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George Perry private log

on a barque from England to India and Ceylon

 Private log book of George Perry, carpenter

Voyage from Cardiff to Calcutta; 
Ceylon and back to London 
on board the barque Rockwood of Cardiff, May 1869


Foreword by John Barker May 2010

Landlubbers and seasoned mariners alike will relish this vivid account of a perilous voyage on a sailing ship from England to India and Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). Written by a young shipís carpenter it paints a graphic picture of the Spartan life aboard a vessel which is entirely at the mercy of the winds, and where scurvy and dysentery are but a few short steps away. The log was transcribed by Raymond Perry, the great, great grandchild of George and uncle of Judy Valentine who provided me with the typescript. I converted this using OCR and edited it with the help of Judy Valentine, with minimal correction to allow the quaintness and charm of his style to show through. The modern reader might be surprised, even shocked, at the lack of political correctness as young George grapples with the jabberings of the coolees and his inability to comprehend what they are talking about! Throughout the long voyage he is buoyed by his love for his darling Lizzie (those passages are highlighted) waiting patiently for him back home.

Introduction by Raymond Perry Nov 1988

George Perry, it can be assumed, was the youngest son of George James Perry (1812 - 1857) and Anna Maria Thomas (1813 - 1869). It seems from information in the log that they lived in Cardiff - in Oasis Street -now nonexistent. Again from information gleaned from the log George could not have been long out of his apprenticeship as a carpenter in the Cardiff docks, in those days (as with all shipyards up to the present day) after someone had finished their time, and full wages had to be paid, they were sacked. Unable to find work locally the choice was go to sea or immigrate to the Colonies, George choose to go to sea, although several of his mates choose to emigrate.

George James Perry and Anna Maria Thomas were my great, great grandparents, the log book ended up with my grandfatherís sister and when she died (at Porchester), there being no other family close, my father had to clear up the estate and so inherited the log. It has gone through many adventures in our family until (for the second time) I attempted to transcribe it. The ink was fading fast, and toward the end of the voyage our George watered down the ink to make it last. The last couple of pages were written at a much later date after leaving the vessel as the ink is still relatively easy to read and not faded like the rest of the log.

The log was, I believe, written for his mother, for after she died there is not nearly so much detail of the voyage and sights as before and it is a strictly personal view of things and statements of his feelings at the time. As an apprentice George would have had a great deal more education than normal in those times but I wish to make it clear the spelling in this copy of the log is his - letter for letter.

The Rookwood was on her maiden voyage, and it would be nice to speculate that George got his position as carpenter on her because he worked on her construction but unfortunately it is only speculation.

DAY ONE

May 12th, 1869.

I open my log book (as it is called) today, l intended to have done it before I left home, but as I had no time I was compelled to put it off; and since I have, been on board I have not been able to do any writing until now, and now I am doing it under difficulties. The vessel is rolling so heavily and I am writing this with my desk resting on my chest and sitting on another, so I find it not at all a pleasant position to write in, but I suppose I must do the same as I have been obliged to do when under different circumstances "make the best of it" I was signed at the shipping offices on May 1st, but my shipmates previous to that on Monday 26th April. Our vessel was not ready until Saturday May 8, we left at 5 in the morning. Mother, Sarah-Ann, Albert and James came down to see me off, they watched until our ship was out of sight, mother, I know felt it very much.

We got out alright; Mr Edwards & Mr Charles Hill came out with us & went away in the tug. Nothing of any consequence happened, that I know of, after we set sail I went about my duty. I managed to keep up pretty well that day but the next I felt sick but did not give up to it & it was all gone by Monday night. l spent my first Sunday at sea on May 9th, I thought it and felt it very strange. We had no divine service on board but the Captain he gave every man a bible that had not one, also a tract, which I thought a very good token in the man.

Nothing of any consequence occurred on Monday or Tuesday.

This morning May 12th we sighted a vessel & have kept side by side all day, but not within hailing distance. The master trailed the log just now & she is going about I0 knots and half. I tried the pumps and she has made one inch of water since last night & she has 6 inches now. The ship is rolling very heavy & the sea breaking over our decks very badly, so this finishes my entry for tonight.

