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Friday, February 28, 2014

Captain R. plays a trick on Captain Nicholls of the whaleship Walker

On the 10th June [1800] our track was to the left of several small islands; Next morning we saw Cape St. George, the south-eastern extremity of New Ireland; we kept the coast on our right, at the distance of three or four miles: every part appeared to be covered with trees, of several species, some of which were tall and stately, particularly on the ridges of hill seated inland. The shore, on many points, was seen to be rocky. No natives were observed here—about noon we descried Cape Orford, the eastern extremity of New Britain. From this to Cape St. George, the distance was supposed to be about forty miles, both being seen at the same time, forming the entrance to St. George’s Channel, up which we proceeded, having the land on both sides of us, giving to the entrance of the strait the appearance of a large river. The weather was fine; we had a delightful view of both shore, with their fertile valleys, and gracefully sloping uplands, where, possible in after ages, when the tenants of this wild shall become civilized the plough may prepare yellow trophies for the sickle, and bleating flocks and lowing herds diversify the landscape with symbols of cultivation and weather, as in the beautiful hills and dales of Old Britain and Ireland.

As we approached the coast of New Britain, we saw several boats, but none approached near the ship until the evening, when a canoe, having an out-rigger, and eleven people on board, came within about a cable’s length of us, where they lay gazing at the ship for some time; handkerchiefs were held up to draw them alongside, of which they took no notice. One of the men who stood up in the canoe, appeared tall, well made, and of a dark complexion. We for some time had thought that they had red and white turbans on their heads; but at length discovered that their hair, which was woolly and frizzled, was covered with a sort of red powder like ochre on one side, and with a kind of lime or chalk on the other; other individuals were seen with the hair all red, and others with it all white. Nothing could entice them alongside. The canoe could paddle very fast; we did not suppose that any of our boats could overtake it if a trial had been made. As it drew near dark, they paddled round the ship very briskly, until coming to their first station, between the ship and the land, they stopped and blew something like smoke or dust from their hand left to the mouth, and let fly some arrows at the ship (which did not reach us) and quickly retired towards the shore. The audacity of their New Britons could easily have been checked by firing a shot over them; but the captain did not wish to intimidate them from again approaching a ship; and preferred a course of lenity to resentment for acts indicating their disposition to be hostile.

We made little progress in the night, having light winds; meanwhile we descried several fires in New Britain, but none in New Ireland, and concluded that the latter was but thinly inhabited. Next morning we saw the Duke of York’s Island, lying nearly in the middle of the channel, which we thought should have been called the New Isle of Man, in correspondence with its relative situation. On the land of New Britain we noticed three remarkable hills, which have the shape of sugar loaves; one of which was much loftier than the other two; they had hence been called the Mother and her Daughters by Captain Carteret. They look as if they had been thrown up by a volcano, and we had no doubt but it had been so, for a little farther inland we observed smoke continually issuing from a hill which nearly resembles the cones just mentioned; several patches appeared like land under cultivation.

As we proceeded, a number of canoes was observed, coming from the Duke of York’s Island. They came boldly on to the ship, singing, and playing upon an instrument of hollow reeds in the form of the Pandean pipes. They held out bunches of plantains and cocoa nuts. Many articles were exhibited to them for barter, but nothing pleased them so much as red and white cloth. The captain cautioned our people to barter fairly, and to take nothing without making a return. There were at one time upwards of 30 canoes about the ship. The seamen having got a plentiful supply of plantains and cocoa nuts, had finished bartering, when the captain shewed some narrow red and white buntin, with some of my old ribbons, at sight of which, all the natives in the different canoes appeared most anxious to possess these treasures, pointing to the shore, and by signs intimating a wish for us to stop until they returned with a fresh supply of fruit and other native produce.

Their boats glided to the land, and so anxious were the companies of natives to possess he pieces of buntin, they they were quarrelling as to which of them threw fruit, yams, &c. into the ports. However, all got some of our rags in exchange for a plentiful supply of yams, &c. They were satisfied, and so were we. They took old knives and pieces of iron hoops in exchange, but did not set any value upon them. Glaring colours of red and white cloth attracted them most, there were from five to twelve men in the different sized boats; they had spears, bows, and arrows with them, but appeared to have such confidence in us, that we conceived they were placed in their boats more in readiness to repel an attack from their hostile neighbours, than from any apprehension from us.

As there was a fine commanding breeze, the ship drifted slowly between the satellite isle of New Man and the Island of New Britain. Perhaps the Phoenicians, when they first discovered Britain, and had intercourse with our rudely painted forefathers, might think of the latter with mingled commiseration, contempt, and dawning hope, as we did of these poor savage people. The captain wishing to get clear of the channel before dark, made sail from the lessening coast of these fair dealing men. In passing the opposite territory of New Britain, we saw Port Hunter, where the Waaksemheyd had watered. Several openings led us to suppose, that where New Britain is placed there were more islands than one, particularly as some canoes went in at one opening and came out at another. We observed a number of people on a projecting point of land, holding up bunches of plantains, cocoa-nuts, and yams, but we, having a sufficiency, did not bring to; at the same time a number of canoes were following the ship from different parts. As we proceeded we still perceived patches in the ravines that appeared under cultivation.

Just as we cleared the Duke of York’s Island, we were surprised to see a ship following us. We were nearly becalmed, but she having a fine breeze came near enough before dark for us to discover that it was the Walker south seaman, which sailed from Port Jackson about three weeks before us. They could not see our colours, the ship’s head being towards them. As it was quickly dark, it was thought we should have no communication until morning; however, about eight in the evening, we heard the boats’ oars towing their ship towards us, and presently voices of individuals in their crews conversing, the night being still—at length the captain of the Walker hailed us, saying, “What ship is that pray?” by which we knew that they did not know us.

L’Amitié,” was answered. “From whence come you?” was the next question. Hollandez nuova was replied.  

“Who commands that ship,” was then demanded. “Capitaine Le Rouge.”

We then plainly overheard them, conversing together, say we were either French or Dutch.  However, not to keep them longer in suspense, our captain called aloud in English, “How do you do, Capt. Nicholl?” their commander returned, “Who is that?”

“Don’t you know the Friendship, Reid?” was rejoined. 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Mrs. R. in the Solomon Islands

In which the Friendship has more native encounters, and Mrs. R. suffers a sad loss

[June 1800] Prior to leaving Port Jackson, Governor Hunter requested my husband, if he passed near Stewart’s Islands, to ascertain whether they were inhabited, saying that he was at too great a distance when he first discovered and named them in 1791 to make any observation; hence, as they lay in the ship’s track, they were looked out for. 

On Thursday, the 5th of June, we saw and approached them; they appeared to be a small cluster of low islands. Three were counted from the deck, and five from the mast-head. We observed one more elevated than the rest, which was named Mount Hunter, in honour of the first discoverer.

We saw much smoke from different parts, and several canoes passing from one isle to another; about noon a number of canoes came toward the ship, each carrying from five to eight persons; these were unarmed, and came close to the ship, staring at the masts and hull, with the greatest surprise and wonder. They appeared small muscular men, of sun-burnt complexion, having some sort of cloth round their waist; their hair was tied in a bunch behind. Signs were made to draw them close alongside, and little articles held out for them to accept; but for a considerable time they took no notice of these overtures; at length, a tall, fine looking old man, with a white beard, stood up in one of the canoes, and began talking very loud, often bending his body as if in the act of lifting something up; at the same time pointing to the shore, inviting us, as we thought, to land.

When he had done, some light things were dropped by the fishing-lines astern, which one canoe ventured to take; after which, several boats came round, to observe what was received. Presently a boat with five men paddled up to the main channel, and threw in two cocoa-nuts, and then paddled hastily away. At this stage, an accident happened, which put a stop to all farther intercourse. A canoe had hold of the line, to take something off, which the hook caught in the hand of the man who held the line; with a horrid yell he tore the hook out of the flesh, and all instantly quitted us; after which, no overture could induce them again to come near.

