1844 - the voyage begins!
Ship Merrimac of New London
Sailed July 19th 1844
Made sail at 6 o clock in the morning - with fine weather - but No Wind. At 8 o clock the Steam Boat Thorn took us in tow and took us out side of the light house where we got a breeze - at 9 o clock the Pilot left us off Montauc (Montauk) - saw the Barkque Congress going in Course S-E the wind S-E with a fine breeze
Fine light weather and sometimes calm saw two sails - the Night foggy - some of our boys Sea sick. Imployed fitting our boats
Friday 19th Today it is beautiful weather several sail in light steered S-E by E
Today continues fine weather and a steady breeze of S-W and we steered E
Today is unsettled Thunder Lightning + Rain squalls with a good breeze at south and we are going along at the rate of six nots - all hands are well except one or two Sea Sick a little - Saw a ship astern
This day continues fine Light weather with a Light breeze at N.E. + pleasant. Saw the Venice to the S.W. Tuesday is light + calm weather. The Ship seen on Sunday afternoon astern proved to be the Venice Capt. Lester She passed us last night and today is 5 miles off bearing NNE
Wednesday. Good weather and a five not breeze from S.W. Steered ESE a Ship passed across our bow last night steering about E by N. The Venice is just in sight and on our lee quarter about 8 miles off. Monday + Tuesday we lowered our boats to drill. The men are quite handy at their oars - a sail in light on our lee quarter.
Thursday 25th the weather [missing] at with a light breeze from the N.E.
Friday Today the weather is raining [missing] from E to ESE continued on the [missing] to the SSE I saw a ship supposed to be the [faded word]
Saturday 27th Steered ESE with a fair wind from about SW + strong breeze
Sunday 28th fine weather and a gentle breeze at West all hands are well
Monday continued pleasant weather with a light breeze. Saw two sail one steering to the westward.
Tuesday very fine light weather with a light light breeze at about South one ship to the southward and a Brig to the north of us steering to the eastward and the ship to the westward.
Wednesday 31st today is very fine and quite warm with a light breeze to the SSE. Steered E + ENE for several days past we have seen some Grampus whales and lowered for them but see them no more after our boats were in the water
Thursday 1st going on nicely with a light breeze to the South West Saw several sail - apparently bound to Europe
Friday 2nd continued pleasant with a gentle breeze from the West. Continued our course South S-E
Saturday 3rd passed between Corvo and Flores with a Whole Sail breeze at S W steered S S-E saw a large ship laying aback under Flores - at 6 o’clock were near Fayall. Reefed topsails for the first time since leaving New London + stood off to the South with squalls of rain
Sunday 4th ran in betwix Fayall + Pico blowing strong with rain in squalls in the afternoon moderate and pleasant our Boat lands + gets some refreshment - the wind shifts to the Northeast and we run to the South side of Fayall + Lay off all night
Monday 5th Beat in and the capt goes on shore - in the afternoon [load?] off 220 bushels of Potatoes 20000 Onions 40 Doz eggs cucumbers cabbage grapes +c. Capt returns on board at 5 o clock PM. There are six ships and barques here and in Light besides ours one of which is the Venice Capt Lester arived at 6 o clock in the evening - Capt Lester comes down and [missing words] and came on board. From here I send [missing words] Leters - one to Mother 1 to Brother and one to [unclear] Olive one to Sister Sarah - at 9 o clock PM [missing words] and steered our course for the South Atlantic [missing words] breeze from the S+E - Here again I have
to record some of the evils of Drunkeness, some of our men obtained Liquor from the shore a were very ugly and had to be used very ruff - in order to preserve obedience. How much better would it be for them and for us were they consistent Te totalers.
Tuesday aug. 6th Today is fine weather and we are out of sight of the Isleand and going along with a gentle breeze at SSE + SE about 5 nots.
Wednsday aug. 7th We are driving along at a fine rate with a steady breeze at about ESE and fine weather
Thursday aug 8th continues the same as Wedsd yesterday. A sail in sight.