May 16th Whit Sunday.

This is my second Sunday at sea, l am beginning to be a little more settled now, more at home. I am very comfortable here, could not be more so under the circumstances. l have no one to interfere with me other than the Captain since he does not much so l find that if I keep in with him I shall be all right, and I think that I can manage that part of the business very well, at any rate I intend to try. I like him very well so far. l was saying that this is our second Sunday at sea, the Captain gave us our tracts just now. l think he intends giving us one every Sunday and we to return the old ones. On Friday we spoke to a smaller vessel from "Lannelly"; on the same evening we sighted a large steamer bound from the Cape of Good Hope, she had a lot of passengers on board. We were in Lat 37 N. l have several times this morning thought of those at home. How are they getting on? I wonder how mother is getting on, if she only knew how comfortable I am she would not fancy me in much danger, no more am I. I feel as safe here as if I were on shore. I feel mother is fretting and grieving and imagining me going down or clinging to a wreck or out at sea in an open boat or something of that sort, anything or everything but the right thing. . I hope Sarah-Ann has come to live with her and then I wonít fear, but she will get along very well, for I am sure she will find it hard to rub along by herself. The principle thing that grieves me is that they will have no letter for such a long time.

Then there is poor Lizzie! I wonder how she feels about it? Poor girl! I hope she wonít let her mind run on it at all. I was reading that very nice book she sent me "Kind Words awaken Kind Echoes". I was reading it until nearly 11 oíclock, after the 2nd Mate and boys were turned in (a sea term for going to bed), itís a very nice book, it has awaked many thoughts in my mind, Well, I thought & so did she, think that I should be spending this day with her at Hoghton, (some time ago) but I am spending it at sea instead, Ah! Well! if I am spared to reach home again, a short time spent then will atone for it all.

May 23rd.

This is our 3rd Sunday at sea. On Monday we sighted land, it was some islands belonging to the "Madarias" called the "Desartars". On Wednesday we sighted one of the Canary islands called Palma.

We caught the N. E. Trades about last Tuesday so we have been going along very nicely ever since. A nice fair wind at the rate of 8 or 10 knots, sometimes more. Oh itís beautiful sailing along like this. The nights are splendid, I could stay up all night almost, looking at the water, the moon the sky overhead, the ship gliding along, the reflection of the moon on the sparkling calm waters etc. etc. Oh itís delightful. Itís getting warmer & warmer every day, we were put on our allowance of water last week 3 quarts per day.

[written across the last entry "Lizzies birthday this week the 26th. ]

Sunday May 30th

Another week has passed away so I am spending another Sunday at sea. I should hardly know how the time goes if it were not for our "sailors Almanac". Itís a very novel contrivance, but it tells us how the time goes nicely, so by looking at our almanac I see we have been 22 days at sea. We have to be a great many more yet. About next Monday we shall be crossing the line Yesterday we were in about Lat 8 N so we shall soon be on the line, then we have to go into about Lat 38 S. that will be in rounding the Cape, then we shall cross the line a second time and go into (Lat 22 N) before we shall get into Calcutta, so we have only just commenced our passage. All I hope is that we shall have a pleasant voyage (& prosperous) and arrive there safe. We are still having some very pleasant weather, going along in the North East Trade Winds but it is very hot, we shall hardly find it much hotter than it is now. We have had vessels in sight all the week at different times, sometimes 4 at once there seems to be plenty of vessels running down these Trade Winds. Only one we spoke to, a small one called the "Young Jessica" from River Plate. We have caught a number of flying fish, they pitch on deck & the crew catch them. I have preserved two pair of wings as well as I could. I am still very comfortable on board here. The Captain has not spoken a cross word to me yet, neither do I want him to, if he did I should feel it, I know for I am rather sensitive {at any rate I think so). I try my utmost to do my duty and to keep him from finding fault and I have, I believe, given him through satisfaction, so I care for nobody else on board, and I have the satisfaction in my own mind of having done my duty(so . I donít trouble) and I can do no more.

