Skip to main content

9.5 weeks at sea

Saturday 5th November 1831 - we had expected to have taken the Buenos Ayres Mail, about the middle of this month, but in consequence of one of the foreign [packets] being appointed to take the Lisbon Mail, [1] our destination was altered & it fell to our lot to be appointed for Halifax and Bermuda. This voyage in the best season of the year is never desirable - but at this season happy is the Packet considered to be which escapes the dreaded evil. When least expecting it, we have come in for this Mail, and accordingly this day at half past eleven started from Falmouth Harbour with squally weather and a foul wind.

Sunday 6th - very thick hazy weather - blowing a gale against us - Have made very little way.

Monday 7th - squally weather - foul wind

Tuesday 8th - d.o wind and weather

Wednesday 9th - fine weather - moderate and favourable breeze.

Thursday 10th - beautiful weather - nearly calm all day.

Friday 11th - cloudy but pleasant weather - very light favourable breezes.

Saturday 12th - sunshine with an occasional tendency to foggy weather. Light favourable breezes.

Sunday 13th November - variable weather, generally fine. Fresh and favourable breezes.

Monday 14th - cloudy weather. Fresh and favourable breeze. To day spoke the Brig Elizabeth of London, [2] out 140 days from Van Dieman’s land - and also the Bark Edward of London, out 5 months from Batavia & bound to Deal. Our Captain supplied the latter with various articles of which she stood in want.

Tuesday 15th – cloudy but pleasant weather. Light favourable breezes.

Wednesday 16th – fine mild weather with occasional showers of rain. Moderate & favourable but variable winds.

Thursday 17th – fine weather in the forenoon gloomy with fog in the afternoon, Moderate and favourable breezes in the morning – variable or a calm in the afternoon.

Friday 18th – cloudy weather with drizzling rain. Fresh and favourable breeze.

Saturday 19th – changeable weather – generally fine. Very fresh and favourable breeze.

Sunday 20th – variable weather – Strong & foul wind.

Monday 21st – dull and gloomy weather blowing a gale from the Westward.

Tuesday 22d – variable weather, strong breezes foul in the forenoon but favourable in the afternoon.

Wednesday 23d November – fine weather and nearly calm till one P.M. when the weather became cloudy with occasional showers & the wind fresh and favourable.

Thursday 24th – squally weather this morning laying to under bare poles, the wind NW. In the afternoon wind more moderate and set the necessary sail.

Friday 25th – very strong but foul wind. Squally weather with showers of hail.

Saturday 26th – fine pleasant weather. Moderate but foul wind.

Sunday 27th – cloudy but pleasant weather. Fresh and favourable breeze.

Monday 28th – morning cloudy afternoon squally with rain. Wind fresh and favourable.

Tuesday 29th - dull gloomy weather. Blowing a gale and laying too like a duck, under bare poles. This morning being on the Banks of Newfoundland, our men cast their lines in 35 fathoms and caught 2 cod & 2 holybaut in the course of the morning. As the gale increased the ship drifted much, so that the lines could not remain on the ground, and consequently our fisherman were obliged to haul their lines. At the present season of the year, no vessel is to be found on the Banks, as the gales which prevail during the winter would endanger their safety. I believe October is the latest period of their stay.

Wednesday 30th. - dull and gloomy weather - wind fresh and favourable in the morning  foul in the afternoon.

Thursday 1st December - gale of wind from the NW. Pleasant weather till 2 P.M. when it became dull and gloomy.

Friday 2d - dull gloomy weather. Gale still continues, but is most violent in sudden squalls. The Old Duke has hitherto behaved remarkably well. She rises like a duck, or like one of the numerous birds we observe everywhere floating around us, to meet the wave - and when you are below, you can hardly believe that a gale is blowing aloft, and that the vessel has not a stitch of canvass set.

Saturday 3d – variable weather, generally pleasant. Strong and foul wind with squalls.

