Ship-board Diary of Robert Ferguson
Courtesy of L. Incledon, Wellington
16th February 1887
In this epistle I have attempted as far as possible to give all particulars
of our voyage from Glasgow to Dunedin in the ship Pleiades of Southampton,
W. Setten Commander. It is meant for our friends as there is no interest in
it to any others but should there be anyone intending to have the same sail
they will find in it what would have to be their own experience. Should
there be any mistakes please overlook them. There was on board Messrs Simpson,
Miller, Logans (2), Turner, MacFarlane, Mrs Setten, Misses Morrison and Smith
(Cabin), Mr and Mrs Ferguson, Mr, Mrs and Miss Frost, Mr and Mrs Allan and 7
of a family, Mr and Mrs Reid, Mrs Murray, Mrs Currie, Misses Currie (2),
McIntosh, Murray, Grey, Vallanace, McDougall, Messrs Baker, Vallance, Dunn,
Paterson, Malcolm, Cameron, McCauly, Mr and Mrs Lacey and 3 children
(Steerage), Mr Finlay Chief Officer, Mr Chissell Second Officer and Mr
Morrison Third Officer, Mr Bailey Steward, Mr Dovy Cook and 20 of a crew.
Robert Y Ferguson
Across The Deep Blue Sea
Started from St Caroch’s Station Glasgow at 5am on Saturday October 2nd 1886
to join the good ship Pleiades at Greenock bound for Otago New Zealand. We
arrived at Greenock at 12 o’clock noon thence per tug from Princess Pier to
our sailing home for a time. Bad Adieu to our friends on pier and started at
12.30 p.m. After leaving pier sang the first and last verses of the 100th
Psalm and an old onan from the Religious Tract Society engaged in prayer,
which made us feel that the last link was severed from home and friends. Got
on board all right and had to prepare for dinner. A gentleman from the Office
arranged us all into separate messes and saw us provided with our first meal.
Made a final start at 6.30 pm the Sailors heaving the Anchor and singing their
parting song Farewell. Saw none of the places down the Clyde it being quite
dark. Got down to bed at 9 p.m. for our first sleep on board ship.
Sunday 3rd October Got up at 6 am but felt quite a change. The wind ahead and
boisterous. Saw Ailsa Craig a little way off. Had Breakfast at 8 am. The tug
left us at 12 noon it being very windy. Had Dinner at 1 p.m. after which a
change came over us, both being very sick but comfortable. Had no tea at 5 pm
went early to bed, being to sick to walk on deck.
Monday 4th Had a good sleep but would take no breakfast. We managed to get on
deck at 12 o’clock and took a little dinner feeling rather better. Getting
along slowly with head wind. Had tea at 5pm and went early to bed.
Tuesday 5th Got up at 7 p.m. and took a little breakfast. The Pilot left us at
6 am in small boat to catch a tug bound for Liverpool, sent a letter with him.
It had been very stormy at mid night also thunder and lightning. Had a little
dinner but very sick. Took Tea on deck and sat there till 10 pm.
Wednesday 6th Got up at 8 am both very sick and unable to take breakfast or
dinner. Managed to get on deck all afternoon and night till 10 pm.
Thursday 7th Got up at 7 pm all right this morning Agnes a little sick. Out
of Channel into Atlantic. Had to pay Cook 5/- a head before he would bake
bread for us. Went to Captain about it but he could not do anything. We had a
proper shine over it but had to give in at the end there being no other way
of getting it. Went to bed at 10 pm.
Friday 8th Got up at 7.30 am both all right and fit for breakfast. Saw a number
of porpoises they are like pigs jumping about in the water. I am Captain of our
mess this week so have been busy getting stores all forenoon to last us a week.
We are making slow progress opposite the Bay of Biscay. Had singing at night
"Hymns". Went to bed at 10 pm.
Saturday 9th Got up at 7.30 am and went for breakfast but could not take any,
both sick. It is verystormy, waves mountains high making the ship heave. Both
kept bed nearly all day. The other passengers the same.
Sunday 10th Weather still stormy, still sick can take no food. Had no service
today, none since we left. It is not like Sunday at all. Went to bed which we
have hardly been out of today.
Monday 11th Got up at 7.30 am both better had breakfast at 8 am relished it
after fasting for about two days. Weather settled today had it fine all day
went to bed at 10 pm.
Tuesday 12th It is quite a change today. It has been very stormy since 12
o’clock mid night. Got up and went for breakfast getting feet wet. Very stormy
all day. We were all on deck afternoon when a wave came over the side and
drenched us to the skin the decks flooded. I got another at 5 pm when I was
going for tea. The under steward was taking a dish of Kidney Soup to the cabin
and while passing our hatch a wave came over knocking the dish right down our
hatch into our mess room and drenching him to the skin. We would rather have
had it to dinner than on the floor. Went to bed at 6 pm.
