The log of the voyage of “The Canterbury”. From Dunedin, New Zealand, 8 April 1880, to London 24 June 1880

The log of the voyage of the The Canterbury, under Captain Leslie. From Dunedin, New Zealand, 8 April 1880, to London. Arrived Gravesend, 24 June 1880. 79 days sailing to London.

April 8th 1880.   Left the jetty at one o’clock where a few of my very dear friends were seeing me off. The weather looks rather bad inside the heads, the hills being covered with clouds and drizzling rain falling at short intervals, but once outside the heads the scene is changed. The sun is shining and there is very little wind.  Still you see the clouds inside.  I feel as sad leaving N.Z. this time as ever I felt leaving home, there being a few people their [sic] who are very dear friends indeed but I hope to see them all soon again. 

Friday April 9th.  We have not made a very good start this time, as it is blowing a strong head wind.  All the watch were employed taking in the anchors from over the bows.  When that was done we closed up the fore cabins, etc.  Wind still continuing ahead drizzling rain falling all day.  The glass falling.  In the second dog watch, we snuged her down to the mizen topsail.

Saturday 10th [April]  2 a.m.  Weather clearing up.  Set the thru top-gallant sails and checked the yards in a little bit.  6 a.m. Very little wind and right aft, washed her down. 10 a.m. Wind a beam and rather chilly.  12 a.m. Looks like rain.  Took a slush pot up to the mizen and greased down. Fine night, going 9 ½ knots. 

Sunday 11th [April]  Strong breeze right aft, all square sail set, continue at so till 8 a.m. when we took in Royals and top-gallant sails.  A heavy sea running, stowed main sails.  10 a.m. took the fore and mizen top-sails of [sic] her.  Shipping an awful lot of water, continued at so all night.  You require to watch your chance to go from fored aft or from aft fored.

Monday 12th [April]  2 a.m. a heavy shower of rain falling.  Settled the sea down a little.  The wind and sea continued falling till four o’clock when we set the top-sails and top-gallant sails.  By 8. a.m. we had the main Royal on her.  10 a.m. set the fore and mizen Royal.  Wind continued moderate all day.  Going right heavy.


Having crossed the meridian of longitude [i], there is two Mondays, eight days this week.  Fair wind and cloudy weather, drizzling rain falling at intervals.  Took the three Royals of [sic] her at half past five p.m. going eight and a half knots.

Tuesday 13th [April]  Fair wind and clear weather.  Hands employed making paunch mats  and  sinnets.  Set the Royals and stay sails at ten a.m.  Midday wind abeam. Going nine knots.  6 p.m. took in Royals and top-gallant sails. 8 p.m. Blowing pretty stiff.  Shipping a great quantity of water.

Wednesday 14th [April]  8 a.m. Strong breeze and cloudy weather.  Wind decreasing. Set the top-gallant sails.  10 a.m.  Wind still creasing, set the Royals and stay-sails.  Hands employed at paunch mats, sinnets, stops and nettels.  4 p.m. commencing to blow again. Took in Royals and light sails.  6 p.m. Wind increasing took in top-gallant sails and cross-jack.  6 p.m. Reefed the main sail.

Lat S 50.30  Long E 155.35

Thursday 15th [April]  6 a.m. Wind decreasing clear weather set all sail.  Hands till employed at mats and sinnet.  4 p.m. It seems we are going through the same performance every night as the wind is increasing during the night.  We took in all the sails, down to the main top-sail and reefed the main sail.

Friday 16th [April]  2 a.m. Blowing an awful gale of wind, rolling and pitching about like fury and shipping a great quantity of water.  An occasional sea washing the poop.  All hands making fast the main top-sail and took three quarters of an hour over it at that.  Rain falling very heavy.  All hands had an awful job making the main sail fast, as it was soaking wet.  6 a.m. We are now under the fore-sail, fore-top mast stay-sail and the three lower top-sails.  10 a.m. Wind decreasing, set main top-sail reefed.       11 a.m. gave her the fore and mizen top-sails.  2 p.m. Shaked the reefs out of the topsails and had them all set by 6 p.m.  8 p.m. wind increasing, took the mizen top-sail off.  12 p.m. All hands took the fore and main top-sails off her.  Very heavy squalls coming down every little while.

Saturday 17th [April]  Still continuing to blow, and a very heavy sea running, watch standing by.  Water continually washing her decks.  10 p.m.  All hands called out to make the main-sail fast and take in the remnants of the main lower topsail. Got everything squared up by twelve o’clock when our watch went below.