Sunday 4th – dull gloomy weather. A fresh and favourable breeze sprung up at 6 A.M. but was succeeded at 2 P.M. by a foul wind. W.r  very close and warm, being now so far to the Southward.

Monday 5th – beautiful morning – variable day – wind either favourable, or nearly so all day.

Tuesday 6th – laying to under close-reefed main topsail in a gale from the Northward and Westward. Dull gloomy weather, with occasional drizzling rain. Temperature still very mild.

Wednesday 7th - dull gloomy weather, with occasional showers of rain and hail. Glimpses of sunshine like angels visits few and far between. Still the Gale continues unabated, and we are constantly making stern way, owing to the wind and current. The winds roar in sudden gusts amidst the ropes and shrouds, forming no bad Aeolian Harp, wailing and complaining like mourners for the dead.

Thursday 8th - cloudy weather, but pleasant. Gale much decreased, but wind still fresh and foul.

Friday 9th - cloudy weather. Strong and foul wind with a very heavy sea.

Saturday 10th - nearly a calm this morning, which was considered a favourable sign. A calm after a foul wind is said to be half a fair wind. The sea, however, did not go down, which led us to suspect that our old enemy was only taking a bit of a nap, in order to recruit himself, after his violent exertions of the last two days, and would return, with the same if not with additional fury. Our suspicions were right. At 1 P.M. he began to puff, puff, very gently at first like a person knocking at your door, who knows himself to be unwelcome - them lashing himself into a rage he roared and bellowed, as if a thousand mad & infuriated bulls were let loose. In short it blew a perfect gale, and compelled us to take in every stitch of canvass. Alack! Alack! We are now nearly three hundred miles farther off than we were ten days ago, we are drifting every hour without remedy, and have shewn our capacity of going stern foremost very satisfactorily. Nasty, rainy, disagreeable weather, with short intervals of a more pleasant description.

Sunday 11th - pleasant weather - Strong but foul wind with heavy sea.

Monday 12th - fine weather with occasional showers of rain - Very light variable winds all day.

Tuesday 13th - for these three weeks past, we have had either a calm or a gale. After the light winds of yesterday, we had a gale from the Southward & Westward, which was very nearly favourable. We shipped some very heavy seas during the night & I could not sleep a wink owing to the numerous leaks dropping water upon me, and the violent motion of the ship, which was such, as sometimes nearly to throw me out of my birth. When I got up this morning, I felt as tired as if I had walked 50 miles, but was somewhat reconciled to my miseries by the knowledge that the wind tho’ boisterous was favourable. I had not been on deck half an hour, when a tremendous shower of rain brought the wind right forward, and our old enemy a N Wester began to blow. In the afternoon the wind fell light and favourable.

Wednesday 14th Dec.r – pleasant morning – heavy rain all day. Wind fair but variable & light, until 2 P.M. when it came to the NW.

Thursday 15th – fine pleasant weather with light variable breezes, until the afternoon, when a fresh and favourable breeze sprung up from the W. with cloudy weather and a drizzling rain.

Friday 16th – at 2 A.M. the wind changed suddenly into the NW. with squalls and heavy sea – obliged to lay to under close-reefed main topsail. Weather cloudy, with occasional hail and rain. In the afternoon the sky cleared off & the wind became less violent, tho’ still unfavourable.

Saturday 17th – cloudy weather with a fine favourable breeze in the morning. At one the sky cleared up & the wind drew forward, but at 3 it was again fair and fresh.

Sunday 18th – at one oClock this morning the wind came again to the NW, and when I came upon deck we were laying to. During the day no change took place. The weather was dull, gloomy with frequent showers of hail, and my spirits were quite in accordance with the weather. At 8 P.M. it blowing a tremendous gale with a mountainous sea, our jib boom was carried away.

Monday 19th Dec.r – dreadful night of rain & hail. Wind more moderate this morning but still very high. Weather cloudy with occasional sunshine. For the last 24 hours we have been drifting bodily to Leeward, so that to day at noon we have lost 60 or 70 mils. At 10 P.M. passed the Mast and bowsprit of some unfortunate vessel.

