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


Tuesday 20th: The Captain last night was in great anxiety, saying the barometer was very low indeed. A yet heavier storm came on and many stout hearts feared very much. All the sails left on the ship at 8 o’clock was the fore and main topsail, close-reefed. I acknowledge I spent some time rather uneasy. With the storm on her quarters she took some heavy seas.

There were about 20 fowls killed in the hen coops on the poop. The Captain and officers consulted what was best to do and it was thought best to put her head to. One of the sailors came down in the Intermediate, when one of the company asked: "How is the ship going?" He replied: "She is not going at all." On the breast of some of the waves the ship had a terrible list. A sea broke in one of the ventilation windows which prevented us going to bed as the bed was wet.

At midnight the weather continued much the same way. However we got a little rest at about 3 or 4 o’clock. Thank the Lord, the storm abated. Mr Wilkie said the Captain acknowledged he was never at sea on such a night before.

"The God that rules on high

That all the earth surveys

He rides upon the stormy skies

And calm the roaring seas"

Alas! How the fears are soon gone of some in the wrong way.

Wednesday 21st: This morning Kitty was called to Ned Gale’s berth but before she reached it, Mrs Gale was delivered of a boy. Six or seven of the sailors are sick. We have been busy, with the sailors, spreading sails and steering east at 10 knots an hour.

Thursday 22nd: Last night it became very gloomy as the night wore on. Sometime in the night it became a little better but we have foul wind and contrary to our expectations, we are now far south in cold many degrees south of Van Diemans Land, with northerly winds. The Captain fully expected trade winds here from the south-west but it is altogether disappointing. Since morning we have the wind blowing harder. Now in the afternoon, we are only dodging with three closed reefed topsails.

Friday 23rd: Last night as it was getting no worse, a reef each was taken in. The fore and main topmast stay sails were hoisted but she was doing very little better. Now at one o’clock she has on the inner jib fore and main gallants and spanker sails. She sails 8 knots eastwards with south winds.

Saturday 24th: The ship sailed last night on an average of 11 knots an hour and now, when I write at 2 o’clock, at 10 knots. At 11o’clock in the forenoon we buried Ned Gale’s infant. The seas have been high today again, as sea broke over the poop and down in the saloon which caused a great shout among the gentry! We have heavy showers of rain and snow. The pastime with many is pelting each other with snowballs.

Monday 26th: On Saturday night a child died belonging to Mr Heidt, a German by nation and, I believe, a good man. Yesterday morning we had the wind ahead from the north-east by east. At 10 I preached just as well as I could. Dr Atken read the church prayers in the afternoon. Mr Caley preached in the evening. Today we have fair wind from the west by n., but rather little of it to our liking. We are now in lat. 47. south long. 119 east.

At 11 o’clock we buried the child. In the afternoon we caught an albatross. I could not reach to the point of its wings with my fathom.

Tuesday 27th: Today we have it very calm. The air is keen but I would reckon it a fine spring day in the Isle of Man. Now at 4 o’clock the wind is beginning to breeze a little. It is about half past seven in the forenoon with you in the Isle of Man. We are in good health and spirits and best of all the Lord is with us, the God of Jacob is our refuge.

Wednesday 28th: Yesterday evening at 8 o’clock the ship sailed at 8 knots an hour; at midnight 10 knots. A heavy sea at half past 10 came over amidships which made one discontented to lie any longer. As I could not sleep, I dressed and went on deck. The ship at that time sailed at 12 knots an hour. The wind still increasing all day, till now, when I write at 5 o’clock, she sails at the great rate of 14 knots an hour.

Thursday 29th: This morning the wind was N. by E., and westward later. The ship lost one and a half points of her course. She is able to bring her course at 10 and a half knots an hour.

Friday 30th: There is a general wish with the passengers to see Van Diemans Land with the expectations to pass her Sunday. The ship sails E. by N. at the rate of 10 and a half knots an hour.

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