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1 Oct 1864 to 20 Jan 1865 

Unfortunately the diary only covers up to Saturday, 12th November.

The  NELSON  Commanded by Captain Charles Cobb

From London to Auckland  N.Z.

1 Oct 1864 to 20 Jan 1865





1 Sat 17 Mon
1 Tue 17 Thu
2 Sun 18 Tue
2 Wed 18 Fri
3 Mon 19 Wed
3 Thu 19 Sat
4 Tue 20 Thu
4 Fri 20 Sun
5 Wed 21 Fri
5 Sat 21 Mon
6 Thu 22 Sat
6 Sun 22 Tue
7 Fri 23 Sun
7 Mon 23 Wed
8 Sat 24 Mon
8 Tue 24 Thu
9 Sun 25 Tue
9 Wed 25 Fri
10 Mon 26 Wed
10 Thu 26 Sat
11 Tue 27 Thu
11 Fri 27 Sun
12 Wed 28 Fri
12 Sat 28 Mon
13 Thu 29 Sat
13 Sun 29 Tue
14 Fri 30 Sun
14 Mon 30 Wed
15 Sat 31 Mon
15 Tue

16 Sun

16 Wed


1 Thu 16 Fri
1 Sun
2 Fri 17 Sat
2 Mon
3 Sat 18 Sun
3 Tue
4 Sun 19 Mon
4 Wed
5 Mon 20 Tue
5 Thu
6 Tue 21 Wed
6 Fri
7 Wed 22 Thu
7 Sat
8 Thu 23 Fri
8 Sun
9 Fri 24 Sat
9 Mon
10 Sat 25 Sun
10 Tue
11 Sun 26 Mon
11 Wed
12 Mon 27 Tue
12 Thu
13 Tue 28 Wed
13 Fri
14 Wed 29 Thu
14 Sat
15 Thu 30 Fri
15 Sun

31 Sat


Tuesday Sept 26th

Left Nottingham at 10 minutes past 6 o'clock in the morning by the Great Northern Railway. Arriving at Grantham. Had to wait for three-quarters of an hour, till the Express train arrived from Scotland - it being past its time. Stopped at Peterbro' about 10 minutes. Got to London about past 9 o'clock; had to hire a van to take the luggage to the East India Docks for which they charged 10/=. Arrived at the Docks about 11 o'clock. Saw the luggage safe in the sheds and then went on board the ship, which lay about the same spot as the "Tyburnia" did.
She is a very fine ship, quite a clipper in appearance; built of iron; about 2 or 3 years old, registered A.1. for 13 years. 1248 tug registers. Our berths are a deal more comfortable than they were on board the "Tyburnia", the only bad job is they are put crosswise of the ship, instead of lengthwise. Every time the ship is put on a fresh tack of sailing we have to get up and turn round or else our heads would be a foot or so below our feet which is comfortable of course. Have been told that the ship will not sail till Thursday so went on an omnibus to the shippers in Leadenhall Street where I found it was right about it not going till Thursday, in consequence of the cargo not going on board till Wednesday. Shaw Savill & Co. are paying me 1/6d. per day, for the two days I shall have to stay in London.
After leaving Shaw Savill & Co., I went about till dusk when I got a lodging at an eating house near St. Paul's Cathedral, which cost me 1/-. Got up at past 4 o'clock in the morning and walked to Billingsgate Market and saw all the fishing boats delivering their cargoes which were being sold by auction as soon almost as they were landed, there were almost as many fish and shellfish as would half fill Nottingham's Market Place, and the shouting & noise was so great - that you could hardly hear yourself speak. From there I went to Convent Garden Market where there is almost as much noise but on quite another subject, there being nothing there but fruits, you can buy almost any sort of fruits there that you wish. I walked about the Market for about an hour till the Coffee houses should be open when I went and got my breakfast, having had which being threw about - 6 or 7 miles from the East India Docks, I got on an omnibus and went down, got there about 11 o'clock, and saw the luggage safe, on board and paid the Dock's dues, which amounted to about 5/=. Went outside the Docks about 10 o'clock and got a cup of coffee & ...................... for dinner, then went to Hemming at Blackwall, to buy my bedding, ............., lantern, candles, soap, etc., which cost altogether 15/=. Bought a small Dutch cheese for 1/3d. Took them all on board and arranged my bed to for good. Slept on board at night and passed a very comfortable night, not having seen either cockroaches or bugs. Got up about 6 o'clock in the morning and fastened my boxes and things till breakfast time. After breakfast, went to Ridgeway & Sons, 40 Leicester Square, for my land order, for 40 acres of land, it was waiting for me, I only had to sign my name in a book and pay 10/= when I had it directly, & no questions asked. On my way to the Docks called and had 3 likenesses taken at night, sent two home & 1 to Polly. Slept on board again and passed a good night without any interruption.
Thursday Sept 29th