Tuesday 20th – dark gloomy weather, with frequent showers of hail and sleet. Still a gale of foul wind. Spent the day most miserably.

Wednesday 21st – gale broken – variable winds & weather, until 1 P.M. when it began to blow as usual in extremes from the South West, which, tho’ the wind is fair, renders it impossible for us to carry much sail.

Thursday 22d – dull miserable rainy weather. Strong and foul wind.

Friday 23d – foul wind – variable weather. Loosing ground fast.

Saturday 24th – variable weather. Nearly a calm all day. Light and favourable airs at night. Lost nearly 70 miles last 24 hours by current.

Sunday 25th - Christmas. Fine breeze all night, & this morning still continues with variable weather. At 2 having shortly before come to blow very hard in an instant, in the twinkling of a bed post, the wind shifted to the NW & brought clouds & rain against us.

Monday 26th – beautiful mild weather all day. Nearly a calm till two P.M., when we had light and favourable airs, which gradually freshened, till 10 P.M., when the wind again became foul.

Tuesday 27th Dec.r – cloudy but pleasant weather – foul wind.

Wednesday 28th – pleasant but very cold weather – foul wind.

Thursday 29th – favourable breeze nearly all night – fair but light in the morning. At one P.M. came on a gale from the Westward – obliged to lay to under bare poles. Weather cloudy – heavy sea.

Friday 30th – cloudy but fair weather – very cold. Moderate and foul wind.

Saturday 31st - dull gloomy weather with falls of snow. Strong and foul wind. At 9 A.M. spoke an American Schooner, which had been driven off the coast by the late gales. Thought he said he was in distress - but could not hear what he said. Hailed him to lower his large boat, as our small one could not have lived in the heavy sea that was running. Did not do so - stopped some time, until at last he waved us away. The Schooner was an excellent sea boat and had all her sails most snugly handed.

Sunday 1st January 1832. - New years gift of a fine wind for 12 hours - fine morning - cloudy and hazy day. Saw an English Bark on a wind to the Southward.

Monday 2d – cloudy weather. Strong and foul wind.

Tuesday 3d – fine pleasant weather – nearly a calm, until half past 12 P.M. when a light favourable breeze sprung up, which gradually freshened.

Wednesday 4th Jan.ry – gale of wind from Westward – foul wind began at 1 A.M. Dull miserable weather and the spray on the sides becomes ice in a moment. Gale much abated towards night.

Thursday 5th – delightful weather – light & favourable breeze in the morning – moderately strong during the day.

Friday 6th - nearly a calm in the morning. Found ourselves on Sable Bank in 5 fathoms - threw out our lines and caught 2 Cod fish and one halibut. Moderate and favourable breeze all day with brisk hazy weather - first snow and then rain.

Saturday 7th - very cold and cloudy, but fine weather. Wind moderate and foul.

Sunday 8th - fine pleasant weather. Light favourable breeze with smooth water. At 5 P.M. saw land. At 7 made the lights of Liverpool which at first was supposed to be that of Sambro - prepared to go in, when we luckily perceived it to be a revolving light and hence knew it to be Liverpool. At 2 A.M. saw Sambro light but the weather coming thick, and the wind drawing forward upon us and right on shore obliged to go about.

[Sambro lighthouse lies at the entrance to Halifax Harbour.]
[Liverpool lighthouse lies some 30-40 miles SW of Halifax.]

Monday 9th - many things happen between the cup and the lip – very true in regard to all of us. Thick hazy weather shutting us out from all sight of land, to which we knew ourselves to be pretty close. Gale of wind with a lee shore. Stood away from and towards the land several times but the Master having run his distance and seeing nothing very properly at night kept away. At 3 A.M. the weather cleared up and disclosed the light house, towards which we then steered. Very fortunate were we in making the land, for the Chronometer we most depended upon placed us two degrees of our real position – owing I suspect to the Master one day having allowed it to run down and setting it by guess.