Wednesday 13th Have been wearying for day light as we did not sleep much all
night. Thought we were a going down as we heard the waves thudding on deck
and flowing up and down above us. We also heard the Captain shouting all
through the night. The ship was rolling and heaving terribly, every loose
article rolling hither and thither. Dishes knocked off the tables and some
broken cases where any had left. In fact when we got up the mess room was in
a fearful state some dishes lost and others broken. Got up at 7.30 am and
thanks be to God a fine morning and out of the Bay of Biscay. We hope to be
in fine weather soon. We had to resort to dry clothing today as others were
wet. Agnes is still very sick. I am all right hoping to keep so. Got on deck,
fine day enjoyed dinner and tea. On deck till 10 pm singing Hymns fine
Thursday 14th Got up at 7 30 am both well. We are going on steadily. Feel the
air getting warmer. We’ll soon be into the warm weather but we have not felt
it cold although it was rough and stormy. All doing well now in fact some have
not been sick.
Friday 15th Got up at 7 am, both well. It is fine again today. Went 154 miles
from 12 yesterday till same time today. Making arrangements for Concerts to be
held once a week. The time is passing quickly no one appears to be weary in
now. Some of the young girls were wishing they had never left Glasgow but we
heard nothing of it now. Had a slight shower tonight.
Saturday 16th Got up at 7 am fine morning. We are busy today cleaning our room
and airing our bedding. Passed in the Latitude of Straits of Gibraltar today.
Fine breeze today going on much quicker, had games at night on quarterdeck and
enjoyed ourselves well.
Sunday 17th Got up at 7.30 am fine morning all well but ship rolling a little
today. Had service today at 10.30 am very impressive. Captain conducted it.
Read English prayer book, sang Sankey’s Hymns then read Bible 10 of Psalm,
Matthew 8th, Sermon 10 of Psalm 30th verse, lasted for an hour and a half,
every one board being present. Two vessels in sight today. The first mate
sighted Madeira this afternoon with his glass. Had a service of praise at 7pm
all being Sankey’s Hymns.
Monday 8th Got up at 8 am. The weather is fine today we feel it always getting
warmer. The vessels we saw yesterday are still in sight. Went 174 knots from
Saturday at 12 noon till yesterday at 9 am. Have been busy getting Concert
arranged for Wednesday. We have bills posted on Deck, The Pleiades Choral
Society Grand Concert. The first of a series of concerts will be held on
Quarter Deck at 7.30 pm Wednesday first. President Captain Setten, Vice
President Mr Logan, Secretary R. Y. Ferguson, Committee Messrs Simpson,
Vallance, Reid and Turner. Then singers names and songs. We are going on
nicely tonight about 12 knots an hour. It is dark at 6pm went to bed at 9 pm.
Tuesday 19th Got up at 7.30 am, Agnes at 8.30. It is very warm today. Sun
stronger than at home midday in Summer. Agnes is sick today had to take to bed
most of the day. Everyone is quite happy now since the good weather commenced.
Went to bed at 9 pm.
Wednesday 20th Got up at 7.30 am. Fine morning. Sailors got two Flying Fish on
deck this morning just about the size of a herring. Both well today and getting
on nicely. Had our first Concert tonight. The Captain in the chair. It was a
great success. Went to bed at 9 pm.
Thursday 21st Got up about 8 am. Both well. Feel it very warm now. We are going
on very smoothly just seems as if we were on land when down stairs, not a roll
today. Passed a Norwegian Barque today 28 days out from Greenock bound for West
Indies, us only 18 days, so you see difference of sailing. It has been very
warm today. Went to bed at 9 pm.
Friday 22nd Got up at 7.30 both well. The weather is fine and pleasant. Had to
get hair cut today as it is to warm for long hair. We are getting our porridge
every morning now, in fact the only thing I relish.
Saturday 23rd Got up at 7.70 am. Weather fine and sailing fine. I am not very
well today in fact have not been exactly right since I came on board.. Went to
bed at 9pm.
Sunday 24th Got up before 7 am and feel rather better. There is five ships in
sight this morning. Signalled to one but got no reply. Had service at 10.30 am
on deck as it is too hot in Cabin now. Also singing at 7 pm, both were nice. We
have passed two ships and intend to pass the other three through the night.
Went to bed at 9.30 pm. We were about 50 miles from land today, Cape Vert
Island, but did not see it.
Monday 25th Got up at 8 am, weather fine. Got on nicely last night passed one
ship two still in front. Busy today getting programe ready for Concert on
Wednesday. Saw a vessel homeward bound in the distance at 9.30 pm. Went to bed
at 9 45 pm.
Tuesday 26th Got up at 7.30 am. The weather fine with nice breeze but the Sun
is pretty strong now. We had passed another homeward bounder at 4 pm. Agnes in
bed till 11am today not very well. There is nothing startling today so we went
to bed at 9.30 pm quite wearied.
Wednesday 27th Had been very wet all night. I forgot to mention that was
thunder and lightning yesterday. Had a very successful Concert last night. Went
to bed at 10 pm.