Sunday 18th [April]  We were wakened up at 2 a.m. by the noise of hands running and shouting about the decks.  The first thing that greeted our ears on wakening was that the wheel was washed away.  They got relieving tackles hooked in and steered her with that as well as they could.  Meanwhile all hands got on deck, hauled up the fore-sail and went up and stowed it.  While we were still stowing the fore-sail a cry came from the bosun and some others that she was going over, to look out for ourselves.  Their [sic] were we all hanging on to the fore-sail and watching to see whether she would right again, we all withheld our very breath thinking every moment would be “The Canterbury’s” last.  Her masts were almost horizontal.  She righted again however and we all heaved a sigh of relief and proceeded to take in all sail except the Mizen top-sail and fore-topmast stay-sail, preparatory to heaving her to.  When she was coming to was a critical moment as there was an awful heavy sea running but she came round all right.  We then spread a cloth in the weather mizen rigging and set the mizen stay-sail.  We were then able to breath freely.  All morning we were employed clearing all the ropes off her decks and lashing casks and things that had got adrift.  On the afternoon all hands were employed bending a main top-sail for the one that had gone.   All this time there was no signs of Charley Alstom who had been last seen on the poop at 2 a.m.  It is supposed that the sea which washed the wheel away and smashed the stern ports in, flooding the pantry, Capts. Room, saloon and all the state rooms washed poor Charley overboard.  The hands were standing bye all night.

Monday 19th [April]  The Carpentar [sic, carpenter] and Dougal Kirk working at the wheel all day.  Strong wind and clear weather, we would be sailing along fine if we only had a wheel.  The poop is gaily decorated off today in honour of the cabin being flooded yesterday, bedclothes and beds, carpets and rugs wearing apparel and charts, boots, etc. strewed about in every direction to dry.  The hands employed hanging out those things to dry and drying and cleaning up the old main room.  10 p.m.  The sea coming aft and the wind shifting.  They are afraid of the storm ports and so we have to spread our wings again and run for it.  Employed loosing and setting sail, till early on the next morning.  S.W. winds.   Going 10 knots.

Tuesday 20th [April]  Strong winds and cloudy weather, main top-gallant sail set.  Wind hauling aft, squared the yards.  Hands employed holistoning main deck making sinnet, etc.  Wind west.  Going 11 knots. 

Wednesday 21st [April]  Light winds to cloudy weather.  All sail set except fore and afters.  Hands employed holystoning decks and frigging yards about.  4 p.m. took fore and mizen Royals off her, drizzling rain and hail falling at intervals.  7 p.m. took the main Royal off.  10 p.m. Mizen top-gallant sail.  Going 10 knots wind right aft.

Thursday 22nd [April]  Strong winds and cloudy weather.  Fore top-gallant sail on her.  10 a.m. took fore & main top-gallant sails off her.  4 p.m. Glass falling rapidly.  All hand employed taking all sail off her preparatory to heaving her too.  Took every string off her except the main top-sail under which he intends heaving her tog.  We had just got her nicely too when away went the main topsail sheet.  It was caused by carelessness in not hauling the main lifts taut, with the main yard jumping up and down.  The chain sheet was broken about a fathom from the clew of the sail.  We had an awful job gathering up the sail which was blown into ribbons, but managed it by about 7 o’clock.  We had to cut the clew out of the sail as the clewline carried away.  12 p.m. Laying too very well but shipping a great quantity of the water.

Friday 23rd  [April]  8 a.m. Set the mizen top-sail and got another main top-sail up out of the locker for bending in place of the old one.  Strong wind and cloudy weather.     8 p.m. Still blowing hard.

Saturday 24th [April]  8 a.m. Got sail on her and commenced our long journey.  Set everything up to the top-gallant sails.  Blowing very fresh.  Going 11 knots.

Sunday 25th [April]  Strong winds and cloudy weather, drizzling rain falling at intervals.  8 p.m. loosed and set the main Royal.  12 p.m. Commencing to blow again, took the main Royal mizen top-gallant sail and crossjack.  Going 19 knots.  Wind S.S.W.

Monday 26th [April]  Strong winds and cloudy weather.  6 a.m. Set mizen top-gallant sail.  8 a.m. main top-gallant, Royal and crossjack loosed and set.  Hands employed making sinnet.  12 a.m. Heavy rain falling, shipping a quantity of weather water.  Got our house flooded out and all my tree ferns were spoiled with the salt water, and I expect they will die.

Lat 54.41S  Long 114.21W

Tuesday 27th [April]  Strong winds and clear weather.  10 a.m. Loosed and set the fore and mizen Royals.  Hands employed making sinnet as usual.  4 p.m. Strong winds and clear cold weather.  8 p.m. Going 10 ½ knots Wind S.W.

