from the book "A Quota of Qualtrough" Pages 31-40

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Diary of James Qualtrough, written of board the "MERMAID" which sailed from Liverpool UK, on 11 July 1859 and arrived in Auckland, New Zealand on 19 October 1859.

For the Mermaid Passenger List Click Here

For the Map of the Voyage Click Here

Saturday 30th: Last night we had a sort of concert on deck but it did not prevent our prayer meeting. Today we have a good fair breeze which drives the ship at 8 or 9 knots an hour. The Captain says he has never made a better progress before, after setting out on this coast, but we may be a long time yet before we pass the tropics.

Monday August 1st: Yesterday the attention of the passengers was taken up with the thousands of flying fish that were seen. We were at noon at latitude 15.5 long, 27.46 west. Mr Wilkie preached at half past ten in the morning, Mr Oldham in the evening.

Today the ship sails at 7 knots an hour. The North Pole is now seen very low. In a few days more – about 6 days- we expect to see it disappear below the horizon.

Tuesday 2nd: Today the wind is rather ahead southerly to bring our course. We are in Lat. 12.11 N, long 26.14 W.

Wednesday 3rd: Last night the clouds were very dark under the moon in the west, from which we expected some heavy showers and a squall of wind, but it came off very mild. Many of us would have been willing to be nearly naked under the shower. It has been so refreshing. It is now very warm under the tropical sun As a family we have great reason to be thankful to the God of our life for the health we enjoy.

About noon we caught a shark with a large hook, which had been out about an hour with a piece of pork for a bait. Several fishes, something like hogs on the herring coast of the Isle of Man, were seen today. We are now in Lat.25.58 W.

Thursday 4th: It is very hot today. We have a large 3 square sail with one rope from the yards arm and two ropes from the side of the ship let down into the sea for a bath for us. As many as 11 men have been in together. Our boys have been in, in turns. The one pair of trousers did for them.

Friday 5th: Yesterday evening a large water cask was cut in half for baths for the children. One set on each side of the ship for the boys and girls to bathe in separate. These two days we have made little progress by the calm.

Saturday 6th: Last night it looked rather gloomy with some lightning this forenoon. We had a very heavy shower of rain and now we have a heavy swell. When I write in the berth about 5 o’clock, the family are well and at tea, with plenty of noise all round from fore to aft. Manx, English, Scotch, Irish, Germans, etc., etc.

Monday 8th: On Saturday night it had all the appearance of a stormy darkness with heavy flashes of lightning. The sailors are very busy taking down sails. It blew and continued wind all day yesterday. We were not able to keep the regular Service on deck, with heavy showers and the pitching and rolling of the ship.

We have got plenty of wind now when I write, about 4 o’clock. The sun rises and sets about six. This is indeed a place to try religion in.

Tuesday 9th: We have plenty of wind from the southwest and by south. Today, we made a tack westward for about 8 hours. It is rather against us but still we are going on. The children are in great spirits about crossing the line, asking what sort of line it is. Thousands of flying fish are about still, but we do not much mind them now.

Wednesday 10th: We made another tack southward in the night. This morning westward again about 4 o’clock expecting now to be in the trade winds. We continue now in the same tack when I write, about 4 p.m. At noon we were in Lat. 4.4 long. 17.58 west. I expected we had passed outside the continent of Europe and coast of Africa.

We passage near Cape de Verde Islands. We have seen no land since we saw Madeira, nor hardly a vessel once in four days. It is not so warm as it has been but very little clothes does us either by night or by day. We heard no thunder since we left and the clouds have no more fiery appearance than in the Isle of Man.

Thursday 11th: We are now short 2 degrees of the Equator expecting to cross tomorrow. In tacking about 24 miles we gain about 6 miles southwards. We are all in good health, myself is the worst, only with too little appetite.

Friday 12th: We have just now crossed the Equator. Long 22.39 west without any of the usual customs on board the emigrant ships. We have been carried very much by the foul wind having been in Long. 27. then in 17. and now in 22. We expect soon to have the trade winds not to come by the Cape of Good Hope at all. The weather is very pleasant now.

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