Thursday 28th Got up at 5.30 am. Both very bad with Diarrhoea had to get up at
1.30am. It is very warm today. Steamer passed at 11.30 am the "Scotia" a French
ship bound for Marseilles. It came quite close to us and we were all on Poop
and gave them three cheers, they returned same. We reported as being all well
and offered them a few young Ladies as they had none on board so we expect to
get reported soon. 5 pm very wet came on all of a sudden and coming down in
torrents. All the young men and I stripped to the shirt and trousers went on
deck and assisted to get fresh water. We filled two 114 gallon tanks but got a
nice cool bath over it being wet to the skin. 7 pm the rain all over, have got
on deck again with dry clothing and very comfortable after our shower bath.
Very hot in cabin now 90 degrees and a little more with us so it is very warm
in bed. We are in part for rainy and calm weather and will soon be at the
Equator if all goes well.
Friday 29th Got up at 8 am and fine morning. We are busy washing up all our
dirty clothes with the water we got last night. There was 10 ships in sight
this morning but I only saw 7 of them. It is very calm so that is the reason
we are seeing so many. Very hot over 100 degrees in cabin. Homeward bound ship
passed at 8 pm. Had lightning tonight will have a change. Went to bed at 9.30pm.
Saturday 30th Got up at 7 am. Very wet and squally but going much quicker. They
are signalling to a ship can see the people on board very well there is 6 in
sight. The ship we signalled to was the "Strathblane" of Glasgow, from London
to Sydney, 25 days out. The Captain of her died after being 10 days at sea it
being his first voyage in it. We gave them a cheer this forenoon they came very
close to us then. Has been very wet and gusty all day so went early to bed.
Sunday 31st Got up at 7.30 am. It has been very wet all night but better this
morning. The "Strathblane" is not far from us we being a little ahead. Had no
service this forenoon in case it might come a squall as it so changeable. Also
too many ships at hand for such changeable weather. It has cleared up and very
hot this afternoon. Saw a large shark and three young 4.30 pm. Hooked the large
shark but when bringing it over the bulwarks its jawbone broke and got off. It
was 7 or 8 feet long. It was just 10 minutes after they caught one of the young
ones. It was 3 feet long and horrid creature with very rough skin when you
rubbed your hand across. It just like sand paper. The sailors cut off its head
and caught a knife in its mouth 10 minutes after. They also laid its heart on
the deck and it kept moving for over half an hour. The flesh is very strong in
the smell. The sailors skinned it and are going to have it for breakfast
tomorrow. Had service at 7 pm. The text being Acts chapters 26 and 27. It is a
beautiful night went to bed at 9.30 pm.
Monday 1st November Got up at 8 am. Has been very showery all night. It was
very heavy would have wet us to the skin in five minutes. Saw piece of fried
shark this morning but did not taste it as I did not like the idea of eating a
shark. We are about 300 miles from Equator. It is 2750 fathoms deep where we
are at present. We have been going very slow this last week only went 16 miles
on Saturday till Sunday at 12 noon. Had a heavy rainfall this afternoon,
lasted for half an hour, but got a cool breeze with it which was very
acceptable in this part. Went to bed at 9.45 pm.
Tuesday 2nd Very fine morning but very warm and almost becalmed. The
"Strathblane" is not far from us rather a little behind 4 or 5 others in sight.
A fine breeze got up at 7 pm. Went to bed at 9.45 pm.
Wednesday 3rd Very blowy this morning wind rather ahead. It has been very
boisterous all day had a sail shattered to pieces but ship going on steadily.
Some of the passengers sick today again but we are all right as yet. Went to
bed at 9 pm.
Thursday 4th Fine morning and nice breeze. All appears to have rallied again.
We had our Concert tonight in place of last night it being wet. It is fine
moonlight at night. The moon is almost straight over our head. Kept showery all
day. Went to bed at 10 pm.
Friday 5th Very fine morning getting near the Equator now expect to pass it
tonight or tomorrow. Do not feel the heat so much today as we have a nice
cooling breeze and it is just comfortable when one is in the shade. We have
fine moonlight which is very lovely at sea. We have had some very pretty
sunsets the like of which we never witnessed on land. Went down to bed at
Saturday 6th Got up at 7.30 am having passed the Equator through the night. It
is not so hot as we expected owing to the sun being 200 miles south of the
Equator at this season of the year. Have a nice breeze again today which makes
it cooler. Had a Concert tonight in remembrance of crossing the Line and went
to bed at 10 pm after a good entertainment.
Sunday 7th Got up at 7 am. Still cool and weather fine. Had service in the evening,
which was very nice. Went downstairs to bed at 10 pm.
Monday 8th Still good weather but both sick again which is not so comfortable. It is
a very strange sensation to be sea sick, one would think they were going to be turned
the wrong side out altogether. It is showery again tonight went to bed at 9.30 pm.
Tuesday 9th The morning fine but wind strong and right astern making the ship roll
very bad also keeping us in the same position as yesterday. Agnes not getting up till
6 pm both being rather better at that time. Nothing startling so we tumbled in again
at 10 pm.