Their canoes appeared about twenty-five feet long, with out riggers fixed to one side to balance them. Many natives were seen on shore. We were very sorry that they had left us with bad impression, as we thought them to be a friendly good people. No doubt, were a communication established, ships might find many refreshments here, as abundance of coco-nut trees were seen from the Friendship. These island lie in latitude 8° 12’ south, and longitude about 163° east.
Next morning we saw Solomon’s Island on our left. We soon after passed between that and Gower’s Island, so named by Capt. Carteret. Gower’s Island appeared small, and we soon lost sight of it, but Solomon’s Island is of great extent, as we had it in view for three days, in which time the ship ran upwards of three hundred miles to the north-west; however there might be more islands than one, as several extensive openings were seen.

On the 9th of June, we described the straits of Bouganville on our left, but entered a new passage between Anson’s and Bouganville Islands, which was found safe. While we were proceeding toward St. George’s Channel, so named by Capt. Carteret, who first sailed through it in 1767, six canoes came from Bougainville Island towards the ship, with about eight or ten men in each; they came alongside with confidence, and appeared to know something of traffic; readily exchanging bows, arrows, and spears, shells, necklaces, and ornaments from their arms and legs, for handkerchiefs, empty bottles, &c.

The Bouganville Islanders are small in stature, very dark, with frizzled hair. We observed a number of people on shore. While all the ship’s crew were busy in traffic at the gangway, the steward being in the cabin, heard a noise at the rudder-chains, and looking out, saw a native very busy, taking the fore-cock from the shackle; he had swam from one of the canoes, and would not desist when called to. The steward had a kettle of boiling water in the cabin, which he took to the window, and with it threatened the fellow, who would not understand him; however, a little of the scalding water very soon made him desist, for he instantly jumped into the water, and kept at a respectful distance, swimming about until taken into a canoe.

After laying to for about an hour, the ship stood on her course. No persuasion could induce any of these natives to enter the ship, although a number of boats were still coming off, and followed us until we came near Anson’s Island, when they all returned. We saw many natives, in groups, upon Anson’s Island; but no boats came off from it; we supposed that they were not upon good terms with their neighbours. We found the weather vey hot, but all the crew were in the best health; no doubt the fresh meals which the ship’s stores furnished them, and plenty of water, great contributed thereto. This day my poor kangaroo fell down the hatchway and broke its back; I had hoped to take it safe to England. Its innocent pranks, playing about the cabin and steerage, were often a source of amusement to the officers, who felt its loss as much as I did.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Rose de Freycinet crosses the line

In September 1817 twenty-two-year-old Rose de Freycinet dressed in men's clothes to stow away on the corvette Uranie to sail with her beloved husband, Captain Louis-Claude de Freycinet, on a discovery expedition to the Pacific.  Her journal, translated and edited by Marc Serge Rivière, was published in 1996.  This is her story of crossing the line.

On 19 November [1817], we crossed the equator. As a large number of men were doing so for the first time, the crew proceeded to organise the traditional ceremony.

To begin the ceremony, the previous evening, a postilion sent by the King of the Line climbed down from the top mast. The messenger's arrival was heralded by thunder, hail and heavy rain. The hail resembled the manna which met our forefathers in the desert; we could have eaten it, as it was nothing more than dried turkey corn. The thunder was in fact the sound of drums and the rain was seawater.

That envoy brought a letter from the King of the Line which stated that the Uranie would not be allowed to pursue its journey if all those not yet baptised did not undergo the ceremony. Louis replied gravely that he would give the necessary orders for His Majesty to be received the next day. At 10 a.m., the King of the Line appeared, accompanied by his consort and his daughter. The two ugliest men among the crew had, on purpose I think, been chosen to play those parts; they were simply hideous. The King was preceded by six sappers and was followed by his chaplain, his attendant and a few other characters. Lucifer, surrounded by eight or ten small devils, brought up the rear; he was dressed in a dark skin with an iron hook on his shoulder. the small devils were completely naked, some wore red paint and others black, while others had rubbed a glue-like substance on their bodies and plastered themselves with chicken feathers.

As soon as the King had sat down, he sent his sappers to cut down the Uranie's rigging, but Louis, crossing the palm of one of the attendants with a few silver coins, begged the King to spare his vessel. The sappers were then recalled and the congregation proceeded to the baptism of the infidels.

Thanks to the payment of a few Napoléons, I was let off during the ceremony.  Almost all the crew had crossed the line already, and only a few officers had to pay their dues as I did. As for those who were unable to exempt themselves or who were less generous, the King of the Line ordered their faces to be daubed with paint; then the poor wretches were seated on a mobile seat and ducked into a tub of water, while at the same time a bucket of water was emptied on their heads. As for those who refused to undergo the ceremony, they were brought back forcibly and soaked according to the degree of resistance which they had offered.

This ceremony lasted all morning. The King and his retinue, having gone round the ship twice, went off to drink the double rations which Louis had granted them.

We dined that night in the officers' mess. They gave us a splendid meal and a very pleasant one, after which I watched the crew dance in masks and behave in an extravagant manner.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Uncovering graveyards

Forgotten memories of Staten Island

This gorgeous photograph illustrates a NYT story by Edna Ishayik, about a woman whose dedication has restored the cemeteries of Staten Island to history.

Back in 1998, Lynn Rogers set out to find her grandparents' and great-grandparents' graves, and discovered a disgusting dump.  Horrified, she started clearing the site herself, and since then has raised money and received lots of help.  Now she is the caretaker of eleven cemeteries on Staten Island that had fallen into ruin.

As Edna Ishayik says, though Lynn Rogers is proud of her work, she is not concerned that she will receive no praise from those whose stories she has unveiled. After all, they are all dead.

And what stories they are! There are veterans of the Civil War who fought in Scottish regiments, in kilts, and Irishmen and women who had fled the potato famine. And, of course, there are bound to be seafarers, too.

With thanks to Jacqueline Church Simonds

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Native attack! The Friendship's boat in trouble

In the afternoon [May 29, 1800] we passed two small low islands on our right, named the Brothers; also on on our left, covered with cocoanut trees. It was not thought probable that any inhabitants would be found on such a small spot, apparently not exceeding three miles in extent; but advertising to the possibility that there might be some, a boat was sent ashore to procure some cocoa-nuts, with strict orders that, if any natives were seen, not to land, but to return directly to the ship, which lay-to about a mile off.  

When the boat drew near the shore, we observed a number of natives amongst the trees skirting a part of the island, hidden from the sight of our people in the boat. We counted upwards of 30 of these naked savages; they were all armed with long spears, and what we took for bows and arrows. They frequently ran out of sight among the trees, and came to view again in a cunning manner. 

The captain now was very apprehensive that we should lose some of our men; the only signal agreed upon for ordering their prompt return to the ship was hoisting our ensign, and at that time the ship’s situation prevented them from seeing it. We observed the boat to lie a-back of the surf, and naturally concluded that they had seen the natives, and of course would not land. We saw one of the islanders separate from the rest and approach the boat; we was unarmed, but had something in his hand which he held up, beckoning our people to the land; he then put down what he held in his hand, and retired amongst the trees, where we saw him join the others, who were still in ambush concealed from the boat’s crew. Then two natives likewise unarmed approached the boat with some cocoa-nuts, which they held up; on this the boat appeared to pull up towards them. We were all very uneasy at observing this, as our party could not see the signal commanding their return. 

Presently all the savages left their ambush, and ran towards the boat. Luckily a gun had been got ready, and was now fired; the report of which drew the attention of the natives to the ship, which it gave notice to our people, who fortunately had not landed. The firing, however, did not intimidate the savages, for they came close to the surf, brandishing their spears, and discharged their arrows at the boat, which happily did no mischief; whereupon, to let them know our superiority, a gun was shotted and fired amongst the trees over their heads. As soon as this was done, they turned suddenly round to look at the trees, amongst which the shot had done some execution, and instantly retired from the beach. 