Left the East-India Docks about 1 o'clock/Noon. Was taken down the Thames by a steam tug. Stopped opposite Greenhithe, where we anchored, and the tug left us; arrived about 11 o'clock.

Friday Sept 30th

We took on board the last of the passengers to this morning, & the mate has been adjusting the compasses all day, so that we may start in the morning. This afternoon the passengers were mustered on the Port to be inspected by about 9 o'clock p.m., but could see nothing of it but the light, it being quite dark.

Sunday Oct 2nd

Wind blowing hard from the East. The ship rolling very heavily. No service on board today on account of the severity of the weather. Passed the Lizard light at 8 o'clock p.m. - the Scilly light at about 12 o'clock p.m., it then blowing a perfect gale, the sea rolling very much. Felt rather bad but not sick at all. Went to bed early without any supper and managed to sleep off-and-on till morning.

Monday Oct 3rd

A very heavy sea on this morning. After I had my breakfast, I thought it was not good enough for my stomach, so fetched it up again, and gave it to the fishes. The ship is going along with no sails set but just double reefed topsails.
The weather moderated after dinner. About 3 o'clock in the afternoon sighted the Irish Coast. After coasting along for a good distance, we entered Queenstown Harbour about past 4 o'clock, & cast anchor opposite the town which looks very pretty from the sea, the houses being built on a very high hill which slopes down to the harbour.

Tuesday Oct 4th

The weather being very fine & our ship lying not far from the show. I went in a shore boat, along with a lot of the passengers, to spend the day on shore. Landing at Queenstown, we went about the town to see what was to be seen. The houses are not more than 2 & 3 stories high in the principal streets & in the others not more than one, the best houses are stated down the fronts the same as the roofs, but the others are the dirtiest looking places you ever saw built of mud & thatched. Bought a thick topcoat, for which I gave 14/=, it will be very nice & warm for the cold parts as it is lined with horse-rug. Had a glass of Irish Whisky and wrote a letter home and another to Polly. Went on board again about 5 o'clock p.m. having enjoyed myself.

Wednesday Oct 5th

Went on shore again this morn directly after breakfast, one of the second class passengers having commissioned one to go to Cork to buy him a fishing tackle. Went from Queenstown to Cork by rail, it is about 14 miles. Cork, although a City, is not half so large as Nottingham, and with the exception of about a dozen of the principal streets it is the dirtiest hole I ever put my face into, one of the streets I went into, (not one of the worst either), there was one of the houses with the door open, went in to see what could be seen. In the first room in the front, (apparently the best room of the house), contained one three-legged table, one chair without a bottom and one three-legged stool, and a few earthenware pitchers for water. What I saw in the house, I wouldn't have given them half a crown for all the furniture there was in it. Almost all the houses in the back streets that had anything like a window was a whisky shop. Executed my commission in Patrick St and bought a line & hook for myself to fish on the way. Went about the City to see as much of it as possible, and I never want to see another Irish City, if they are all like Cork! Narrow Marsh at Nottingham is a beautiful street to most at Cork. Went back to Queenstown. I got on board about 5 o'clock p.m. Very fine all day with a nice breeze blowing.

Thursday Oct 6th

Very fine again this morning. There are two Men of War in the harbour here, one is the regular guardship & the other has just come in for a short stay. There is a large steamer here, refitting. She is from Haver(?) to New York, with a lot of German emigrants, there are about 500 of them. It is between 5 & 6 week since they started. The regular passage is about ten days or a fortnight; this is the third time they have been here for repairs, everytime they have got out a bit they have met with a storm which has so damaged the vessel, that they have to come back again. I expect they will have to wait a week or so longer before they will be able to start. The troops came on board this morning about 1 o'clock, they are detachments of the 14th, 18th, 40th, 65th, 57th & 68th, about 300 of them including 6 or 7 officers. They are most of them recruits going out to join their regiments, many of them having only been enlisted about 3 months. They are most of them Irishmen, & appear a not over bright set. (There is an iron partition 1 inch thick between their place and ours, so that will make no difference.)