Wednesday 10th A little better this morning but the wind is very strong with light
showers. This is what they call the South East Trade which is expected to drive us
to the Cape of Good Hope. Had Concert tonight, the Secretary being Chairman. It was
the best we have had as yet, not the Chairman’s part, although I managed through
with it, going off to bed at 10 pm.
Thursday 11th Got up at 7.30 am the weather fine but nothing particular. It is just
nearly the same every day. Went to bed at 9.30 pm.
Friday 12th Got up at 7.30 am. Fine morning but changed and had a good shower of
rain in the afternoon clearing off at 5 pm. Have been in mess with Mr and Mrs Allan
and four of family since we came on board but owing to a young couple not agreeing
with those that messed with them we changed them. We were very glad as the people
we went to were very nice. Mr, Mrs and Miss frost. Aggie and Miss Frost were great
friends. It was better for us as the children were hardly ever at the table at meal
hours and eating between meals which caused us to run short of bread. Got our
stores for another week hoping to save some of them now to take ashore. Went to bed
at 10 pm.
Saturday 13th Got up at 7 am the weather fine. Saw a homeward bound sailing ship
today had letters ready to send on but would not stop to take them being going on
to Queenstown for orders and could not be delayed. We had Sports this afternoon
which were a great success. I only tried the tug of war four a side but we lost the
last pull after pulling three teams. Had 12 pulls and only lost 2 last out of the
lot. Went to bed at 10 pm quite tired.
Sunday 14th Got up at 7.30 am. Fine morning. We had a good bath this morning which
was very refreshing. We expect to be out of Tropics this week if all goes on well.
Very nice service tonight at 7 pm. Had to go downstairs at 8.30 pm it being very
wet went to bed at 9 pm.
Monday 15th Got up at 7.30 am both well and weather fine. We washed up all our
dirty clothing today. Went to bed at 9.30 pm.
Tuesday 16th Got up at 7.30 pm. Passed out of Tropics last night. The weather is
fine but feel it getting cooler again. Went downstairs to bed at 9 pm.
Wednesday 17th Got up at 7.30 am, both well. Had been very wet all night being
dull today with wind a little changed. Had a good Concert in the evening the last
on deck as the weather will be too rough after this. Went to bed at 10 pm.
Thursday 18th Got up at 7.40 am being both well and morning fine. Finished the
reading of Molly Pawn today the only book I have read yet. It is hard to set ones
mind on reading as yet. Saw three albatrosses today they follow the ship looking
for food, they are very large birds. Went downstairs at 9.30 pm being wet.
Friday 19th Got up at 7.30 am it has been very wet and stormy all night and not
much improved as yet. Have been busy all forenoon with stores. It is still stormy
but only occasional showers of rain now. Went to bed at 10 pm.
Saturday 20th Got up at 7.30 am the morning fine and both doing well now. It is
very quiet and not much to write about. Went to bed at 9.30 pm.
Sunday 21st Got up at 7.30 the morning fine but chilly. The sun is very warm but
it is chilly after sunset again. Had service in calm tonight at 7 pm. Went down
stairs at 9 pm.
Monday 22nd Nearly becalmed this morning which is very sickening. We only went 40
miles today. Went downstairs at 10 pm.
Tuesday 23rd Got up at 7.30 am and glad to find us going better. It is getting
colder again had to put our blankets on bed again. We saw a very large albatross
today. The Captain caught a very pretty bird about the size of a dove being a
sort of lavender colour. It had come from the island about 50 miles from us. It
appeared to be tired out as it flew about 10 times on to the ship before they
caught it. Went to bed at 10 pm.
Wednesday 24th Got up at 7.30 am. The morning is fine with a good breeze drawing
us on steadily at 9 or 10 knots an hour but it is very cold. Agnes not up stairs
till afternoon. Had to take to our overcoats tonight it being pretty chilly. Had
our Concert downstairs it being to cold on deck. Went to bed at 10 pm rather wet.
Thursday 25th Got up at 8 am but was nearly beat going for breakfast being wet
and windy. We are going 12 knots an hour but rolling terribly the dishes will not
stay on the table. I have been sick since breakfast and good many others troubled
with the same shocking thing. 3 pm and still the same no one troubling the deck
today unless they are obliged to go. The most of us in bed the only comfortable
place in bad weather and specially when one is sick. We went 245 knots from
yesterday at 12 till today at 12. A good many birds about today the cause of it
being that we are not far from an island uninhabited. We intended to see it today
but it is to stormy they are keeping from it. 6 pm it is improved a little now
but we are going along at 13 knots and hour. Went downstairs again at 8.30 pm
having slackened to 11 knots and not rolling so much.
Friday 26th Got up at 7.30 am. Fine morning but very cold. The ladies are crying
out about a fire but will have to wait till they get to land. It had been very
rough all night but has calmed down a little now. We are going 7½ knots today
having went 239 knots yesterday. Flocks of Whalebirds flying around today, very
pretty just about the size of a Blackbird. We are pretty well again but feel
better downstairs as it is very cold on deck. We are 42 degrees south latitude now.
