DIARYINTRO GLASGOWSPAINEQUATOR
GOOD HOPEURALLASYDNEYCAPE HORNLONDON

  

THE DERWENT DIARY - SPAIN to the EQUATOR

 

Jan 17th         Sat. Had to run due West out of our course because the wind was rather ahead of us. Sun shone beautifully all day.

 

Jan 18th         Sunday Had dinner in the saloon with the captain & officers. Beautiful day though rather wet early in the morning. Still running rather out of our course.

 

 Jan 19th          Monday Very fair wind Very wet all day. Running on our course. Nice & warm, though rough In the evening I was on watch under the poop-deck when a tremendous (wave) came aboard. I jumped on top of the meat locker but the sea swept clean over the top of the locker, half drowning and soaking me to the skin. I narrowly missed being swept off into 5 ft of water in the scuppers.

 

Jan 20th         Tuesday Sea rather rough but a splendid day; just like summer. Had a splendid breeze during the morning which died away towards the end of the afternoon. At 7 a.m. ran at 16 knots an hour.

 

Jan 20th        Tuesday Nothing particular to recount. Fair wind.

 

Jan 21st        Wednesday As I stood by the stern of the poop the sea was all phosphorescent. It was full of sparks and miniature flashes of lightning where the ship had disturbed the tranquillity of the ocean.

 

Jan 22nd        Thursday A most splendid summer day; the water being as calm as a mill pond. We went at scarcely 2 knots an hour there being hardly a breath of wind.

 

Jan 23rd         Friday Turned out my chest as it was a calm and beautiful day. Found every bit of linen at the bottom of my chest wet through. Took them out & hung them on the forecastle to dry. It was so hot that most of us middies changed our pitch suits for ducks and thin vests.

 

Jan 24th        Met a steamer within signalling distance and reported ourselves. She did not stop to take any letters or anything. Whilst having our dinner with the third mate I thought I heard the captain call out in an excited voice “Heave him a life buoy”. I said to Mr Houghton “I believe there is a man overboard”. All at once we heard such a rushing of feet on the poop-deck above us. We all rushed out of the saloon and found that a man had tumbled overboard whilst attempting to rescue a chicken which had flown overboard. He had been let down the ships side by means of a bowline and while attempting to grab hold of the chicken the line slipped from under him. The 1st mate instantly threw a life buoy to him attached to a line. Five or six men got into the port life boat in readiness to be lowered, but as we were going only 2 knots an hour it was not needed The fellow was hoisted in over the stern regularly drenched. He said he thought he was gone (as he could not swim a bit) when he saw the ship gradually drawing away.

 

Jan 25th        Sunday. We had Divine Service on board for the 1st time as the weather has not permitted it before The captain gave a very suitable discourse being all about naval affairs. Service was held on the quarter deck at ½ past 10 and was over at 11-20. We lost 5 chickens overboard.

 

Jan 26th        We had a race with a brig which was on our starboard bow and beat her all to smash.

 

Jan 27th        About 4 p.m. a squall arose and it was a regular tropical storm. Everyone on deck got wet through and half drowned in the lee scuppers by the heavy seas that we shipped. We were forced to be in it for an hour as it was “All hands ‘bout ship”, the wind being dead ahead of us. All day yesterday and today we holy stoned the poop-deck down, and had barely finished when the storm came on.

 

Jan 28th        Wednesday The wind was still very unfavourable, and the weather rather squally.

 

Jan 29th       Thursday At last we have got the breeze in the right direction About 9 a.m. a dead calm commenced & lasted the whole day. We saw a tremendous lot of nautili (Portuguese men of war) and with the aid of a bucket & rope we managed to catch a good many. They sting most awfully if you touch them, and one fellow from touching the bucket where the nautili had been suffered agony for over three hours. This evening was the most glorious I have ever seen in my life. On one side of the vessel the moon was shinning and a silver streak of moonlight stretched away to the horizon; while on the other side the sun was setting gloriously and a golden streak of sunlight stretched away to the horizon. The ship seemed to lay exactly between the two. A most curious phenomenon I say?.

 

Jan 30th                Friday At last we have got into the North-east trades. That is to say we have

 

 Jan 31st

 

February 1st Sunday        We had Divine Service on the quarter deck.

 

Feb 2nd                               Rebent every sail

 

Feb 3rd Tuesday              Saw  a shark in the distance but did not attempt to catch it  Saw some flying fish but none came aboard.

 

Feb 4th Wed                     Lost the North-east trades. A perfect calm and tremendously hot

 

Feb 5th Thursday           Arrived in the Doldrums It is frightfully hot and no breeze to cool one.

