The James Nicol Fleming, a brand new composite clipper ship of 992
tons, under the command of Captain Peter Logan, left Glasgow 28 July 1869 and arrived in Otago
Harbour on 24 October 1869. She brought 14 cabin passengers, 146 steerage
passengers and cargo to Port Chalmers. John Potter, a cabin passenger,
stayed in New Zealand for about a year then went back home to Scotland.
The delicate eleven page journal was transcribed by his great
grandson, Simon Potter, London, UK. The description of the southern ocean storms
is quite dramatic and he's meticulous in the detail though unfortunately he
doesn't let his own feelings intrude, and he doesn't convey the fear they must
have all felt. Voyage account.
(opens in another window)
Passenger list Researched and transcribe by Peter Wells. Many thanks to Simon & Peter.
This Journal of the maiden voyage of the James Nicol Fleming in 1869 was written by a remarkable 18 year old, John Alexander Potter, who later in life had a distinguished career as General Manager of the Shaw Savill shipping company. He was born on 17th May 1851, son of Lewis Potter (1807-1881) a wealthy Glasgow shipping agent, and director of the City of Glasgow Bank. With James Morton, Lewis Potter speculated heavily in New Zealand land; this contributed to the collapse of the City of Glasgow Bank in 1878, following which the directors were arrested, tried, and convicted of fraud. Another director, James Nicol Fleming, after whom the ship was named, fled to fled to London, and on to the USA to escape arrest, but later returned to face justice in 1882.
John Alexander was, with his father, a director of Potter, Wilson & Co., which, until 1878 ran ships from the Clyde to New Zealand and Australia carrying passengers and, with their Australian agents Holmes, White & Co traded goods, mainly wool. In 1883 John Alexander Potter was appointed Manager of the newly amalgamated Shaw Savill and Albion, where he developed the import of frozen meat and fruit, and drove the change in the fleet from sail to steam. He was vice-chairman of the Shipping Federation, an honorary member of the committee of the General Ship-owners' Society, chairman of the London Ship- owners' Dock Labour Committee during the war, and also on the committees of the British Steamship Owners' Association and Lloyds Register. He was awarded a C.B.E. for his work during the 1914-18 war. John retired from the post of General Manager in 1924, but remained on the Board and was until his death in 1929 a director of George Thompson & Co. Ltd.
Otago Witness, Saturday 12th April 1879
The Trail of the City of Glasgow Bank Directors. pg 6
Potter's son, who was called, stated that his father's income from all sources exceeded £17,000 a year when the Bank stopped, and that his (Mr Potter, senior's) two married sisters were among the ruined shareholders..... large article
Otago Witness June 7 1879 pg23 continued on page 24.
Frank C. Bowen in The Flag of the Southern Cross; The History of Shaw Savill and Albion 1858-1939 (- page 93) wrote of:
"his invariable habit of meeting every home-coming captain and insisting on hearing every detail of the voyage, unpleasant as well as pleasant. This gave him a personal knowledge of the working of the ships which was exceedingly useful in improving the efficiency of the service."
The manuscript was preserved with John's other papers by his son and grandson and is now with his great-grandchildren. It is on eleven fragile sheets of blue paper, the last two being concert programme and log, so the actual journal is on nine sheets, each sheet being folded once to produce four writing pages and therefore thirty-six pages of journal. The last two sheets are the concert programme of the 14th August (only the first half survives) and a log of daily Longitude and Latitude readings.
Simon wrote: "After seeing websites devoted to the early voyages of the James Nicol Fleming, I felt the journal deserved a wider audience so I've transcribed it. Thanks to my brother and sister-in-law for helping decipher some of the handwriting and to my Mother for confirming some archaic meanings to modern words (washing green, 7th October; tow, 26th August.) I've kept editing to a minimum, though have inserted some punctuation for readability. Between the 17th and 22nd October the days and dates are out of sync. He mistakenly records the final day of 24th October as 4th October, and I've corrected that."
Simon is particularly interested to know what John did after arriving in Otago in October 1869, how long he stayed there, did he go to Australia, and when did he returned to Glasgow? If anyone has any information, or any other feedback about the journal please contact Simon Potter. Posted 8 January 2005
Journal during a voyage to New Zealand from Glasgow in the ship in the “James Nicol Fleming”.
Wednesday 28th July. Got on board by 1 o’clock. p.m. and
after a while Maggie followed us, went down below and got my bed made. Had
dinner, the tug-boat left us by half-past two or a quarter to three, hove anchor
at a quarter to four and proceeded down the river under tow of tug steamer
“Conqueror”. At 7 o’clock we had tea.
Thursday 29th July. Got up about 7 o’clock and found the tug-boat had left us at 5 o’clock this morning, the wind blowing pretty fresh and the ship pitching badly, beginning to feel rather queer. At 11 o’clock we passed Inishtrahull, the wind freshened and rose to about a gale, raining very heavily and seas coming overboard, getting very sick. I went to bed and became quite oblivious of everything except my own misery till
Friday 30th July. At half-past eight the steward brought me a cup of tea which did me so much good that shortly after I got up in time to see the last of Ireland which the captain made out to be Eris Head. The wind is considerably down but more ahead, the sea still very much rough, steering N.W. In the afternoon the wind died down almost altogether and we are lying rolling about without sufficient wind to keep the sails full. Quite recovered of my sickness.