Saturday 27th Got up at .30 am. Fine morning but very cold. Some of them caught a
Whalebird, it is very pretty. The wind starting to blow this afternoon, expecting
a storm tomorrow. Went downstairs at 8 pm it being very cold.
Sunday 28th Got up at 8 am very wet and blowy but sailing fine. Have been down
stairs nearly all day it being so wet. Had service at 7 pm in cabin it was very
nice and felt it more so after being shut up most of the day. The ladies stayed
till 9 pm singing hymns. Went to bed at 9.30 pm.
Monday 29th Got up at 7.40 am good morning sea very calm ship hardly moving but it
very thick mist. Not a bird to be seen the very morning you could catch them when
it is calm. It has been misty and cold all day but not blowy. Went down stairs at
8.30 pm as we cannot sit on deck would soon get starved.
Tuesday 30th Got up at 7.30 am very and cold but going 8 knots an hour. It is
supposed we will take 5 or 6 weeks yet as we are not in the longitude of the Cape
of Good Hope. We are 46 degrees with latitude but only 5 longitude east of Greenwich
the Cape being 18 degrees east longitude. Went to bed at 9.30 pm being down stairs
nearly all day.
Wednesday 1st December Got up at 7.30 am fine morning but very cold. We are going
very smoothly and lots of birds flying about. There was a few caught 1 Cape Pigeon
2 Albatrosses one of them measured over 8 feet from tip to tip of wings. It has
been very fine all day but very cold the wind got a little stronger at night
driving us on at 9 knots an hour. Went down to bed at 9.30 pm.
Thursday 2nd Got up at 7.50 am the morning fine not so windy but ship rolling a
little. Has been very cold all day and rolling a good bit which kept us down stairs
the most of the day. I got knocked sick over it and went to bed at 10 pm.
Friday 3rd Agnes got up at 7.50 am but I was in bed till 11 am being sick. She had
to get the stores out for me which kept her busy all forenoon. We did not get up
stairs till 6 pm as has been shipping a good many seas today and rolling a good bit
also very cold. It is better this and going 10 knots an hour than being becalmed
although it is not very comfortable. Went down to bed at 10 pm.
Saturday 4th Got up at 7.30 am but have not got much sleep had to much rocking. We
are busy cleaning up today. In Longitude 20 East, Latitude 45 South at 12 today
having about 6000 miles to go yet. I have got chilblains on my feet with the cold
weather. Two of the young men have them on their hands and swollen very bad, others
have them on their feet. Wind is altered a little tonight so we go to bed at 10 pm
hoping to get a better sleep as the ship is not rolling now.
Sunday 5th Got up at 7.30 am having slept well all night and both well. The day has
been fine. We had service from 7 pm till 8.30, after which we went to bed as it is
to cold on deck.
Monday 6th Got up at 7.30 am. Fine morning but very cold. It has been fine all day
so we have been on deck most of the day unless when we felt cold. Went to bed at
Tuesday 7th Got up at 7.40 am. Fine morning but very cold. Agnes in bed till 12
o’clock had been bad all night, but all right again. Fine lot of birds about one
albatross very large, the sailors were reckoning it 14 feet with out stretched
wings but going to fast to catch them. The Captain stuffed the one that was caught
it was very pretty. Went to bed at 9.30 pm.
Wednesday 8th Got up at 7.30 being very cold. We are sailing along very well 10
and 11 knots an hour. Have been reading a very interesting book the last week the
title being "The Swiss Family Robinson". Have been sailing the same as in the
morning all day. Went to bed at 9.30 pm.
Thursday 9th Got up at 7.30 am after having a good sleep but to our great surprise
it was quite calm and heavy dew falling. The sea like glass not being a ripple on
it and sun very hot all day. 5.30 pm It is very chilly after sunset but it is fine
moonlight just now. It is light till 8 pm in fact has not been dark till after 6pm
all the way. Have only went 170 knots today went 231 yesterday. Went to bed at 9pm
the wind having got up a little.
Friday 10th Got up at 7.30 am very wet but good breeze going 10 knots. 11.30 It
has stopped raining but very heavy fog going 10½ knots. Went 260 knots today. Has
been fine all afternoon but very cold. Went down to bed at 9.30 pm.
Saturday 11th Got up at 7.40 am. Fine morning have been going 11 and 12 knots an
hour all night and going 12 and 13 all day today. Went 279¼ knots since yesterday
at 12 till today at 12 noon. Went to bed at 9.30 pm.
land as we have not seen any since we saw the south coast of Ireland. We are all
getting tired of our long sail, as it just the same thing every day. Water! Water!
