The Dairy of Margaret Jollie: April, 1877

Chapter 2: April - South Pacific

Sunday 1st April.  All Fool's Day and Easter Day, we have had this wind for nearly three weeks now, with a south wind once.  In the evening service.

Monday 2nd.  Wind the same, but pretty fine.

The four gentlemen played Quoits as usual.  I was sitting alone this evening on a form at the stern singing to myself the "Skipper and His Boy" when the man at the wheel (Clemens) turned round and said "You'll break my heart young woman if you go singing those songs."  I couldn't think of anything to say, but still finished my song and walked away.  On fine evenings the Mate, whose Watch it is, generally brings up a concertina and we girls dance on deck, it's rather hard work sometimes.

Tuesday 3rd April.  Wind Northeast.  Thermometer 50 degrees.  Captain Scotland says that if this breeze keeps up we shall be abreast Cape Horn tomorrow evening.  Cape Pigeons flying about.

Wednesday 4th. Still Northeast wind, but sea calm, going about 5 or 6 knots an hour. Fine rain yesterday evening. Whale seen this morning.

Thursday 5th. Such a lovely morning, we're going about one knot an hour.

A ship was sighted from the mast before breakfast and after breakfast it could be seen from the deck.  They said at first it was a Brig*, but she afterwards proved to be a three masted schooner, with yards only on the foremast. From the Avernakø [?] Isles to the North of Germany bound to Aricse [?]. Wind South West.

* A two-masted vessel with both masts square rigged.

A good many Albatrosses, icebirds, molly-mawks, Mother Carey's Chickens and Cape Pigeons were flying about.  The Doctor tried to catch some Cape Pigeons, but they wouldn't be caught. 

This afternoon the wind got up and we took in some of our topsails.  We have doubled the Cape and are going Northeast.  There was a little snow about five - the first we've had and the spray swept over the deck.  We are on the lee side tonight so I must take care not to fall out of my bunk as it is the top one.

Friday 6th.  Wind Southwest.  Thermometer 40 degrees in the morning, 44 in the evening.  This is the coldest day we've had yet.

This afternoon we saw a ship and about three hours later she came near enough to be signalled.  She was the Magnet of Sunderland from Concepción to Cork for orders, laden with Wheat: tonnage 455 tons, rig a Barque.*

*A Barque has three or more masts and carries square sails on all but the after mast, which is fore-and-aft rigged.

Saturday 7th.  Morning.  We passed another ship last night, but it was too dark to tell what she was and this morning when the Captain went on deck only the tips of her masts could be seen.  Caught a Petrel, but let it go again. 

It has been such a lovely day compared to those we had lately.  Shortly after I wrote about the Petrel I went on deck and found the gentlemen with Frank and the two Eddies pulling ropes.  "Come along Maggie" said Mr Bovey, so I went and helped.  Presently he said something to me and I said "No, I didn't."  "Phillipine"* he cried and I was nicely caught.  The wind changed twice in the afternoon, but it is now nor’ west.

* Although other references have yet to be located, a Phillipine would appear to have been a kind of Victorian parlour game in which two contestants, chosen by lot, attempt to trick each other into saying pre-ordained words such as "yes" and "no," within a specified time frame.

Sunday 8th.  Wind Northeast.

We are now past the Falkland Islands and in the Forties, but in which one I know not, but it is decidedly warmer than yesterday.  (Evening).  The weather was beautiful for two or three hours before and after noon, but grew colder afterwards, the wind changing to the southeast and rather showery.

I've two Phillipines tomorrow, one with Mr Bovey "Yes and No" and one with Miss Hirst also "Yes and No."  Mr Bovey also has one with the Captain, which we are all very anxious to see the end of, as they both have the reputation of being very sharp in such matters.

Carrie and Lucy are settling the programme of a concert to be given on my birthday, but I doubt if it will come to anything.

Monday 9th.  Fine with Hail showers now and then. I won my Phillipine with Mr Bovey much to my joy and the Captain lost his.  I was sitting on deck when Mr Bovey came up and said to me "I caught your mother beautifully first time" so I said "Did You" and he said "Yes."

Tuesday 10th.  Such a lovely day, all but calm with Cape Hens, Petrels and a few Albatrosses flying about. Wind from the Sou'west.  Thermometer 50-54.