When the boat returned, Mr. Henderson, who went in command of her, said, the natives appeared black and small in stature, having woolly heads like Africans; that they did not see more than two natives until the gun was fired, then, he said, they were seen coming from amongst the bushes, making a wild noise, and letting fly arrows at the boat. One man among them was painted red, as if by ochre. Thus ended our transient intercourse with these perfidious people; and happy were all that no disaster had occurred. From the hostility of the inhabitants, and some coral rocks in the 
vicinity, this was named Danger Island.

Having but little wind, our progress was slow; we were still in sight of the volcano. Saw to the south of us this afternoon Swallow Island, named by Capt. Carteret, who sailed in those seas in the year 1767; it appeared pretty high land, but too distant for accurate observation. Capt. Carteret found much hostility from the natives about these parts. 

The weather now was very hot and sultry; the mercury sometimes standing as high as ninety degrees. We had much thunder, lightning, and rain; and several water-spouts passed near the ship. To us this phenomenon had the appearance of a long narrow smoky pillar let down from the clouds to the surface of the water, creating a white foam where the suction takes place, whirling round in a furious manner, but the vortex thus formed seems but a few yards in extent. Even to be involved in this is reckoned fatal to boats and small vessels; and the discharge of the column of water very dangerous to large ships, should it break upon their decks. The water first ascends to fill the cylinder. If a gun be fired near a water-spout, the vacuum caused by the explosion with disperse it. Several of our guns were made ready for this service, but were not needed.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Volcano! Exciting times for the Friendship

For several days in succession [after leaving Norfolk Island], we were favoured with the finest weather. 

On the morning of the 24th of May [1800], the boy at the mast-head called out, “Land a-head!” It proved to be a small elevated rock, with a few stunted trees; many tropical birds were about it. As it was not marked in any of our charts, the captain called it Ephraims’ Island, after the boy who first saw it. To encourage vigilance, it was a standing rule on board, that the first discoverer of any new island, rock, or shoal, should have his name given to it. The latitude of this rock was found to be, 22° 40’ south, and longitude 172° 30’ east. We were now but a short distance from the Friendly and Feju Islands, so celebrated in Capt. Cook’s Voyages.

Next day the officers had good sights of the distance of the sun and moon, which made our longitude, at 12 o’clock …. 173° 54’ east
Adding the longitude of Dublin …….}                                                    6          6 west
Shews we are at the present moment …….}                                            180      0
the antipodes of that city

Several jokes were interchanged about this circumstance. The carpenter, who was from the metropolis of Ireland, doing some little jobs upon the quarter deck, having listened to the conversation, quickly asked, “Where did they say Dublin was?” 

He was told, in reply, “Directly under the ship’s bottom.” 

Then said he, “I will send a token to my old sister,” and fetching up a curious marked sixpence, he threw it over the side of the ship, exclaiming, “If old Judith sees this, she will know that Pat is not far off!” 

He was then apprised, that, although it was just noon with us, it was at the same instant exactly 12 o’clock at night in Dublin. He answered, “It matters not, for the sixpence, when it falls, will jingle upon the stones, and as the lamps shew a good light in Dublin, they can see to pick it up.” 

We were amused by his apparent simplicity, while we gave him credit for knowing better.

Soon after this we came in sight of the island, called the Hebrides, in the vicinity of New Caledonia.  In passing Annotam, Enomango, and Aurora, we saw much smoke from fires; but had no intercourse with the inhabitants of those islands, the weather being very bad, with heavy squalls of wind and rain. 

Advancing on our passage to the 11th degree of south latitude, my husband was anxious to observe an island before dark, which had been discovered upon his former voyage in the Cornwallis, and named after that ship; but the exact situation could not then be ascertained. From the distance the ship had gone, it was supposed we had passed it soon after sun-set. The wind being fierce, the sea rough, and the night intensely dark, the ship was reduced under a low sail, and a good look-out kept, to give, if possible, timely notice of danger. 

The navigation of this unknown sea was so uncertain, that the ship proceeded only when it cleared up a little; as often as the squalls were seen coming, she was hove-to. This was alternately done through the slow hours of this trying night.

About four o’clock in the morning, just as an obscure squall cleared away, rocks and breakers were discovered close under the lee of the ship.  All now was consternation; but, by the kind interposition of Providence, we were, at a moment of apparent destruction, preserved from collision with the rock. My husband is naturally gifted with presence of mind and coolness in the hour of danger. In this critical situation the helm and sails were properly managed, and, by the Almighty’s goodness, we were saved from shipwreck. 

I never can forget that night, when, looking out of the quarter gallery, I saw the furious waves dashing against the rocks with an awful noise, making all white with foam. The ship appeared to be nearly amongst the breakers; my feelings at the moment cannot be described. Meanwhile a great clamour and bustle continued upon deck; but as I saw the vessel gradually leave the white water at a distance, my mind felt a great relief, and my melting heart was impressed with gratitude to God for our preservation. 

When daylight appeared, it was discovered that this was a dangerous reef of rocks lying off the same island which they had been looking out for during the night. The captain had every confidence in the mates; they were steady, sober, and good seamen; but as neither of them had been the voyage before, his anxiety was doubled whenever the ship was by contrary winds and counter currents driven out of the known track.

This afternoon we passed the island Edgecombe, about four leagues on our right; and saw, on the left, another large mountainous island, called Egmont or St. Cruz.

Continuing our course, about two in the morning, the mate of the watch reported that he saw, at a great distance, indications of an explosion, the same as if a ship had been blown up with gunpowder. As there are some low small islands in this track, the captain judged it proper to lay the ship to until day-light. 

On changing watch, at four in the morning, another vast illumination took place, a great distance to the west of us, tingeing the clouds in that quarter. It was not known what could cause these phenomina, until the captain, in looking over his old journal, observed there was an island called the Volcano, which he formerly passed without seeing any smoke or signs of eruption. He now conjectured that the subterranean fire had again burst out. 

At day-light the black dense smoke was seen towering on high from the top of the island; as we approached all eyes were employed in observing this wonder in nature. The wind being light and favourable, it was decided that we should pass near it; and accordingly, at 10 at night, the ship, by computation, was about one league distant. 

Explosions took place as we approached, with discharges of burning fragments into the air. The last eruption was followed by a longer interval than usual, and vivid admiration had began to be succeeded by a feeling of tranquillity, when, about 11 o’clock, the greatest horror and consternation seized every person on board. On a sudden the vessel laboured as if she had been amongst surf created by rocks, shaking in every part; and almost at the same instant, a tremendous eruption, accompanied with a correspondent noise, filled the air with fire, which cast such a light around, that all, looking to the moment when the ascending combustibles must fall, conceived our destruction was at hand. Most providentially for us, the wind blew the fiery fragments in the opposite direction; had it been otherwise, our vessel might have been consumed.

After this awful explosion, the streams of liquid fire descended the sides of the hill, and as they came in contact with the water, produced a hissing noise and a dense smoke, which curled from the bottom of the mountain. When our consternation had ceased, no time was lost in getting away from this scene of horror. The past had such an effect on all on board, as to banish sleep from every eye; the seamen stood continually gazing at the scene, when not called off to their duty. By two in the morning we were at a respectful distance. 

Meanwhile many small eruptions intervened. None occurred comparably to that which we had witnessed when nearest, until four in the morning, when another great explosion appeared, if possible, more terrible. The ship shook all over in the most violent manner, as if the land at the bottom of the ocean had been heaved by an earthquake; then followed the tremendous explosion, with the rush of liquid flames down the sides of the mountain as before. But our senses were now more collected, and being four leagues off, time and space allowed us to observe it.