We are both doing well now not bothered with sickness. Agnes is improving greatly
but I have not made much better of it. I have just lately began to relish the
food. I could hardly take anything but porridge for a time. Could not take the
salt beef or pork nor pressed meat. Have been going 10 knots an hour all day but
still getting a roll about. As the fellow that came out with this ship put it,
Rolls to the Port side, Rolls to the Lea, Rolls for Breakfast, Rolls for Tea. Went
downstairs at 8.30 pm going to bed at 10 pm.
Tuesday 14th Got up at 8 am. Had a better sleep last night and sailing very steady.
It is very cold today. Were all on Poop at 11.30 am and saw a large whale it was
about 50 or 60 feet long and a back on it as broad the bottom of a boat. We have
been down stairs the most of the day as it has been so very cold. Went to bed at
Wednesday 15th Got up at 7.40 am. Fine morning but rolling about a little which is
getting to common would rather want it. Have been on deck all afternoon and night.
It has been warmer today. Went 209 knots yesterday. Going 7 and 8 knots an hour
today. Went to bed at 9 pm.
Thursday 16th Got up at 7.45 am and very fine morning. Going 11 knots an hour
today. The sailors say they never witnessed as fine weather in this part as it
is generally stormy. Have had it fine all day. Went to bed at 9.30 pm.
Friday 17th Got up at 7.50 am. Fine weather going on very well 11 knots an hour.
Went 275 knots yesterday. Wind is getting stronger and expecting more. Went down
stairs at 8.35 pm going to bed at 9.30 pm very cold and damp.
Saturday 18th Got up at 8.35 am been very stormy all night a good deal of water
coming on deck. Have been going 13 knots an hour all night. It is not improved
any yet. Still shipping a good deal of water. A few sick today mostly all down
stairs. Went 312 knots the best days sailing we have had but had to suffer over
it as the decks were flooded nearly all day. Have only had 6 sails up all day.
8.30 pm. The wind has gone down causing us to get a few rolls with the heavy sea.
Went to bed at 9.30 pm having been in it nearly all day.
Sunday 19th Got up at 7.30 am being all right. Have not much wind but ship
rolling a little and a little water on deck. We have been able to get a walk on
deck today which is the only exercise we get. Went 190 miles today. Had a heavy
shower of hail at 6 pm and it was very cold. Had service from 7 till 8.30 pm.
Went down stairs to bed after service as it was very cold. Saw a large whale a
little way of this afternoon.
Monday 20th Got up at 7.40 am fine morning but very cold temperature 39º. Going
on very slow only 4 and 5 knots an hour. Killed large pig for Christmas it is
about 16 stones weight. The sailors are started to get the ship cleaned and
painted before getting into port. Went down stairs at 9.30 pm the wind being a
little changed also more of it. Got into bed at 10 pm.
Tuesday 21st Got up at 7.45 am. It is very dull and wettish but a good breeze
driving us on at 10 and 11 knots an hour. Went on very well all day but has been
very wet. Went to bed at 9 pm.
Wednesday 22nd Got up at 7.50 am but felt it very cold and went down stairs
again at 10 am. We had went on very well all night but wind is straight behind
and very little of it causing the old game of rolling. Went 280 knots yesterday.
Have been down stairs all the afternoon and night going to bed at 10 pm.
Thursday 23rd Got up at 7.45 am and glad to find that we are going on steady at
8 and 9 knots an hour. The weather changes very quick here. We are off the coast
of Australia but a great distance from land. We are 114 degrees East longitude
today. Went to bed at 9.30 pm.
Friday 24th Got up at 7.40 am. Fine morning and both well. We were off Cape
Leeuwin yesterday and still going nicely. We are 120º East today having come 276
knots since yesterday. We are busy today preparing for Christmas. Went to bed at
Saturday 25th Got up at 7.30 am and a fine morning hailing us when we got on deck.
It is much warmer and a good breeze going on at 10 knots an hour. The sailors have
a holiday so it is just like Sunday. We have our table all decorated ready for our
Christmas dinner. We had a good dinner at 1 pm fresh mutton and potatoes also two
plum puddings. Mr, Mrs and Miss Frost had one for themselves and Aggie and I had
one so that we could give a piece to anyone we liked to. It is the only meal I have
enjoyed since I came on board. We were all enjoying ourselves very well the Cabin
passengers at dinner at 4.30 but the scene was changed at that time. Mr Allan who
had been in bed since the cold weather came on, passed away very quietly to spend
his Christmas with the Lord.
He was in the next berth to us, has left a widow and 9 of a family. The two oldest
are in New Zealand having gone there 18 months ago for their health. Seven are on
board the youngest is 3 years of age and the oldest 22 years. It has cast a gloom
over all as he was a very nice man and well liked by all. He never grumbled all the
way although there was lots of noise and getting rolled about and one thing and
another he never said a word. All his hopes were built on seeing his two sons
although he was very far gone. He was a very good living man and quite prepared to
die. Went to bed at 9.30 pm quite down hearted over what had happened.