Friday Oct 7th

Weighed anchor this morning at about 10 o'clock. As we were leaving the harbour the two Men of War saluted us as we passed, and the soldiers in garrison at a fort in the centre of the bay, manned the walls as we passed and we had a complete battle between their bugler and ours, but at last our bugler silenced them by blowing the "retreat" & the call to "lay down”. A fine breeze blowing, we cast off the steam tug about a mile outside the harbour, and it went back with the Queenstown pilot on board. Had a last look at old Erin about past 2 o'clock p.m..
At 10 o'clock p.m., the breeze blowing rather strong from the East-South-East, the ship going along at the rate of about 11 knots per hour. Began to feel rather queer about the stomach towards evening on account of the ship pitching so.

Saturday Oct 8th

Breeze increasing. First day of our receiving the provisions to last us a week, having lived on fresh meat up to this time.
Been very sick all day so haven't eaten much.

Sunday Oct 9th

Been very rough and wet all morning. The wind dropped after dinner quite suddenly and became quite calm. No service owing to the inclement state of the weather. Very bad all last night & today as well. Hope to be better in a day or so.

Monday Oct 10th

A good breeze blowing from the East-South-East. Got clear of the Bay of Biscay this afternoon. Beautiful moonlight nights now almost every night; it being almost as light as day. Towards 10 o'clock p.m., the breeze freshened. The ship going along very nicely. Blew a deal better today, but still rather sick.

Tuesday Oct 11th

A stiff breeze blowing from the East-South-East. Towards dinner time sailed thro' a drove of about 30 or 40 porpoises, they appear to be from about 2 feet to 6 or 8-foot long; it is quite laughable to see them rolling over-and-over on the top of the water just like so many pigs in the mire, they very much resemble a pig at first sight. At 8 o'clock p.m., the wind suddenly blew quite a gale & before they could be taken in, the mizzen gall outsail(?) and topsail were split from top to bottom. The sea breaking over the forecastle almost every pitch.

Wednesday Oct 12th

A beautiful morning after a very stormy night. At 12 o'clock Noon, the ship going at the rate of 9 knots per hour. Asked the Captain to let me be his secretary, he thanked me and said that he had some for me to do; the First Mate doing his writing. Just after I got into bed about 10 o'clock p.m., a very heavy squall struck the vessel & carried the foretopsail completely from off the yard, but it was at last secured, the jib and stay-sail being split from top to bottom.

Thursday Oct 13th

Very fine again this morning after being rather rough all night. Off Listow today, but of course out of sight, shall not be able to get the latitude and longitude so shall have to do without. We have made very little progress the last 24 hours, the wind not being favourable for us. Have quite got over my seasickness, & feel as well as any other man, hope it would come back again. My things I bought are very nice & relish amazingly.

Friday Oct 14th

Light winds still blowing. Towards dinner the wind changed & blew quite contrary so we had to ........ ship all day we have been losing ground. Two vessels in sight going the same way as ourselves, but a good way off.

Saturday Oct 15th

Why can't the wind blow the right way, we are still losing ground. Wind changed towards dinner time & we started to make up the ground we had lost but the breeze is very slight.
Wind freshened towards evening. Very beautiful moonlight night. Ship going at the rate of 9 knots an hour.

Sunday Oct 16th

Most delightful morning, a nice gentle breeze blowing and the sun shining, beautiful at 10 o'clock. The bugle sounded for service and the soldiers marched onto the poop deck all clean and neat. The Captain read the service out of the church services and the First Mate acted as clerk; the service only lasted about an hour but being the first service we have had since we came on board. I quite enjoyed it. Turned rather squally this afternoon sailing on the starboard tack, the vessel going at the rate of 10 knots an hour. Full moon about 10 o'clock p.m., delightful night. Two or three of the soldiers were put in confinement for getting drunk. Two vessels in sight today on the same latitude as the Azores & Western(?) Islands.

Piers, any entry for Monday, 17 October in his diary????