The Purser (Simms) was caught in the rigging of the foremast by the sailors today and tied there; he got loose once and nearly managed to tie up the sailors who went to tie him up again.  He was fastened again, but at last managed to free himself and get down.

Those on the main deck have taken to quoits, but they do not play so well as those on the poop.  That sale that I mentioned some days ago is to come off tomorrow, I hear.  At two o'clock saw three whales.

Wednesday 11th.  Wind due north, dead against us.  We have only the lower topsail up on each mast.  The waves wash over the deck.

Thursday 12th.  Wind the same, we are obliged to steer Northwest.  Afternoon. The wind has changed to the Sou'west, but we are still under the same sail as there is a head sea.
Friday 13th.  Fine with wind in the same direction.  Thermometer 60 degrees. 

Mr Hamilton was tied up in the rigging by the bo'sun this afternoon, but it wasn't fair as he had already paid his footing, so of course he wouldn't pay it again and he had very nearly freed himself when the Doctor* said he'd "shout" for him.  Whereupon the bo'sun undid him much to Mr Vesey Hamilton's disgust, as if he had freed himself the bo'sun would never have heard the last of it.

* Dr William Edson (1835-1914) the ship's Surgeon Superintendent.

Saturday 14th. This morning before breakfast our cabin smelt so stuffy that I foolishly opened one of the ports, but it had not been open five minutes when an enormous wave came in, flooding the cabin to the depth of two inches and running across the saloon into Mr Tosswill's* cabin.

Notwithstanding the mess, Bessie and I couldn't help laughing, for I was wading about barefooted and in my petticoat, trying to soak up the water with Mary's night-gown, which she had left on the floor, and squeezing it into the bath.  Then Rachael came in with a horrified countenance, asked some questions and then went and told the Steward, who used such a strong expression that I can't write it here, and then came in with a bucket and dust pan, with which he began bailing up the water, but as the dust pan had a hole in its bottom, he didn't get up much at a time. 

However it was good in one way, for, besides making one more careful, the cabin got a thorough tidying and I found sundry articles that I had lost, such as a comb, which had been lost since the beginning of the voyage, my brush and silver fruit knife. The wind is still fair, but our mainsail and all the royals are taken in, while on the mizzen mast the upper topsail has a reef tied in it. We saw some blackfish this afternoon, but soon left them behind.

* William Browning Tosswill, J.P. farmed at Templeton, near Christchurch.

Sunday 15th.  Very fine wind, the Captain says rather too fine, as when it is right aft the sails deaden each other.

This morning Captain Scotland gave us leave to open our ports, but half an hour afterwards a large wave broke over the ship flooding Mamma and Papa's cabins, but luckily the port in our cabin, which was near Ma's had just been shut, so we escaped with a little water, which ran through from Mamma's.  We had service this evening and a good many people from the second cabin came.

Monday 16th.  Nearly calm - we are going about 2 knots an hour and it is so warm that we've put on our summer dresses.

This afternoon one of the second class passengers was playing leap-frog and fell, cutting his head so badly that he remained unconscious for some time. Doctor Edson says it is rather serious.

The sale that I mentioned some time back took place this afternoon after the accident.  There were sold; a box of tobacco, about six pounds weight, knocked down for twenty one shillings to the boatswain and some cigars that Miss Maling won in a raffle about a fortnight after we came aboard.  The ladies are going to make some things to sell when the rest of the cigars are sold, the proceeds of which, with that gained today will be given to Merchant Seaman's Orphan's Asylum. 

Orion, which we see upside down in New Zealand, is nightly coming right side up, being now in the horizontal position.
Tuesday 17th of April.  Wind shifting and it is nearly a calm, we are going one knot an hour.

For the first time since we left Lyttelton the awning has been put up. Bessie,  May and I got up at seven this morning and had a saltwater bath.  It was so nice even Sally enjoyed it.  Thermometer 75 degrees in the shade.  Two Portuguese Men-of-War have passed the ship today full sail.

Wednesday 18th.  Last night, while we were at tea, we heard a flute, drum, rattle and concertina playing together, with a good deal of talking, laughter and the sound of dancing on the main deck.