Wednesday 28th [April]  Strong winds and clear weather.  All sail set.  Hands employed making sinnet.  4 p.m. Strong wind hauling aft and clear cold weather.   7 p.m. Wind increasing took fore and mizen Royal off her.  Heavy hail squalls coming down at intervals.  9 p.m. Wind still increasing and heavy squalls coming down.  Took main Royal mizen top-gallant sail and cross-jack in.  12 p.m. Going 11 ½ knots with the Starboard clews of the main sail and crossjack hauled up.

Lat 56.26S  Long 70.21W

Thursday 29th [April]  Strong winds and cloudy weather.  2 a.m. Set the three top-gallant sails. 4 a.m. Set main Royal and took it in at six a.m.  Dried her down fore and aft.  Hands employed making sinnet and some of them putting a few ratlines in the main lower rigging.  8 p.m. Strong winds from the southard.  Passed a barque beating round The Horn under easy canvas.  9 p.m. Sighted those islands called the …

Friday 30th [April]  Strong winds and cloudy weather.  Wind abeam.  Hands employed getting up the studding-sail gear up from the gear locker, and reparing [sic] it.  10 a.m. Keeping her away to the Northed as we have now got clear of the much dreaded Horn.  We are now booming along for fine weather and home at the rate of twelve knots. 

Saturday May 1st.  I suppose all my friends at home will be going in for a picnic, as this is the first of May.  While we aboard “The Canterbury” are encountering all the cold of a severe snow-storm.  Strong winds and very cloudy weather.  Going 10 ½ knots with a bitter cold wind from N.SW. [North Southwest].

Sunday 2nd [May]  4 a.m. Strong winds and squally weather.  Loosed and set the main top-gallant sail.  5 a.m. loosed and set fore and mizen top-gallant sails and main Royal.  8 a.m. Strong winds and clear weather.  Going 10 knots, wind right aft.

Monday 3rd [May]  Strong winds and clear weather.  6 a.m.  Loosed and set the fore and mizen Royals.  8 a.m. Bitter cold.  Got the flying boom from on top of the house and got it rigged out.  Some hands employed setting up the gear, while others are getting one of the stunsail booms up from the mast and layed along the yard ready for rigging out when we get the gear on.  4 p.m. Hands employed getting up stunsail gear and setting up flying boom guys.  6 a.m. Going 12 ½ knots, wind right aft.  All square sail set.

Tuesday 4th [May]  Strong winds and clear weather.  All square sail set.  Hands employed getting stunsail gear aloft.  12 a.m. Strong winds and squally weather, wind right aft.  Going 12 ½ knots.  8 p.m. wind increasing, clewed up the fore and mizen Royals and made them fast.  10 p.m. Heavy cross sea running, shipping a lot of water on both sides, clewed up main Royal and made it fast.  12 p.m. Wind aft.  Going 13 knots.

Wednesday 5th [May]  Strong winds and clear weather. Wind off the port quarter.    8 a.m. Set fore main and mizen Royals.  11 a.m. Set main top-mast and top-gallant stay sails, inner jib and fore top-mast stay-sail. 12 a.m. Wind S.W. Going 12 knots.

Thursday 6th [May]  Strong winds and cloudy weather, all sail set.  Hands employed scrubbing brightwork.  6 p.m. Wind increasing.  Took in the fore, main and mizen Royals.  7 p.m. The single block of the main tack carried away, got a tackle hooked in the clew and hove down the tack.  Next morning, got the block fixed in.  10 p.m. Strong winds and dirty weather.  Going 11 knots.

Friday 7th [May]  Strong winds and cloudy weather. Mizen top-gallant sail set.  Hands employed scrubbing starboard top-gallant rail.  4 p.m. Wind increasing, hauled the cross-jack and made it fast.  Shipping a quantity of lee water, and spray to windward.  8 p.m. Loosed and set cross-jack wind abeam.  Going 10 knots.

Saturday 8th [May]  Strong winds and clear weather.  6 a.m. head of the outer jib carried away.  Hauled it down, unbent it and put another in its place.  10 a.m. Loosed and set main Royal.  Hands employed scrubbing brightwork.  12 a.m. Fine weather, steering full and bye.  2 p.m. Loosed and set fore and Mizen Royals.  5 p.m. Bent the flying jib and set it.  12 p.m. Strong winds and fine weather, yards braced sharpe up.  Going 10 knots.

Sunday 9th [May] Moderate winds and fine weather.  The decks were thoroughly dry today for the first time since leaving n Zealand.  10 a.m. Set main Royal and mizen top-gallant stay sail.   7 p.m. Two of the passengers came into the forecastle and we held a concert of hymns.  12 p.m. Moderate winds fine weather. Going 7 knots.