Oh, how much I miss being at home on the Sunday, No divine service. No putting on my best clothes and going to Chapel or school, I miss it greatly and I know mother is often thinking of me and looking up at my accustomed place at "Charles" Chapel on the Sunday & find it vacant & then picture me perhaps far, far away, up on the troubled sea then?? Mother is not the only one that is (in her mind) following every mile of my trackless path. My chief desire is that I may be spared, that I may be able to repay for those hours spent in anxiety. I have resolved to remain to my total abstinence pledge all the time that I am from home. I have not touched any intoxicating drink these (I think) 8 years, only (I it will be hard, very hard. If I cannot refrain from breaking my pledge while away from home I shall be exposed to temptations I know, but I have confidence enough to think that I shall return home (if my life is spared) without having polluted my lips with any of those dangerous liquours, for I am conscious that there is a great danger in cups and by keeping from it I shall escape many dangers. We are in (lat 6-22" N)

June 6th

Sunday has come round once more and I am very glad of it. Since my last entry something has happened that has thrown cloud, a very dark cloud over us entirely. We have had a very narrow escape of our lives & of our ships, As it was we lost two of our hands, both of them my messmates, the cook and Thomas Stevens, one of the apprentices. It happened on monday May 3Ist, on the morning past it was rather squally but it cleared away toward the evening & there was a nice light breeze going, the sea was rather high at the time. The cook and the steward were below talking, it was a 4 after 8 oíclock at night and very dark, not a star to be seen, no moon, or any light what-ever. Tom had come down with us, and had gone up about 2 minutes when we heard one of the crew call out "Thereís a vessel coming down on us on the port bow sir". Then one heard running & tramping along the deck, and our Captain calling out "Hard a Lee" "Hard a Lee" "On board the Barque"; by that time we were on deck (I followed the cook up the ladder & I saw him about three minutes after, standing on the gangway already to jump into the boat & that was the last I saw of him). Well, when I got up on deck, I saw through the dark was a vessel coming right into us on the port side. I had not been up many seconds before I heard a crash, that was our topmast & boom carried away. Alas the vesselís jib boom, the end of it gone through our main rail, she came on, her cutwater coming in contact with our bulwarks & sails just the fore side of the poop & carried them away. Then a very heavy swell lifted our vessel (or rather) lifted her up & in coming down she made a chop fair into us carrying everything before it just the aft side of our mizzen rigging. Then her bowsprit bought up against our mizzen mast and carried it (her) bowsprit away & she left a lot of her head sails & rigging on board of us. When she chop't into us our vessel gave a very heavy lurch & we thought we were filling and going down. Our Captain called out to the Barque to get out her boats to pick us up & our men at the same time commenced getting ours out of the grips, the nearest on the starboard side, so they turned her right side up ready for launching. Just as they were putting her over they called out "Carpenter sound the pumps! Sound the pumps" which I proceeded to do as quickly as possible. I tried the pumps and found 6 inches of water in them. I had tried about half an hour before that and there was only 4⅟₂ in them & I said "Rig the pumps" " Sheís making water I believe". What my feelings were at that moment I wonít attempt to describe, they can be better imagined. Directly as I went to get the sounding rod at the cry of "Sound the pumps" they pushed the gig over the side, and, as they pushed it in the cook jumped in, so did Tom and one of the sailors, the boat no sooner touched the water than she capsized. The poor cook was seen going astern and one of the crew (Perks) threw a life buoy to him, right by his side but whether he got it or not we cannot tell, the Captain threw a rope to the sailor & he was drawn on deck, Tom was seen nothing of after, they supposed he was stunned when the boat turned over & he went down never to rise again. [Written across the page: When I passed by after getting my sounding rod, I saw Tom standing on the rail behind the cook, ready to jump in, which he must have done, the cook first & Tom after. ]

The boat was seen going astern, bottom up & the last they saw on board of the poor cook was in the water crying "Pick me up" "pick me up" "For Godís sake" "Pick me up", but the poor fellow was not picked up by us, or, by anyone else we donít think. There was no help for it, we were expecting to go down every minute. - Well! after I had tried the pumps a few times, I was convinced that there was no immediate danger, if she was making water it was very slowly. When I found that my spirits went up considerably. I wonít attempt to say how many degrees, at any rate I began to breath a little freer. [Written across the corner of the page: And I felt very thankful to Almighty God for such a providential escape.]

