an uncommon during a thunder storm at sea, being often seen in the Channel. The Captain gave it a name, which was such a jaw breaker that I forget it. I wish I had seen it, but the kind of night and the awkward time forbade my going on deck.
9 pm the sea has slightly fallen now, but still very high. I hope we shall be able to sleep.
Wed 9th Aug – Dist 238 miles.
All had a good night’s rest and felt the better for it. The weather is still very rough, but the wind has fallen. The sea, however, keeps up and knocks the ship about awfully. We have been on deck several times today, but had to hold by ropes all the while, the rolling is so great.
Thur 10th Aug – Dist 245 miles.
This day has been one of unbroken sunshine, and has been greatly enjoyed by all of us, especially the ladies, most of whom did not venture on deck during the rough weather. The sea has fallen to a more reasonable state, the waves, with few exceptions, confining themselves to their own province. I hope they will continue to do so till we are beyond their reach. I feel very glad I had my lot of boxes zinc lined, expensive tho’ it was; there has been such an amount of water rushing about the decks so long that I feel sure the goods and c in the hold must be wet. The hatches are never water-tight. My mind is easy about my stuff.
Fri 11th Aug – Dist 244 miles. Lat 40. Long 107.
Weather again very delightful. Waves much the same as yesterday, large but steady coming one after the other in regular order; about 6 o’c tonight however, the wind changed and set the ship rolling again, in consequence of which and with the decks being wet and slippy, our friend and fellow sufferer Binks was sent spinning from Mizzen mast up against the hencoops, his head coming in violent contact with the deck, the sound of which brought up three or four of the ladies to see who was killed!! He was stunned but not much hurt. Jessie was also a “clout” today, but sustained no great damage.
Sat 12th Aug – Dist 220 miles.
Nothing to record today. Weather like yesterday.
Sun 13th Aug – Dist 202 miles.
A splendid day. We are off Australian Coast now, passed Cape Leewin at midnight 300 miles distance.
Mon 14th Aug – Dist 160 miles. Lat 38º 29’ S. Long 119º 48’ E.
We are gradually getting into warmer weather, each being milder than the previous one. This is the beginning of spring in Australia, so we shall arrive at the best time both for seeing the country in its prettiest time and for gradually getting ourselves acclimatised. I fear the great heat of midsummer will trouble me a good deal this first year. The weather is very fine today, almost a calm. We want more wind to enable us to get to Adelaide before Sunday. We shall be there anyhow before this time next week.
Tues 15th Aug – Dist 135 miles.
After having had a very slow day of it, the breeze woke up from its slumbers about 6 o’c tonight. We are now tearing along about 10 knots an hour. This state of matters is more cheerful and encouraging. The Captain spent an hour or so in our cabin tonight, which when we left we went on deck and smoked till well on in the morning – bad hours for young men!! We were sailing then at a peaceful speed, 14 knots at least, the sea being quite calm, but covered with foam caused by the ship. We can feel ourselves approaching land. The air even feels different.
Wed 16th Aug – Dist 220 miles.
At 3 o’c this morning the cable of lower mizzen topsail snapped with a bang which woke up nearly all the passengers. At 12 o’c today we were within 600 miles of Adelaide Port only 3 days work at the outside. We can scarcely realise it. We all feel nearer England than Australia. However, we shall likely sight Kangaroo Island on Friday forenoon, and then we may perhaps dissipate that idea. Sarah, Jessie and several of the other ladies have been sick today, owing to the ships motion having changed from rolling to pitching. It is no doubt much more unpleasant, and I fear will turn me up ere long if it does not stop.
Thur 17th Aug – Dist 243 miles.
Only 300 more and then “land in sight”!! There has been a general resurrection among boxes and c in the hold. I have had three explores today in that den of confusion, which, along with the darkness that reigns there makes box hunting rather a laborious sport. I however succeeded in getting the two we wanted, one of which was so jammed between the ends of different piles of timber deals, that I had to get three of the crew to help me to work it out with levers, luckily it was little the worse of the squeezing. We had an unsuccessful hunt for Jessie’s box, which she is very anxious to get up; her best dress which she kept out, has been so spoilt on the voyage that she is ashamed to land in it. I hope tomorrow to get it for her. The sailors are to go down and remove a few tons of sails, under which we think it must be.
It is amusing to observe the difference in the spirits of the passengers and the consequent increase in merriment that prevails now that we are nearly landing. We are in full hope of sighting Kangaroo Island tomorrow at midday.
Fri 18th August – Dist 177 miles.