Friday Aug 9th
continued fine weather and a steady breeze at ESE course South - We have busily imployed since leaving Fayall in stowing away our recruits - one sail in sight steering Southward + Westward
Saturday Aug 10th Today is beautifully fine and we are courseing on our way rappid rate making nearly 200 miles each 24 hours distance Lat 27° 30'
Sunday Aug 11th Another Lords day has dawned upon us and thanks to his mercy finds all well and apparently injoying tolerable good spirits but poor me how can I so far from her I Love - But our Hearts are united in Prayer I fancy while I write she is at her devotions - Father protect her in mercy and bring us together again in thine own good time - With a fine breeze we are onward hastening at the rate of eight nots per hour - With studing sails for the first time since leaving Fayall. Course South Lat by ob 24° 30'
Monday Aug 12th To day continued pleasant weather and a fine breeze--and we are courseing along at a fine rate makeing about 170 miles southward in 24 hours
Tuesday 13th Remains fine and we drew near the Cape de Verde Isleand at night Shorten sail expecting to see them before morning Distant by our reckoning 90 miles--
Wednsday 14th At sunrise had sight of one of the Isleands--which proved to be Sal or Sall Isleand passed nothing ten or fifteen miles of it on the east Saw signs of Inhabitants and stood on the S +West
[Note: in this page of the journal the author describes his impressions of the inhabitants of the Cape Verde Islands in ways that by current standards are culturally insensitive. His negative impressions may also have been influenced by the fact that the Cape Verdeans were not eager to trade with the whalers on favorable terms.]
Thursday Aug 15th - at day light had sight of the Isleand of --St-Jago- or St Yago- to the eastward- Kept on to the westward for the Isle of Fogo - run in clost on the west side and landed with two Boat - with the intention of trading away some old bread for Pigs - eggs fowls fruit etc - on Landing we found that the people were not much in want of our trade - But wanted money and - cloths - they asked two dollars for Pigs that would not weigh more than 30 lbs - we soon left that place without getting any thing - and got on board of the Ship and - run down around the Isleand where we found the town - sent a boat in - just at sun set - which returned in a bout an hour with [unclear] that we could get a plenty of Pigs goat - sheep cattle fowls Eggs fine apples Bananas etc etc - in exchange for Bread flour Rice clothes cloth shoes - knives- etc etc This being so flattering Capt Destin concluded to stay until the next day--accordingly on
Friday the 16th at day light in the morning we found we had drifted out to the southwest from the Town about 20 miles--at 9 oclock in the morning we started with two Boats (it being calm at this time) where we found many ready to recieve us --But found things different from what we expected--and a great trouble to get anything--we finally got 4 hoggs + returned on board at 4 oclock in the afternoon + resumed our course--south--for the Equator--
The natives of the Isleands are mostly Black + Mulattoes--with but very few White--I should say from what I saw that they were all mixed with coulerd Blood--and I should think led a miserable life. Their houses are--comfortable I suppose for the climate--But there is nothing but the walls + ceilings furniture - not being fashionable, as I suppose not necessary--clothing, too is not very fashionable as many of the children up as old as ten years were entirely naked--There were some few of the gentry such as the collector + priest and the reputed counsel [consul] that appeared quite well and some quite pretty girls If they could be fixed up by our milliners + mantua makers, etc etc-- On the whole I saw nothing at all [word cut off by tear in corner of page] to my eyes--all disgusting + loathsome.