Monday 10th [May]  Moderate wind, and find weather.  All sail set.  8 a.m. Rigged out Port stunsail boom.  11 a.m. Heavy squall. Lowered down the Royals, but it passed over in a few minutes when we hoisted them up again.  2 p.m. Starboard watch employed rigging out Starboard stunsail boom.  8 p.m. Light winds, and fine weather.  Wind on quarters.  Going 7 ½ knots.

Tuesday 11th [May]  No wind and fine weather.  One barque to leeward and a ship and — — to windward, too far off for signalling.   Hands employed scrubbing brightwork.  8 p.m. Light air.  Going 1 ½ knots. 

Wednesday [12th May]  Dead calm, find tropical weather.  The ship and barque that was to windward are now just in sight.  3 p.m. Signaled the barque and found that she was “The Grassmere”, 47 days out from Tasmania, and bound for London.  5 p.m. A fine breeze came away from the S.E., soon left the barque far behind.  10 p.m. Fine 9 knot breeze.  Expect it is the S.E. Trades.

Thursday 13th [May] Strong breeze and fine weather.  All sail set.  Hands scrubbing brightwork.  6 p.m. Set the topmast stunsail on Starboard side.  8 p.m. Set the lower stunsail.  11 a.m. Strong breeze and fine weather.  Going 9 knots.

Friday 14th [May]  Strong breeze and fine weather.  All sails set.  8 a.m. The flying jib blew away, bent another jib in its place and set it.  10 a.m. Took in stunsails.  Hands scrubbing and painting boats and some rattling down.  10 p.m. Strong breeze and fine weather, steering full and bye.

Saturday 15th [May]  Strong breeze and fine weather.  All sail set.  Hands rattling down, scrubbing and painting.  3 p.m. Passed a Dutch three masted schooner outward bound.  10 p.m. Strong winds and fine weather, steering full and bye.

Sunday 16th [May]  Moderate winds and find weather, all sail set. Sighted two sail but they were too far off for signalling.  Done nothing all day but lay back in the cool of the evening.  In the second dog watch we sang a few hymns forward.  10 p.m. Moderate winds and fine weather, steering full and bye. Going 9 knots.

Monday 17th [May]  Moderate winds and fine weather.  All sail set.  Hands employed rattling down.  Squalls coming down at intervals.  10 p.m. Moderate winds and fine weather. Steering full and bye.  Going 9 knots.

Tuesday 18th [May]  Moderate winds and fine weather.  All sail set.  10 a.m. Signaled a barque called “The Merope’ bound for N. Zealand.  Hands employed blackening down.  10 p.m. Moderate winds and fine weather, steering full and bye.  Going 8 ½ knots.

Lat 5.47S  Long 26.48W

Wednesday 19th [May]  Moderate winds and fine weather.  All sail set.  Set stunsails on starboard side.  4 p.m. Sighted a double top-gallant yard ship called “The Minstley Hall” which had been run into a little North of the line.  5 p.m. Sighted a Glasgow ship called “The Ralston” bound for the Maritins[ii].  10 p.m. Going 8 ½ knots, steering full and bye.

Thursday 20th [May]  Strong winds and fine weather.  All sail set.  Hands employed scrubbing brightwork.  12  Sighted a barque away to windward, but she was too far off for signaling.  10 p.m. Strong N.E. Winds, steering full and by.  Going 9 knots.

Friday 21st [May]  Strong winds and fine weather.  All sail set.  10.30 a.m. crossed the line.  11 a.m. Sighted a barque outward bound called “The Landbartion” of Stockton.  Hands employed scrubbing brightwork.  10 p.m. Strong winds and fine weather.  Going 9 knots.

Saturday 22nd [May]  Light winds and cloudy weather.  All sail set.  Hands employed scrubbing bulwards.  Sighted two barques but they were too far off for signalling.      10 a.m. Very dark and close.  Rain commencing to come down in torrents, very vivid flashes of lightning and low and long roars of thunder.  12 p.m. Went out on deck and had a fine bath in the rain.

Sunday 23rd [May]  Light winds and cloudy weather.  1 a.m. clewed the three Royals and stowed them.  2 a.m. Took in top-gallant sails.  4 a.m.  Raining in torrents, catching the rain and filling casks with it.  6 a.m. Sighted a ship on the lee bow westward bound.  8 a.m. Came close up to her, and found that she was “The Eastern Monarch”, bound to Calcutta, with a general cargo.  10 a.m. A breeze springing up and we set all sail.  10 a.m. Strong winds and fine weather.  Going 8 ½ knots.