“Hope deferred maketh the heart sick”. We ought to be sick tonight if the above proverb is correct. We are yet 40 miles from sighting Kangaroo Island, and it is now 8 o’c pm. Our disappointment is owing to the wind having been very light all forenoon, and to there having been none at all in the afternoon, a disgusting and provoking calm.
The Captain in a mood so cross that speaking to him was likely to result in his giving one some strong language. Old Robbins (1st mate) a jolly old salt, was similarly affected in spirits, but, never having been accustomed to bridle his “unruly member”, did as the highlander did “Swore at lairge”!! It is no doubt very provoking to be so humbugged at the end of the voyage.
For the last two days the crew have been washing the ship from end to end, masts all being scraped and oiled, and put in order for dock. The anchors and cable too are ready for casting, but alas frail man! You are born to disappointment. We cannot now possibly land before Sunday, and if the tides are low we shall have to wait a week for our boxes the bar at the mouth of the river leading to Port Adelaide being so shallow that large ships like this cannot get in unless at neap tides.
During the calm we had great fun with the Mollyhawks and Cape Pigeons, which numbered hundreds. They were swimming about at the ships side picking up all sorts of stuff. Two of the sailors let themselves down with a rope that had a big loop in which they sat, and caught a lot with their hand, some pieces of fat having been dropped once round, which the birds clustered. Sarah has got a pigeon’s breast dressed and put in her hat. It is as handsome as a Grebe’s.
Sat 19th Aug – Dist 34 miles.
I remained on deck last night till past 12 o’c, being told that we should see the Borda light (Kang Is) between that time and 1 o’c. I waited in glowing expectation till I saw it. My feelings were indescribable, the first sight of land. I went immediately below and told Sarah and Jessie, who like me were overjoyed. The light was seen 1/2 an hour before I saw it by a sailor who was sent to the top of the mainmast to watch.
During the night a head wind came up and caused us to change our course, our having run right away from the island to get in a position to make direct for the Straits; through doing this we sailed beautifully into the Straits, and left the tumultuous ocean behind us. The sea now became so smooth as to make one believe he was on land – not a motion.
On our passage up we had a fine view of Kangaroo Island, which was about 12 miles off. The island is 90 miles long and has only 10 or 12 squatters on it. We sailed slowly past it, and at dusk were again out of sight of land.
Sunday 20th Aug
The Doctor gave us a treat in his cabin last night. After which Captain Bruce paid us a last visit in our cabin. On his leaving about 12 o’c I went on deck with him, when after about 1/2 an hours smoking with him, and chatting, we sighted the Trowbridge light on the Coast of Australia. We were then going steadily about 6 knots. I next went off to bed, and soon fell asleep, in spite of all the excitement.
At 5 o’c this morning I was awoke by the firing of rockets, which were being sent up as signal for a pilot. I immediately got up, and going on deck, to my astonishment, there was land 3 miles off. I could scarcely believe my eyes, actually looking at Australia with the naked eye!!
This small place we anchored opposite was the Semaphore; at 7 o’c the pilot cutter put off to us, and brought besides 2 pilots, a Custom House Health officer, also 3 other officers of some persuasion! These fellows were well quizzed, which quizzing resulted in us concluding that we never saw such a horrid cut-throat looking set of blackguards in our life, beards and moustaches on yellow skins – their manners and style altogether the most bumptious I ever beheld. Some of them had only one eye each. We certainly took them as samples of colonials.
You may fancy our state of mind. However, after breakfast they went off, leaving the pilot only. Our friend Binks went off with them. I then set to work and bailed up the bedding, roped the boxes, Jessie’s also, and made all ready for leaving, and went on deck.
By the pilot Jessie had a letter from her brother Tom, saying that Mr Wigg Sr, Edward and James Anderson would be down to take us off as soon as they received the telegram stating that the ship had arrived, and that we were to wait their coming. This was very satisfactory and kept our minds easy.
At 10 o’c we saw a boat put off, and in it three gents, with white hats. This was now an exciting time for all three of us, especially Jessie. We of course concluded it was our three, and right we were. Sarah and I stood on deck watching them sailing towards us; the sail however, cut off our view of their faces until they were almost alongside, when I recognised Edward from his card, Cousin James I did not at first, but on a second look saw it was him. He looked up. I smiled and lifted my hat; he returned the compliment and almost laughed, he looked so delighted – the boat now fast up, they came by the ladder, first Edward, with whom I shook hands, introducing myself and Sarah – then Mr Wigg Sr, who also shook hands, next Cousin James, who gave us a doubly hearty shaking. I then showed Edward to No 9 Cabin, where he met his “dearie”.
