The Winnett Diary


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August 22nd – sorrowful news (becalmed) porpoises playing round the ship; splendid morning; another baby born last night – a little girl, that makes six births and two deaths on board. August 23rd – very wet morning; still becalmed, `tis a great blow to our hopes of seeing land tomorrow; we are 90 days sailing now and no signs of land; the hospital patients are doing well also the babies. August 24th – morning delightful and warm; we had to turn out on deck early as the men have to scrub and clean the berths again. We got fresh supply of groceries, so it is a blue look-out; it doesn’t look like seeing land so soon.

August 25th – another lovely day. In the morning we were told to run on deck and see the land. Away we went and sure enough far away we could discern a mountain against the horizon, by and by it became clearer. We all thought it was our destined land, but the first mate told us it was called Solitary Island; behind we could see the Australian Mountains; he also said that we were going against a current 40 miles long and `twould be long enough before we would see Brisbane; at night we observed a revolving light which we were told was the Clarence River Lighthouse; a dead butterfly floated by today.

August 26th – the wind is against us today, so the ship is like a horse going up a hill, first, tacking one way and then another every half hour. The Captain puts her about as the current is drawing her into land and `tis not safe as we might founder on the reefs.

August 27th – a bright morning; going slowly; `tis very pleasant on deck and the sunset is beautiful; such pretty tints in the sky.

August 28th – we are going a little better but tacking as usual; the Captain thinks as we shall soon arrive at Moreton Bay, have only one candle now between 40 families, and have to go to bed in the dark.

August 29th – a dull and very wet day, some heavy showers during night; in the evening the rain cleared off and we went on deck for a breath of air; no signs of land; all well.

August 30th – morning wet; the men and sailors are dull; towards mid-day it cleared up, the sun shone, we can dimly see the land, but as there is very little wind we wont get into the bay tonight; there are great flashes of lightning and some thunder; the air is oppressive and hot.

August 31st – A fine and lovely morning and hurrah – we can sight Moreton Island. Another day I hope will see us anchored; a shoal of seapips are flying round the ship; one was caught which measured 9 ft. 4 inches; about 2 p.m. the land became more distinct; could see the waves breaking against the shore. A steamer passed near the land, our Captain signalled, but no notice was taken of us; we have to go round to get into the Bay and then sail down the bar. We have scarcely any wind and are depending on vessels that may pass to bring in the news for a Pilot. At 6 p,m. another steamer hove in sight which our Captain also signalled but it passed by without answering; the evening was coming on and there was a slight fog, so I presume they didn’t see our signals. At 8 p.m. a vessel could be seen coming round the point of the island, we all thought it was the looked for Pilot. The Captain signalled again sending up the Pilot Jack, also the British flag. While the signals were up, we observed a Lighthouse in the distance ahead of us, then the Captain signalled with lights, some blue, some white, the vessel answered with lights and said for our Captain to go ahead and round the point, but that it was easier said than done as we had no wind and the current was driving us rather too close to the rocks. When the last vessel passed we felt completely boycotted. As a last resource the Captain signalled the lighthouse informing them we were Emigrants, he received answer to lay to all night as the coast was dangerous, so we all went below grievously disappointed and tumbled into bed. To be continued……