Monday 24th [May]  Strong winds and fine weather.  All sails set.  Hands scrubbing the brightwork today again.  Passed a homeward bound barque but she was too far off for signalling.  10 p.m. Strong winds and fine weather.  Going 9 knots.

Lat 9.37N  Long 32.22W  True course N 44°W

Tuesday 25th [May]  Strong winds and fine weather.  All sail set.  Hands scrubbing brightwork.  Passed away to windward of a small top-sail schooner homeward bound too far off for signalling.  10 p.m. Strong winds and fine weather.  Going 9 ½ knots.

Lat 13.2N  Long 36.24 W  Course N 31°W

Wednesday 26th [May]  Strong winds and fine weather.  All sail set.  Hands employed painting aloft.  10 a.m. Wind falling. Light going 5 knots.  10 p.m. Strong winds and fine weather.  Wind N.E.  12 p.m. Going 10 knots.

Lat 16.7N  Long 37.9 W

Thursday 27th [May]  Strong winds and fine weather.  All sail set.  Hands employed painting half round and white paint work on poop.  Sighted a small schooner and brigantine bound for the West Indies.  10 p.m. Moderate winds and fine weather.  Going 6 ½ knots.

Lat 19.7 N  Long 36.27W

Friday 28th [May]  Light winds and fine weather.  All sail set.  Hands employed painting boats, furnishing, gratings, etc.  4 p.m. Signalled an Italian brigantine called “The Veronia” bound home from Rio.  6 p.m. Wind dying away altogether, frigging the yards about.  10 p.m. Light winds and fine weather.  Going 5 ½ knots.

Saturday 29th [May]  Dead calm and fine weather.  All sail set.  Hands employed scrubbing brightwork.  11 p.m. Dead calm and every prospect of it continuing so.

Sunday 30th [May]  Dead calm and fine weather.  8 p.m. Light air from N.W. Large whale desporting [sic] himself round the ship all day.

Monday 31st [May]  Dead calm, fine weather. Hands employed scrubbing brightwork, furnishing, gratings, etc.  10 p.m. Very light air from N.W.

June, Tuesday 1st.  Dead calm, fine weather.  Hands employed at brightwork, as usual.  Light air blowing during the night from N.E.

Wednesday 2nd [June]  Dead calm, fine weather.  Hands employed as usual.

Thursday 3rd [June]  Dead calm, fine weather.  Hands employed as usual.  A few dolphins and bonito swimming about, caught two young dolphins.


Atlantic Bonito

Friday 4th [June]  Dead clam, fine weather.  Hands employed as usual. No signs of wind and don’t expect a change till the new moon.

Saturday 5th [June]  Light air, fine weather.  Hands employed as usual.  A light breeze came up about twelve o’clock, when we set the starboard stunsails expecting it would come away, but we took them in again at four o’clock.  10 p.m. Light winds and fine weather.

Sunday 6th [June]  Light winds and fine weather.  Held a meeting forward among the hands when we sang a few hymns and psalms.

Monday 7th [June]  Light winds and fine weather.  Hands employed as usual at brightwork.  8 p.m. a light breeze came up but only lasted a few hours.  10 p.m. Going 2 ½ knots.  Winds N.E.

Tuesday 8th [June]  Light winds and fine weather.  Hands employed as usual.  12 a.m. Hardly a breath of air.  10 p.m. New moon and as we expected a light breeze with it.  Going 5 ½ knots, with the wind from the S.W.

Wednesday 9th [June]  Light winds and cloudy weather.  The weather came away fine after a heavy shower of rain.  Hands variously employed.  10 a.m. Going 5 ½ knots.  Wind S. W.

Thursday 10th [June]  Light winds and fine weather.  Set port stunsails.  Hands variously employed.  A few dolphins and bonito knocking about.   10 p.m. Light winds and fine weather.  Going 4 ½ knots. Wind S.W.

Friday 11th [June] Light winds and fine weather.  All sail set.  Port stunsails.  Hands variously employed.  10 p.m. Light winds.  Going 5 ½ knots.  Winds S.W.

Lat 26.44 N  Long 38.4 W

Saturday 12th [June]  Light winds and fine weather.  Hands variously employed.   2 a.m. A steamer crossed our bows about a mile ahead bound west.  10 p.m. Moderate winds. Going 7 knots, wind S.W.

Sunday 13th [June]  Moderate winds and fine weather.  All sail set.  Starboard stunsails set.  4 a.m. Shifted stunsails over on port side.  10 p.m. Moderate winds and fine weather.  Going 8 knots, with the wind from S.W.

