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 October 1st: The ship is sailing hard today at a rate of 13 and a half knots. She has a great list with the two jibs, foretopmast, stay sails and other lower sails and gallants. The wind N. by W. and she sails E. by S. Expect to pass the nearest part of Van Diemans Land about midnight without seeing it.

Monday 3rd: Yesterday we sailed about 7 knots an hour the wind awhile in the morning being just ahead from the N.E. She was turned westward, expecting to see Van Diemans Land. The wind veered westward about 10 o’clock. All hands not excepting passengers were called…..(undecipherable) to Auckland sheets and New Zealand braces which we got pretty ready before service. Though we have our health nearly as well as ever, we are longing to see land, which we have not seen since we saw Madeira; nor a vessel since the 18th August. I met the Captain on the deck this morning and said: "I would have called this thunder air in the Isle of Man." He said: "It is thunder air". This morning at 3 or 4 o’clock the wind blew very hard at times, then calm. The topsails were double reefed. At 10 o’clock the reefs were shook out of her and the main gallants set on her. She sails at 6 knots an hour, with the wind now fair. New Zealand is the first land we expect to see yet at a distance of 1000 miles. We are in Lat. 43. south long.151 east.

Tuesday 4th: Last night after a reef had been shaken out of the mizzen topsail, the wind blew harder and the yard, which was not a good one, broke in two. We had it taken down this forenoon and another spare one substituted, which near as many hands as could well get about it were engaged, which, with the rolling of the ship, was not a very pleasant job. I am quite weary of so much cursing and profane language. The ship sails about 7 knots an hour with main gallants and royals.

Wednesday 5th: Last night the ship sailed about the average of 8 knots, Another child was born this morning in the cabin being the twelfth child for the mother. We are busy now washing and preparing for Auckland. It is a very fine day and the sailors are busy aloft, cleaning and whitening the mast. The wind is rather ahead and she sails slowly close to the wind. We are now in Lat. 41.23 south, long. 159.21 east. The degrees at Lat 58. south was about 37 miles instead of 60 nautical miles on the Equator, by the narrowing of the Southern Hemisphere. Now we have it again at about 44 miles.

Thursday 6th: Last night from nearly a dead calm about 10 o’clock the wind veered just right ahead and the ship was turned on a west tack. The sailors were kept very busy all night. About 3 o’clock the wind blew very hard from the N.W. by W. I rose at half past three and Robert Cowley after me. When the sailors were pleased to get the least help. The mizzen gallant and after jib were taken off her. The sea being smooth she sailed about 13 knots an hour about 4 o’clock. The Captain seemed well pleased this morning to see the ship sail so well and wished for three days of such fair wind. We are lat. 40.0 S., long. 162.23 east, when I now write, about half past two o’clock afternoon. It is about 4 o’clock morning with you in the Isle of Man. The ship sails 13 knots an hour.

Friday 7th: About 10 o’clock it became calm. I rose at half past four o’clock and went up on deck. What a fine spring morning I thought it had been if we had all been at work on land. We are now in the Lat. of Auckland, but have 530 miles yet to sail round the North Cape.

Saturday 8th: I rose about 5 o’clock. It is very fine but the wind is just ahead. Last night the steerage passengers had a sort of feast and invited the Captain to it. He came when we had our prayer meeting and knelt with us. My back being toward him, I did not know he was in. When I prayed with some liberty for the conversion of sailors and mentioned the effects to be more obedient, more faithfulness etc, the Captain has been friendly to me. What scrubbing and cleaning we have on board today, expecting soon to reach Auckland.

Monday 10th: We had Service again on deck yesterday. Mr Caley preached a very searching sermon from the text: "Where the worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched" Mr Wilkie preached in the Intermediate at 7. The day was very fine and calm. What fine weather we would think it on land. Between 10 and 10.30 o’clock we have caught 7 large albatrosses averaging 9 to 11 feet between the points of their wings. What a blessing of health we enjoy as a family. "Bless the Lord, oh my soul and forget not all His benefits".

Tuesday 11th: It continues calm all night and now when I write it is about 4 o’clock. The sea is calm and with fine sunshine and heat. We had expected to be in Auckland before this, but were disappointed. The air of wind we have is just ahead from N. by E. We are not far from Cape Maria and Three Kings. From the N.W. point, or rather the North Cape, there is a coast of 170 miles to go on the N.E. side of the Island, south eastward to Auckland.

Wednesday 12th: We have a little more wind today but much from the same point as yesterday. There is a general longing with the passengers to get on land. At two o’clock in the night the ship was turned westward. At about 1 o’clock in the afternoon she was turned eastward again. If the wind will continue as it is, the Captain intends to take a tack of four hours till we pass the North Cape.

Thursday 13th: It would be remarkably fine weather if we were on land. The ship was turned westward at midnight, eastward again at 4 o’clock on which she continues yet at 3 pm. We are in lat 34.10 south long. 170.20 east. We do not know whether we will clear N. Cape with this tack or not. After expecting to be in Auckland last Sunday, it is a doubt whether we shall for next Sunday. If we can clear the North Cape with this tack we have 240 miles to sail on the whole.

Friday 14th: This morning I rose at half past 3. It was very unpleasant with rain and fog. About half past four it cleared a little in the East. The ship is sailed as close to the wind as she can sail. The Captain said he did not intend to take breakfast until he could see land. We just saw the Three Kings at 3 o’clock and now at half past four we are passing them. They are large broken rocks like the Burrow and Stack at the Calf of Man, but much larger. They are about 40 miles from the North Cape of New Zealand.

Saturday 15th: The ship was sailed on the same tack since yesterday afternoon until the forenoon at 8 o’clock. We are now near the longitude of Auckland, 175. East. The ship has just put about but the wind has turned again, rather southward. The Captain seems very much mortified this fortnight. We are very much disappointed of our expectations.

The Captain knew that the MAORI, a London ship, had sailed about 4 hours before we left Liverpool and he feared she would be in before him. "He would not have had it," he said, "for a hundred pounds." There is rather a fear of getting scarce in water. Many of the new casks let out. We are preparing for another Sabbath.

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