Tuesday Oct 18th

At 10 o'clock this morning, the ship was going about 11 knots per hour. The soldiers that were drunk yesterday have to march backwards and forwards along the deck for the best part of the day with their great coats and knapsacks on, which as it is a very hot day, is not a very light punishment. Ship rolling a good deal, there being a very heavy swell on, some of the waves making a clean break over the vessel and giving some of us a good ducking. Continued rough all the evening. Got 2 fiddles & 2 concertinas on board, so get a little music.

Wednesday Oct 19th

Still a heavy swell on, the ship rolling very much, 5 vessels in sight, one of them coming near, signalled her & found her to be the "John Bunyan" from London to Sydney. I saw the very same vessel in the East India Docks when we went up to see the "Tyburnia" off. Towards evening the sea got quite calm.

Thursday Oct 20th

Almost all the vessels in sight that we saw yesterday. Been busy all day getting our Monthly boxes out of the hold, taking out some clean things & putting them back again. I was only allowed to have one box in the cabin being single. (The married people can have two or three), so that one of the two had to go as a monthly box, & this is the first time I have seen it since we started.
Somebody stole half a cheese & some apples out of a bunk in our cabin; have no idea who it is, but shall keep all my things under lock & key. There is one slight case of Typhus Fever among the soldiers, but we have a very good doctor on board, so don't expect it will spread. Towards evening, caught a sight of the Canary Islands, but it was very faint. Very warm. Cabin very close.

Friday Oct 21st

Splendid morning. Sea smooth as glass. About dinner time one of the ship's boats got out for a row; the officers going in her for a bathe. At 6 o'clock p.m., a slight breeze springing up, which afterwards increased towards Midnight. The ship was going about 4 or 5 knots per hour.

Saturday Oct 22nd

The wind gradually sunk this morning, till it was perfectly calm, the sea being as smooth as glass. The "John Bunyan" close alongside of us this morning, the Military Officers & the First Mate went on board of her in one of the ship's boats & stayed for dinner, coming back this afternoon. 3 vessels in sight, but very small.
A large shoal of Porpoises passed us this evening, there being about 20 or 30 of them. One of the first class passengers harpooned a small dolphin today, about 2 or afoot long.

Sunday Oct 23rd

Very fine this morning, a gentle breeze blowing. At past 10 o'clock, we had service on the poop deck, the Captain conducting the service according to the Church of England. This morning, there was half a ham stolen off our hook in our cabin, have not been able to find out who has taken it, but the Captain is trying to find out & I hope he may. Nice moonlight nights - our cabin very close indeed.

Monday Oct 24th

The weather gets hotter every day. A small breeze blowing today; we are going along, but very slowly. Expect soon to get into the Trade Winds when we shall soon go ahead. The pickles, preserves to that I brought from home with me I find very nice as the biscuits by themselves are hardly eatable, but with a little preserves or treacle on them - quite passable, and the pickles they supply you with, although very good, are only enough for one meal or so, although they are expected to last you a week. A little cheese is a nice relish, they do not give you any.

Tuesday Oct 25th

This morning there was a small breeze sprung up, I believe that we have just got into the trade winds, so that if we have, we shall soon get along. I have just heard that we are about 1,697 miles of the Line, but do not know whether it is right. This morning there were 5 vessels in sight, but we soon left them behind.

Wednesday Oct 26th

This morning, we have left all the vessels behind but one, and it is very small, expect by tomorrow they will all be out of sight. We are going along very nicely now, a steady breeze blowing; we have got our ........ set on the foremast.
I expect we were going about for 10 knots per hour. Expect to get to the Line in about 11 weeks or so. It is very warm now, expect it will be rather particularly warm there, shall be glad when we get into cooler weather.
Wrote a letter home, shall post it the first chance I get. Been helping the Third Mate to shift ................ stores in the Store Room.

Thursday Oct 27th

A nice breeze blowing today, are going along very nicely. This morning saw the "Flying Fish" for the first time. It is very curious to see a thing - something in the shape of a swallow - jump up out of the sea and after flying for about twelve or fourteen yards, go .................... into the sea again. In appearance when flying, they are much like a grey swallow, their motions being quite as graceful when on the wing.
About dinner time we caught sight of one of the Cape Verd Islands. It was very pleasant to see land after so long being without it. We went close enough to it to be able just to discuss things on it. There are very high cliffs all round the island, it looks a very rough barren place. The Captain says it grows nothing and is uninhabited. We passed it about past 3 o'clock p.m. Towards evening, the wind changed and we had to alter the sails, so as to sail on the starboard tack. Latitude 15-30. Longitude 25-4 West.