Then we set about seeing what damage was done, we got a lantern & examined the side and we found it to be all above water. (We being very deep at the time & the other very light) (in ballast I think). . Then we commenced to putting ourselves to rights a little, as well as the darkness would allow. Then we hung on until daylight. In the morning we could see just how we stood, and, as fortune had it all our damage was done above water. I tried the pumps for about 2 hours after but there was no increase of water. The ship rolling about very heavy at the time was cause of the apparent increase of water. Our mizzen Topmast was broken off short. Well! in the morning we tried to find to find out what this vessel was, we hailed her several times but could get no answer. She was some foreign vessel we believe, they could not, or would not answer us, or speak English. The Captain thought it was a Frenchman, but whether it was or not we cannot say. We took our ship right under her stern to see her name, but there was none there. Then our Captain hailed and asked if she wanted any assistance but all we could get out of her was something that sounded like, to me, "Vait vous say""Vait vous sai"and that was all the sense we could make of it. Our Captain said he could see no use our staying longer, so we trimmed sails & went on our way.

She was disabled far worse than ourselves, her bow sprit, cut water, head sail and I donít know what else. Some of our crew said that her fore yard was broken off, she would be obliged to put into the nearest port for repairs, so I consider we came off very fortunate indeed. Some of our men saw sharks about at the time, so I am afraid if either of the poor fellows succeeded in clinging to the boat, or lifebuoy, they would not, or could not stop there long-----------

I have suffered considerable in my mind about those two poor fellows coming, as they did, to such an untimely end - Tom often spoke of how he intended to enjoy himself at Calcutta & how he would act when he got home. So did the poor cook, of what he intended to buy, to bring home with him - alas - those prospects were frustrated, divine providence had disined differently

I cannot help but feel for poor Tom's Father & Mother & sisters, his father and sisters saw him off. They asked me to use all the influence I could in his favour, and take care of him as much as possible, which I promised to do to my utmost, which promise I kept as far as I could & would have done more had he been spared us. The last I saw of his friends were his poor sisters crying on the Pier head as we left the docks - what will there feelings be, now when they find out that there son and brother is -"no more". I have tried to imagine all my friends in a like position on my account "Thank God it is not so!" and I trust it never may. We were at the time in (Iat 5 N Long 28 W)

Sunday 13th

We are a little more settled now to what we were last week. I have made another Topmast & sent it up & I am now doing something to the smash on the side. The Captain wants me to do it up so as to be able to go home & have it thoroughly repaired there, as I cannot do nothing ďstationary" until the iron work is repaired.

We have had a calm for about a day and ⅟₂ this week, and we spoke to a Liverpool Packet bound for Rio. We were out yesterday 36 days. We have been very close to the Brazilian coast this two or three days past, almost within sight of it, we are getting more to the S. W. now. (Iat I6į - 28" S)

June 20th

Have been going along very well this last week, sometimes with light winds so the rate of 3, 4, 5, knots per hour, and with the stronger winds at 9, 10. Our vessel does not go very well with light winds almost everything passes us. But on the whole we have done better than many others. On Wednesday we spoke a barque belonging to some part of Scotland, bound for Buenus--Ayrus, 64 days from London, while we were 38 or 40. This morning we spoke a ship the "Eniding Star" from London to Adelade, she told us she had spoke a ship from Cardiff (a little to windward) that was 64 days out, so we were not the worse.

