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Week 17 - wet weather and wild tempers

[ 12th of June 1836 to 18th of June 1836 ]
[ View related 'school content': Week 17: Blowing in the Wind ]

Both the Duke of York and the John Pirie are making good progress, as freshening winds drive the ships forward at speeds of between eight and nine 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 .  But the wintry conditions bring other discomforts.  On the Duke of York A squall is a sudden, sharp increase in wind speed. squally weather swamps the ship, wetting all the bedding and clothing in the deck cabins and spoiling some of the stored bread, while on the John Pirie the passengers continue to be fractious. Passengers Powell and Tindall come to blows and have to be separated by the crew.  The captain decides that fresh meat might restore tempers somewhat and orders a sow to be killed. A change of diet might also help poor Mrs Chandler, whose condition continues to worsen.  It is very difficult to be sure about the nature of her illness from the little information we have, but those on board are clearly beginning to hold grave fears for her recovery. They seem to confer together and decide to bleed her, taking a half pint (about 250 mls) of blood.  In the absence of a surgeon on board it is not clear either who performs this task, or what instruments are used, but bleeding people was a common response to severe illness at this time.  The theory was that bleeding removed some  of the ‘conjestion’ that accumulated in the blood, causing illness.

The Cygnet, meanwhile, is approaching Rio.

An image of the surgeon's kit used by Dr Everard on board the Africaine, 1836.

Surgical kit, 1836.


Journals from passengers at sea:

Sunday 12 June 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

This 24 hours the wind vearing from North to
west and and A squall is a sudden, sharp increase in wind speed. squally to a close Seafarers reduce sails in strong winds so that ships can move more safely and comfortably. Sails are made with rows of small ropes attached to them and these are tied around spars to reduce the amount of sail exposed to the wind. The amount of sail taken in by securing one set of ropes is called a reef. The action of reducing sails is called reefing and the knot that is used to tie the ropes is called a reef knot. In light winds all the reefs are taken out and the full size of the sail is exposed to draw full power from the wind. reeft top sail bree
se with heavy rain and thunder and lightning
we shiped quantitys of water on deck the hatches
perfectly batned down the ship makeing verry
little water          No Observation
In the morning read a portion of scripture
dureing the day employd secureing things abo
ut the decks our cabin on deck floating with
water our beds and most of our wareing apparel
wet…

[ Read the full journal extract ]


Monday 13 June 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

… _____    I am very sorry to say Mrs Chandler is again
very Ill, having violent pains in her Side, and Head,
accompd with a dreadful Cough

[ Read the full journal extract ]


Wednesday 15 June 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

15th. Saw Cape Frio bearing N.W. by distant 14 miles Wind from the S.W. hazy.
Difference of Longitude is the distance, measured in degrees, of the meridian on which a point lies to the meridian of Greenwich. On the other side of the earth to Greenwich is a point with a longitude of both 180 degrees east and 180 degrees west. Long. between Rio and Latitude is the distance of a point north or south of the equator as measured in degrees. The poles are at 90 degrees north and south. Lat. place where we Ships cannot sail directly into the wind but they can progress towards wind direction by sailing obliquely to it. To tack is to present the other side of the ship to the wind by sailing through it, taking advantage of forward momentum as well as an adjustment of sails. tacked 360 miles, Miles at sea are nautical miles, equal to 1.15 statute miles or 1.85 kilometres. The nautical mile is the length of a minute of latitude, or of longitude at the equator where the earth rotates at the rate of one nautical mile per minute of time. nautical .

[ Read the full journal extract ]


Wednesday 15 June 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

This 24 hours moderate breeses and cloudy but plesent
weather all possable sail set below and aloft
people employd variously Latitude is the distance of a point north or south of the equator as measured in degrees. The poles are at 90 degrees north and south. Lattd  Obsd 36.41 South
In the morning blessed God for a quiet night with
all other mercyes attending it to day beds blankets and
wareing apperil have bing dryed …

[ Read the full journal extract ]


Saturday 18 June 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

There has been a A gentle wind, which can be described fancifully as ‘clever’, ‘smart’, ‘fine’ or ‘fresh’. clever Breeze from the N,Westward
since Thursday, during all which time we have never
gone less than from 8, to 9, 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 , but this Eveng
the Wind has increased to a strong Gale, putting us under
Under suitably reduced sail in preparation for expected conditions, such as meeting a gale. snug Canvas ,   _________     Messrs Powell, and Tindall,
thought proper to have a few Blow’s, at each other Yestdy,
arising from an old Grudge between them, but they were
speedily separated, each having got a slight Wound, in
his Face   _________   This afternoon our Capt order’d
Powell, (who always stands Butcher) to kill the Sow, that
was purchased at Dartmouth, for the purpose of giving
all the People, a fresh A fresh serving of food. Mess , to-morrow   _______
Mrs Chandler still continues dangerously “Ill”, and this
Morng it was deem’d advisable to take half a Pint of
Blood from her   ________________

[ Read the full journal extract ]


Saturday 18 June 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

Most part of this 24 hours strong winds from the
south PM Where there is more than one line of reef points, a sail is double reefed when the second area of sail is gathered in. duble reeft the top sails and took in the
The mainsail is the lowest sail on the mainmast, as is the fore-sail on the foremast. main sail found that the water had got into one
of our An iron tank rather than a wooden cask used for carrying water or storing bread and other dry provisions. tanks of bread and spoiled abot 50 pound
no Observation
In the everning a few attended service … sung two
hymns for all this a few doese attend but I cannot
go for and aft the deck but I here the wicked letting
forth a flood of bad language

[ Read the full journal extract ]


Next week: Simmering tensions between the passengers, and between Kingston and Captain Lipson, come to a head over the decision to call at Rio.

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Image credit: Dr Everard's surgical kit used on board the Africaine, 1836. Courtesy RGSSA

Comments or Questions:

2 Responses to “Week 17 – wet weather and wild tempers”

  1. Dave June 21, 2011 at 1:06 pm #

    I’m not quite sure who I’d rather be aboard the good ship John Pirie; the hapless sow that met a quick end, or poor Mrs Chandler, who had to sacrifice a pint of blood?

    • Kristy June 21, 2011 at 1:10 pm #

      Dave,
      I know what you mean! And unfortunately it doesn’t get much easier for the animals or for Mrs Chandler.
      cheers, Kristy – History SA.

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