Saturday, morning the 17th We find ourselves out of sight of this Said Isleand of Fogo or -Fire for It is said that there is a volcano on it which can be seen in clear weather - by Ships at Sea on the east side - This Isleand is very high and covered - with clouds nearly half way dureing the most of the day - but at night quite clear - from where we lay which was between Fogo + Baboa which is distant about 15 miles to the Southward and Westward -- Being then clear from these Isleands - we shape our course fro the Southern Ocean
This day continued fine weather - with a light breeze to the Eastward course South -
Sunday Aug 24th
Nothing particular has occured since leaveing the Cape De Verde Isleands - The winds have been light and variable with squalls of rain - and mostly from the Southward - So that we have made slow progress Southward. We have seen several sails - some bound Southward + some Northward - exchanged coulers with an English Barque bound to the Northward. To day the weather is fine + pleasant with a gentle whole sail breeze at W-S-W and we are a steering South -- With a Brig in company - with which we have exchanged Coulers - Believed to be English - She is about 5 miles off to leward of us a[nd] rather out sails us. All hands are well -- Lat - to day by obs. 6° 57' N long. 20°15' W
Sunday September 1st 1844
This day is fine pleasant weather with a steady five not breeze at South and we are steering W-S-W dureing the past week nothing particular has occured the weather has been light and the wind from South to Southwest and we have made but little progress to the Southward. Have seen several sail - bound to the Southward - one whale Ship past within a mile of us name not known. To day our Lat by obs is 1°50' N
Monday, Sept. 2nd 1844
Fine Weather and a light breeze at S S E. Steered S-W a crossed the Equator at 7 o clock PM without seeing old Neptune — Since he has joined the Temperance ranks he does not visit the Ships a regular a formally, Lat. at Noon 00 24° N
Tuesday 3d Continues fine weather and a Steady breeze at S E Steered South and S S-W Lat. 1° 37 S.
Wednsday 4th Wind light and variable from E to S - Course S - Saw a Ship in the morning heading to the Northward + Westward Lat. at Noon 3° S
Thursday, 5th Fine weather and a moderate breeze at S S-E Steered S W Lat at Noon 5° 00' S
Sunday, Sept 8th Strong S-E Trade Winds and good weather. Steering S S-W + S W - Imployed mending Sails - regardless of the Lords Sabbath. Lat by obs 11° 16' S.
Thursday, Sept. 12th
This morning at 6 o clock had Sight of the rocks of Martin Vas near the Island of Trinadad bareing West distant 15 miles – The weather good and wind at S-E with Strong puffs or gusts - Steering S-S-W at a bout 5 knots pr hour – all hands well. Lat yesterday noon 19° 03' S. Long. 28° 25' W. Distant from Trinadad N-N-E 90 miles Lat of Trinadad 21° 28' S Long 29- 05 Lat of Martin Vas 20° 31' Long . . . 28° 38' Ships Lat at Noon to day not observed —
Friday 13th We have been busy to day in Sending up a new gang of foretopmast rigging. The weather clear with a good breeze at S-E Course S S W.
Saturday 14 - Fine weather and a steady breeze. Saw for the first a Goose or Albatross - and Cape Pigeons, we are then out of the Tropics – Lat. by obs 26° 46' S.
Sunday, 15th A fine day, with a light breeze at E-N-E Course S by W - The nights are getting quite cool — We are a feasting to day on fresh Pork Lat to day by obs 28° 18' S.
Called a hog. Pigs. A measly pig. [written vertically on the right edge of the page]
Friday, 20th To day we have a Strong gale from the westward and steered S S-E The afternoon cleared off and pleasant.
Sunday 21st A day of rest is always more or less pleasant – This Sabbath is rendered uncommonly so after a day or two of bad and blowing weather and in consequence of our being now where we expect to see the object of our pursuit – Whales are not plenty here by any means. We arrived yesterday morning where we might expect to see some of the Species of Whale we are after – but up to this time Monday afternoon have only seen fin backs (as we coll them) But a plenty of Birds – we have the wind at S-E and a fair prospect of a Gale
Monday 2 PM Sept 22nd 1844 Lat about 37° S.
Friday Sept 27th 1844
To day is the first moderate day that we have had Since last Sunday, it haveing been a continued gale Since that Time. The wind being from N-E around Eastward to S S-W where it now is – We have been "hove too" a part of the time - and for the last two days running off E + E by North - which brings us to day in the Lat by obs. – 34° 37' - Long 22° 40'. The weather has been cold + heavy, squally with haile. But the Merrimac has weathered it out pretty fair. She is not so good a Ship by any means as the North America as a Sea Boat. Yesterday afternoon had to take in two of our Boats. All hands are well and in fine Spirits - We are now running under whole topsails - with a Strong breeze at S W W - and Steering East up to 2 PM.
