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Briefly about the shipboard discipline:

Ships were hierarchical. Captains had complete authority and officers looked down on their crews. Seafarers traditionally suffered from a bad reputation: they were seen as drunken, dishonest and lazy. Discipline was rough, verbal abuse and violence were common, and because they were trapped onboard seafarers were very vulnerable to bullying. Crew could be bashed by officers [...]

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Posts related to: shipboard discipline

Week 07 – aftermath of the storm

After six weeks of bad weather and no progress, all of the travelers were unhappy.  The passengers on the John Pirie were still suffering the after effects of the terrifying storm, (one left the ship at Dartmouth never to return,) while the captain and crew saw about extensive repairs to the ship. There was also general [...]

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Week 11 – ‘dangers stand thick all around’

1849 sketch of men bathing on deck.

At long last fair conditions prevail for the travelers and they make good progress.  But danger still stalks the Duke of York. Lucy Beare becomes dangerously ill and almost dies.  Reading between the lines, it seems likely that she gave birth to a child (family history says it was a daughter) who was still-born. Her health [...]

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Week 12 – Crossing the line

1849 sketch of a sailor trying to catch a porpoise while standing on the bowsprit of the ship

As the Duke of York nears the Equator the crew hopes to have a bit of fun. Crossing the Line ceremonies were common on sailing vessels and often involved ‘King Neptune’ coming on board to ‘baptise’ first timers.  Crew members and passengers might be ‘shaved’ with big mock razors and all by-standers were often doused with water. But [...]

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Week 13 – tensions reach breaking point

Sketch of the Cygnet at anchorage, Port Augusta, April 1833.

This week we catch up with the Cygnet as it approaches the Equator. A bout of bad weather has seen many of the passengers sick and conditions below deck are foul. Boyle Travers Finniss is impatient with what he sees as the ‘apathy’ of the passengers and decides on a thorough clean up, despite the reluctance [...]

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Week 14 – steady progress

Image of a ship's chronometer housed in its wooden box

All six ships are making steady progress, sailing south in the Atlantic. The weather is fine and conditions pleasant, but relations on board the John Pirie and the Cygnet are tense. On the John Pirie the and the ship’s carpenter come to blows over a seemingly trivial matter – the supply of nails, but it seems there is a [...]

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Week 19 – farewells and new beginnings

This week sees the unhappy passengers and crew of the Cygnet still anchored in Rio Harbour.  While Boyle Travers Finniss chafes under continuing delays, the crew mutinies, refusing all work.  Brazilian soldiers come to arrest four of the ringleaders, but the defiant crew insists on a mass arrest.  The captain seeks solace in drink. We finally [...]

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Week 25 – The demon drink

Scene: sailors skylarking

On land It is one week into the grand experiment of colonisation and things are not going well at Nepean Bay. Samuel Stephens and Captains Morgan and Ross have their hands full, with both the company men and the crews of both ships ‘very troublesome, impertinent, idle and dissatisfied’ in Stephens’ words. The unloading is [...]

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Week 26 – the expanding settlement

scene: kangaroo island

On Kangaroo Island The fledgling settlement on Kangaroo Island is now into its third week and it is not a happy place. Samuel Stephens and Captains Morgan and Ross are increasingly anxious about their failure to find an adequate supply of fresh water nearby. Both the Duke of York and the Lady Mary Pelham need to replenish [...]

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Week 27 – a scandal averted

lithograph of a wallaby

At Kangaroo Island Samuel Stephens is gradually settling into a routine, although his habit of rising well before 6 am in the middle of winter cannot endear him to his men. He sends the company stock off to good grazing land near the Salt Lagoon, and selects a portion of land for a more permanent [...]

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Week 28 – A wedding on the beach

Scene: burial at sea

On land Things are looking up at the tiny settlement of Kingscote.  We start the week with a wedding on board the John Pirie. Mary Ann Powell, who travelled as an emigrant in steerage with her two brothers and sister-in-law, marries one of the Pirie crew – William Staple, who intends to remain in South [...]

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Week 31 – Farewell to the Duke of York

In South Australia Sadly, we bid farewell to Captain Morgan and the sailors of the Duke of York this week, as they finally set sail for Hobart and the whaling grounds off Australia. After seven months of his company, it will seem strange to be without him.  His constant harping on religion may have got [...]

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Week 35 – feasting on fish

In South Australia After several days of bad weather, Colonel Light is finally able to send the Rapid off to Kangaroo Island on 16 October to fetch supplies and bring over the surveyors from the Cygnet. For the rest of the week he must await its return and he spends the time in completing his [...]

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