Saturday 31st July. Wind rose during the night and by morning the ship was rolling a good deal. On getting on deck I found we were steering about N.W. by N. which course we continued all day: most of the passengers are by this time much better tho some are still poorly.
Sunday 1st August. On getting on deck I found that the wind had changed and was blowing steady from the N. our course lying SW by W: this continued throughout the whole day till sunset when it died away considerably. Had no service today.
Monday 2nd August. In the morning a head wind, steering NNW, by 11 o’clock it took off and we are again at our course SW by W. Rather slowly throughout the day, in the morning heavy rain, we went downstairs and took to writing poetry line about and playing at consequences to amuse ourselves. In the evening still showery, singing etc.
Tuesday 3rd August. A fine day throughout; we passed two vessels, one of them an Inman liner bound home, the other a ship far to leeward.
Wednesday 4th August. The weather is beginning to grow perceptibly warmer as we approach the line, the wind is fair tho’ light and preparations are being made to get the storm sails set, a brig passed us pretty closely evidently bound home. A beautiful night, the stars shining very brightly.
Thursday 5th August. Another warm day, wind still favourable tho’ light. Saw a shoal of porpoises about ***; had ships bread today for the first time. After dinner I went to the forecastle head with the Doctor and of course had to pay my footing as it was the first time I had been there: the sea looks beautiful from the bows, the colour is such a deep ultramarine if seen on canvas it would be thought most unnatural.
Friday 6th August. Another fine day, tho’ hardly as warm as the other days, thermometer 74° in the shade. A barque passed us pretty closely about 10 o’clock but we did not signal her. There is to be a concert given by the steerage passengers tomorrow week, they got the captain’s permission yesterday. The evenings or rather nights are beautiful just now, every star is visible and the moonlight has a fine effect on the water.
Saturday 7th August. A rather heavy swell this morning, ship rolling a good deal, rather troublesome at meal times, the day is very warm. During the night at one time we went 13½ knots an hour. Towards evening we passed three vessels, the last of which, a barque, we signalled but they did not even put up their nautical colours.
Sunday 8th August. A beautiful day, the awning was stretched all along the deck, the ship still rolling pretty badly. At 10 o’clock the bell tolled for service and all assembled on the poop. The service began by singing the 100th Psalm. The captain read a prayer, then the chapter from which the text was taken (Isaiah 55:6 first clause): the discourse was capital, it was followed by a prayer, a psalm and then the blessing, the whole occupying a little more than an hour. In the afternoon we were mostly engaged in reading.
Monday 9th August. About 5 o’clock this morning Mr Ogilvy (mate) awoke me telling me that Madeira was in sight, we were about 15 miles off from it when I saw it and had a very fine view. The day is very warm and the awning is spread. About 1 o’clock the wind went down and we are lying making almost no way. In the evening those who are to sing at the concert came on the poop and had a practicing, there are some fine voices but they do not sing very well together yet.
Tuesday 10th August. Another very hot day. Had a bath this morning which consisted in getting under the hose at 5 o’clock in the morning just before the sailors wash the decks. At 10 o’clock at night a steamer crossed our bows “like a street sailing” she had so many lights; the captain made her out to be one of the Cape Steamers. The nights now are dark by 7 o’clock.
Wednesday 11th August. Another hot day, repeated the bathing process. After breakfast we saw a shoal of flying fish, they were rather smaller than an ordinary sized herring. We have quoits made of rope with which we amuse ourselves but slight as the exertion is, a game is enough in this weather. In the evening the steerage passengers took to dancing on the poop and made an awful row.
Thursday 12th August. Very warm indeed, the heat is felt very much on deck as the awning is not spread, the sailors being busy tightening the rigging; the saloon is the coolest place on board and there the thermometer stands at 80°. Later - a flying sea-serpent came on board early this morning, but I did not see it.
Friday 13th August. Not quite as warm today in the forenoon but considerably hotter after dinner. A ship has been in sight almost all day, if she comes near enough will likely signal her towards evening; the wind is pretty fresh astern, steering SW, lots of flying fish all around. Have just signalled the ship at 5 o’clock pm. She is the “Aucinta”(?) from London bound for Calcutta 15 days out –the same a ourselves, long 22° 58’W Lat 25°26’N.
Saturday 14th August. Very warm indeed, thermometer 78° in the shade. A ship in the offing far to leeward. Last night a flying fish came on board, the doctor got it, one of the sailors is going to stuff it for him, the wings are beautiful being quite transparent.
Sunday 15th August. A poor man, one of the steerage passengers died last night, his death latterly was rather sudden, he had not been very well, he said, since he came on board, but it was only two days ago that he said anything about it to the Doctor. At 10 o'clock we had service on the poop, the text being from the 46th Psalm, the first three verses, a regular seaman’s sermon. Immediately after service we went forward for the funeral, the body sewed in a hammock with heavy weights at the feet and covered with the hessian sack was laid on a board one end of which rested on the bulwarks abreast of the main hatch and the other end was borne on two of the seamen’s shoulders. The service was partly Church of England and partly out of a book the captain had. When he came to the words “we therefore commit his body to the deep”, the two sailors raised their end of the stretcher and the body slipped off into the water sinking at once; then the captain read a prayer and after that we sang two verses of the 39th Psalm, the 4th & 5th; then the Lord’s Prayer and the Benediction. This is the first funeral at sea I have witnessed and it struck me as being very impressive, during the day the ensign was flying half-mast high. Towards evening the wind rose a little and the ship is pitching a good deal but now the breeze continues pretty steady.