Saturday 28th This morning, at about 6 o clock, our Ship's company were Suddenly alarmed by the Cry of A Man Overboard – happily he was Soon recovered by lowering a boat - our Ship was a going at the time about 6 nots - he was a boat Steerer and was washed over while in the act of setting up the jib Stay by the Chief Mates orders. - breeze strong and the Ship Labouring much
Friday, October 4th 1844
Sunday Monday + Tuesday, were blowing and rain with the wind from N.E. to S.W with a heavy Sea.. dureing which time we have strove to the eastward – Wednesday is moderate and – at 12 Oclock We are by our reckoning 25 miles from distance from the Tristan Islands to the Northward – But cannot see them Thursday morning is raining with a light breeze from N.W. and thick at 1 P M cleared off with the wind at S-W + W steering E S-E Since Wednesday noon up to five Oclock this day Friday – The wind has – hauled around to day to N N-E and now has evry appearance of bad weather soon – Thus we have come acrossed one of the great whale ing grounds. – Without even seeing the spout of a Whale nor a Ship – We next look for the Maridian where we shall be in two or three days all hands are well.
Saturday 5th To day we are a joging along with a moderate breeze sometimes SW + S around to N.W. + North with squalls of rain at 4 PM we are 39 miles west of the Maridian of Greenwich with a good breeze steering S-E Lat at Noon caught a Porpoise 37° by obs.
Sunday 6th To day we have a strong breeze at SW with Squalls of light rain and cold course S S-E. Lat at Noon by obs. 37°-59' Long 2°-30' East
Friday, Oct. 11th
Since Sunday, the weather has been changeable and the winds variable and moderate and the weather rather warm - - To day we have seen whales for the first time since leaving N London – at Sun rise we lowered + and have lowered twice Since but got nothing – the wind moderate at S S-E steering East Lat by obs. 35°-31' Long 13°-38'
Sunday 13th continues fresh gale S-S-E and headed westward - under easy sail at evening the wind hauls eastward Steered Southerly, south fime weather - Lat at noon 35° 24’
Monday at Sunrise we are in the midst of Black Fish caught 3 the wind light and hauls around to the Westward and fine & pleasant saw a plenty of fin Back whale Steering S-East Lat at noon 36°15' Long 14°25’ East
Tuesday is fine pleasant weather and a steady breeze about SW Steering SE at 8 this morning, I saw a sail nearly ahead of us-steering about ESE - saw her about 4 PM on our starboard bearing
Wednesday 16th strong breeze at S & S-S-E at night with strong squalls
Thursday 17th Fresh gale at S-S-E & squally-under easy sail steering eastward
Sunday 20th Today is fine weather and a steady breeze up to 4 PM from NW steered East Since yesterday afternoon at 6 o’clock-all are well but No Whales Lat at noon 36°33' Long27°26'
Sunday Oct 27 1844
To day commences with a strong gale so that we are turning before it under double reefed fore and main Top sails & foresail-with the mizen furled - steering East with a clear Sunshine- Through the past week other winds have been variable mostly Eastward so that We have made slow progress to the eastward-But we have a prospect now of a good run-on our long road through This immense Ocean called Indian We have now one man I consider dangerously ill with a sore mouth & throat-with ulcers breaking out on the neck & face.What it is none of us know the prevailing opinion is that it is a remnant or a relapse of a disease which he has been a using ,murcury, for some two months Since - I am fearful it will prove serious for him. lat 36° 43' long
[Note: There is a gap in the entries of about a week.]
Sunday November 3, 1844
To day we have fine weather with a moderate breeze at about S & S S W. Steering S E & S S E the past week has been mostly very fine and light weather & sometimes calm.. Otherwise with light breezes from the northward & warm – Friday night we had a sudden shift of wind with squalls & rain from north around westward to south & cold - - which brought us down to clost reefed topsails – on Saturday - - but it is now quite moderate and we a going along finely under all sail. 56° 27 ' E Lat at noon 35° 25' Long at 2 PM.