This was now nearly 12 o’c and as we had a good drive to Adelaide, they were anxious we should come off at once. So, farewell was taken to our fellow passengers, Stewards, mates and crew, a duty none of us found very pleasant, having become quite attached to them by all our longish acquaintance on board. Well, my having followed Edward down the ladder into the boat Sarah was stuck in a barrel, and swung up half-way to the yardarm and then lowered into the boat, next came Jessie looking as nervous as possible. The barrel entertainment caused great fun on deck.
All being right, up went the sail and away we went casting sorrowful looks at our good old ship as she sat so majestically on the water, and which had so bravely fought the elements, and brought us in safely to our desired haven, her rusty smeared sides testifying to the amount of battling she had done with the rude waves.
Having reached a long wooden pier, we alighted on the steps and walked up the top, Cousin James and Mr Wigg carrying my portmanteau and c. After walking about 100 yards we reached the beach, which I must say was sand of the softest kind, in which we sank over the ankles every step. We soon, however, got on to more firm soil, and experienced most peculiar feelings about our legs. I felt as if my body had become 3 or 4 stone heavier all at once. This feeling very soon wore off.
Our next step was getting the two traps yoked, which Mr Wigg Sr and Junr had brought down for us. The one a Whit-chapel, the other a 4 wheeled buggy – a most peculiar looking affair – 4 wheels all the same size and about 30 inches from the trap on each side; the axles about half as long again as our traps at home. The nags were another object of interest to me, especially to see an Australian horse. The one Edward drove was 27 years old, but looked about 6, having a long tail to its feet almost, but also trotting with capital action.
After a drive of about 9 miles we reached North Adelaide, Jessie and Edward foolishly going to Mrs Wiggs first – we went to Cousin James’, where we met Tom Davidson and got a welcome from Cousin Chrissy so warm we shall not forget for long. She was, however, much hurt by Jessie’s going to the Wiggs first, her having prepared for the whole party dining with her. However, by a little reasoning and explaining this was got over.
We then had dinner, which we did justice to; everything relishing so well after our long time of ship fare. The fresh water especially we enjoyed, that element in the ship having got tainted by the salt water getting into it. No one being able to touch it scarcely, had to drink lemonade etc instead.
After dinner Cousin James and I had a smoke in the garden, and had a grand chat, his interest in Leslie subjects being intense. After tea, in which we were joined by Jessie, Edward and Mr Wigg Sr, Sarah and Cousin James went off to Chapel no one else feeling in the frame of mind for it. Tom Davidson and I went for a walk and saw a little of N Adelaide.
The Supper party was capital, everyone in a state of excitement, Jessie and Sarah also; Cousin James suffering, however, greatly from headache. We next went off to bed – Sarah and I across the street to a Mrs Whinham’s, an acquaintance of the Andersons. They heard of our coming and offered to put us up if there was not a room at the Andersons. We found them very kind folks, and enjoyed our first night’s sleep on land very much. At first, however, we could not fall asleep – the change was so great, everything was so still and quiet, no motion either. Sarah was wishing herself back in the ship.
Monday 21st August
Change of life to-day – been down to town and seen the shops and c. I was quite surprised with the style of things generally. Hindley and Rundle Streets quite as stylish and busy as the Bridges in Edinburgh – shops as thick as they can stick. Cousin James’ place is first class, almost equal to Cowan and Strachan’s.
Tues 22nd Aug
We slept last night in the Andersons, Jessie and Sarah together, me on the sofa. They are extremely kind and spare no trouble for our comfort. We went to the Wiggs for tea and supper tonight. I like them very much. They have a magnificent house and garden – keep a man and three horses.
Tues 29th Aug
Now that we have been over a week in the colony I think it is time for me to bring this diary to a close. I may, however, before finishing say that I have made very satisfactory business arrangements with my cousin, who has been extremely kind, - also taken a house, furnished it and settled down all snug and complete, feeling as happy as ever we did in our lives.
During the week, I have omitted in this diary, we had some drives into the country with Mr Binks, who kindly volunteered to show us some of the views around Adelaide. We enjoyed these drives immensely. The country is very beautifully wooded and abounds in hills, which are covered with trees and shrubs to the very top, so unlike our hills at home.
Now I will conclude, but let me say that anyone who feels inclined to come to Australia, and who hesitates doing so, because of the voyage, I beg to tell them that the accounts some folks give of the voyage are all nonsense and exaggeration. There is nothing that I have experienced in my life so thoroughly enjoyable and so highly interesting as the voyage from London to Adelaide, South Australia.
- Copy from City of Adelaide Civic Collection Item Number CC1130