Monday 15th August. Very warm indeed today, thermometer 84° in the shade, last night in the saloon it was 80°. The wind still continues fresh and favourable. At 10.30 pm we passed a ship homeward bound, the night was beautiful and the moon shining very bright..
Tuesday 17h August. This is, I think, the warmest day we have had yet, at 7.30 am the thermometer was at 85°Faht in the shade. Last night we passed four ships. At 12 o’clock today we were signalled by one. She wanted the time and having got it she did not seem to care to know anything else, all we could get was the ship Arundel Castle, she got our number but we don’t know whether she kept it or not.
Wednesday 18th August. An extremely warm day, the wind gradually died away towards evening till about 8 o’clock when it rose suddenly and pretty strong continuing all night, the ship pitching very heavily.
Thursday 19th August. The sun very warm today but the day not so hot – on account of the wind which is still blowing fresh. In the afternoon very squally and some real tropical showers which are extremely heavy. Saw a shoal of dolphins and tried to catch one or two but failed.
Friday 20th August. Wind more to the south and pretty fresh, sun very strong but the wind makes it cooler. A brig in sight far to windward going the same course as ourselves. A beautiful evening with the full moon shining on the waters; saw the southern cross.
Saturday 21st August. Blowing pretty fresh from the S, not quite so warm as before. Passed the brig about 12 o’clock noon but did not signal her; also a ship about 4 o’clock going the same course as ourselves. Had our second concert this afternoon on the main hatch, the first one, which I forgot to mention, was held last Saturday on the poop, they were both very successful tho’ of course nothing first class, if we were home we would hardly listen to some of the singing we heard.
Sunday 22nd August. A nice day, the weather now is somewhat cooler. Today the Doctor read service, the text was from Amos 3.3, a sermon of Mr *****’s which I think I have heard before.
Monday 23rd August. A fine fair day, pretty cool, wind steady, steering W.S.W. but gradually veering to S.W. We expect to cross the line on Wednesday when there will be grand doings forward in the way of shaving, a great number on board not having been across the line before. Tonight the sailors went through the ceremony of burying the dead horse; when they engage to go with the ship they receive a month’s wages in advance so they count the first month’s work as going for nothing, this they call the dead horse. Tonight the month is up and the sailors brought an imitation of a horse, made of stuffed cloth, out of the forecastle with great shouting and pulling, they took it 3 times round the deck one of them riding on it and all singing a song. After going round three times they took it up on the forecastle head, hoisted it up to the fore yard arm and from there let it drop into the sea with great cheers, a blue light burning during the ceremony.
Tuesday 24th August. A fine day, passed three vessels going the same way as ourselves; the first was a ship, an American, we passed so close that we read the name on her stern, she was the Samuel C. Glover of Boston. The next was a brig a good way to leeward, she did fly a flag, but owing to the direction the wind was blowing we could not make it out. The third was evidently an American whaler, she was a good bit off to windward of us.
Wednesday 25th August. Not yet across the line but expect to be so tomorrow, at 12 o’clock we were 80 miles off it and steering W.S.W. The day is very warm and the awning not spread. Tonight Neptune came on board, walked round the ship, paid his respects to the captain and said that he would be on board tomorrow at two to shave his children. A large ship about 4 miles to leeward signalled is she was the Kate Kellock ship from London bound for Melbourne 32 days out, she asked if we had any news being only 28 days out, we said ours, she wished us a good voyage, we thanked her and dipped our ensign.
Thursday 26th August. A fine day rather warm, crossed the line about 8 o’clock a.m. At half past two Neptune came on board with his gang: there were first Mr & Mrs Neptune, Neptune and Amphitrite, Neptune was a very tall man, he had long white hair of tow with a long white moustache and whiskers of the same stuff, Mrs Neptune with the baby in her lap had long white hair of tow, they both had splendid tin crowns and he had a trident in his hand in the shape of a toasting fork. There was the doctor too and his assistant; the former was a great swell in Wellingtons, a pot hat and an eye glass, the latter carried the potions and pill-boxes, then there were the barber and his assistant with their implements which consisted of two razors the first a saw and the other rough wood, a paint brush, a great coarse rough wooden comb and a pot scrubber for a hair brush, a pail of lather and another of hair oil; the clerk read the names out of a large book as they were brought forward to be sheared by the constables of whom there were several and a sergeant at their head. When the victim was brought forward by the constables, after the clerk had read out the name, he was taken up on the platform and confronted Neptune who with his wife and child was cutting in great state, then he was handed over to the doctor who stuck his eye-glass in his eye, felt his pulse and prescribed a pill made of something nasty such as molasses and soap, tar and grease etc. which he had to chew or put a bottle of strong hartshorn to his nose or a bottle with a pin stuck through the cork which he shoved into his nose. He was then handed over to the barber who covered his face all over with a horrid black dirty lather of local nasty ingredients, he would ask him a question occasionally and when he opened his mouth to answer would put the brush in it: the assistant then began to shave him, first with no 1 and then with no 2, wiping the lather off the razor on the person’s head, he then rubbed his head over with hair-oil, that is pea-soup, combing the hair with the wooden comb and brushing it with the pot-scrubber. Having completed these operations so far they tilted him backwards when he fell into a sail filled with water, it was about 4 feet-deep and there were 2 bears(?) in it who held the victim down under water a good time and when he got up the hose was playing on him so that he got almost half drowned, he then was led away. There were a good many done but only the volunteers among the passengers there were three of the cabin passengers got shaved, the sailors were not very rough with me, but some of the steerage passengers did get it rather strong especially in the pea soup line.