Monday Nov. 4th
This commences Beautifull indeed. I scarcely ever saw a more beautifull morning with a light breeze at about West and steering S E at 8 o clock got sight of a whale at 9 o clock lowered three boats. But after trying until eleven o clock gave up the chase & kept on our course with any quantity of fin backs in sight. The wind “hauls” to S S W Lat at noon 36° 03'
Sunday Nov. 10th
The week past has been remarkably fine and mild. Nothing unusual haveing occured with us. On Wednesday had a lunar observation and found it to agree with the chronometer into about 30 minutes in Longitude. To day with a fine breeze at N N E we are tripping along at the rate of about 6 nots. Steering E by S with plenty of fin backs in sight. At 6 o clock PM the man to the mast head “discried” a sail the first since we passed the Cape of Good Hope. Lat at noon 38° 57'‘ Long 73° at 3 o clock.
The weather is quite fine to day after a rather stormy night and the wind has backed around to N W at 7 o clock under all sail at 7 ½ o clock got sight of the Island of St Pauls. bearing E N E distant 15 miles at 12 o clock clost [unclear] in. Saw a boat a fishing which proved to belong to a vessel at anchor on the East side belonging to the Isle of France Three of our boats
went in to fish—But returned at three with only about 60 fish in all. They were not able to fish because of the winds blowing, too strong—at 4 o’clock bore up before a fine breeze at W-N-W and steered E-S-E – St-Pauls is in Lat 38° 47’ Long 77° 52’-E.
Wednesday 13th Saw a Ship off of our Starboard qtr - Steering about East with Royals & Studdingsails set and gaining upon us fast. We were steering E-S-E—at Sun Set steered -E.. on Tuesday, She was a head of us- haveing past us to Leward Northward -15 miles with a strong breeze a Westward.
Sunday 17th Fine weather and a steady breeze at S.West Course E-S-E - at 8 o’clock P. M. got a lunar observation by the planet Saturn & the Moon which made our Long -94-56 1/4 East Lat 38 00 South
Whale stamp Thursday 21st Light wind and a very Thick Fogg . At 40 minutes past 11 o clock I saw 2 Whales. at a ¼ past 12 o’clock -lowered 3 Boats & the Chief mate soon struck – and the whale ran about 3 miles with him to windward—and the other 3 Boats in chase and before any of them could get fast. The iron broke and away he went come on board and kept off our course ESE at 2 o clock P.M. at which time it again set in foggy. Lat at noon 40° 28’ Long about 105.
Sunday Nov 24th – 1844- With a fine breeze at N. but foggy – no Whales but fin backs. We are now on the coast of Austrailia [sic] or New Holland- consequently directly opposite of our homes in America. We are of course as far from our friends as we can get- and now begin to advance toward each other – far off is the day on which we shall meet – onward is the watch word and crave heavens Blessing course E S-E. Lat at noon 40° 23’ S Long at 2 P.M. 115° 03 ½ E
Thursday December 1 st 1844
[Whale stamp]Thursday last was supposed to be Thanksgiving day at home. And our share of their annual feast consisted in the reflections of the occasion – But the day did bring forth something unusual for us for at early dawn say not past 4 o’clock we saw 2 wright whale about 2 miles distant. A sight to see that it really caused a spontaneous burst of thanks. Our boats (3) were soon down and in the chase and soon (2) were fast to two whales – and as soon – as it were – a flying along to the windward and in about a half hour – killed him- but to our mortification he sank – and the other one we had cut from in order to clear the lines which had got crossed while the whales were running – at 6 o’clock our boats were again on the cranes – and we on our course East – without our Thanksgiving dinner in cutting a whale – This is the second whale that we have been fast too and the first one killed at 12 o’clock. We ate our duff + salt beef and I turned in to dream of my Olive and pumpkin pies – The weather has been fine until Friday when the wind "canted" to South and cold. Today it has got around to East and has the appearance of a storm – although our barometer denote fair weather all hands are well except for one broken Shin – caused at sky larking (R-kim) ? ), one cut off thumb – with the broad hatchet (cooper) one cut off the end of a finger – with the (chime) of a barrel (W – Sa_ket) and one sick man – caused by imprudent habbits previous to leaving home – I have before mention this case and thought it doubtful – about his recovery – But since he has partially recovered. As consequence of these ailings among our crew we are only able to man three boats as it has been so far with us – we could have done quite as well with one. For we have only seen whales four times since we have been out. Latitude by observation at noon 38° 20' s Longitude at 2 PM 134° EAST
Sunday Decbr 8th, 1844
The past week we have had the wind mostly from the N + E with much hazy weather – have seen a great number of Fin Back. Yesterday morning saw a large Sperm Whale. Blew strong at the time from the westward and looked so much like a comeing gale that we did not lower our boats. Steered East + East South East. This day is quite moderate with a light breeze at South course of E by S Lat at noon 47° 27’ Long 154° 11 East.