Friday Oct 28th

On getting on deck this morning, there was nothing to be seen of the "Island". We are still sailing along on the same tack as last night. There are plenty of "flying fish" to be seen all round the ship. All day there has been a large bird, something the shape of a gull flying round and round the ship, it may be a gull, but if it is, it is larger than any that have ever been seen before. We are going on very nicely now.

Saturday Oct 29th

Going along, but slowly - 5 vessels in sight, but none of them near enough for speaking. Towards evening, it became quite calm.

Sunday Oct 30th

A very gentle breeze blowing this morning, just ruffling the top of the water. Had service on the poop as usual. Calm again after dinner and towards evening, a gentle breeze sprung up again. Altogether I should think we have made about 5 or 10 miles during the day. Are very near the Line now, it is very warm indeed.

Monday Oct 31st

Calm again this morning. This morning, one of the soldiers caught a young shark about 2?feet long. There have been 3 or 4 sharks of different sizes swimming around the vessel as well as some very large dolphins. One of the Second Class passengers harpooned one of the dolphins but the harpoon did not stick in it, the fish turned belly upwards, dead as a herring, directly after it was struck; the harpoon went straight through the fish's side.

Tuesday Nov 1st

A nice wind blowing. Going about 5 or 6 knots per hour. There are 3 homeward-bound vessels in sight. The Captain says we are to get our letters ready. Will speak to one of the ships if they come near enough. Directly after dinner, one of them coming within about 2 miles when the Captain signalled her and she agreed to take them about 4 o'clock p.m. when she passed us within about 200 yards, directly she was opposite she braced her yards, so as to stop them did the same, so that we were lying still about 300 or 400 yards apart
The Captain had previously called for letters, so I took him one which I had written about well before and had just added a little to; the First Mate went on board with the letters and a bag of potatoes as a present for the Captain. When he came back, we gave them three cheers and each of us stood away on our respective voyages.
I could not get to know the vessels ............, but she is 5 months from Calcutta. The Captain and 3 seamen died in Calcutta so they had to get a fresh one there to take her home. The reason she has been so long is our account of calm seas and the slow rate of sailing, being only able to go 5 or 6 knots per hour, even with a stiff breeze. There was quite a storm set in towards 8 bells, the sky being black and the sea quite white, the sailors were running about taking in sails, the rain coming down in sheets - not a very nice sight!

Wednesday Nov 2nd

The storm quieted down towards morning and with the exception of a shower or rain now and then, it is quite claim. Several of the passengers having begun to fish, I thought I would try my hand so I got out my line and hooks (I bought in Cork) and having fixed them all ................, I began to fish with about 2 lbs. of pork on the hook; there were 4 or 5 sharks of different sizes and several dolphins about.
After fishing for about an hour with no success, ................ hook managed to foul the side of a shark's jaw that was swimming about and I thought I should have managed to have got him, but it was such a ........... hold that he tore the hook out in his struggle and got away. One of the Officers having hooked one just before and it getting away, .......... I did not expect I should get another to bite, but I was fishing from the waist about 4 o'clock p.m., when I hooked the largest fish that has been caught yet. I let the shark swallow the bait fairly and then I gave him a jerk to hook him fairly directly. He felt the hook and he began to kick and plunge about very much, I had to play him very carefully my line being very thin for a fish of that size. He would have snapped it directly if I had not been very careful. After playing him for about 10 minutes, I managed to coax him close to the vessel's side when one of the sailors quickly put a bowline around his tail and we hauled him on deck, where we quickly cut his head and tail off and cut him up for frying. There were 2 pilot fish attending him, they came close to the vessel's side after him and one ................. fish which clung to him till we had him on deck. I should have kept his head but had nothing to preserve it with so gave it to one of the sailors, for cutting it up and cleaning the flesh off the tail which I shall keep. I had a piece cooked for tea, but do not think much of it, it tastes very ...................
It measured between 5 and 6 feet from tip of the snout to the tip of the tail and had 5 rows of teeth in its jaws - altogether not a bad fish to catch. If I can catch another, I shall try and get one of the sailors to preserve the head for me.