Friday 27th August. A splendid sailing day, got the south east trades and are going along S. by W. at 10 knots an hour, ship pitching pretty heavily, several sick.
Saturday 28th August. Ship still pitching very much, wind continuous fresh, no ship or anything to relieve the monotony in sight: as the wind is so strong, the concert which should have taken place today is postponed till a more favourable time.
Sunday 29th August. Wind still blowing fresh and ship pitching a good deal, the captain read service today, the subject of the lecture was the 27th chapter of Acts, the first 20 verses, the shipwreck of St Paul. A great number of nautili were seen today with their sails set.
Monday 30th August. Last night about 12 o’clock the wind took off and we are left with hardly any wind: there is a ship ahead and we are gradually overhauling her, she is holding off more than we are so we will likely pass near her. The ship is the Lebu from Liverpool bound for Valparaiso. The wind has freshened again and we are going along at a great rate wind just strong enough for all sails set.
Tuesday 31st August. Wind died away again this morning and we are going at about 4 knots. The sun is very strong and it is rather hot being 85° in the shade but the evenings are now getting sensibly cooler. Now, towards evening, the wind is springing up again and we are going along pretty fairly.
Wednesday 1st September. A fine day, but rather hot, -therm. 85° Fahr. in the shade, wind strong and steady. Passed the ship Wennington from Liverpool for San Francisco 46 days out and we are only 35 today.
Thursday 2nd Sept. Very warm indeed, a dead calm, the sea is as smooth out here as I ever saw at home only now and then a large hill comes rolling along as if just to remind us that we are in the Atlantic. Towards evening very showery and disagreeable.
Friday 3rd September. Last night about 10 o’clock the wind rose and blew pretty fresh all night, the sea is coming in pretty heavily from the South and the ship pitching a good deal. Towards evening it is blowing pretty strong and very gusty. Our royals are in but our topgallants are still set; there is a heavy head sea which prevents us going so quickly as we might.
Saturday 4th September. Wind still pretty stiff sea rather big, today we saw the Cape Pigeons for the first time, they are about the size of our common Pigeons and beautifully speckled black and white.
Sunday 5th Sept. A fair day, the wind still fresh but driving us too much W., a few hours would take us into Rio Janeiro. Today the Doctor read service, it was a continuation of last Sunday’s lecture on the 27th of Acts, 21st to the 26th verses. The Cape Pigeons are getting more numerous now and about a dozen are following the ship.
Monday 6th Sept. Another fair day, wind still fresh but rather more favourable, though a head sea keeps us back a little. Tried to catch Cape Pigeons with a hook and a piece of fat-pork but failed as we are going rather fast. There is a three-masted schooner to windward of us going the opposite way, she is much too far off to signal. A Dutch brig too has passed us, she only flew her ensign, I suppose she has no flags.
Tuesday 7th Sept. Fine day, wind pretty strong, sea biggish. This morning about half past-twelve a heavy squall struck the ship. Sail was immediately shortened but it blew off again. I was in bed at the time and heard nothing of it till the morning.
Wednesday 8th Sept. The wind today is rather light but the weather is fine. Cape Pigeons are in great abundance, several were caught. In the afternoon the wind has almost quite died away.
Thursday 9th Sept. There is rather more wind this morning but still too little; the air feels quite frosty. There are several large black ugly looking birds flying about, the sailors call them Molly Hawks or something like that.
Friday 10th Sept. A fair wind today and a little more of it, rather cold. This morning about 4 o’clock there was a very bright meteor, although it was quite dark the smallest object could be seen on the deck. In the afternoon the wind has freshened and with it astern we are going eleven knots steering E. by S. We are now in the Lat. of the Cape but very far to the W., farther than even Captain Logan has been before.
Saturday 11th Sept. The wind is still pretty strong, a heavy sea coming in from the South makes the ship roll a good deal. The day is rather thick and misty and in the afternoon it has begun to rain; the wind too has changed and we are steering E. by N. close hauled.
Sunday 12th Sept. In the morning very little wind but very cold though quite fair. The Doctor read service today, still the same subject, Acts 27th, 28th to the 37th verse. Rather more wind towards evening but bitterly cold; saw several albatrosses, one in particular was especially large.
Monday 13th Sept. This morning about 6 o’clock the wind began to rise and gradually increased to more than half a gale, the rain pouring all the time, all sails in but topsails, foresail and close reefed mainsail. By two o’clock the wind took off a little and it became fair when we got the top gallants set but at night it blew again and we got more sail in; there is a heavy sea flowing and every now and then coming overboard.
Tuesday 14th Sept. A very stormy night indeed, the wind rose about midnight when they got every stitch off the mizzen mast, mainsail furled, storm jib on and topsails close reefed. The ship was rolling fearfully and every now and then a great solid wave would come overboard, one mass of water that came on deck the captain calculated to be no less than 200 tons; very few in the cabin slept at all, for my part I did not sleep quite as well as usual but got a good night’s rest. At breakfast time it was with the greatest difficulty we could keep our seats, indeed poor Mrs McDowall went rolling over on the floor, potatoes, tea, knives, forks and spoons, it all went rolling about notwithstanding the fiddles which we always have on the table not only these but I myself was as nearly as possible over the table and got no end of tea up my sleeves. The storm was at its height at 6 o’clock in the morning but it blew hard till the afternoon when it took off considerably and we got more sail set but the sea is very big and the ship rolling very much, we saw the stormsail boom on the foreyard dip about two feet into the water. The wind is favourable and if it continues we will not be long in rounding the Cape, at present we are about Lat. 42° S Long. 18° W.
