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Week 05 - the Cygnet sets sail

[ 20th of March 1836 to 26th of March 1836 ]
[ View related 'school content': Week 05: Ship Shape ]

After four weeks at sea the poor passengers on the John Pirie and the Duke of York had barely left sight of land. But the capricious spring weather had not finished with them yet, as both vessels continued to battle gale force winds and high seas. The animals on board the John Pirie suffered greatly, and many of the passengers were seasick. The Cygnet meanwhile was just getting underway. By 24 March both Captain Morgan and Captain Rolls of the Cygnet decided to seek the shelter of the land once more. The Cygnet slipped two anchors in its haste, meaning no doubt to retrieve them later. Captain Morgan put in at Torbay, where he ran out 40, then 20 more fathoms of anchor cable, in anticipation of even worse weather. Once again he made use of the enforced delay to go on shore and replenish supplies. The John Pirie was more exposed. About to enter the Atlantic Ocean and much further from the safety of the shore, it bore the full force of the weather.

Ship progress week 5.


Journals from passengers at sea:

Sunday 20 March 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

20th. Embarked in the Shadwell Basin. Left the Dock an hour before flood tide, went to Gravesend, towed by a steamer, arrived about 6 o’clock.

[ Read the full journal extract ]


Tuesday 22 March 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

_______    There has been a great deal of Rain, during the
Night, and 2 A,M, the Wind shifted round to the Northward
in a fine Breeze, but which only lasted untill Noon,
when it fell nearly a Calm, and at 4 PM, a steady
Breeze again sprang up from W,S,W, but a strong Sea,
still coming from N,W, causes the Vessel to labour very
much, and has prevented the Sheep getting any rest in
their Pen’s since Yestdy morng, besides making several
of the Passenger’s squeamish     _____________

[ Read the full journal extract ]


Thursday 24 March 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

24th. Left Gravesend at ½ past 12 o’clock, anchored near the Nore Light at 3. Strong gale from the West, Proceeded to the Downs, strong gale from the West, several vessels drove, wind moderating, up anchor at night and passing North Foreland, strong N.W. gale drove us to Margate roads, slipped 2 anchors and returned to the Downs.

[ Read the full journal extract ]


Thursday 24 March 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

___   There has been a tremendious high and cross Sea, all
Night, with heavy Squalls of Wind, from N,W, by N,
accompd by pelting showers of Hail, and Rain,  _______
All our live Stock seem very much distress’d, for
the want of rest, and one of the Rabbits brought forth
six young One’s, during the Night, all of which were
dead   _______

[ Read the full journal extract ]


Thursday 24 March 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

Rose today dull and heavy after a nights tossing on the
mighty deep the wind from the SWd with a heigh sea AM
saw the land on the weather bow standing in for the
same PM took a Pilot on board at 5 came to anchor
in Torbay 7¼ fathoms water gave the Ship 40 fathoms of
cable …

[ Read the full journal extract ]


Friday 25 March 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

After commending my all to God and his grace
went to my days duty the wind from the SWd blowing
fresh gave the ship 20 fathoms more cable went on shore
with Mr Stevens went to the agent ordered a few neces
arys for the ship and passengers visited a pious fisherman
wife in our socierty and pertook of the humble fare …
… God
only knows what is before us therefore I commit all
into his care and keeping

[ Read the full journal extract ]


A tremendous storm wreaks havoc with shipping all along the coast. Many vessels are wrecked. Will our three ships manage to ride out the storm and continue their journey? And what of the John Pirie just west of the Bay of Biscay? Read on next week to find out.

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