We get some splendid star light nights now, we have lost sight of the North Star and the "Big Bear" and several of the northern constellations, they are gone down in the horizon. We have now the Southern Cross and several others which look splendid at night. I enjoy these clear moon light evenings very much. (Lat 28 S)(Long. 30 West. )

June 27th

We are now what the sailors call rounding the cape, and we are having some very rough weather, and expect to have until we are well round the other side, as it is always rough here, and we are getting it more so because it is the middle of winter here. We began to feel it first about Friday morning and since then we have had it pretty stiff. We were under close reef topsail & reef mainsail until the morning part of Saturday, and last night we have had it more than we have at it at all. The seas running very high and breaking over us, very bad. Sometimes forward, sometimes a midships & sometimes aft, rolling fearfully. I was on deck most of the first watch and when I came below I could not sleep until a little in the morning. It is not quite so bad now.

We are prepared for heavy weather, everything about the decks made secure, it seems we are to expect it by what those say that have been this way before. We are now close to the island of Tristin d'Conha. It is now 55 days since we left and we are to expect to be fifty more before we arrive at our destination.

There are plenty of Cape pigeons about here, they are very pretty birds, and a lot of cape hens as well. There are also a great number of Albatross about here, they are fine large birds from 8, I2-I4 feet across the wings, some are much more. They are very powerful and dangerous. They are very powerful in there beak, if they see anything in the water they dart down upon it with great force, to the destruction of whatever it may happen to be. It would be a sorry thing for any of us to fall overboard if any of them were near.

I have heard of a man falling overboard & before they could reach him with the boat, one of these birds had darted down upon him & split his head in two pieces, of course killing him instantly. They have a very strange cry, it very much resembles the call of sheep. (Lat 33 S) (Long. I7 W)

July 4th

We are still making our way round the Cape of Good Hope. We have not had the weather we expected yet. What we have had has been very good considering the time & place. We passed the Greenwich meridian on Thursday Night.

I fancy myself, that time rolls away very rapidly at sea, the week has gone (to my fancy) before it has well begun. Perhaps that is accounted for by my having plenty to do to occupy my thoughts, but a sea life must be very monotonous when persons have nothing to do, if they look over the vessels side there is nothing to be seen but the great expanse of water. If they look up there is nothing to be seen but the clear sky. So there they are, the sky overhead and the vessel beneath their foot, the same for weeks, the same for months, morning and evening, day after day & week after week, no change for them at all excepting that occasionally they may see a passing vessel or a shoal of fish; but a long voyage must be very tiresome indeed to a person that has nothing to occupy himself with. I donít find it so for the reason that I have plenty to do.

I should like very much if it were possible to spend my Sunday in a better manner than writing, but Sunday is the only day that I have through the week that I have any time, and on that day I have a little quiet & I find the day hangs very heavy on my hands by having nothing to do.

I sincerely hope when we get into harbour to be able to go on shore to Chapel on the Sabeth, which I am sure I shall hail with great delight after being confined on board so many Sundays.

There is not much fear of me that I shall "ever forget the dear ones within that house at home". I think of them too often, there is hardly a night passes but that I am thinking of them. Almost every night when I lay down on my narrow bed but I find my thoughts far, far away. Sometimes at Cardiff with mother, Sarah-Ann and all the rest of the good folks there. Then again I find them there away into the country to a neat little house a few miles from Preston at Haughton with poor little Lizzie. I hope they are all happy and comfortable. The only thing that grieves me more is that they cannot hear how I am, or where I am, they will be half dead with anxiety by the time they get a letter. However there is no help for it, we shall not be able to send until we get to Calcutta. Blow , blow good winds & drive us safe into harbour. We are in about (Lat 37 South, Long 8 East)