Sunday 26th Got up at 6 am after a miserable nights sleep. The young girl Allen was
always crying when she awoke in the night for her Daddy. She is such an old
fashioned child at her age and seems to be aware of all that has happened. We had
our breakfast at 7.30 am. Everyone on board except Mrs Allen and her children
assembled on deck at 9 am to the burial service. The Captain conducted the service
but nearly stuck when he came to the part "we commit the body to the deep". It is a
very heart rending sight to witness a funeral at sea and I hope I may never see it
again. Everyone was in tears even sailors although they are such regardless fellows,
were weeping. The corpse was sewn in canvass and 50lbs of old iron tied to his feet
to make him sink. Mrs Frost had a nice wreath with her and gave it which looked
very nice. The Union Jack was over till they committed him to the deep. It is bad
enough putting our dear ones in the earth but it is worse when you cannot go to
look where the body lies. Mrs Allen is very bad she was saying to one this morning
she did not know how she was going to meet her two sons at all. This is the first
death the Captain has had on board since he became Captain 16 years ago so he is
very ill about it as this is his last voyage. He is retiring when he returns to
England in fact he did not intend coming this time. He has been very attentive and
done all in his power to keep all right. He sent always something every day at
dinner from the Cabin to the sick. Mr Allen was gardener to Smith Cunninghame of
Caprington Castle Kilmarnock for 23 years. He was sent of by the doctor as the
last cure for consumption. He was 48 years of age but looked more as he was quite
grey headed. I believe he would have got landed all right had it not been cold
weather. He was all right when he got on deck but had to keep in bed for the cold
and failed every day after. It is a change to rain again today. We had service at
7 p.m. all present. The text was in Revelations 21.1 "No more sea". The Captain
gave a very fitting discourse from it and referred to the death of Mr Allen in
very appropriate terms. We all went to bed at 9.30 pm being very calm and wet.
Monday 27th Got up at 7.55 am. It is very wet and stormy being a head wind which
is keeping us back. We have only 6 sails up today. 6.30 p.m. Wind is changed
causing us to go along better but shipping a lot of water. Went to bed at 9.45 pm.
Tuesday 28th Got up at 7.30 am. Did not sleep much all night. It was 2 o’clock in
the morning before we got a wink of sleep. It was very stormy all night but
favourable wind going 12 knots an hour. There is no rain this morning but gales of
wind and cloudy sky. Very heavy sea the worst we have seen yet and flooding the
deck. I think we are about south of Tasmania but they have not got the sun in the
afternoon. We are south of Melbourne today. Have had it stormy all day. Went to
bed at 9.30 pm.
Wednesday 29th Got up at 7.45 am have had it rough all night shipping lots of
water and rolling terribly. We have been going pretty well, 150 degrees East now
expect to get land on Sunday if all goes well. We were on deck till 8.30 p.m.
after tea. Went to bed at 10 pm.
Thursday 30th Got up at 7.30 am. Had a very bad night rolling about and quite
sore lying in bed. It is showery like but good breeze. Went very slow through the
night. 153º East today. 1.30 p.m. going 10 knots an hour but wet and cold. 6.30
p.m. It is fine now but cold. On deck walking till 8.30 p.m. Went to bed at 9 pm.
Friday 31st Got up at 7.50 am. Had a good sleep and going 10 and 11 knots an hour
all night. We are busy baking cakes today for tomorrow. Had our stores today which
we hope is the last. Did not go to bed till the New Year came in. It has been fine
and starry with moonlight and going 12½ knots at 12 o’clock. Went to bed at 1 am.
January 1st 1887 Got up at 7.50 am with fine warm sun to welcome us in place of
frost and snow. We are not going so well but expect to see land tomorrow or
Monday. We are about 500 miles from our destination. We might land on Monday if
we get favourable wind, but it is often the reverse they say. The crew are working
today but very ill pleased as they are mostly Scotchmen, but Captain and Officers
are English. It has been fine all day being on deck till 9.30 pm. We had a very
nice quiet day of it. Went to bed at 10 pm.
Sunday 2nd Got up at 7.45 am. Fine morning and going 12 knots an hour, have been
going the same all night. Saw a flock of land birds this morning called Mutton
Birds. It is much warmer now a great change from the cold weather. They have
been on the outlook for land all day. Saw it at 6 pm just like a cloud at the
distance but at 8 pm we were within a mile of a lot of huge rocks called the
Snares and very dangerous looking ones they are. There is 10 small turrets and a
large one much larger than Ailsa Craig. They lie south of Stewart Island. We
watched them till 10 pm and retired being to dark to see any more of them. It was
a welcome sight as we had seen no tracks of land since we saw the coast of
Ireland. Everyone was quite excited. We have got a head wind or we could be landed
Monday 3rd Got up at 6.30 am and see the hills in the distance being the coast of
Stewart Island. 7.30 am cannot see them so distinct now as it is very hazy and a
head wind driving us off them. Had no service last night owing to us being so
near the rocks. 10 am everyone is on deck looking for land. We can see the coast
of New Zealand looming in the distance. We are becalmed today and feel it very
warm. We see the most of the south coast. It is very rocky and hilly land covered
with bush to the summit. It is very like the coast of Scotland and very pretty.