Wednesday 15th Sept. The wind is still pretty strong today, the sea rather big, coming overboard now and then and making the ship roll more than is quite agreeable, it is still very cold and the wind piercing. Towards evening the wind has veered round more to the south and it is rather colder.
Thursday 16th Sept. A bitterly cold day, wind from the south rather lighter than before, the sea considerably down; immense flocks of sea birds following the ship. In the afternoon the wind has died away almost altogether, it is still very cold.
Friday 17th Sept. Last night in the middle watch the wind rose again and we are going along pretty well; this is, I think, the coldest day we have had yet. Wind freshening in the afternoon, the log line ran all off the reel when they hove it which means we are going about 13½ or 14 knots.
Saturday 18th Sept. Breeze still very fresh, the day rather cloudy so that the Captain with difficulty got an observation, he did get it however and we have gone 325 knots or 370 miles in the last 24 hours which is very good, the royals and all the top gallants but the main furled. In the afternoon the wind has got considerably lighter.
Sunday 19th Sept. A fine day, rather cold, the wind has fallen a good deal and the storm sails are all set, going 11 knots and hour, towards evening however it gradually lessened. We had service in the cabin today for the first time, the cabin passengers remained in their berths while the others occupied the saloon, the subject was the 27th of Acts 87th verse to the end.
Monday 20th Sept. At eight o’clock this morning the wind died away altogether, the day feels rather cold but it is very clear and fine. The calm has continued all day and the vessel is lying almost quite still, this is something very unusual so near the Cape.
Tuesday 21st Sept. Still very little wind, the day is very cold, damp, rain too occasionally. The barometer is falling very slowly but surely and we soon will have wind enough in all probability, if not too much of it. In the evening it has come pretty stiffly and favourable, the sea pretty heavy, ship pitching a good deal.
Wednesday 22nd Sept. Wind lighter this morning but still favourable. There is a very heavy swell coming in from the E. and the Captain and mates say that there must be a heavy gale blowing ahead so perhaps it is just as well that we are not so far on as we would have wished. The wind in the evening has died down very much and between little wind and a heavy head sea we are not making much progress: we are now abreast of the Cape and the weather is quite different from what I expected and indeed very unusual.
Thursday 23rd Sept. This morning the swell is quite away and the ship not pitching or rolling at all, the sun too is out and the day warm so that it is just like the weather we had at the line only more pleasant not being as hot. Thermometer in the saloon 65° Fahr. In the afternoon the wind is freshening and rather more aft but in the evening not much wind at all.
Friday 24th Sept. A good deal more wind this morning accompanied by rain but with our usual luck it is foul, however we are not far from the course. In the afternoon it is freshening and the top gallants are in, there is a good deal of rain and the sea is rising. Later on in the evening it has got very squally, one particularly heavy one and all hands were called up to shorten sail, the topsails were reefed, jibs and mainsail taken in and *** upper topsail furled when it suddenly took off altogether and we were left in a calm but the clouds showed as it would soon come again which it did pretty strongly and continued foul all night.
Saturday 25th Sept. Still a foul wind and showery, steering S. by W., the sea pretty heavy: we got the reefs shaken out after dinner when she gradually came up to her course and at last the wind was aft, and by tea time sufficiently moderate to let them set the top gallant sails.
Sunday 26th Sept. Another superb day as far a comfort is concerned but not as regards sailing. The wind is aft but there is hardly any of it and the sea is quite calm, the sun too is very strong: these are what the captain calls “foxey” days as they are deceitful, too pleasant to last and generally succeeded by a blow. Today we had service again in the cabin, the subject was Psalm 139 first 10 verses, a capital discourse written by Mr Munro of Rutherglen.
Monday 27th Sept. A fine sailing day, wind strong and favourable and gradually increasing, going 13 knots an hour. In the afternoon it was blowing pretty fresh and increased till 10 o’clock at night when it moderated somewhat and they set the top-gallants.
Tuesday 28th Sept. Still a fine wind right aft going E.; today we will pass Prince Edward’s Island a good deal to our N. Very cold towards evening.
Wednesday 29th Sept. Wind rather fresher today, mizzen royal furled, the sea is pretty big and coming on the quarter makes the ship roll a good deal; it is bitterly cold and at 10 o’clock this morning we had a pretty heavy snow storm, there was enough snow lying to make snowballs with which some of us amused ourselves till it melted all away.
Thursday 30th Sept. Wind still aft but gradually decreasing, the day to is very bright with the expectation of a short snow storm, we had in the morning in fact another “foxey” day and probably the precursor of another blow. It is bitterly cold on deck and the ship is rolling a great deal.
Friday 1st October. Another extremely cold day, wind more from the south, therm. in the cabin 42°. Saw a good deal of sea-weed floating past, I suppose it comes from the Crozet Islands which are about 100 miles south of us. In the evening it has begun to blow pretty stiffly and is gradually increasing.