Thursday Nov 3rd

Very calm this morning. Been fishing a little but have not seen any, suppose they are frightened at the untimely death of their brother.
One of the military officers caught a shark about 3 feet long this afternoon, about teatime. I should have had the jaws but they were broken in getting the hook out. Very squally weather now. Much rain and very heavy.

Friday Nov 4th

Sailed through a large shoal of porpoises, we were about of an hour in passing them. Saw some Bonettoes for the first time. One of the soldiers caught one this morning; had my line out but with no success.

Saturday Nov 5th

Have rain storms about every two hours with very contrary winds or else none at all, don't think we have gone above 100 miles nearer the Line for several days back - have to keep sailing on different tacks.
Two very large Grampuses came past the ship this afternoon, have seen whole shoals of them before but none so large as these; they looked very terrific rearing their huge bodies out of the water.

Sunday Nov 6th

A gentle wind blowing this morning, but with us sailing on the starboard tack, shall not make much way towards the Line. Two vessels in sight this morning. The Captain conducted service on the poop as usual, but it is a very short service, only lasting about per hour. It has turned quite calm this afternoon.

Monday Nov 7th

Very little wind this morning, we are almost at a standstill. Whenever a breeze ....... spring up, it is sure to bring a storm of rain with it and then does not last long. This afternoon, one of the military officers caught a shark, it was hardly so large as the one I caught, so I still stand A1 in the list of fishermen.

Tuesday Nov 8th

Several vessels in sight, signalled two of them. One is the "Atlantic", the other is the American ship, the "Italia”. The "Italia" is now lying alongside of us about a quarter of a mile off, she is very lightly laden. We can see the top of the copper that covers his bottom. There is no wind now - our sails are flapping against the mast and have been since dinner. The largest shark we have seen since we started came swimming around the ship this morning, he was attended by 4 pilot fish, one of the Mates said he should think it would be 12 or 14-foot long. There is a very dark rain cloud now coming up, hope it will bring a good breeze with it.

Wednesday Nov 9th

The "Italia" is still in sight this morning, they say she is going out in ballast for a cargo of rice. We are going very little now, it is very warm. On the "Italia" passing us this afternoon, our bugler played "Yankee Doodle" as a salute to them.

Thursday Nov 10th

The "Italia" is still in sight, she keeps sailing around towards us. The Captain says it is very strange as she could easily leave us behind if she liked; he signalled her this morning, but she would not answer.
At night, there was quite a gale, it lasted about an hour, the ship going before it at the rate of 10 or 12 knots per hour.

Friday Nov 11th

We have got a steady breeze this morning, and are making some way, we are tacking first to one side and then to the other. Nice moonlight nights. Expect to cross the Line sometime during the night, expect a good ..............

Saturday Nov 12th

They say we crossed the Line first thing this morning. They have got "Neputuno" his suite in the forecastle. They say they will come aft about tea time. Father Neptune and his officers came aft to see us about 6 o'clock p.m. Mrs Neptune was seated on a gun carriage, her husband worked by her side, their suite consisting of secretary, Doctor Shaver, ........................ and half-a-dozen bobbies who drew the carriage along. Directly they came aft, they rushed on to the poop deck to get the officers, but they had all bundled down in the cabin at the first sight of them, so being disappointed there, they came below to get sound(?) out of our cabins, and they got more than they expected.
We all had a stick apiece and we stood in a body to guard the entrance to the cabin. When they got to the door, we put our sticks across and they were trying to force their way it. We soon had a quiet little scrimmage, and as there were 32 of us single chaps to about 20 of the "Neptuners", we soon drove them away from the door. When they saw they could not get any of us to barber, they said if we would give them 1/- apiece to buy some grog off the steward with, they would not touch any of us and the others agreed. I did the same and they went quietly away. As we had paid our footing, we could go on deck as we liked and so I went to see the ...........
There were 3 in the forecastle that was shared and two in our cabin that had stowed themselves away on deck. The sailors soon found them out and think in less than ten minutes, they were wet.   ......................

Unfortunately this is all of the diary I was given to share with you. Gavin Petrie

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