Weeks 5 & 6

5 Week

Saturday 7th March from noon – constant rain wind light & favourable from S & SSW, till 4 P.M. when at once it shifted to NE, blowing very strong – fair for us but we could do nothing for an hour or two in consequence of a heavy squall from the W. As soon as possible we made sail with a fresh & favourable breeze.

Sunday 8th – lost our fair wind last night. Fresh and foul wind during the day. Cloudy weather.

Monday 9th  – Gale of foul wind, thick gloomy weather.

Tuesday 10th March – cloudy but fair weather. Moderate & rather more favourable wind.

Wednesday 11th – fine day – thick and gloomy afternoon with constant drizzle. Fresh and favourable wind.

Thursday 12th – strong gales of foul wind. Cloudy weather with occasional slight showers.

Friday 13th – fresh & foul wind. Cloudy weather with passing showers of hail.

Saturday 14th – up to noon –  strong breezes, still increasing; of foul wind – cloudy but fair weather.

V Hebdomade

Still the same story over and over again of foul winds – gales – bad weather & disappointed hopes. The order of things has been one day gale, next moderate, 3rd day gale & so – 2 days & half of foul wind with half a day of fair, thus giving little better than 24 hours of fair wind. The changes of wind have been very frequent from SW to NW & vice versa – often has the wind fallen light or died away to a calm – frequently have we observed the swell rolling after us, or the clouds in motion from astern forwards – and from all these appearances, during no week so much as during this, have so many opinions been expressed & so sanguine hopes entertained of a favourable & lasting change. But experience here has been falsified and the course of nature has seemed changed. One consolation remains to us, that the  longer we are in reaching the coast, the finer the weather is likely to be.

The weather during the week has been very variable – on the whole we ought to complain, as it is rather more than one might have expected.

6th Week

Saturday 14th March – from noon – strong Gales – laying to – constant rain. At 5 P.M. more moderate, when we made all necessary sails. Weather cloudy but fair.

Sunday 15th – moderate & foul foul wind – fine weather but very cold thermometer 36*

Monday 16th – constant rain in the morning with light and favourable breeze. At 10 A.M. cleared off fine followed by fresh and favourable breeze. At 3 thick fog. At 6 cleared off – very light & favourable wind.

Tuesday 17th March – thick foggy weather – sounded on Banks of Newfoundland. Moderate & foul wind. At 4 calm. At 8 moderate & favourable breeze.

Wednesday 18th – very heavy equinoctial gale – driven back again on the Banks. Dreadful sea which is always the case in soundings, when strong breezes blow. Squally & very cold weather. Minimum of thermometer 26*

Thursday 19th – beautiful with a moderate & foul wind in the forenoon – calm afternoon – at 8 P.M. moderate & favourable breeze. Thermometer 28*

Friday 20th – gale of wind with heavy sea all day – weather variable but most miserable – Maximum of thermometer 52* minimum 38*

Saturday 21st – very strong & fine breeze – cloudy but pleasant weather. Sun today crossed the Equator.

VI Hebdomade

Six weeks, the utmost extent of time we allowed ourselves to go out to Halifax, are now over, and we are still 500 miles from our destination, with as little prospect as ever of getting rapidly over so paltry a distance. A Portuguese or Spaniard placed in our situation would only shrug up his shoulders and vent his spleen by saying patiensa par forga or enforced patience. But we are neither one nor the other & whatever I may have boasted two weeks ago of my complete possession of that admirable quality of patience I confess – now that it is oozing fast thro’ my fingers, & that in a short time I shall have little or none left. Little do I say that I have left – any I believe you would not be able to muster an ounce of it among the whole ships company. Fear to tell you the truth, so long as our ships company have plenty of grog & Tobacco they will prove as patient as a modern Job in every other respect – but touch my grog & tobacco – touch my temper & so as very little to a few & none of most of these indispensable commodities remain, our men are out of all patience & grumble & growl at the foul winds like bears with sore heads. Besides, for my part I do not see much merit in enforced patience, no more than in a man living a virtuous life in a situation where there is no hope neither for the indulgence of more vicious passions, or the exhibition of virtuous affections – and therefore as I should have no place on my compulsory patience, I have no objection to vent my spleen in abusing the weather & winds & in finding fault with every thing.

When you become impatient & fretful – when your temper is soured by disappointment, trifles light as air are will tend to aggravate you – item hu__our – & much more so do we find that the heavy gales & severe weather of this week are as burdens to our calamities which are hardly to be born. Four [?] days have we endured the violence of raging tempests, with no small danger to ourselves, barring all the other accompanying disagreements. And we have reason amidst all our difficulties, to be thankful to that Almighty & most gracious Being, who tempered the wind to the shorn lamb, for his preserving care over us, without which we must all have been swallowed up in the deep. On shore, where sheltered from the storm & tempest, men do not so sensibly feel their need of the preventing hand of God, the sense of his presence & his p_____ scarcely presents itself to our minds – but on the unfathomable ocean, in the deep murky darkness of a winter’s night, when the winds are billowing with the voice of ten thousand bulls & the sea rising raging & whitening all around you – Then, then it is that as it were irresistibly, a sense of our needs of divine and to escape the ever threatening danger, comes over the mind & compels the soul to look up to Heaven, whence protection must come.

I must not omit to make mention of

gale in particular. It took place shortly after we had got to the Westward of the Banks of Newfoundland. While laying to under our storm-sails, we drifted back upon the Banks and there encountered a sea, more really dangerous than any we have yet had. It is a remark among seamen that when you have a gale when on soundings, the waves are higher, more tumultuous & dangerous than elsewhere. You run then greater risk of shipping a heavy sea & no one can tell the probable consequences of such as event. Now so it befell us. When little expecting it, a tremendous wave, broke in upon our deck – carried away the hammock netting boards – displaced our ballast in the hold – & nearly sent the Old Duke on her beam ends. If another of equal size & force had followed immediately upon this & struck us in a similar way, we must have sunk, or the masts would have went by the board, leaving us like a log on the water. Providentially we took in no more seas – the Packet righted herself – and such on the men who had fallen picked themselves up, glad notwithstanding their bruises & that their lockers for their clothes were full of water, that matters were no worse.

The weather generally throughout this week has been very cold, the thermometer being as low as 26o, We have plenty of hail, ice & thick fog, which last was the worst of all, as it magnified the danger of the gale, by making the waves appear larger than they really were.

Read on …