The Winnett Diary


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We re-join the Winnett family as they continue their journey, battling the confines of sea-board life with births and deaths on the high seas.

26th June – going pretty fair; not quite so warm now; every day will be getting cooler.

27th June – Lat. 10.40S. Long. 32.27 W – nice warm days; all invalids on recovery.

28th June – there is no twilight here; just as the sun sets it becomes quite dark; the stars are beautiful to behold; the southern cross is visible; also, a splendid star called, the Western Star; we have seen a comet; weather fine with lovely moonlight nights; the sea is a picture at night, everything so calm and bright.

29th June – sighted a whale, tumbling and sporting in the water; also some flying fish; we passed some rocks last night’ `tis called by the sailors the Emigrant’s grave; but thank God, so far we are safe.

2nd July – Church service at 12 o’clock; we have great need to be thankful to God for His mercies; last night we were near being in a watery grave through a sudden squall and some neglect on part of the second mate; all hands had to be called on board to pull in sail, and only for the united efforts of men and sailors, 3 minutes would have sent us to the bottom.

3rd July – Lat. 24.2S, Long. 29.5W – We are now out of the Tropics; weather getting cool; 4th July – contrary winds; going very slowly; overtook a vessel that left Plymouth 9 days before us, signalled Orontes, bound for Sydney with emigrants; so we have companions 412 souls including crew and they also signalled they had five births and one death on board. We passed her in Lat. 24S, Long. 29W.

5th July – morning very wet and dull – a wet day at sea is dreary indeed; we have to stay between decks with the hatch closed and it is dark; it has been a gala day with us; we were served out with jam, weren’t we glad to get it; one little child is very ill, not expected to recover, only two years old.

6th July – the morning is fine, but a little cold; the little baby died last night at 12 o’clock and was buried this morning at 8 a.m. The doctor read the funeral service, the sea was very calm, not a ripple on the water, and the sun shining. There were three sharks going round the ship the whole morning; they are pretty fish to look at in the water, back and sides are green blue and silver, fins white, and tail a dark green; everyone seems sad today.

7th July, fair wind again; going tolerably well; allowed our boxes today.

8th July – Cape pigeons flying round the ship; they are nice looking birds; very fair wind; travelled 202 miles; had an eventful night we went to bed about 10 o’clock at 11 I awoke in time to hear a voice shouting “All hands on deck”, it sounded dreadful to us who heard; we could hear the men running to and fro obeying orders. In the morning we found we were near being run down by some vessel unknown; `twas a very dark night, and the “watch” did not see the vessel until within a cable’s length of our bows; she carried no lights. If our vessel had not answered her helm, we would both have gone to the bottom; we would have been struck amidships; one of our stern sails was carried away.

9th July, Sunday morning service at 12 p.m. Children got sweets from the doctor.

10th July – very rough with heavy seas; ship rolling delightfully; we are scarcely able to stand on deck. Mollyhawk and cape pigeons flying in all directions and causing a little excitement to the men trying to catch them.

11th July, still very rough waves, very high like mountains and washing over the deck at intervals; we have to keep below as we don’t care to get wet.

12th July – weather rough and stormy with rain and snow – very cold like December; but still the sea is very beautiful to look at; like some sportive fury dashing along, first one man then another getting a ducking, the waves dash over the sides so often.

We passed the islands of Tristan da Cunh three, one is 7000 feet above the level of the sea, having about 90 inhabitants, chiefly English, only one landing place; we could see the houses and green fields. Oh! such a lovely sight to us poor emigrants; we cheered as if there was no lovelier place to be seen; `twas the first glimpse of land since we left Plymouth. Could also see three waterfalls falling down the cliff about 300 feet; the day was rough and stormy, were it otherwise, boats would have come alongside with fruit, vegetables etc. for sale; we were disappointed that the day was so unfavourable. There was a baby born at 10 o’clock, both mother and son doing well.