Week 5

The result of this week has completely disappointed our expectations. At this season of the year, none of us anticipated calms, much less foul winds – and yet we have had enough of both in all conscience. From Sunday to Sat.y when the wind has been fair, it has also been very light, but more frequently we had none at all or baffling winds, presenting at the end of our Hebdomade a beggarly account of paltry miles, which some how or another we happened to gain.

Akin to our dissatisfaction at the winds was our disappointment in the weather. Heavy sultry clouds hung pendant in the heavens, threatening yet never fulfilling – enviously excluding the light of the sun, and filling the air with a damp vapour – whilst at night the heavy falling showers would compel us to keep under the shelter of the poop Cabin, where we were all stewed and broiled to no manner of purpose.

This has been a most tiresome week, and complained of as such by all. Various means were taken to kill time but not with much success, as pistol shooting &.c  Sky larking –

A bucket of water was carried up to the foretop and there cannily lashed whilst a rope, being attached to it – conveyed to the deck, one of the men on deck could at any time, by pulling this rope, capsize the bucket on those immediately under the foretop. A proper opportunity was watched for, & when a knot of the Miners were chatting together, the rope was pulled & down came the heavy shower, sousing the whole of the party, who naturally enough looked up to detect the rogue but of course in vain.

Again: one of the Miners being one day rather delicate & pickish bought some currant jam of our steward and gave the Cook a considerable portion of it to be made into a tart for his own particular maw. The tart was still in the oven and nearly ready, when lo two or three pirates, in the absence of the gourmand carried off the tempting dish, and taking up their station in the foretop deliberately devoured the whole, paste [sic] and all, to the richly merited disappointment of the selfish gastronome.

Tuesday 24th – being the day before Christmas, in the evening we had egg flip & grog. The Miners were allowed an extra quantity of rum, and in return entertained us with some Christmas carols, pretty well sung, particularly that which begins “Hark the herald angels sing.” After we had some profane songs, which seemed to be more to the general taste. It is extraordinary how many of the Cornish Miners are acquainted with Church Music, comprehending, I’ll venture to say, every one who has any voice or ear at all.

Wednesday 25th – Christmas day passed off very quietly. No Church service. Plenty of goose & plum pudding for dinner, with an extra quantum of wine. The only thing we should have preferred was a wanting, namely a merry breeze to make this a merry Christmas to us.

Thursday 26th – a total Eclipse of the Moon took place, of which we [had] a most perfect view – as there was not a cloud in the heavens. It was astonishing how brilliantly the stars shone during her obscuration & to observe how they seemed to fade in the splendour as she gradually emerged from behind the veil and at last shone forth in her most glorious effulgence. Another circumstance also happened this night which I have never seen since I have been to sea. It was a calm. The stilling of the ship harmonised with the quietude of nature. All at once our ears were startled with a loud hissing sound as if air had been forcibly expressed from a huge pair of bellows. The experienced could make nothing of the cause of the same, the more cautious judged it to proceed from the blowing of a whale. All hands were soon engaged in gazing over the sides of the vessel – nor gazed they long before several repetitions of similar sounds were heard & the emitters of them seem to be huge grampuses, who were disporting themselves in the neighbourhood of the vessel, apparently unintimidated by or unacquainted with the unusual object of our ship. For a long time they animated themselves – very often they would come close alongside of us, exposing to our view the whole length of their huge bodies. Their motion was slow and equal nearly horizontal except when they would descend, tail on end and ascend with upturned heads to the surface to blow. Their expiration was sharp and strong & soon over – & some seconds would elapse are they descended, as if they were apparently inhaling a fresh supply of air. They kept playing around us for two hours and as if they knew we were spectators of their gambols, they would for our amusement, float or swim on their backs & sides, by which means [the] whole of their white belly was distinctly visible to us for some time.

Saturday 28th December – moderate and favourable breeze. Fine weather

Sunday 29th – moderate and favourable breeze. Fine weather.

Monday 30th – fine weather – light and baffling winds and calms.

Tuesday 31st – light and baffling breezes alternating with calms. Fine w.r

1834 Wednesday 1st January – fresh and favourable [breeze] struck up at the commencement of our New Year & continued all day. Cloudy but pleasant weather.

Thursday 2d January – cloudy weather. Fresh and favourable breeze.

Friday 3rd – fine weather. Fresh and favourable breeze. At 11.30 saw the Island of Deseada. At 5 abreast of Guadeloupe. At 5.30 saw Montserrat a head of us – did not see Antigua at all, as on the former occasions on account of the haze.

Saturday 4th – very fresh and favourable breeze – fine weather.

Read on …