Sunday Decbr 15th
To day is moderate with a breeze at N and Westerly and cold & cloudy. The past week has been cold with the wind varying from SW to SE + E + NE + to N – Wednesday saw the Snares + Nights Isleands early in the morning, beareing NW Distant 20 miles in the afternoon saw Stewarts Isleand bearing N 20 miles steering NE saw a Reef ahead. Tacked Ship & stood SSE the wind strong at East with a raw cold Atmosphere. Lat at Noon to day 50° 19’ Long about 17° 38.
Sunday Decbr 22nd
On Monday last saw two Right whales. They were a going so fast that we could not come up with them took in sail at night lay too – then in the lat of 48 South. The next day Tuesday in the afternoon at 2 oclock saw Bounty Isleand and at 4 o clock Capt Destin + our second officer went on Shore and returned at half past seven with nine very large fur seals + three small ones, one sucking pup which we have kept untill to day -- Bounty Isleand lies in the Lat of 47° - 32' S + Long 179° 02' East and are a small group of Barren Rocks covering a space of 4 or five miles – with innumerable quantities of sea Fowls? - at 8 o clock, resumed our course ENE with the wind at NW and hazy weather which has continued much the same up to this day – having gained one day – since leaving West Longitude and have again arived into West Long – we have had two Wednesdays + this does to correct our account set today. Lat to day 41° Long 165° 28' W
Wednesday, Dec 25th Christmas 1844
Was spent by us. With as much of the usual pomp and ceremony, of drinking & feasting as our circumstances would admit of – We had Roast Pig & pies & ginger Bread & New bread & old Butter etc etc – on the whole we fared pretty well considering we have been at sea for five months & 8 days… Those that wished it – Were treated to gin Brandy& Wine by capt Disten & our Chief mate - And Right Glad am I that there were some that had moral courage enough to refuse even Wine – The day before we saw two ships steering to the Westward – Run for them but did not Speak them. The wind quite fresh at W-N-W & thick could not see more than five miles – at Night at 91/2 o clock saw another ship distant about ½ mile steering westward Christmas day- blows strong from W-N-W – and we run under our double reefed Main Topsail & fore sail – steering, East at – 4 o clock PM - luffed too heading – N-N-E – Lat at Noon 45°58' first saw the Comet – this night Long - 15°6 W
Thursday morning moderate made sail steering N&E at 6 o clock passed a carcas - & saw a whale & lowered for him - didn’t get him stood on N-by-E tll Noon – Lat 45-26- Long 15 4 ½
Sunday Dec 28th
The weather since Thursday has been squally & rugged and but a little chance for whaling had we have seen any – But such has not been the case Since Saturday at 2 o clock PM – It has been blowing a gale from SW – and we have been trying too under a closet reefed main Topsail. At this time 7 PM it moderates fast – been imployed all day repairing Gib - - Lat at 2 o clock 43 48 – Long 155°04
Monday moderates fast- & ends calm at sun rise made sail heading to the westward Lat 43-48- at noon
Tuesday Moderate breeze . At N-W steered W-S-W
Wednesday The first of Jan 1845 – made sail at Sun rise steering SSW all day to Noon after Which steered S Lat 45 10 – Long 159 W