Friday, August 9, 2013

Life on Board the Tornado

From: Our Voyage to New Zealand Per the Tornado (by a Glasgow Emigrant) Glasgow Herald December 19, 1859

The voyage to Auckland terminated on the one hundred and sixth day from that of our departure from Liverpool. It is reckoned an average passage, though there is no doubt but it should have been done in much less time when the sailing capabilites of the ship are taken into consideration; but unfortunately we crossed the line far to the westward, and got jammed up on the South American coast. The winds until we got this far were favourable though light; but afterwards  we had seas which caused the vessel to rock considerably. There was nothing, however,  to speak of until we got round the Cape of Good Hope, where we had some weather, which, though considered rough by us passengers, was only termed a smart gale by the Captain and crew. The heat in the tropics was not so great as I expected; and, as the ship was about nine feet between decks, we did not feel it so much as we would have done had the space been less. It was felt most oppressive during the night. However, after crossing the line it gradually diminished, till, when off the Cape and until we rounded Tasmania, the cold was very sharp, and, as during that time there was a good deal of rain falling, with an occasional shower of hail or snow, while the ship rocked often to such an extent that we could scarcely keep our feet on the deck. We were almost debarred from taking the exercise necessary to produce a genial warmth; and as there were no stoves or fires below, we had just to put on as many clothes as possible. When the vessel rolled much, she would often ship huge seas, which rushed along the deck to the depth of six or seven inches.

 There were two newspapers started shortly after we left port, but they both died from inanition - the news being absolutely nil, and the talen necessary to carry them on being but small. In the clear, calm nights, too, there was often a dance on the quarter-deck, to the music of a violin, played by one of the passengers, who was afterwards discovered to be a stowaway, but not until we had been about ten weeks out; and during all this time he had managed not only to elude discovery, but also to get his provisions along with the other steerage passengers. There was also an amusement society formed, to which a small subscription was made by the passengers for prizes, to be awarded to the successful competitors in the different games. They were begun with a cock hunt. In this a cock was let off with its wings clipped, and the competitors chased it round the decks with their hands tied behind their backs and to the one who first caught it with his teeth the prize was awarded. Then there was potato picking. In this, twenty five potatoes were placed in a row along the deck, the first at the distance of five yards from the starting point, and the others farther on, two feet separate. The party who picks them up runs from the starting point, lifts the one near it, runs back and drops it into a basket placed to receive them at the starting point, he runs again for the next , and returns with it and continues to do so with the others, always running from the starting point and coming back to it with each potato singly. The shortest time in which it was done was three minutes and twelve seconds. Sack races followed, which gave great amusement; the sailers were capital at them. The proceedings were wound up by diving for money thrown into a large tub.

1 comment:

  1. Hi, we love that you have put this blog together. My great great grandparents were on this boat - Mr and Mrs Masters (in Steerage). Unfortunately I don't have any stories from them but my son is writing a biography on his Great, great great grandfather so the information here is really useful. We do have some photos of them which we could share. Kind regards Jane Yates