Saturday 2nd October. Last night we had a very stiff blow, topsails reefed at about 10 o’clock, the sea is very big, and the ship is rolling her lee bulwarks under water every now and then while her decks are drenched by water coming over the weather side. It is very cold and there have been several showers of sleet. In the evening the wind is still strong, the topsails still reefed and the sea very big.
Sunday 3rd October. Still stormy, the ship rolling a great deal and very wet. Last night two tremendous waves came aboard about half past ten, one in front of the poop almost tearing up the deck houses and the other right over the poop. The storm continued until about 4 o’clock when it took off almost as suddenly as it had come on and we got sail on at once, the sea too went down almost immediately. The sermon today was from John 13. 34 the first clause of the verse.
Monday 4th October. A nice day, not so cold as usual, the wind is still fair and we are doing about 10 knots with the storm sails set. In the evening there is somewhat more wind and it is freshening, there is no sea and we are slipping along at the rate of 14 knots an hour.
Tuesday 5th October. A wet morning, the wind freshening rapidly and the sea running very big. By the time we had finished dinner, it was blowing a gale and gradually freshening, the sea running “mountains high” we calculated that from the trough to the summit of some of the waves was 55 to 60 ft and their bulk was enormous. The decks were very wet, at one time there was three feet of water lying in front of the poop which took some time before it ran out by the scuppers. After tea when we were all seated round the table a fearful wave came over the poop, it sent one of the hen coops adrift and a lot of it came through the skylight, dropping on the hot funnel of the lamp, which it broke; of course we were left in darkness and with the broken glass falling and the water pouring down we thought the skylight was in. The same wave drove the second mate from the wheel, where he was standing right to the front of the poop; two of the boys it washed right off the poop into the scuppers on the main deck one of them getting a nasty cut about the eye; one of the men, according to his own account, while standing by the main hatch got washed overboard but having got hold of the end of a rope he scrambled in again. As the seas were coming overboard so often, there was a weather door put on the cabin door, that is, it was closed up half way by wood nailed across the bottom, even this did not suffice for at 9 o’clock, half an hour after the last catastrophe, two tremendous waves coming onboard first over the lee and then the weather side came pouring in torrents into the saloon and berths, washing two of the apprentices and a ships boy in with it. In a minute there was two feet of water all over the cabin and it was washing from side to side with every roll of the vessel; as we were all wet at any rate we just waded through it and getting a lot of buckets and making a line of ourselves and the sailors we went at it and bailed away with all our might, after we had got it so far under we took to swabs and towels and by midnight got the place into a noticeable state of dryness, at least the water did not run about.
Wednesday 6th October. I went to bed about 1 o’clock this morning after having changed my clothes which were pretty well soaked, hoping to get some sleep, but the ship was rolling and pitching so much and the seas coming over and striking her side made her shake so that I only partially succeeded. All this time we had been running before the gale it being favourable from the W. but we took so much water aboard and it blew so stiff that at three o’clock they had to put her about and keep her head to the wind or fore-reached as they call it: this was done very quickly, the second mate taking the wheel much more easily than was expected considering the sea that was running at the time. About the same time another lot of water came into the cabin but only a very little and as there were plenty staying up some did not turn in at all, I did not get out of my bunk to help but they soon got it dried up and after a little I went to sleep. When I got up for breakfast it was still blowing very strong and by dinner time was if anything a very little abated but the squalls were very heavy and the ship still fore reached. This morning a ship’s top gallant mast with a sail and ropes attached was seen floating past, it has likely come from some ship in the same gale and less fortunate than ourselves, for all we lost was some buckets off the front of the poop which were washed overboard by the wave which put out our cabin light and some of them were found afterwards in the forecastle. At 4 o’clock in the afternoon the wind and sea being considerably down they got the ship round again and put her before it, she still shipped a good deal of water but not so much as before: after a little they got more sail set, for she was just carrying three, the fore and main lower topsails and a small foretopmast staysail, and by six o’clock the foretop gallant was set. So we have, providentially, weathered the storm which while it lasted was really a very stiff one, so the officers and men all say, in fact an unusually severe one, some of the passengers have been three times on the passage and never saw it blowing so stiff before; I had often wished to see a real storm at sea but now that I have seen this one I don’t mind tho’ I never see another. We were only twice in real danger, once when they were bringing her round to fore reach her and again when a sea knocked the wooden companion off the quarter hatch where the single girls are, and the water went pouring into the hold.
Thursday 7th Oct. A fine day after so much bad weather, the sea still pretty big but nothing to what it was, the wind is just nice for sailing, the fore and mizzen royals furled. The ship is like a washing green, all the lower rigging, the topsail and the top of the deck houses are covered with clothes, bedding, boots are hung out to dry. It was indeed a wetting if not a washing on a large scale.
Friday 8th Oct. Rather wet this morning but afterwards a fine day, wind astern and pretty strong going 13 knots. In the evening the wind has got rather stronger and we have got the top-gallants in but evidently it is not going to blow very strong, although there is a pretty heavy sea running.
Saturday 9th Oct. Rather a cold day, wind still pretty strong and squally, the sea is rather large and the ship rolling a great deal.
Sunday 10th Oct. Wind still pretty strong and fair but squally so that we cannot get all sails set, the day is fine but rather cold. The Service today was appropriate to the late storm being from Jonah 1st and 6th, a prayer too being read for deliverance during a storm.