July 11th

We have succeeded in rounding the Cape and are now a long way to the eastward of it. We had some very severe weather this last week. On Thursday it came on to blow about 11 oíclock AM and continued to Friday, a heavy gale of wind, the sea breaking over us in a fearful manner. Walking the decks was entirely out of the question, the water sometimes 2 or 3 feet deep on them. Our vessel would have stood it much better if we had not been loaded so deep. We are so deep the vessel is just like a log on the water. The Captain called her a "Half tied Rook", by the way she has served us these last few days he could hardly have found a better name, for instead of rising and falling with the swell as is usual with vessels, ours lays and the sea dashes against her side and breaks right over our decks & washes us right fore and aft, and there has been a fearful running this last few days. The ship is rolling now (though it has gone done a great deal) itís as much as I can do to sit upright and write this properly - just as I had finished the last word of the fore going a heavy sea came over that rose places in our side i.e. (the places where the other vessel run into us) and came down our scuttle hatch to where I am writing. It made me jump up ďdouble quick time", I managed to prevent my desk from being wetted and that was all. It nearly set all our chests afloat, so I have had to stop in the midst of my writing to "dry up" (which is a very frequent occurrence) which myself and the second mate have just finished doing. So that is just a specimen of how we are served in this "half tied Rook".

I donít care how soon we get into a little warmer weather, then it wonít be quite so rough as we shall get lighter winds and finer weather as we get nearer the line. We are 64 days out today---≠ Lat. 36 S, Long 36 E.

July 18th

Another week has passed away, another blessed Sabbath has come round, another day of rest. We are still in cold weather, we have been going to the eastward all the week. We are now not far from the two islands of Paul and Amsterdam. We shall, I believe, run to the eastward of them (they are in Lat 37-52S Long.77-I5East) then we shall steer in a Northern direction so as to catch the S. E. "trade winds". 'That is the object, I believe, of the Captain taking the ship so far to the eastwards. [Written across the page: we went within fifty miles of St Paul]

However itís fearfully cold and I donít care how soon we get away to the northward again. We had some very heavy weather the first two or three days of this week. Sometimes I was no sooner on deck than I was like a Ďdrowned rat'. On two occasions especially this last week I came on deck nice & dry and no sooner had I done so than I was, as I said, like a drowned rat, a heavy sea came over & I was up to my neck in water, and to make it worse the Captain was on the poop on one occasion laughing at a fine rate, and quite delighted (apparently) to see me cutting such a figure and capers in the water, and I feeling anything but comfortable.

I was telling the mate, just now, that I thought this to be a very accommodating vessel, as regards bathing accommodation, for if we wanted a good shower bath we had only to (stand) under the weather sail for a few minutes. If we wanted a swimming bath we had only to get into the lee scuppers and we may have it there to our heartís content.

Itís coming over our side now by wholesale. We had a fine large whale close under our stern yesterday.

I have this morning been reading that nice book of Lizzies, the one she sent me, I have just finished reading it through. Itís a capital thing, I like it very much indeed, perhaps more so because she sent it. I wish I had a few more of her choosing to read, however I feel exceeding obliged for these she sent. But the utmost extent of my obligation I hope to be able to express (if itís possible to find words to do so) in her hearing bye & bye, if I am spared to reach home again. (Lat. 37-40. Long 69)

July 25th

Another week has passed already and great changes occur during a week sometimes. At any rate we have gone, or rather the climate has undergone a considerable change this last week. We have left the cold weather behind us. We have been steering due North nearly all the past week so the weather is much warmer, which I am very thankful for, for if we get wet now (which is often the case) we shall not feel it so much. We are up nearly abreast of Madagascar now, only a long way to the eastward of it. We are now in (Lat 29-50 S Long 84 E) so we shall soon have to take off our heavy clothing and put on our light. We caught the S.E. Trade winds last night so we shall go on nicely now. These last few days we have been going along very comfortable, itís quite a treat to what we have had lately. The ship going along so steady and the sun shining so nice and warm, it is quite a pleasure to be on deck at work.

We had some fearful knocks, kicks and thumps lately, the effect of them is to be seen in all directions. The sea has taken some of our bulwarks away amidships, some carving from the stern, knocked the long boat out of its place, chocks and all together, knocked in the galley door and lots of other sundry damage, almost too numerous to mention.