We are wearying very much now since we came in sight of land. Went to bed at
9.30pm in the hope of being anchored tomorrow night.
Tuesday 4th Got up at 6.30 am and felt quite disgusted to see us going so slow
only 1½ knots an hour and it is the current that is driving us on at that speed
as there is not a breath of wind. We are just sitting viewing the rocks and hills
covered with bush! 12.30 pm. See the Nuggets, a lighthouse on the south-east
coast. We are tacking about sometimes going back. We got signalled at the
lighthouse so they will know in Dunedin that we are here by this time. Went down
stairs at 10 pm being still in sight of lighthouse and making no way as it is
Wednesday 5th Got up at 6 am to see the same thing, a calm sea and the same old
scenery. We are going a little now only 50 miles from Port Chalmers but cannot get
at it. The Captain is quite ill pleased at not getting on but not more so than we
are. Got a breeze in the afternoon which took us on to Otago Heads at 11.30 p.m. We
expected to be in at 12 pm but breeze died away and kept us at a standstill. We
were on deck till 12 o’clock and saw them signal for Pilot at the Heads.
Thursday 6th Got up at 6.30 am. Fine morning and a fine looking Scotchman on Poop
to welcome us. He had come on board at 2 am. It is very pretty here entering the
bay. The tug Plucky came at 7.30 am so we are steaming up the river save within the
gale. Arrived at 9.30 am and a pretty view all round hills and bush with nice
cottages at the shore.
The Doctor and Custom House Officers came aboard and put all right, also a Postman
with letters but sorry to find none for us. We have to lie here till tomorrow at 12
o’clock. Some of the passengers came in the afternoon and took them away but they
will not get their luggage till tomorrow. A few are ashore in small boats but are
coming back in the evening. It is very hot but it is fine scenery all around,
mostly wood houses but very pretty. The Captain was at Dunedin by train and
returned at night. We get steamer from Dunedin to Lyttleton at 4 pm tomorrow. Went
to bed at 10 pm very much wearied out.
Friday 7th Got up at 6.30 am and had to get all packed up ready to go ashore. Two
tugs came at 12 o’clock, the Plucky and Kopatua, it sounds like "Cup of Tea". We
had a good dinner of fresh meat and potatoes which was a treat to us. Set sail at
12.30 and had a fine view up the river. It is something magnificent in fact we
have not seen anything grander at Home.
Nice cottages near the shore and the hills covered with green bush sloping behind
on either side. We came to Dunedin at 3 pm but saw it from the distance at 2.30pm.
It is a very pretty town and we had the privilege of seeing it to perfection from
the river. The streets are very hilly as the town is built on the side of the
hills. We left the Pleiades at 3.30 pm and went on board the Grafton to sail at 4pm
but heard of Andrew coming to meet us, so we left the boat at 3.55 pm and could not
get our luggage off. We stayed in Dunedin till Monday.
That is all our sailing career but will give you an account of ourselves till we
settled down in Geraldine.
After leaving SS Grafton we proceeded with others to the Leviathan Temperance Hotel
and had a good Tea. We took a bed for the night but did not sleep much.
Saturday 8th Got up and went to Pleiades got a telegram from Andrew stating that he
would be in Dunedin at 6 pm. A gentleman, a friend of Andrews that had been at
Pleiades yesterday after we left, came to the Hotel and wanted us to go and have
look round the town in the afternoon, but I told him I had business to attend to
but arranged to meet him at train time as Andrew was going to stay with him and was
in a stew about my luggage, but having all my wits about me. I went to the shipping
office and told them I had missed the Grafton presented my ticket and said I might
go by train rather than wait till Tuesday on steamer could they not refund my £2 and
if I did wait would come and get another ticket, although I knew I was not going to
wait till Tuesday. I got my £2 without any trouble and pocketed it to my great joy
as you see the "New Chum" as they call us was too smart for them that time.
Met Andrew at 6 pm all right told my exploits and made arrangements to go to
Geraldine on Monday morning first train. Still in a fuss about luggage but before I
left Andrew I arranged to telegraph to O’Connell at Lyttleton.
Sunday 9th Got up and went to Telegraph Office. Sent telegram to receive my luggage
and keep till further orders. Andrew and Mr Sprague came at 11 am and took us to his
house and had a fine look round the town in the afternoon. It is a fine town
something like Edinburgh. Mr Sprague stays 3 miles out of town in the Valley although
the houses are all along the way and tramway laid out it is in the country or rather
the subarbs of the town.
They had a room all prepared for us on Friday night but owing to Mr Sprague
forgetting my name he could not find us at the ship. He had asked if one the name of
Spence but married and did not remind her married name. The young man he asked was
passing the Grafton so he just happened to mention it to us and said it was his
sister so we left in search of him but could not find him till next morning when he
came again enquiring.
Monday 10th Left by Express at 8 am for Geraldine. It was a wearisome ride.
Converted to electronic form by L. Incledon
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