Monday 11th Oct. When I awoke this morning I found the ship rolling a great deal and on getting up was surprised to find her lying head reached; it seems that it had come on to blow about 11 o’clock last night and got so bad by 6 o’clock in the morning that they had to put about and fore reach her. The foresail and jib were both split and all the morning it blew fearfully but as it had come on very suddenly it also took off suddenly and by half past two o’clock we were at it again with the main top-gallant set. The Captain said that it was the stiffest gale he had seen for a long time but fortunately it did not last very long. At night there is not very much wind but it looks rather squally and the heavy sea makes us roll a great deal.
Tuesday 12th Oct. A foxey day again, storm sails set and going about 11 knots, the sun is very bright and warm but the wind is cold. This morning some of the sailors saw two whales, but I was not on deck at the time. By six o’clock it has come on to blow pretty stiffly and is freshening, topsails reefed.
Wednesday 13th Oct. A very stormy night, very squally and accompanied with rain and sleet. By 4 o’clock in the morning however it began to take off and they made more sail. It continues very fresh and gusty all day, the glass us low and frequently there is rain or sleet.
Thursday 14th Oct. A very cold raw day but the sun is warm, there is not much wind and all sail, including storm-sails, set. There have been two very heavy falls of snow and same of sleet, but the glass is going up and to all appearance we will have a good night, but it is bitterly cold.
Friday 15th Oct. Last night about midnight the wind died away almost altogether but after a little it began again and has gradually increased all day and by night we are making 13½ knots. It is rather warm today, the wind coming from Australia which is N of us: we are getting now towards our journey’s end and expect to make the Snares in a little more than a week, if we keep going on as we are just now we will be there in less than that time.
Saturday 16th Oct. Another splendid day, rather warm, going fully 12 knots all day, all sail set. At 4 o’clock in the afternoon there was a large iceberg seen far off to leeward, it looked just like a cloud and required an experienced eye to pick it up.
Sunday 17th Oct. A pretty fresh breeze blowing, royals and top gallants furled by half past ten o’clock, wind on the port beam. We have gone 7½ degrees during the last 24 hours which is equal to 300 knots or 333 miles, a very good days work. Today the Captain read service as it may be our last on board, it was a repetition, accidental perhaps not, of one read before from John XIII and 34th.
Monday 17th October. A raw damp day, at first plenty of wind but a nice breeze towards evening. The weather now is considerably warmer as we approach land and we can fancy the sea greener but that may be just the reflection of the clouds.
Tuesday 18th October. Almost a clear calm this morning, the day nice and warm, it is particularly tantalising here as two more days of yesterday’s breeze would have carried us in sight of land. Today I caught a moth flying about the vessel, it does not look like one from home and if it has come from land it has gone very far out of its reckoning. Some very large Albatrosses are flying about, there are also Cape Pigeons, Stormy Petrels or Mother Carey’s Chickens, and Whale Birds; in the afternoon one of the passengers caught an Albatross, it measured 11 feet across the wings, its bill alone was six inches long, however at the Captain’s order they let it away again. By the evening a breeze has sprung up and tho’ not very strong yet is increasing.
Wednesday 19th Oct. Still a nice breeze tho’ rather light, the day warm but damp and raw. This morning Mrs McQueen the wife of one of the steerage passengers, died on board, she came on board very far gone with consumption and no-one expected her to live so long: the funeral was at 4 o’clock in the afternoon. Towards evening it has come on to rain and the wind is considerably down.
Thursday 20th Oct. A very stiff breeze blowing all day, mizzen and fore topsails and mainsail furled, it is very wet and thick which will prevent us sailing much tonight, as we are now near the Snares unless it clears up which there is no appearance of it doing, but as it came on suddenly it may take off and go round suddenly when it will clear up and ** it is full moon. At 5 o’clock the wind has increased to a full gale, ship put round and lying fore reached, the sea is getting very big and the ship is rolling a great deal.
Friday 22nd October. Fore reached all night still blowing very strong but the day is clear. After breakfast they put the ship about and went away again under fore and main topsails. The sea is very big and the decks constantly wet. At half past three our ears were greeted with the cry of “Land Oh” from aloft, “Where away” says the mate “on the starboard bow:” it was the Snares, in a short time we saw them distinctly from the poop, they are large bare rocks rising perpendicular from the sea, but the sight of them was quite a pleasure to us not having seen anything but water for such a long time.
Saturday 23rd Oct. This morning when I got up we were abreast of Stewart, or South Island and by 11 o’clock we had passed it: the wind was gradually veering to the N and by 12 o’clock we tacked and stood closer in, it looks too as if it is going to be somewhat thick. About 3 o’clock we saw the land and at 6 o’clock put about quite close to it, at this rate there is no saying when we may reach the heads as the wind is right in our teeth. The Island looks rocky and wooded, we saw the smoke in several places where they were burning scrub but could make out no houses, the mountain tops too looked very pretty with the sun setting behind them, an unusual sight for us.
Sunday 24th October. This morning when I got up we were just in sight of land but what part we could not make out, in a short time however to our great joy we discovered that it was the Otago Heads. We are gradually nearing the shore which looks rather bleak and rugged but very grand, in fact not unlike some parts of Scotland as seen from the sea, our colours are flying but as yet (ten o’clock) we have seen no signs of a pilot boat coming off to us. At half past ten he came on board and we knocked about off the heads till full tide. At half past three a tug boat, the Geelong, came off and towed us into Port Chalmers: the place is very pretty indeed being just like a loch shut in on all sides by hills lined with green grass or bushes. At half-past four o’clock we let go our anchor having after a passage of 88 days reached our destination without losing a single rope or spar except the flying-jib boom which was a bad one and came away the third or fourth day out. At half-past four o’clock we let go our anchor having after a passage of 88 days reached our destination without losing a single rope or spar except the flying-jib boom which was a bad one and came away the third or fourth day out.