At day-light  we had still the island Egmont in sight. As the volcanic isle lies only about 10 or 12 leagues to the north of the above, in latitude 10 degrees south, and 166 degrees east longitude, it was supposed that it could not be above 10 or 12 miles in circumference; but from the great quantities of lava thrown out, it may be expected to increase in size. It appeared broad at the base, tapering upward like an inverted funnel, ragged at the top or edge of the crater.

The graves of Norfolk Island

Every stone tells a tale -- of the two times it was a penal settlement (1788-1814 and 1825 to 1856) and of its whaling history.  There are descendants of the Bounty mutineers there, too.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Friendship lays off Norfolk Island

This is a really interesting entry.  The Reids arrived during a hiatus in the governorship of the island -- which was supposed to be a settlement, but because of the vision of Philip Gidley King, at this stage was a place where, hopefully, convicts could be turned into industrious farmers. Before the ship arrived, Captain John Townson was in control; he departed early 1800, leaving Captain Thomas Rowley in charge. Rowley did not last long at all, so that the government of the island was left to the man in charge of the soldiers, Captain John Brabyn -- who had been the officer in charge of the marines on the Marquis Cornwallis when he and Hugh Reid (first officer) had helped put down a bloody mutiny.

Just weeks after the visit of the Friendship, the control of the island was taken over by Major Joseph Foveaux, after whom Foveaux Strait (between the south of the South Island of New Zealand, and Stewart Island) was named.

On the 11th May [1800] we left the colony, intending to call at Norfolk Island for some additional stock; the inhabitants there giving live pigs for their weight in salt, of which we had a great quantity; they also exchange, on the same terms, Indian corn or maize. Next morning we were again out of sight of land, and circumscribed to ourselves, an isolated company on the mighty ocean. Our situation, however, was very different to what it had been on the voyage out. No poor prisoners to watch and secure.

On the morning of the 14th of May, we again saw land; it was called Howe’s Island. We passed within a few miles of it; it seemed well wooded. Turtle abound here; also many species of fine fish. A high rock near it, called Ball’s Pyramid, makes this land very conspicuous. On the eighth day, after leaving Port Jackson, we made Norfolk Island; passing between it and Phillips’ Island, which is not above a league distant.  Prior to this, our boat had been sent on shore with the second mate. 

As the ship lay-to, drifting slowly through the channel, we had a fine view of the island: as we opened the valleys, many parts appeared under cultivation; fine streams of water were running down the rocks; the deep fall which terminates one large stream gives name to Cascade Bay. We saw a number of pigs upon Phillips’ Island, which are the only inhabitants, unless when occasional visitors from the main island come to take them away, which is attended with no small trouble, so wild are these animals; they feed upon nutritive roots. 

About noon the boat returned, with the commandant of the station, Capt. Braben [Brabyn]. A pleasant meeting took place between him and my husband; they had been shipmates in the Cornwallis. He dined with us, and gave orders for 20 pigs to be sent on board, with a proportion of Indian corn. We received while here upwards of fifty hogs, averaging in weight about 200 pounds each. 

This supply afforded our seamen a fresh meal three times a week until we arrived at Malacca: an equal weight of salt or maize was given in exchange.  Several persons entreated to be taken on board from this place, having been emancipated; but their wishes were not acceded to for the reasons given above. While laying-to, off Cascade Bay, some fine fish were caught. Towards five in the evening, our little business at this place being settled, we proceeded on our voyage. Next morning Mount Pitt, the part of the island which remained last in sight, was hid from our view by clouds.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Monster fishing fleet raping south Pacific waters

From Fairfax media

The world's largest fishing factory freezer ship and its fleet of catcher trawlers has passed through New Zealand's exclusive economic zone around the Kermadec Islands.
The Chinese-owned Lafayette, a 49,367 gross ton converted oil tanker flying a Russian flag, uses giant hoses to suck catches from its attendant trawlers.
It is targeting South Pacific jack mackerel on the high seas, vital in the farmed salmon industry.
The fishery is under heavy international pressure.
Lafayette was first spotted last week near Australia's Norfolk Island.
Yesterday the US based volunteer group SkyTruth - which monitors ships via their automatic identification systems (AIS) and radar satellite images - picked up Lafayette in the Kermadec EEZ.
SkyTruth is monitoring on behalf of the US Pew Institute's Kermadec Initiative which wants to turn the area into an international marine sanctuary.
Lafayette passed though the zone south of Raoul Island and then changed course.
At 6.06am today Lafayette was about 1000 kilometres east of the North Island's East Cape, likely to be heading to fishing grounds southeast of French Polynesia.
Lafayette has its AIS turned on, allowing it to be tracked. The six trawlers working with it, all Peruvian-flagged, have switched their AIS off meaning it is not easy to find them or to know what they are doing.
The trawlers are registered with the Wellington based South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organisation (SPRFMO) and allowed to take 8300 tons of mackerel.
Lafayette is owned by Hong Kong-based, Bermuda registered Pacific Andes International.
It spent US$100 million ($120 million) in 2008 remodelling the former tanker. It is the only Russian-flagged ship in the region and in 2010 it reported taking 41,315 tonnes of mackerel east of New Zealand, an increase of 136 per cent from the previous year.
As the fishery was collapsing, other nations accused Russia of faking its statistics in order to get a better sized quota later.
SPRFMO met in Auckland last year and Russia was challenged over what Lafayette was really doing. Russia was stripped of its quota. It won it back on appeal and this is the first time since that row that the super-factory ship has returned.
Pacific Andes told Fairfax Media the ship was heading for the jack mackerel fishery, using prevailing currents to get there economically.
"It is not a fishing vessel and fishing quotas are set by the SPRFMO for the catcher fishing vessels it supports, and those quotas are not exceeded," Pacific Andes said.
In 2012 an investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists found giant fishing vessels were responsible for a 90 per cent decline in the South Pacific jack mackerel fishery.
The head of Pacific Andes, Ng Joo Siang, told ICIJ the company had kept Lafayette under a Russian flag because it perfected an old Soviet idea of a mother ship that stays put, sucking in fish to process from a fleet of catcher vessels.
Lafayette can process 1500 tonnes of fish a day.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Mrs. R. bids farewell to New South Wales

There is a mystery lurking in this entry from Eleanor Reid's sea-letter. When Philip Gidley King arrived with his commission to take over as Governor of New South Wales, his predecessor, John Hunter, was supposed to take the first available ship, and report to the government in London.

The Friendship, according to King's angry dispatch to London, was available. However, Hunter flatly refused to sail with Captain Reid, declining to hand over the reins of government until the new colonial ship Buffalo was ready to take him back to England -- which did not happen until September 1800. Naturally, this was very frustrating for King, which is the reason Mrs. Reid makes veiled comments about people falling out with each other in the settlement -- and also why there were two different farewell parties.

So, which governor was it that the Friendship fired nine guns to welcome on board?  Was it the rightful man, Philip Gidley King?  If so, perhaps that is why ex-Governor Hunter refused to sail with the Reids...  Eleanor, who was certainly not a gossip, neglects to tell us the details.  Instead, we learn that deportation to the penal settlement didn't mean that the cheats and thieves stopped cheating, as Captain Reid found out to his cost.

At the end of April [1800] a ship arrived from England, having on board Captain K[ing]., late governor of Norfolk Island, and his lady. Upon the resignation of the present governor, Capt. K. had been appointed his successor. We frequently met them at different parties. Mrs. K. appeared an amiable accomplished woman. Captain Kent also arrived in his Majesty’s ship Buffalo, from the Cape of Good Hope; which additions to our confined circle of society made it more agreeable.

On the eve of our departure, my husband sent cards of invitation to the officers, civil and military, to partake of a farewell dinner on board the Friendship. Some individuals, either from party spirit or to avoid its collisions, politely declined the invitation; however, about thirty-eight ladies and gentlemen sat down to dinner. The Governor was saluted with nine guns when he came on board. A meeting of cordial friends brought with them the principles of harmony; and at the end of a pleasant evening, we parted with regret. Capt. K[ent]. afterwards gave a dinner to a smaller party, who could not conveniently join us on the former occasion.