Lat 36.4N  Long 34.54W

Monday 14th [June]  Moderate winds and fine weather.  All sail set.  Shifted stunsails over to starboard.  Hands variously employed.  10 p.m. Fine weather.  Going 8 knots, N.E. wind.    Lat 37.47N  Long 32.00W

Tuesday [15th June]  Moderate winds and cloudy weather.  8 a.m. Pekopico[iii] one of the western Islands on weather beam.  Hands variously employed.  10 p.m. Moderate winds and raining.  Going 8 knots, wind N.E.

Wednesday 16th [June]  Moderate winds and cloudy weather.  All sail set.  Starboard stunsails set.  Hands variously employed. Homewards … a ship just in sight on port quarter sailing? up with us slowly, on lines s…  rely.  10 p.m. Moderate winds and squally weather. Winds variable.  Going 7 ½ knots.

Thursday 17th [June]  Moderate winds and cloudy weather.  All sail set.  Starboard stunsails set.  Hands varnishing and painting.  Ship came up on our quarter when we signalled her.  Found she was the “Torrence” bound to London. 

Friday [18th June]  Moderate winds and fine weather.  Hands employed rigging in stunsail booms and stowing them away down.  The masts …

[Saturday, 19th June] [water damage to log]  … washing bulwarks …  p.m. Moderate light winds … going 4 ½ knots.

Lat 4?  N  Long 17  W?

Sunday 20th [June]  Light winds and cloudy weather, wind variable.  4 p.m. Signalled a homeward bound ship call the “Duke of Abercorn?” 94 days out from Hong Kong, bound to London, passed us to the eastward.

Monday 20th? [June] Light winds and fine weather.  Hands variously employed.        10 p.m. Light winds and cloudy weather.  Going 4 knots.

Tuesday [22nd June?]  Light winds and cloudy weather.  Hands employed varnishing brightwork.  10 p.m. Light winds, cloudy weather. [Going] 2 ½ knots.

Wednesday [16th? June]  Moderate winds and cloudy weather.  All sail set.  Starboard stunsails set.  6 a.m. a fishing … homeward bound  [signalled?] the Capt.   On port …  [some? fish].  10 a.m. Sighted …………..  P.M. Sighted main land.  ..6 p.m. Light winds and fine weather.  Going 6 knots.

Thursday 23rd [June]  Light winds and fine weather.  All hands happy at the idea of again entering London.

Friday 24th [June]   Moderate winds and fine weather.  Got up to D…ness about 1 o’clock and took London pilot on board and towed in to Gravesend.

Saturday.  [25th June]  [badly water damaged page] the first thing …  there was a letter[iv] … with black.  We lay … on the […] till twelve o’clock and we proceeded up the river to London.  At which place we arrived about 9 o’clock.  The passage occupied 79 days, which is considered very good indeed.

Signed JK

Envelope addressed to James Kilpatrick, care Captain Leslie, Ship Canterbury, Russel Ritchie & co., Dunedin, New Zealand.  Dated Jan 15 ’80.


Glossary of nautical terms (Adapted from Wikipedia)

Barque (also bark):  A sailing vessel of three or more masts, with all masts but the sternmost square-rigged, the sternmost being fore-and-aft-rigged.

Barquentine:  A sailing vessel with three or more masts; with a square-rigged foremast and all other masts fore-and-aft rigged.

Bending (Nautical term):  was the word mariners used when they spoke of fastening something. When they spoke of bending a sail, they were referring to the act of fastening the sail to its yard or stay.  Unbending was the act of unfastening something. Hence to unbend a sail was to unfasten it from a yard or stay, more often than not so that it could be disassembled into its several reefs and repaired.

Bonitos:  are a tribe of medium-sized, ray-finned predatory fish in the family Scombridae – a family it shares with the mackerel, tuna, and Spanish mackerel tribes, and also the butterfly kingfish.

Booms:  Masts or yards, lying on board in reserve.

Bosun:  a ship’s officer in charge of equipment and the crew.

Boy Seaman:  a young sailor, still in training

Brigantine:  A two-masted vessel, square-rigged on the foremast, but fore-and-aft-rigged on the mainmast.

Brightwork:  [adapted from Wikipedia]   On boats, particularly wooden boats, brightwork is exposed metal and varnished woodworking. The metal is usually brass or bronze that is kept polished.   In the past, due to the environmental exposure experienced by boats, corrosion and UV damage made maintaining brightwork  extremely labour-intensive.

Bulwark or Bulward:  The extension of the ship’s side above the level of the weather deck.

Clew:  The lower corners of square sails or the corner of a triangular sail at the end of the boom.

Clew-lines :   Used to truss up the clews, the lower corners of square sails. Used to reduce and stow a barge’s topsail.