After tea I went up and saw four or five sailors dressed up in blankets and counterpanes, dancing and making impromptu speeches.  One of them whose name is Lilliwall was supposed to be a Pakeha Maori in a quilt and tiara of feathers made of Albatross wings, put around his head after the manner of the American Indians.  Another man, one of the second class passengers, had a tall Parsee sort of cape and made as for us.  I couldn't see any part of his face.  Another of the sailors, named Clemens, appeared as a Turk and looked remarkably well.

After a good deal of dancing and mock fights Lilliwall was called on for a song and after him a man called Palmer sang one about some fishermen.  Then Mr Bovey brought out a sailor named Price who said "Ladies and gentlemen, this gentleman has asked me for a song and I don't know one instance from the other."  However, he sang one about Sarah, the chorus of which was:-

Sarah's an angel, she's only got one eye,
She' rolls down the street and so merrily does she cry,
Bloaters and Mackerel’s the best of fish you buy,
Mussels and Cockles all alive Oh!

with great energy, digging each other in the ribs.  Before this, as it was near "calling over," Lilliwall had told us in a neat speech that he must put off their foolish little entertainment for tonight, but hoped to resume it on some future evening.  After the "calling over" the cook was caught and asked to sing, which, after many protestations that he "didn't know none," he did. The chorus was;-

Waste not, want not's the maxim I would teach,
Let your watchword be dispatch,
And "practice what you preach."
Do not let your chances like sunbeams pass you by,
For you'll never miss the water 'till the well runs dry.

After him Clemens sang an Irish song, then Carrie was called on and sang "Over her Knee."  Then a man named Archer, who played the flute, sang and after him the Purser and four others sat down and sang one which kept all on the move, for the words were:-

Two thumbs and two fingers keep moving Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah!
For we're all jolly good fellows,
Which nobody can deny.

and so on 'till their whole bodies were on the move.  At the end someone threw flour over them.

Then Price and the Boatswain took hold of each other’s feet and somersaulted up and down, after which Clemens lay down face downwards and throwing his arms backwards caught hold of his feet, then Price lifted him over his head.  Clemens the tried to do the same to Price, but was not strong enough and so on 'till half past nine o'clock.
Today is even calmer than yesterday though the wind is a very little stronger, but even that is contradicted by its being nearly ahead, so that we are still going one knot.

The gentlemen are amusing themselves with shooting at a bottle in the water, but not many of them have hit it yet.  We saw two vessels this afternoon, both being outward bound, one is a Barque, the other a full rigged ship,* but we passed both without calling them.

*A full-rigged ship has three or more masts and carries square sails on all of them.

Thursday 19th.  Same weather as yesterday.  Nothing particular taken place, except that we are all busy sewing for the Gift Auction and there is a good deal of practising for a concert there is to be next Saturday, in aid of the Merchant Seaman's Orphan Society.

Friday 20th.  Sea rougher and several have been obliged to lie down, for the four days calm weather had spoiled them for a little rolling.

Saturday 21st.  Sea a little calmer than yesterday.  Everybody is preparing for this evening.

Sunday 22nd.  The concert last night went off splendidly. Mr Tosswill appeared in character as "Ilma de Murkrail" in an enormous platted false wig, a white dress and blue shawl.  He also shaved himself for the occasion.  Mr Basset came on the deck as an old gentleman in blue spectacles and sang a song about

And if you want a spree
That a Saint can only see
You must join the jolly party
In the Alleluia Band

Lilliwall also sang in character about "Those pretty, little high heeled boots," he was so altered that if we hadn't had programmes we should not have known him.

At eight o'clock last night we entered the Tropic of Capricorn. This morning Captain Scotland saw some flying fish and pointed them out to me, but they were gone before I could look up.  We had service on deck this afternoon and several came from the main deck who we have not been before.

Monday 23rd. Wind nor’east, Thermometer 84-86 degrees. Rather squally.

I saw some flying fish this morning. They are very like birds and appear of a dove-grey colour. This afternoon Mr Basset took Carrie, Bessie and me round the main deck, but we didn't go on the forecastle or below.

Tuesday 24th. The decks weren't washed and the bath wasn't filled this morning, for our fore-topgallant mast was carried away last night in a squall. 