During our stay, I was not idle in making a little collection of birds, quadrupeds, and other animals, and of the weapons and implements of the natives. The king bird and queen bird are of the parrot species, with a plumage of the most beautiful scarlet and green. The rose-bill parrots have their feathers still more variegated, combining a delicate yellow, purple, red, and green. Of the number collected, some were presents from friends, and some we purchased. I had also a young docile kangaroo, received in barter for a bottle of spirits, which was preferred to one pound in money.  It was rather larger than a hare, and grew fond of us; now sitting at our feet, and now with its nimble and active pranks, amused us by playing about the cabin; it ate fruit, vegetables, and bread from the hand, and answered to its name.

Early in May we prepared to leave this settlement, where we had been nearly three months; during which I have to acknowledge a constant display of friendship and kind attention. Although I never slept a single night out of the ship, still my intercourse with the ladies of the colony was as frequent as if I had resided on shore.

On the 4th of May the ship hauled out of Sydney Cove, and dropped down the harbour to a place called Bridley’s Point, in readiness to proceed on our voyage to India. The captain was apprehensive that some of the convicts might be admitted clandestinely on board, and gave strict orders not to take any person from the settlement, as much trouble had been experienced on former voyages, by carrying on to Bengal some men who had been emancipated, the captain of the Cornwallis being obliged to give his bond to the government that they should not be left in Calcutta.

It was remarked, that no commander ever came here without being injured in some way or other; and so it proved with us. My husband had taken bills to the amount of two thousand pounds, from a person bearing the name of George Crosley, who by false vouchers made it appear that he was possessed of considerable property in England.  This was a fiction; the bills were dishonoured, and none of the property ever recovered. Our chief mate, Mr. Muirhead, lost about £400 by the same individual.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Mrs. R. in Sydney, continued

We frequently joined the oyster parties at different corners of the harbour, taking bottled porter, bread, and condiments with us. There was no ceremony observed on these occasions; the ladies were quite independent, each being furnished with a little hammer to knock off the upper shell; the oyster was then easily taken out with a small knife; after which, we regaled ourselves with bottled porter, sitting upon the clean projecting rocks. At one of these parties, Mrs. K.’s little daughter had sat down upon a stone among the bushes; she presented screamed out, saying she had been bit on the ancle by something that ran under the stone; upon turning over the stone, we discovered numbers of large centipedes running about in all directions. We killed many of these disgusting reptiles; one of them measured about eight inches in length. So tenacious are they of life, that one which had been cut in two made it difficult to distinguish which was the head, as each part crawled about equally nimble. Mr. H[arris]., surgeon, put both parts into a small box, saying they would unite again; but whether they did or not I never learnt. The child sustained no injury from the fright.

One morning early in March [1800] we had a visit from Capt. And Mrs. A., with an invitation to take tea with them in the evening, in order to see a battle between two tribes of natives who had quarreled, and intended that their field of battle should be the Barrack-square, of which there was a good view of them from Capt. A.’s windows. I accompanied my husband to this gentleman’s residence. At an early hour the natives began to assemble, and squatted themselves down, men, women, and children, as they arrived. I was anxious to observe all that passed, while I listened attentively to all the observations of the governor, who was present. It was thought there would be no fight that evening, as the adverse tribe had not arrived; however, contrary to expectation, a single chief came in, advancing fearlessly, having a shield on one hand and a short club in the other.  

Presently the women and children got up, and retired to a little distance; when this single chieftain began an harangue, sometimes rising and sometimes lowering his voice; but he could not be understood by any of us. At length a natives from the tribe who first arrived, advanced a certain interval towards him with a long spear, and a throwing-stick in his hand, and jabbered something for a few minutes; after which he appeared to be in great rage, throwing the spear with great force at the other, who caught it upon his shield, where it was perceived to break.  This champion then stood for a time alone unsupported by any other; when presently another man advanced like the former, and after haranguing in the same manner, let fly his spear also, which rebounded, slanting off the shield. This was done alternately by several men until dusk; at length two spears were thrown at him by different persons at the same time, one of which he warded off, but the other went through his thigh. 

One of the medical gentlemen present cut off the barbed part, and drew it back the same way it went in. Thus ended the combat, as the wounded man had given the offended party satisfaction. The quarrel was occasioned by one of their women having been taken away by this man. The governor observed, it was from motives of humanity he allowed them to settle disputes openly in this manner; as when left to themselves, natives of both sexes were sometimes found murdered in the woods, when the perpetrators could not be discovered. The wounded man was seen walking about next day, as if nothing had happened to him.

While we staid, two ships came into the harbour; one was the Hunter, Capt. Anderson, from Bengal; the other a Spanish prize, from the coast of Peru. Next day sailed the ship Walker, Capt. Nichol, to look after spermaceti whales.

The town of Sydney is small, with straggling detached wooden houses, extending about a mile north and south. The regular buildings then consisted only of the barracks, for the church had been maliciously set on fire sometime prior to our arrival; in consequence the chaplain, Mr. Johnson, was obliged to put up with a barn to perform divine service in; and we were informed that the clergyman at Paramatta, the Rev. Mr. Marsden, was as badly accommodated. One Sunday morning we heard an impressive and edifying discourse from a missionary minister, whom Mr. Johnson permitted to preach; he had just arrived in the Spanish prize from Otaheite, where she had touched, and was on his way by the first ship for England, for some more labourers in the same field. He said that their greatest enemies were some renegade Europeans, who had tried to thwart all their measures, but were ultimately frustrated.

Some bold, faithful pastors, disinterested men, sound in doctrine, and exemplary in conduct, might be of much use at this place. Religion seemed to be little regarded, particularly amongst persons in humble life. We observed evidences of much depravity; and some examples were obliged to be made, even amongst our own seamen, who had been enticed to pilfer from the ship. As to security on shore, locks and bars had no effect in keeping out the depredators there; for when they had a mind to plunder they opened a passage through the brick wall. Almost incredible were the stories we heard about the achievements of incorrigible thieves; and had we not been living on board, should most certainly have suffered much loss of property.

Early in April, we had an invitation from the governor to accompany him up to Rose Hill, at Parramatta, where he had built a new government house, and intended giving the first dinner in it to a few friends. On the morning fixed for this jaunt we prepared to start early, the distance being upwards of twenty miles. About six o’clock the governor’s boat was alongside; but a painful duty now devolved upon our hospitable entertainer. Government stores had so often been robbed of late, that an example was determined upon. A convicts had been detected in the act with some accomplices who had escaped. He was tried, found guilty, and sentenced to be hanged. We saw all the preparation on shore, and the signal when the culprit was to be turned off was to be made from our ship, by hoisting a union jack at our flag staff. 

The fatal moment approached: the governor held his watch in his hand, and ordered the flag to be hoisted, but from some inattention to the person who had charge of it, the signal lines being jammed in the pully, the flag could only be hoisted half way up. The greatest agitation at this moment seized the governor, who running to the man, ordered it to be pulled time instantly.  No time was lost in again preparing the tackle. At length the ensign run fluently to the top of the staff.  It had been arranged, that should the provost martial see the jack hoisted half-mast high, the culprit was to be turned off; but if it rose to the top he was respited. It was at this critical moment the Governor’s agitation was seen.  Mrs. K. and Mrs. A. were in the cabin with me. We were all very sad at the impending execution; but when our worthy and humane friend came below, and told us the man was respited, he had the most cordial thanks and smiles from us all; and I am sure he felt great satisfaction, in this act of mercy. We took an early breakfast on board, and set off quite happy.

To approach towards a just description of the beautiful varied scenery, of capes and coves, hills and valleys, as we passed up the river, is beyond my feeble abilities. The day was fine; we arrived at Paramatta about one, and walked up the town. The street is regular, and of a good width; the houses are detached, chiefly built of wood.  As we walked up the street, a person came from his own door, and saluted the Governor. I was desired to notice him particularly, as it was the notorious George Barrington; he had lately been made high constable at this place and proved himself very useful in that station. He was tall and thin, of a gentlemanly appearance, but looked sickly.

