John H. W. Pettit letters to his family in England, illustrated with sketches by the writer, 1852-1868 - Page 24

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Letter 3


Lat.             Long.

December 1st 1852

My dr. Father & Mother

As we are now near the end of our voyage, having passed the meridian of long. of the most northern parts of Australia by some hundreds of miles  -  have tested myself to commencing my 3rd letter home, since leaving Gravesend - The first was handed to the Pilot {who left us in the Downs} to post - The 2nd was dispatched when off the island of Madeira, Sep 24th - from circumstances connected to its delivery into official hands - induces doubt as to its ever being forwarded = When off the above island, a great many of the passengers had prep.[prepared] epistles - but being off that side furthest from the town  -  there existed but little chance of getting rid of them  -  it fell however a dead calm - after much petitioning on the part of the writers, the Capt at last consented to allow a boat to row off - on condition that they should do all the labor themselves - without taking any seamen off their work - this was of course readily consented to, & away they went, hoping by rounding one of the points of high land about 12 miles distant to get in sight of some of the craft out fishing - the town was at least 20 miles away. The Capt. going as interpreter as he speaking Spanish {The islands are Portuguese} Hurgar (?) as Surgeon -  {Doctor is called on board} to certify to the good state of health of the ships Company - in case an opportunity to land presented itself - As expected they fell in with a couple of boats of whom they bought some fish, tea for apples - they were gone for some hours - we waited their return with considerable interest - The letters were of course handed over to be forwarded to the right quarter for transit, giving the man a crown for his trouble - but these gentlemen are very lazy & uncertain -  & it is probable that they, the letters, never changed hands again - will therefore make mention of a few of the principle incidents as they occurred up to that time - Sept 12th ran down the Thames with a fresh breeze - saw Dover Cliffs - Coast France - in eveng.[?]   Calais lights - weather fine - sea smooth - nearly ran a schooner down in the night - she not giving way as she ought - just cleared - Monday 13th Good breeze - head wind - S. Coast of old E. saw Beachy hd, Coast France (?) - Top gallants taken in - arranged into Messes of 8 - Splendid sunset - Brighton seen - passed "Wellington" - Emigrants to P. Phillip, which left London on the Sat previous - 14th wind light - more fair - Stun'sails set - Isle Wight seen - St Albans head last land seen - 15th Blowing hard - double reefed topsails, just entg. the Bay - {unwell } heavy sea - 16th Weather (?) - saw a small whale - sea very luminous at night - 17th x x 18th getting better - Sunday 19 beautiful day - weather fine - Atlantic - 19th squally at night - all sails set - afraid of the masts - thunder & lightning much rain - 21st Shoal of porpoises playg [playing].  about the bows - harpoon thrown, none taken - Musical evening - Fiddling - 22nd Two vessels to windward x x 24th Up before sunrise - Madeira abt 7 miles ahead - hardly a breath, sea smooth - Most splendid sunrise - the tops of the island being hidden from view by the clouds - sides almost perpendicular - no trees visible but could see some vineyards - it very bright & clear - Dolphins playg. round us, caught some - very similar to mackerel in flavour  -  Saw a small Village as we passed {apparently inaccesible(?) from the shore} - 25th Good breeze - left island at about 8 knots - Sunday 26th (?) on Quarter deck, just sighted some of the Canary ISlands - Peak Teneriffe just discerned - 27th Man fell from fore yard 36ft - no bone broken - 28th Becalmed - saw small shark(?) - some of the rocks found on the sides of the island rise perpendicularly to the height of 2000 above the surface of the water.

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