The "Big sea water" has been giving plenty of work to poor "chips" if it has not to anyone else. That poor fellow that answers to the names of Carpenter, chips, chippy (as those are the names that I am obliged to answer too at different times, of course I answer to them, as it makes but little difference to me what I am called, as it wonít alter in the least, that I know of-as I don't mind what they call me)

Well! that poor fellow that answers to those names generally gets plenty to do upon occasions like the present, but this time "old Davy Jones" has given him an extra quantity----

How the time rolls along! its suprizing to me, here we are 78 days out today, 77 days yesterday morning since we left the pier head of Cardiff & I left mother, Sarah-Ann, Albert and James standing there watching me till we were out of sight -- there was someone else I should have liked to have seen standing there with them and have been able to have said "Good Bye" too, but it was not so. Neither was it possible for it to be so -- perhaps it was best she was not there 'íPoor Dear Girl' she would have liked to have seen me go out. But here we are 78 days from Cardiff away out in the middle of the Indian Ocean in an iron Barque & going further & further from home and no opportunity of sending news there. Thatís the worse, here we are, I say, with no chance of sending letters or any means of letting my dearest earthly friends know whether I am alive or dead. I thought when I left that perhaps we might have been able to have sent home long before this, by a homeward bound vessel, or perhaps have put into the Cape of Good Hope, or something of that sort, but "no"!

I hope we shall soon get into harbour, we shall arrive (I think) at our passages end in less than a month now. We are going along now at the rate of 8 and 9 miles per hour and we are in the S.E. trades, and these are the winds that will take us to the line and are always blowing in one direction and when we get there we shall have only about I, 600 miles further to run and I think the Rookwood will soon get over that trifle! It is only a trifle compared with the distance we have already come. After we get to the line, in one or two degrees North we shall catch what is called the "Monsoons" which are always blowing (the north side of the equator) through the India and China seas. They blow six months in one direction and six months in another. They blow from the South-East from April to September & from September to April they blow in a directly opposite direction, N-E. So now directly we cross the line we shall catch the South-East monsoons as that is the direction they are blowing at present.

August 1st

Another month has commenced. Today we are still going towards the equator. We have been going capital this last week, as will be seen by comparing our position with that of last week for we are now only about 6 degrees from the line, when on last Sunday we were 29deg 50min, so that is very good work. On last Tuesday we were in Lat 24-6; on Wednesday 20-10; on Thursday I6-I8; Friday 12≠ 5; on Saturday 9-25. So we have been going sometimes 240 miles in the 24 hours averaging 10 knots an hour. She has been going 11 at times, the trade winds are very strong, we are going 9-10 knots now.

As we near the equator we see plenty of flying fish again. Last night, about six oíclock there was a shoal of 'Bonita' went by chasing the flying fish, so a whole lot of little customers found their way on board, some in one place & some in another, so I had the pleasure of having some nice fish for breakfast, without much trouble -- any more than picking them up from the deck & getting them cooked. They are a very nice eating fish.

The poor flying fish are a prey to lots of the larger fish, the Dolphins, the Bonita and several others, so the poor winged fish have plenty of enemies. They fly for 30 or 40 yards sometimes, then as soon as their wings are dry, they are obliged to drop into the water. I saw last night the bonita jump at least 6 feet after them, as they were close to the ship.

We shall soon be in the for famed Ganges river (or rather a branch of it called the Houghly) (on which Calcutta is built). By about this day fortnight if all goes well we shall be there. Its nearly I80 miles up it, which distance we shall be towed, and there will be some grand sights going up no doubt; but the grandest sight to me will be the sight of some letters from home, which I shall get, very likely, soon after we enter the river.

Our Chief Mate (Mr Morgan, a native of Cardiff) has been out here several times, he was living on shore here for 2 years in the European Police (mounted) Forces, at the time of the Indian Revolt, so I have heard a great deal of the manners and customs of the Bengalees, also a great deal of what the place is like, so I donít feel quite so much a stranger as though I knew nothing at all of the places. There are several also on board that has been there besides him, my messmate the 2nd Mate has been there and several of the hands forward. The Captain has not I believe, he has been to Bombay the last voyage he made was there I believe.