I was rather disappointed with the new government house, finding it small, and much inferior to that at Sydney. As it was early in the day, an excursion was proposed to Town Gabley; and gigs were procured by the kindness of Capt. P., who commanded at this station. We had a picturesque ride over a pretty good road; we saw very little cultivated land, the soil being poor. They depend more upon the land about he Hawksbury river. Town Gabley had not more than forty houses when I saw it, and they were built of wood. We saw her one of the individuals, MacCullam, who came out with us. He expressed his grateful thanks to my husband, for getting him the medical situation which he then filled; and that he was more comfortable than he had any reason to expect. 

We returned to Parramatta, dined, and proceeded by water to Sydney. We reached the ship at 10 at night, but the time appeared short; it was a fine moon-light evening, and several of the party enlivened us by singing some select songs, particularly Mrs. K. who had a very fine voice; we had music, instrumental as well as vocal; a man in the boat played extremely well on the violin.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

In port in New South Wales, 1800

Having arrived in Port Jackson, Mary Ann Reid, wife of Captain Hugh Reid of the East Indiaman Friendship, enjoys entertainment on shore by day, while living in her comparatively luxurious accommodations on board at night. Included with her observations are comments on the Aboriginal natives of New South Wales -- somewhat devastating in the case of Bennelong, the friend of both Governor Phillip and Governor Hunter, who did a great deal to ease relations between the locals and the British intruders, and unconsciously admiring when describing the boat skills of an Aboriginal woman who fished off the stern of the ship.

Tupaia, sketch of Aboriginals fishing BL Add MS 15508 f.10
[February 1800] The next day we had an invitation to dine at the Government house, where we met an agreeable family party, comprising Mrs. K[ent]., niece to the Governor, whom I found friendly and well informed; also the Rev. Mr. J[ohnson]. and lady; Captain and Mrs. A[bbott]. and Major J[ohnson]. After spending a pleasant day, we returned on board in the evening; and I must confess, that I thought our own apartments on board more comfortable and much safer than theirs on shore.

Next day we were invited to meet a large party at Colonel P[aterson].’s, and were treated in a friendly and polite manner by himself and lady, from whom I received much information respecting this infant Colony; but was sorry to learn there was much party-spirit, with jarring and bickering among the free members of this small community, which was a bar to friendly intercourse between the adherents of the rival parties.

On the 21st, the prisoners were disembarked.  Many of them left the ship with tears, and each boat-load cheered as they put off, which was rather a novel sight to many on shore, who had received harsh treatment on their passage out. The captain received a letter from the Governor, expressing his thanks and approbation for the kind treatment and good management during the passage, saying that such conduct would not be forgot in the dispatches to the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty.

The captain spoke particularly to the Governor in respect of those prisoners who had seen better days, and who had conducted themselves so well on the voyage; he also made known the conduct of Mr. MacCullam, who had assisted the surgeon; from which favourable report he was immediately appointed to officiate as an assistant in a medical department, at an out-settlement called Town Gabby, with a salary of fifty pounds per annum, and a free house.

As we were now left to ourselves, all prison-doors, bulk-heads, and armed gratings were taken down, after which the ship did not appear like the same. We were now visited in return, on board, by the ladies and gentlemen of the settlement, and had many social, pleasant parties. It was arranged a few days after our arrival, that we should live entirely on board; indeed several ladies said they thought the accommodation which we had on board better than we could have on shore, especially as we had our servants and comforts about us. We judged this the best made, as the access to and from the ship to the shore was safe and easy.

One Tuesday evening, the governor and his niece, Mrs. Kent, came on board to take tea in a friendly way; when he informed us that next day he had engaged a few friends to dine with him upon fish, it being Wednesday; and if they were good Christians, they would be satisfied with it, for he had no doubt but a sufficiency would be procured with the sein; it it all depended upon luck, and those who had any doubts would take something else, as a stand-by. The dinner was to be prepared down the harbour, near the entrance, under a large tree, with a rough table, and seats already fixed there for such parties.

We were included in this proposed expedition, and willingly accepted the invitation. On the morrow our friends, the governor and Mrs. Kent, called for me, and we proceeded down the harbour. I was introduced to a native chief, named Benallong; his countenance and figure were most repulsive: his figure resembled a baboon more than one of the human species. He had been taken to England by Governor Phillips, and brought back by Governor Hunter; so that he had been a considerable time in civilized society, including the passage to Europe, the time he staid in England, and his last embarkation. Nevertheless by all this he had not profited, but appeared as much a savage as any of his countrymen that I saw.

We arrived about one o’clock at our station, and met a party of thirteen, including ourselves. The seamen went directly to work with the nets, and repeatedly drew them up empty; on which the governor desired them to try a lucky spot, where they before had met with success, and this time were not disappointed, for they got a draught of fine fine, which would have served fifty persons. They consisted of mullet, snappers, and several other kind of fish whose names I do not recollect.

Shortly after my husband joined us with some bread, cheese, bottled porter, and other viands. The cooks began their operations; and after half an hour’s walk, we return to an excellent dinner. The treat, being seasoned with the entertaining conversation rich in numerous anecdotes of our worthy host, made the day pass pleasantly. Several of the natives hovered about, but were not allowed to join our party without being properly clothed. This Bennilong was commissioned to tell them; and as clothing had been distributed to them a short time before, no excuse would do; however, plenty of fish read cooked and others from the surplus quantity, were left for them on purpose. In the evening we returned to the anchorage, much gratified with the day’s excursion.

I had often seen the natives at a distance paddling their little canoes down the cove, but none of them met my near view until the following incident. One forenoon I was rather surprised at hearing a strange humming noise under the cabin window; looking out I was more so, at beholding one of their canoes tied with a string to our rudder chains, with a native woman, and young infant in her lap. The canoe was nothing more than the bark of a tree, about seven or eight feet long by two feet wide, tied together at each end in a rough puckered manner. The embers of some half-burnt wood were smoking before her as she sat cross-legged at her employment; she had a fishing-line in each hand over the side of her little boat, and was humming her wild notes, either to entice the fish or to quiet the infant. I saw her draw up a small fish with one of the lines; she immediately applied her teeth to the neck of it, which instantly ceased struggling. Taking it off the hook, she put it upon the embers, and blew them into a flame; before it was warm through she began to eat it, apparently with great relish; after which, she gave her child the breast, and continued her labours. 

I threw down some biscuit, which she also eat; I then gave her a handkerchief, and some linen to cover her, which she took, and carelessly put on one side, repeating some jargon, which I did not understand. This poor creature might be about twenty-eight years of age, but it was difficult to judge from the sooty appearance of her skin; the child’s appearance was about three months. The woman wore her hair matted and dirty; her features had been cast in the plainest of nature’s moulds. She afterwards became a frequent visitor astern of the ship, and never went away empty-handed; but I never saw the clothing upon her which had been given. She never ventured on board, although frequently entreated to come. She managed her canoe with great dexterity; with a paddle in each hand, about eighteen inches long, she could turn it in all directions, and make it go as fast as our boats with two men rowing in them. The canoe is so light, that when she came to the shore she pulled it up with the greatest ease a considerable way from the water. After she had landed, I frequently saw some of the native men come to share her little stock of fish, biscuits, and other acquisitions of industry and fortune.

The oysters are so plentiful here, that two boys sent from the ship in the course of an hour could bring on board several buckets full. They were about the size of our Melton, or Colchester oysters, of a delicious flavour; the beards of them, with a little of the oyster attached, made an excellent bait for fish.