First of a series of Concerts to be held on board the ship “James Nicol Fleming” Programme for Saturday 14th August 1869. Mr MacGregor in the chair. ======== Part I ========= Quartett “Auld Lang Syne” Party Comic Song “*** Green the Costermonger” Mr Jardine Song “Hurrah for the Thistle” Miss Anderson Song “The Anchor Weighed” Mr * Neil Comic Song (in character)“Bob O’ the bunk” Mr Lees Song “Morag’s Faery Glen” Mr P. Smith Song “There was a lass lived in this town” Miss Oxley (?) Recitation “The Battle of the League” Mr Waddell Song “The Standard on the Braes o’ Mar” Miss Cameron Duet “When ye gang Awa’, Jamie” Mr Lees and Miss Dunbar Song “A Crony O’ Mine” Mr D Neil ======== Part II ========= [Page cut and missing]
Daily Course of ship “James N. Fleming” from Clyde to Otago (1869)
Month Lat. Long. Lat. Long. Lat. Long. Jul 30 55° 8′N 9° 29′W Aug 2 99° 48′ 32° 48′ Sep 28 48° 52′ 36° 54′ Jul 31 54° 44′ 10° 35′ Aug 30 12° 11′ 33° 1′ Sep 29 44° 22′ 42° 37′ Aug 1 54° 13′ 13° 26′ Aug 31 15° 17′ 33° 36′ Sep 30 44° 24′ 48° 1′ Aug 2 52° 20′ 15° 4′ Sep 1 17° 55′ 33° 32′ Oct 1 44° 30′ 52° 49′ Aug 3 50° 40′ 17° 26′ Sep 2 19° 16′ 33° 29′ Oct 2 Sun obscure Aug 4 47° 20′ 17° 52′ Sep 3 20° 27′ 33° 44′ Oct 3 Sun obscure Aug 5 44° 57′ 18° 22′ Sep 4 22° 20′ 35° 10′ Oct 4 43° 10′ 68° 43′ Aug 6 41° 55′ 18° 16′ Sep 5 24° 37′ 36° 48′ Oct 5 Sun obscure Aug 7 37° 55′ 19° 2′ Sep 6 27° 5′ 38° 29′ Oct 6 Sun obscure Aug 8 34° 14′ 17° 30′ Sep 7 29° 54′ 38° 9′ Oct 7 43° 11′ 82° 4′ Aug 9 32° 0′ 16° 29′ Sep 8 32° 30′ 37° 12′ Oct 8 43° 19′ 87° 49′ Aug 10 31° 6′ 16° 29′ Sep 9 34° 1′ 35° 55′ Oct 9 43° 34′ 94° 36′ Aug 11 29° 34′ 18° 3′ Sep 10 35° 28′ 32° 21′ Oct 10 43° 52′ 99° 30′ Aug 12 27° 30′ 20° 43′ Sep 11 36° 50′ 28° 9′ Oct 11 Sun obscure Aug 13 25° 1′ 22° 33′ Sep 12 36° 54′ 26° 44′ Oct 12 44° 54′ 107° 54′ Aug 14 22° 6′ 23° 59′ Sep 13 38° 56′ 24° 17 Oct 13 46° 48′ 114° 22′ Aug 15 18° 59′ 25° 17′ Sep 14 40° -- 19° 6′ Oct 14 47° 00′ 119° 30′ Aug 16 16° 13′ 26° 38′ Sep 15 41° 21′ 12° 59′ Oct 15 48° 7′ 123° 48′ Aug 17 13° 27′ 26° 30′ Sep 16 41° -- 7° 52′ Oct 16 49° 7′ 131° 25′ Aug 18 12° 18′ 26° 37′ Sep 17 41° 8′ 5° 5′ Oct 17 49° 2′ 139° 45′ Aug 19 9° 27′ 25° 21′ Sep 18 41° 59′ 1° 42′E Oct 18 Sun obscure Aug 20 8° 8′ 22° 39′ Sep 19 42° 41′ 7° 51′ Oct 19 48° 17′ 151° 43′ Aug 21 7° 9′ 21° 12′ Sep 20 43° 1′ 13° 8′ Oct 20 48° 32′ 156° 25′ Aug 22 5° 43′ 20° 39′ Sep 21 42° 15′ 14° 31′ Oct 21 48° 7′ 162° 46′ Aug 23 4° 37′ 22° 37′ Sep 22 43° 11′ 16° 35′ Oct 22 47° 46′ 165° 45′ Aug 24 3° 0′ 24° 41′ Sep 23 43° 11′ 19° 47′ Oct 23 46° 53′ 170° 7′ Aug 25 1° 38′ 26° 18′ Sep 24 43° 37′ 23° 33′ Oct 24 Otago Heads Aug 26 0° 17′S 28° 4′ Sep 25 43° 16′ 24° 37′ Aug 27 2° 52′ 29° 30′ Sep 26 43° 15′ 27° 46′ Aug 28 6° 13′ 31° 7′ Sep 27 43° 21′ 30° 24′
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