The equator is a great place for plenty of rain, it pours down for days sometimes & when it does come down it comes down in torrents generally. Let a person wear what clothes he will (with the exception of oil skins) he will get wet through in a few minutes, so that oil skins or water proof clothes are the best for wear in rainy weather in this part of the world. We have two large casks which we fill with rain water for washing & the rain is so plentiful we generally manage to keep them full, so we are rarely short of fresh water for washing.

Our lime juice was increased (the quantity doubled) yesterday and the Captain is very particular as the wether drink it or not, we drink it as a preventative for scurvy, which we are liable to have through being so long on salt provisions.

Sunday 8th

I sincerely hope this will be our last Sunday at sea (for this trip) we have been at sea too long altogether to please me (at one time). Now it is the 92nd day since we left Cardiff and 75th day since we sighted land. Itís too long altogether at once, itís a much longer voyage than it is going to Melbourne or Sydney.

We are now, I believe, passed the Island of Spices (Ceylon). Itís a very large island, it occupies nearly 5 deg. of lat. We were a little over 90 miles from it in passing, so we did not see it.

So we are well into the Bay of Bengal and have been going along very nicely until this last day or two. The winds at present are very light and less unsettled.

We caught the S.W monsoons, last week we had them heavy for a time, going 8 & 9 knots. It seems the monsoons become unsettled about six weeks or two months before they entirely change and commence blowing in an opposite direction and, as they change in September I suppose we are just into it now, just as they become unsettled previous to their final change. We have not been going more than 2-2⅟₂ - 3 these last few days, it would be a sorry job for us to get becalmed now after getting so close. I donít want to see that at any price.

I am too anxious to get in, I am sickened with the time we've been at sea. There is no one on board more anxious than I to get into harbour. I want to get in to get some & send some letters -- away over these months! I consider it to be no foolish time, and we are beginning to suffer from the effect of too much salt provisions & from the intense heat. I have nearly all over me a kind of rash caused by the salt provisions, or the heat. Blow, Blow, ye winds and breezes from among the leaves and trees and let us get upon "Terra Firma" once more.

The sun is fearfully hot & itís quite probable we shall find it much hotter when we get into harbour for there we shall have no cool sea breezes to fan our burning cheeks.

Itís very curious weather about here in the bay, it is very squally at times they come on so fast there is hardly 5 minutes between them. At one time the sun shines so hot and every thing dried and parched up, and scarcely a breath of wind, then perhaps will come a squall that will last perhaps 10 minutes or a ⅟₂ and blow terrific, which obliges us to take in our top gallant and royal sails, to prevent the masts and yards from being broken off with the strain on them so strong is the force of wind in a few minutes. We can always see them before they come, so gaining us time to get ready for them, and with these squalls come generally plenty of rain so that everything is drenched in a very few minutes, then when it is passed the heat becomes intense again & every thing is dried up as before. I have stood out in one of them often to become wet through on purpose to give myself a good cooling, and sometimes it rains for days together without any wind at all. Its very curious weather about here, very strange indeed.

One day last week we past an homeward bound vessel, the first we had the pleasure of seeing. She was bound for London or Liverpool, we looked at her with feelings of great interest, the "Yoatories" of London, she was 42 days from Madras, she had been all that time coming about I5 deg. while we, during the first part of our voyage went nearly 90 in the same time, but then she had, had the wind and current against her.

We crossed the line last week and, it just made us between the crossing and recrossing 2 months & 1 day exactly. We recrossed it in (Iong83-24) we have past Nicobar Islands but did not see them.

Wednesday 11th

We are going along much the same 4 - 4⅟₂ -5 knots, the wind continues very light, I hardly think that we will get to our journeys end this week. Itís possible we might sight the mouth of the river Houghley on Saturday night. We are now about (lat I4 N) we have passed Madras yesterday sometime, about 150 miles from it. There has been a country vessel (one belonging out here some were) sailing with us since Sunday, we canít tell what to make of her. She sigalized us on Sunday an asked us our Long., and then we asked her a question, she made answer "come up within hail" and declined answering any more signals. Then she made sail & went on ahead, she b


Linked toElizabeth Ann "Lizzie" Margerison; George James Perry; Maria Thomas

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