One afternoon I was so fortunate in angling from the cabin windows, that, strange as it may appear, I caught as many fish as not only supplied the cabin-table, but furnished the whole crew with a meal next day.  They were called snappers, and weighed from two and a half to three pounds each; so keen were they after the bait that evening, that the line was no sooner thrown out than they bit immediately. We never wanted fine fish while we remained here. The wallimy (otherwise called the light horseman, from the head resembling the cap of a trooper) is a most excellent fish for boiling, common specimens weighing from ten to fifteen pounds each.

Fruit was in such abundance, particularly figs, that our people were almost surfeited with them. Baskets full of figs were frequently thrown into the pig-stye, in order that they might not be wasted. Culinary vegetables were also in great plenty. Butchers’ meat, mutton, or pork, was high, at the rate of 2s. 6d. per pound; as for beef, none was allowed to be killed. Poultry was dear in proportion. Butter, none in the market, except what came from Europe; it was a great treat when I had a little fresh butter presented to me by Mrs. Kent or Mrs. Patterson, made at their own dairies.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

eBooks one-third of Hachette sales

From Digital Book World

One third of reported sales last year were digital books, according to Hachette's latest figures

Full-year revenue in 2013 jumped 6% from the previous year at Hachette Book Group, according to its parent company Lagardère’s latest earnings announcement.
That’s partly thanks to a significant uptick in digital sales, which grew 33% last year and now comprise a third of the Hachette’s total sales, as opposed to just over a quarter in 2012.
Behind the year’s growth are the strong performance of general literature titles–a trend that continued into the fourth quarter–and Hachette’s acquisition of Hyperion in June of last year.
Strong sales in fiction in France and the U.K. as well as in Partworks, the company’s collectible magazine division, together contributed to a 1.9% growth in revenue at Hachette Livre, which includes Hachette Book Group in the U.S.
Despite these successes in its publishing business, Lagardère’s revenues (€7.216 billion in 2013) declined 1.3% from last year. The company will report full-year profit for 2013 next month.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Mrs. R. arrives in Sydney

Mary Ann Reid, captain's wife on the East Indiaman Friendship, describes coasting Tasmania (Van Diemen's Land) and sailing to an anchorage in Sydney Cove

[January 1800] As all sails were set, we soon approached the land, and passed a small island, which they called Swilly; it was covered with sea birds, particularly the gannet. As we drew near, each one on board was straining his eyes to behold new wonders on this strange land; some of the prisoners thought they were to be sent on shore, until convinced, that the ship was near 1000 miles from Port Jackson. Agreeably to promise, every man was now let out of irons, but carefully shut up at night, as usual, and only a certain number permitted upon deck, in their turn, in the course of the day.

Notwithstanding our ship was reckoned a dull sailer, we had come upwards of three degrees per day, upon an average, since leaving the Cape, being 128 degrees of longitude in thirty-three days.

In consequence of the wind, we could not come very near the shore the first day, but by the telescope we could see very tall trees rising upon the basis of the hills, and extending to the summits; some smoke was also observed in a small bay, which left no doubt of human beings inhabiting that neighbourhood. Many whales, seals, and porpoises shewed themselves in the course of the day; but the majority on board were too much occupied with the shore to notice them; only as I had stationed myself at the gallery window, I could not help looking at these marine inhabitants sporting in their own element.

During the night we had squally and unsettled weather, which continued for some time, and deprived us for six days of again seeing the land.  When in the latitude of 40 degrees south, on account of the great and rough sea which came from the west, minutes were entered in the log-book, recording that it was thought some strait opened in that direction. [This is ascertained to be the case; and Van Dieman’s land to constitute a separate island—See Capt. Flinders’ Voyage, and other surveys—editor of the Asiatic Journal.] 

On the 10th land was seen to the west, but at too great a distance to make any observations; but during the night several fires were observed, apparently very near the beach, and next day were were gratified by sailing very near the shore, between Wilson’s Promontory and Cape How, where every part, as well hill as valley, appeared in verdure, with lofty trees interspersed, and as regular did these appear in some places, as if they had been planted by the hand of man. All the telescopes were in requisition, and a good look-out kept, to discover if any natives were visible, but none could be seen; neither any smoke this day. From the favourable state of the wind, it was expected we should reach our port of destination in a few days. 

That every thing might be settled with the prisoners, prior to their disembarking, on the 11th they were called, one by one, to know how much money they had given to the chief mate, when their clothing was changed, in Ireland. Some little advances had been made to them while at the Cape, for fruit &c. All was right in their money account, and each man furnished with the amount he should receive when he quitted the ship.  There were about thirty of these poor men who could not speak English.

On the 14th, we passed a high promontory, which is called Cape Dromedary, from its resemblance to that animal when viewed in a particular direction. All the hills, as far as the eye could reach, were covered with trees; some parts of the shore, next the sea, were bold and rocky, but no apparent danger for a ship, unless very near the land. At night fires were frequently seen near the sea, and smoke in the day, but no natives could be distinguished.

On the 15th, in the evening, we saw Cape Banks and Point Solander, which is very near the entrance of Botany Bay, which place Captain Cook first visited, and spoke so favourably of for a settlement; but it was found not to answer, for when Governor Phillip first came to form a colony (which is just twelve years ago) he found Port Jackson a much better seat for one in all respects.  Some of the men were much surprised that we did not put into Botany Bay, as they had understood they were to be landed there, until convinced to the contrary.

All was anxiety in the evening of the 16th, and every thing prepared to enter the harbour. About twelve at night the ship was off the north and south heads, which form the entrance of the of the port, where we lay-to until morning. At length daylight appeared, and the wind being fair, we boldly entered the harbour; the captain being a good pilot, needed no other guide; in less than a quarter of an hour after, the ship (to use the sea-phrase) was completely land-locked. We passed a dangerous rock (mid channel) called the Sow and Pigs; and saw a fine looking house, on our left, belonging to a Mr. Palmer, with several detached buildings, which gave it the appearance of an English farm. We also passed Garden Island, on the left, which had a fertile, luxuriant appearance, with a respectable looking house upon it. As we approached, we passed a barren rock, on the right, which is named Pinch-Gut island. This is small, and the most barren spot we had seen; it had a gibbet upon it, where a culprit had been executed for murder.

The surrounding country afforded a pleasant range of scenery, being diversified with hill and dale, with many inlets, forming little covers or bays.  As we passed up towards Bennilong Point, the town of Sidney burst upon our sight. The ship anchored in the cove, about seven in the morning, and saluted the Governor with nine guns, which was the first intimation the settlement had of our arrival. Where we anchored, the distance of the shore on either side did not exceed fifty yards, which made it appear as if we were in a dock.

The Governor’s house, on the left, towards the head of the cove, and the Lieutenant-governor’s house on the right, with the barracks, and many other detached buildings, made the town altogether surpass our expectations. We found lying at this place the ship Albion, Captain Bunker; the ship Walker, Captain Nicholl; the Betsey, Captain Clark, all South seamen. The latter ship had come in with a Spanish prize, which she had captured near Lima, in South America. The Minerva, who sailed with us from Cork, had left this place for India three days prior to our arrival. As soon as our ship was moored, the captain went on shore, to wait upon Governor Hunter, to whom he was known, from having been at this port as chief mate of the Marquis Cornwallis, in 1795. He also waited upon the Lieutenant-governor, Colonel Patterson.

The men could not be disembarked for three days, which time it would take to prepare accommodations for them: this was of little consequence, as they were healthy, and had plenty of water and provisions on board.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The loss of the replica Bounty



February 10, 2014
WASHINGTON – A captain’s “reckless decision to sail into the well-forecasted path of Hurricane Sandy” was the probable cause of the sinking of a ship off the North Carolina coast in October 2012, the National Transportation Safety Board said in a report released today. The captain and one crewmember died in the accident. Three other crewmembers were seriously injured.

On the evening of October 25, 2012, a day after a closely watched developing storm had reached hurricane strength, the 108-foot-long tall wooden ship, the Bounty, set sail from New London, Conn., for St. Petersburg, Fla., into the forecasted path of Superstorm Sandy. The 52-year-old vessel, a replica of the original 18th Century British Admiralty ship of the same name, was built for MGM Studios for the 1962 movie, “Mutiny on the Bounty.”