There are rather contradictory accounts as to how it happened, but it is generally supposed that the wind took the sail about. Everybody is busy making a new mast, even Mr Hamilton and Mr Bovey are planning it with the rest. This afternoon we went on the main deck to see them hoisting up the new mast, which was done with the aid of the engine. So severe was the tension on the rope, that tar oozed out of it.

Wednesday 25th. It is very squally weather again today. 

Last night an iron chain was broken and the Captain says that if he had not been on deck at the time our new mast would have gone overboard.  They are busy today mending the chain and binding the topmast with iron, for it was split the other night when the part of the top-gallant mast went over.

Thursday 26th.  We are now in the Sou'west Trades and are going at about 8-9 knots an hour.  It has been very hot today and I pitied the men who were employed aloft, tarring and painting the ropes and yards, in the glaring heat of the mid-day sun.

This evening between eight and nine two vessels passed us, both outward bound, both full-rigged ships, their sails shining white and weirdly in the moonlight.  They sailed past us to the southward, growing more and more indistinct, 'till they vanished in the distance.

When they had gone, inspired by the example of those on the main deck, who were dancing quadrilles and Sir Roger de Coverlies most vigorously and making all sorts of queer mistakes over them, Carrie and Mr Tosswill took turns in playing whilst we danced, with hats off, in the moonlight, 'till we were too hot and tired to dance more.

Friday 27th.  Still very hot and still sewing and playing Phillipine with the Captain, but hardly fairly, I think, for he nearly pulled it over me.

Frank was lying asleep in the moonlight tonight on one of the seats when Bessie got some black paint off one of the chains and rubbed it on his face and Carrie took off one boot, while Mr Hamilton took off the other, and when he woke up he did look curious and was rather cross.

Saturday 28th.  Oh dear, this has been a sad day.  This morning when I went on deck before breakfast to see two ships; one a Barque, the other a full-rigged ship, I found Mrs Bovey sitting on a chair with Mary in her arms, gasping and looking deathly pale.  She got no better and about half past ten o'clock Carrie told me that Doctor Edson said she had congestion of the brain and it would be a miracle if she recovered. 

Soon after she was taken below, while all tried to keep the children quiet on deck and, in order that she might not be disturbed, both our lunch and the children's dinner was brought on deck.  About half past one she was brought up again and some said they thought her better, but an hour or two afterwards the Doctor said she was gradually getting worse, so she was taken down again. 

And so it went on, every now and then faint hope arising only to be crushed again, 'till a little after eight o'clock when, just as Lucy, Carrie and I were going to the other side of the deck to play a quiet game called Rigmarole, Papa told us she was dead.

She is to be buried at four o'clock tomorrow morning before the children are awake and I have asked Rachael and Mrs Hirst to call me at half past three, for I wish to show to Mr and Mrs Bovey that I do sympathise with them.
Sunday 29th.  Poor little Mary was buried at four this morning, but I wasn't there because no one called me. 

After Carrie and I were in bed last night we heard a great noise on deck; someone calling out as if in a fit and Captain Scotland speaking very singularly.  Papa came in some time after and told us that Mr Macdonald was ordering something about the flags for poor little Mary, when William (one of the boys who wait at table) offended him somehow and he hit him with his fist in the stomach, for which the Captain ordered him to his berth, which he at first refused to do, but afterwards went and the Steward put handcuffs on him.  There he will remain 'till the end of the voyage.

We had service on deck this afternoon, but it was rather a sad one.

Monday 30th.  We were nearly becalmed this morning, but since then the wind has freshened a little and we are going two or three knots.  Today at twelve o'clock we were ninety miles from the Equator.

A great many Nautiluses have passed today, both pink and white.  This afternoon a shark was seen over the stern of the ship and a line was quickly put out, with a large piece of salt pork on an iron hook at the end.  The first bait he took without being caught, but the second time he was hooked and pulled on board flapping his tail and struggling to be free.  Of course there was great excitement as the Captain dragged him along the poop and threw him on to the main deck, where his tail was immediately cut off by Armstrong to keep him from flapping.

Last Saturday night Mrs Howarth, who has been nursing Mrs Tosswill's baby for her lately, had a baby; a girl.  I believe she is going on very well.  Thermometer 87 degrees.