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Week 10 - fine weather and sea shanties

[ 24th of April 1836 to 30th of April 1836 ]
[ View related 'school content': Week 10 A Whale Of A Time ]

With good sailing conditions at last, both the Duke of York and the John Pirie were making good progress, both heading south off the coast of Africa.  By 30 April the Duke of York sighted the Island of Brava, the southernmost island in the Cape Verde group, off the coast of present day Senegal, while the John Pirie passed Madeira to the north. In the fine weather the passengers were finally able to air their bedding and clean out their quarters, to the relief of all concerned no doubt.  The sailors meanwhile went about their routine tasks – making ropes, harpoons for whaling and barrels.  Captain Morgan maintained his regime of Bible reading daily, but his sailors obviously enjoyed lighter entertainment, paining him by singing their ‘impious songs’ in the evening.  We will try to find some sea shanties – not too impious- to post on the site as examples.

Another of the nine ships, the Emma, was also on its way and Charles Hare, secretary to John Morphett, wrote a last farewell to George Fife Angas and took the opportunity to show what a good organiser he was!

image of an emigrant's trunk with leather straps and brass fittings


Journals from passengers at sea:

Sunday 24 April 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

We have had a remarkable clever Breeze, all last
Night, and to Day, from N,E, which has sent our
Vessel along at the Rate of 6, and 8 The speed of ship or wind in nautical miles per hour. A float is dropped overboard and the speed is indicated by the rate at which the ship sails away from it. Spacing of knots in the log-line connected to the float is in same proportion to a mile as the half-minute sandglass used is to an hour, thus the number knots counted off in the time is the speed in knots Knots an Hour  _____

[ Read the full journal extract ]


Sunday 24 April 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

Brig Emma off the Downs
Sunday Morning
April 24. 1836

My Dear Sir

I have an opportunity in the
To navigate difficult stretches of water, ships took pilots on board. Pilots were coastal navigators with knowledge of their local waters and they captained the ship through the channel or harbour. Pilot going ashore, of communicating with you once
more, ere we take our “long farewell” to you and home
We have had a more than ordinarily
smooth trip thus far, which I feel as a particular
blessing under our present circumstances so many of
our passengers never having seen the great waters before
myself as usual have been very sick, with nearly
all the other passengers, my wife excepted, I have
made arrangements with those men I thought most
appropriate to take care of the stock, those that
have been cramped I have had out of their various
domiciles, and given the range of the ships decks to
until they have recovered, I have made two of
the eldest and most steady responsible for the
general cleanliness of the The area of between-decks occupied by steerage passengers, that is, those travelling at the cheapest rate. Steerage , and 2 more
to keep an account of, and superintend the provisions
to observe that nothing is wasted and that all obtain
their due share, – The arrangements I have made
seems to have induced a considerable degree of comfort
and harmony, which it will be my constant object
to promote and continue, I am intending to day to
assemble all hands on the quarter deck and make use
of that Book of sermons Book of Homilies you so kindly presented me
with and add a little address to it. I am persuaded
from experience of the propriety of this measure if it
were only as a relief to the dull monotony of the six
days at sea. But I have a higher and better motive
I do not stoop to such low game I fly at a higher
quarry —

Adieu the To navigate difficult stretches of water, ships took pilots on board. Pilots were coastal navigators with knowledge of their local waters and they captained the ship through the channel or harbour. Pilot is waiting

and believe me Ever your obliged and humb

Servt

Chas S. Hare

G F Angas Esq

[ Read the full journal extract ]


Monday 25 April 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

All this 24 hours light winds from the NEd all sail
set steering A bearing half a point south of south-west. SW½S and SW by S employed Extracting threads from old rope and knotting them together for further use. drawing
and knoting yarns
 makeing Sennit (correct spelling) is a flattened form of rope made by plaiting three or more rope-yarns together. senet boat sails
and grinding harpoons the cooper makeing Coopered wooden tubs in which the whale line attached to a harpoon was coiled ready for use in the whaleboats. line
tubs
 PM Observed the angle between the sun and moon, which was known as a ‘lunar distance’. Taken at a time related to the midday as determined by the sun’s passing, the longitude could then be calculated and use of this method was indicated by the symbol ‘À and Å’. Obsd a distance  between À and Å which
gives our Longd 23.59 West Lattd 25.52 North

[ Read the full journal extract ]


Wednesday 27 April 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

The Weather has remain’d uncommonly fine since Sunday,
accompd with a smart Breeze from N,E, and at Day
light this Morng we could just discern the tops of
the high Lands, in the Island of Porto-Santo,
shortly after which, saw the Island of Madeira, and
before it was dark, passed through between them, keep-
ing Porto-Santo, with a few Islands called the
Desertas, on our The old term for the left hand side of a ship looking forward. The right hand side is starboard. To avoid mis-hearing an order, it is now referred to as ‘port’. larboard , and Madeira on the The starboard is the right side of a ship or a boat perceived by a person on board facing the bow (front).The left side was originally called ‘larboard’ but in the early nineteenth century that term was replaced by ‘port’ to avoid the crew mis-hearing an order. The change was made official in 1844. star-
board
 Side  _______  In the grey of the Eveng we got
sight of a Whale, about 3 Miles from us, it was spou-
-ting up Water to a great height in the Air  _______

[ Read the full journal extract ]


Saturday 30 April 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

This Morng all the Chests, Bedding, &c, belonging
to the Passenger’s, were got upon Deck to Air, and
in the mean time the The area of between-decks occupied by steerage passengers, that is, those travelling at the cheapest rate. Steerage was thoroughly cleansed,
as the Weather is now getting very warm  _______

[ Read the full journal extract ]


Saturday 30 April 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

This 24 hours gentle breeses from the eastward
plesent weather all sail set steering south
a strange sail in sight saw the Island of
Brava to The direction from which the wind blows. The other direction is termed ‘leeward’. windward the watch employed as need
full                                     Lattd 25.32 North

In the morning read the seacond chapt of
Leviticus … a few
attended and others was singing the songs of the
impious foreward

[ Read the full journal extract ]


Although the weather remains fine, all is not so well on board ship. Captain Morgan has more trouble with some crew members, while a young mother fights for her life in childbirth below.

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Emigrant's trunk, circa 1840s. History SA, Migration Museum collection.

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