Crossjack   the lowermost square sail set on the mizenmast of a ship or of a bark with four or more masts; mizen course.

Ded. Reckoning: Abbreviation for “Deduced reckoning” and often mistakenly referred to as “dead reckoning”.  A method of navigation by determining the ship’s position using only its previously known position and deriving its new position from the course, speed, and elapsed time provided by instruments or estimation.  Ded. Reckoning is used when no other forms of more precise navigation are available (for example, because a ship is fogged in) because all errors are additive and must be corrected for when better navigation information is available, such as the sighting of a landmark or a celestial navigation position fix.

Dog watch:  A short watch period, generally half the usual time (e.g. a two-hour watch rather than a four-hour one). Such watches might be included in order to rotate the system over different days for fairness, or to allow both watches to eat their meals at approximately normal times.

Fall:  The part of the tackle that is hauled upon.

Fall off:  To change the direction of sail so as to point in a direction that is more down wind. To bring the bow leeward. Also bear away, bear off or head down. This is the opposite of pointing up or heading up.

Fore-and-aft rig:  A sailing rig consisting mainly of sails that are set along the line of the keel rather than perpendicular to it. Such sails are referred to as “fore-and-aft rigged.”

Diagram of sailing ship hull

Forecastle (Pronounced foʊksəl/): A partial deck, above the upper deck and at the head of the vessel; traditionally the sailors’ living quarters. The name is derived from the castle fitted to bear archers in time of war.

Gear:  A vessels sails and rigging.

Glass:  Barometer (archaic). Reference to the heavy glass tube filled with mercury that was used in early barometers; as in:  “We had better head for port because the glass is falling”.

Headwind:  blows against the direction of travel.

Holystone:  is a soft and brittle sandstone that was formerly used in the Royal Navy for scrubbing and whitening the wooden decks of ships.   A variety of origins have been proposed for the term, including that such stones were taken from broken monuments of St. Nicholas Church in Great Yarmouth or else the ruined church of St. Helens adjacent to the St Helens Road anchorage of the Isle of Wight where ships would often provision. “Holystoning the deck” was originally done on one’s knees, as in prayer.  Smaller holystones were called “prayer books” and larger ones “Bibles”. Holystoning eventually was not generally done on the knees but with a stick resting in a depression in the flat side of the stone and held under the arm and in the hands and moved back and forth with grain on each plank while standing or partially leaning over to put pressure on the stick-driven stone.

Horn, or The Horn: Cape Horn (Spanish: Cabo de Hornos) is the southernmost headland of the Tierra del Fuego archipelago of southern Chile, and is located on the small Hornos Island.  Although not the most southerly point of South America (which are the Diego Ramírez Islands), Cape Horn marks the northern boundary of the Drake Passage and marks where the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans meet.

Jib:  A triangular staysail at the front of a ship. More specifically, one mounted between bowsprit and the head if the mainmast.

Knot:  is a unit of speed equal to one nautical mile per hour, exactly 1.852 km/h (approximately 1.15078 mph).   The knot is used in meteorology, and in maritime and air navigation—for example, a vessel travelling at 1 knot along a meridian travels approximately one minute of geographic latitude in one hour.      Etymologically, the term derives from counting the number of knots in the line that unspooled from the reel of a chip log in a specific time.

Lee side:  The side of a ship sheltered from the wind (cf. weather side)

Leeward:  In the direction that the wind is blowing towards.

Mainstay:  The stay running from the top of the mainmast to the bottom of the foremast, or from the top of the foremast to the ship’s stem.

Mizen (or mizzen):   A staysail, usually lightweight, set from, and forward of, the mizen mast while reaching in light to moderate air.

Mizzenmast (or Mizen):  The third mast, or mast aft of the mainmast, on a ship.  Mizen-mast: the aft-most mast. Typically shorter than the fore-mast.  (Sections: mizen-mast lower—mizen topmast—mizen topgallant mast). 

Nettles (nautical):  Small lengths of cord attached to a sail, used to secure the excess fabric after reefing; reef points.

Paunch mats (nautical):  A thick mat made of strands of rope, used to prevent the yard or rigging from chafing.

Poop deck:  A high deck on the aft superstructure of a ship.

Rattling down:  (ratlines, or rattlings):   The ropes secured horizontally between the shrouds of a sailing vessel to form a ladder (always secured by a clove hitch),  hence the expression “to rattle down” meaning to fit ratlines to the shrouds in this manner.

Reef & Reefing: To temporarily reduce the area of a sail exposed to the wind, usually to guard against adverse effects of strong wind or to slow the vessel.

Rigging:  The system of masts and lines on ships and other sailing vessel.