 

Feb 6th Friday                Had a fearful thunder storm during the night The lightning was magnificent

 

Feb 7th Saturday.          Saw  a shoal of about 200 porpoise jumping rolling & gambolling around our bows. They swam at a tremendous pace.

 

Feb 8th Sunday.            At service today a lot of the midshipmen did not attend but went up on the bowsprit to fish. The captain sent the 1st mate forward to tell them that Divine Service was just about to begin. They replied that they did not wish to attend. The captain sent forrard to tell them that he ordered them to come so they had to turn up.

 

Feb. 9th Monday        Caught a shark by means of a bit of pork. It was only a small one, only being 2ft 8 ½ in length. It was preceded by 2 pilot fish. They are the prettiest fish I have seen being rings of purple and green. As soon as the shark was caught these pilot fish darted & rushed about in search of it wondering what had become of it.

It is a remarkable thing that the pilot fish generally swim over the back of the shark, unless they are searching for food

 

Tuesday Feb 10th     Got into the south-east trades. We are still about 3 degrees north of the Equator.

 

Wed. Feb 11th           About 6 p.m. we had a heavy squall of rain and a slight breeze after being becalmed all day. During the day we went completely round the compass on account of there being no steerage way at all

 

Thursday Feb 12th   This morning a fellow who is nicknamed Guinea-pig went up to the skipper and complained of the short rations of water that were allowed to the men. He threatened the captain that if he did not allow them more water he wouldn’t do any more work and would get the other men to do the same. The skipper ordered a gallon extra for them. That evening all the men came aft to the captain and wanted him to give them some tobacco. The captain said but my lads do you know what you signed for? You signed for a shilling a month and nothing was said about tobacco. The men then replied that they must have it, that they could not do without it, and that they would refuse to work if they did not have it. The captain said that if they liked to buy it they could have it and that they had £3 given to them before they started. He asked them why they had not kept that instead of drinking it away before leaving Queenstown. One man then began to swear at the captain who said to him “Now my man no profane language, go off the poop if you want to swear. I’ll not have it in this vessel. They all then went off the poop and one said, “Well I won’t do a stroke of work for one, if you’re too stingy to give us any tobacco” And another said “Quite right Bill and I won’t for another” “Nor will I”, “Nor will I” said most of the rest ass they sloped off the poop. About a quarter of an hour afterwards the 1st mate called for the watch to lay aft, and hoist the main topgallant sails, but here was no response and not a single man came aft. The 1st mate then sent the 3rd mate forward to tell two men to jump up and loose the top gallant sails. He went forward to where the men were standing in a group and said “Two of you jump up and loose” --- “ Get away with you” said the men and his voice was immediately drowned by yells of derision. He immediately turned round and walked aft. We could hear the shouts and yells aft and all of us came out of our house to see what was up. The captain called out to us to keep aft and

not to go further forward than the mainmast. At last the 1st mate singled out a man named Butler and told him to go aft immediately, but he refused to go. He then ordered the whole of the watch to lay aft, which they did. He then went to the captain & told him that the men refused to work and that Butler had flatly refused to go aloft. The captain immediately came out & said “What’s all this? Who refused duty? Butler did you refuse duty? Butler said I didn’t refuse duty sir: I said that as soon as I had some tobacco I would go aloft. The skipper replied “ Well go forward all of you and set to work like men and let’s have no more of this”. The men got threatening and refused to go forward, and one man said “You can take my grub away. I would rather lose that than go without tobacco, and I will have some too. The men got so threatening that the skipper told the 1st mate to go and get his revolvers. As soon as they saw the 1st mate go into the saloon, they began to get cowed and inclined to give in. After a little more arguing the skipper said “Now go forward my lads and work well and if I see you do work well, I may allow you some.

 

Friday 13th Preparations are being made for Neptune, who is expected on board tomorrow.

 

Saturday 14th Neptune came aboard today. A whole holiday was given to the crew in honour of his visit. A large main-royal sail was rigged up to duck the unfortunates who had not crossed the in, with about 7 or 8 feet of water in; the stage was got u[p with Neptune’s throne, (made of a cask with the union jack over it) on it. At about 2 p.m. Neptune arrived with his full train of dependants accompanied by his wife. The best of it was that he was not a bit wet nor were any of the rest of them. The midshipmen were all shaved first by the barber who had a tremendous long nose on him. The lather was made of pea-soup, tar, grease, and soap mixed up together, most of it was tar though. This was dabbed on to the patient’s face with a brush made of rope-yarns. After having his eyes nose and mouth crammed full of this muck he was led forward to the end of a board, which being tilted up sent him head first into the water where two men called “the bears” immediately seized him and ducked and rolled him over and over until pretty well drowned he was hauled out. The tar takes a week to get off.