Prior to setting off from New London, some of the crewmembers had expressed their concerns to the captain that sailing into a severe storm could put all of them and the ship at risk. The captain assured the crew that the Bounty could handle the rough seas and that the voyage would be a success. Just a month earlier, in an interview with a Maine TV station, the captain said that the Bounty “chased hurricanes,” and by getting close to the eye of the storm, sailors could use hurricane winds to their advantage.

The 16-page report details how a mostly inexperienced crew – some injured from falls, others seasick and fatigued from the constant thrashing of 30-foot seas – struggled for many hours to keep the ships engines running and bilge pumps operating so the seawater filling the vessel would not overtake it.

In the early morning hours of October 29, 2012, about 110 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras, N.C., the Bounty heeled sharply to the starboard side after taking on more than 10 feet of water in the final hours of a three and a half day voyage that the NTSB said, “should never have been attempted.”

Despite hurricane winds gusting upwards of 100 mph, the U.S. Coast Guard was able to rescue all but two of the Bounty’s 16 crewmembers by hoisting them from the sea into three Jayhawk helicopters in the midst of the storm. The body of one crewmember was found, still in a protective immersion suit, about 10 hours after rescue operations had commenced. The captain was presumed lost at sea; his body was never recovered.

“Although this wooden ship was modeled after an 18th century vessel, the Captain had access to 21st century hurricane modeling tools that predicted the path and severity of Hurricane Sandy,” said NTSB Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman. “The Bounty’s crew was put into an extraordinarily hazardous situation through decisions that by any measure didn’t prioritize safety.”

Prior to setting to sea, the Bounty had been in a Maine shipyard for maintenance and repairs, most of which was accomplished by a crew with little experience in such specialized work. One of their tasks was to caulk and reseam a wooden hull, which had known areas of rot, with compounds supplied by the captain, including a silicone sealant marketed for household use.

The entity that owned and operated the ship, HMS Bounty Organization, LLC, did nothing to dissuade the captain from sailing into known severe weather conditions. The NTSB said that such a lack of effective safety oversight by the vessel organization contributed to the sinking.

The entire report is available at

Monday, February 10, 2014

Mrs. R. discusses navigation

The voyage of the convict transport Friendship from Capetown to the coast of New Holland, told from the point of view of the captain's wife

[December 26, 1799] On the second day, we spoke the Sir Edward Hughes, from Madras, having three other Indiamen in company; they had no news, but said they had met with very bad weather, off Lagullas Bank, for fourteen days past, and only made progress as the current impelled them against the wind. 

For five or six days after this, we experienced very bad weather ourselves, notwithstanding the wind was fair, and the ship running at the rate of from 140 to 150 miles in the 24 hours, with only the foresail set. Still we suffered; for during that time nothing could be cooked as the high sea came rolling in at both sides of the ship, constantly filling the decks with water; as for myself, if the best dressed victuals had been placed before me, I could not have looked at it, being sadly sea-sick the whole time. 

During the gale, the captain lost three fine horses, and a great quantity of other live stock; the only apprehensions they had, were of the helm-ropes breaking, but a kind Providence took care of us.

The late gales appeared to be the last blast of the old year; for the first day of 1800 was ushered in by fine settled weather; that the new years might be propitious to the poor prisoners, the captain ordered the fetters to be taken off an additional number of the best behaved amongst them, promising the rest, that if their conduct merited well, as soon as land was seen on the coast of New Holland, every prisoner should then be released from his irons, but that all depended upon a proper subordinate behaviour. Several of them had been relieved from the weight of fetters shortly after we left Ireland, and continued so all the voyage, having conducted themselves with every propriety. It was fortunate both for themselves and us, that there were amongst them men of education and sense; who doubtless contributed to restrain the others from evil and violence; one [Rev. James Dixon] was said to be a Roman-Catholic clergyman, and we trusted that his influence was beneficial.

After setting things a little to rights, from the derangement caused by the late gales; being at sea, one evening the captain said, he should next day have some of his stores up which the shipped waves had reached to dry. I seldom interfered or spoke on such a subject; but, in this instance, could not help observing, that if they intended drying any thing tomorrow, they would most likely be disappointed, for it would be wet, telling them I judged from my barometer, which was the little turtle, which had kept at the bottom of the tumbler all the evening. They laughed at my remarks; but so it turned out; as, for several days after, we had many squalls of wind and much rain. I was hence frequently asked about the weather, Whether it would be rain, or sunshine? This living barometer of mine did not always foretell the changes in the atmosphere exactly; but three times out of five it did so, when enquiry was made, but observing it: sometimes it happened never to be thought of, for days together; but it always had a few flies thrown in daily by one of the servants, for that was a kind of stock we had a most abundant supply of.

We were now in the neighborhood of the islands called Amsterdam and St. Paul; but as the weather was unsettled, with squalls and rain, it was judged proper to pass to the south of them. The gunner of our ship had been formerly in an Indiaman which called at these islands, where they found some men that had been left there by an American, to procure seal-skins. These men had been upon the islands five months, and had procured many skins; they had no desire to leave the place, saying they knew their own ship would call for them. In narrating their local adventures, they informed the Indiaman alluded to, that at first they had been much alarmed, supposing the place was haunted, hearing strange rumbling noises, but afterwards discovered it was occasioned by earthquakes, to which, from their frequency, they had become accustomed. There are upon Amsterdam hot springs, running into a pond, in which these men cooked the eggs of the wild sea birds which they caught. The Indiaman gave them two bags of biscuits, a little spirits, some shoes, and other little necessaries; these recluses appeared reconciled to their situation, and were left as they wished.

Having still strong winds from the western quarter, the ship went on at a great rate each day, until we drew near Van Dieman’s Land; but it so happened that the ship had gone upwards of 300 miles farther than the log measured, since leaving the Cape, which was found out by the moon’s distance from the sun and stars. This frequently caused altercations between the chief and second mates; the latter, who had been always employed in the West India trade, knew nothing of finding the ship’s place by observation, and always treated such science as erroneous. 

It happened one night, that the captain and chief mate got what they called good sights of the moon and some stars; and their first calculation was confirmed next day by observing the sun and moon’s distance, which enabled them to know the exact position of the ship: in consequence of which the chief mate, after dinner, asked the captain if they should prepare the anchors and cables, as it was expected the land would be seen next day. The captain answered yes; but the second mate was so positive that his own reckoning was right, that he offered to lay any wager that the ship was 400 miles farther from the land than they supposed. The captain had often, on the voyage, tried to persuade him to have confidence in the lunar observations, but to no purpose. The anchors were, however, got ready, and people looking out from the masts’ heads, before night, for the land; at the same time the ship was put under a reduced sail during the night.

After dark, we were surprised to see many luminous blazes or flashes in the water, a little under the surface, near the ship; it was not fish, for when the flash was emitted, it appeared stationary for a few seconds, and then disappeared. This was not confined to a single object, as at times eight or ten corruscations were seen in different directions at the same instant. As the substance causing these appearances was not seen, it cannot be farther described; they were termed in the logbook, Van Dieman’s Water Lanthorns, from our vicinity to the land of that name; for next morning, 23d February at daylight, it was descried, very much to the disappointment of Mr. Macdonald, who said, it must be some new discovery, and not New Hollands.  

However he afterwards was convinced; for the captain observed in a jocular manner, that if it was the southern extremity of New Holland, a ship would very soon be discovered; for the last time he passed this place one was stationary off the south cape; he had scarcely done speaking, when the men on the yards, letting reefs out of the sails, called out that they saw a ship on the bow. The captain replied, “Very well;” but told Mr. Muirhead, what was taken for a ship, was only a perpendicular rock, and had been called the Eddystone, by Captain Cook, from its likeness to the lighthouse of that name in the British Channel.