Ropes, the:  1.  All cordage, the lines in the rigging.    2.  Cordage of over 1 inches in diameter. 

Round to:  To turn the bow of a vessel into the wind.

Royal:  1.  In large sailing ships, a mast right above the topgallant mast.  2.  The sail of such a mast.

Running before the wind or running:  Sailing more than about 160° away from the wind. If directly away from the wind, it’s a dead run.

Sea anchor:  A stabilizer deployed in the water for heaving to in heavy weather. It acts as a brake and keeps the hull in line with the wind and perpendicular to waves. Often in the form of a large bag made of heavy canvas.

Shakes: Pieces of barrels or casks broken down to save space. They are worth very little, leading to the phrase “no great shakes”.

Sharpe up:  The yard can rotate around the mast to allow the direction of the vessel to be changed relative to the wind. When running directly downwind the yards are ‘squared’, pointing perpendicular to the ship’s centre line. As the ship is steered closer to the wind the yards are braced round using the braces. When further rotation is obstructed by other bits of rigging (typically the shrouds), the yard is said to be braced “hard round” or “sharp up”, as in “sharp up to port”. This angle (normally about 60 degrees) limits how close to the wind a square rigged ship can sail.

Sinnet:    Braided cordage in flat, round, or square form, made from three to nine cords and used for making mats, lashings, etc.

Slush:  Greasy substance obtained by boiling or scraping the fat from empty salted meat storage barrels, or the floating fat residue after boiling the crew’s meal. In the Royal Navy the perquisite of the cook … Used for greasing parts of the running rigging of the ship … [Origin of term: slush fund, as could be also sold ashore to make some money].

Snug down:  (Nautical)  to make ready for a storm by reducing sail, lashing movable gear, etc.

Snug loaded:  When all the cargo on a barge is stowed below in the hold and there is nothing on deck. In contrast to carrying a stack. 

Square rig is a generic type of sail and rigging arrangement in which the primary driving sails are carried on horizontal spars which are perpendicular, or square, to the keel of the vessel and to the masts. … A ship mainly so rigged is called a squarerigger.

Starboard:  The right side of the boat. Towards the right-hand side of a vessel facing forward.  Denoted with a green light at night.  Derived from the old steering oar or steerboard which preceded the invention of the rudder.

Stay :   A strong rope supporting a mast, and leading from the head of one mast down to some other mast or other part of the vessel; rigging running fore (forestay) and aft (backstay) from a mast to the hull. The stays support a mast’s weight forward and aft, while the shrouds support its weight from side to side

Steering Full and bye:   Sailing into the wind (by), but not as close-hauled as might be possible, so as to make sure the sails are kept full. This provides a margin for error to avoid being taken aback (a serious risk for square-rigged vessels) in a tricky sea. Figuratively it implies getting on with the job but in a steady, relaxed way, without undue urgency or strain.

Stopper knot:  A knot tied in the end of a rope, usually to stop it passing through a hole

Stoppers:  A short rope to check a cable in a fixed position. Anchor stoppers hold the anchor when catted, Bitt stoppers, Deck stoppers used to retain the cable when at anchor, shroud stoppers contain a damaged shroud, Foretack and Sheet Stoppers secure the tacks until they are belayed.

Stow:  to store, or to put away e.g., personal effects, tackle, or cargo.

Studding sails ( /ˈstʌnsəl/):  Long and narrow sails, used only in fine weather, on the outside of the large square sails.
Stunsail:  another term for studdingsail.

Tack: In sailing, tack is a corner of a sail on the lower leading edge.

Tackle:  A pair of blocks through which is rove a rope to provide an advantageous purchase. Used for lifting heavy loads and to raise and trim sails. 

Top-gallant:  The mast or sails above the tops. (See topgallant mast and topgallant sail.)

Topsail:  The second sail (counting from the bottom) up a mast. These may be either square sails or fore-and-aft ones, in which case they often “fill in” between the mast and the gaff of the sail below.

Tug or tugboat:  A boat that manoeuvres other vessels by pushing or towing them. Tugs are powerful for their size and strongly built, and some are ocean-going.

Windward:  In the direction that the wind is coming from.

[i] Prime Meridian, is considered to be 0°, passing though Greenwich, England,  and the antemeridian is 180°, passing though the  Pacific Ocean.  The ship must have been travelling East across the Pacific Ocean.

[ii] Could be Maritime Provinces, Canada ?

[iii] Possibly Pico Island, in the Azores, Latitude 38.28N Longitude 28.24W

[iv] Envelope was addressed to James Kilpatrick, Care of Captain Leslie, Ship “Canterbury”, Russell Ritchie & Co., Dunedin, New Zealand. Date Jan 15, 1880

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