The steam-tug took us out past the Eddystone Lighthouse, a nice breeze having sprung up, we lifted sail and away we went for the rolling Bay of Biscay.
The sea was very rough and the waves dashing over the sides of the vessel. In the night the wind blew fine and strong and nearly all were seasick.
On the 27th the morning was fine; by a heavy swell on the water the ship kept rolling about and we felt very awkward and ill. I must say a few words about our ship Stracathro; she was a Scotch Barque built in Dundee in the year 1876 in place of the Strathmore (which was wrecked on St Paul’s Island sometime before).
Our Captain was the first mate of the wrecked ship he, with 50 more, escaped, and when the Stracathro was finished, he was appointed Captain. Our ship was classed A.1. at Lloyds, owners David Bruce & Co., length 280 feet, beams 35 feet, depth of hold 21 feet, plates 3/8 inch, the height of main truck above deck 140 feet, length of the main yard with stern-sail boom 130 feet, barque rigged register. 1159 tons No.9 G.D.N. Captain Naine. G.D. Peters 1st Mate, A. Honeyman 2nd Mate, Ramsey 3rd Mate Peters.
She had a splendid figurehead, a woman painted white, with ropes under her arms in the attitude of drawing our ship. We had a cargo of Railway Iron also a metal bridge for the Brisbane River and other valuables for a firm in Brisbane town.
The ship was beautifully fitted with every convenience; the single men occupied the forecastle, the married men and families midship, and single girls the stern, with the poop for a promenade. They were the best off. The first few days everyone was more or less sick, and unable to enjoy their meals, but we had to be out of bed at 7 in the morning, their beds made up and berths cleaned; but we might sit at our tables or go on deck just as we pleased; the men had to attend to the meals; carry them to be cooked, and go for them when done; we were divided into messes; four families in each mess, not exceeding ten adults, and a Captain over each mess whose duty it was to see that the articles received on board were kept clean and unbroken; the beds folded up and place clean.
On the 29th May we got such a rolling and pitching about, we were going through the Bay of Biscay.
We had a fair wind and in two days we were past that little trouble. We had lovely weather. On the 2nd June, we passed a vessel which signalled, Charles Wesley, bound from Liverpool to Bombay, all well. There are Constables chosen out of the married and single men whose duties it is to look after the people and keep them in their places, three attend to single girls, bring them their food and water daily, as they are not allowed down on deck; three more keep midships clean, and three more looks after single men.
They will receive a gratuity of £5 each when we arrive in Queensland; there is also a schoolmaster who teaches the youngsters, gives out the library books, and makes himself generally useful to the doctor. 3rd and 4th June passed quietly, everything is so new to most of us, we are never tired of looking over the side of the ship, nothing to be seen, but the wide beautiful ocean.
June 6th – A beautiful morning with a nice cool breeze; passed four sailing vessels, signalled two, but I did not hear their names, all outward bound. There was a quarrel among the single men today, I am sorry to add, there is a bitter jealous feeling between the Irish and English. In 24 hours we have travelled 176 miles.