Journal of a Voyage in Ship “Ocean Pearl”, 870 tons register, Winthrop Sears, master, from Boston to Valparaiso, thence to the Sandwich Islands, thence to Hong Kong, Manila, thence to Port of discharge in U.S.A. At sea, Valparaiso, Oahu, Hong Kong, Manila: 28 November 1854 – 19 October 1855
Small folio (10 3/16 x 7 5/8 in.; 260 x 194 mm.). 80 pp., plus 1-p. passenger and crew list, and 1-p. description of the vessel, written in a cursive hand in brown ink on pale blue paper, 13 very fine marginal or interlinear pencil drawings of Krakatoa, Staten Land, St. Helena, Corregidor and other harbors, the ship “Spitfire” under full sail, a small Philippine vessel “Banca”, and a calabash of “poi”; occasional foxing. Original quarter leather and marbled boards, “Journal” scratched in backstrip; spine worn, covers rubbed.
Journal of a voyage to hawai’i and points east, written in a lively, introspective and literary style
The trip included a month’s stay in Oahu which is described at some length. It is difficult to determine the author’s role aboard ship as he is not mentioned in the passenger or crew list, but the passengers included several Whitneys and other families (Hitchcock, Everett, Tufts) from Northampton, Roxbury, and Jamaica Plain in Massachusetts. He does humorously describe some physical labor in which he took part, and he does record the ship’s position and distance traversed suggesting that he was a crew member, but his spirited descriptions of passengers, crewmen, weather and topography, show an educated background. He has included fine pencil drawings of harbors and topography, as well as some local color.
A few samples of his entries follow:
(29 November 1854): “In our midnight watch one of our shipmates, who was called aft to hold the reel, was swept by a sea from the weather side, down against a spar to leeward, with such force as to fracture the small bone of his leg. He lay in great agony with his leg swaying about with the ship’s motion, in the water of the lee scuppers where it was 2 feet deep and very cold. We assisted him to the forecastle where he received all attention from captain and mates.” — (3 December 1854): “The sea has smoothed its ruffled waves and is gently agitated by fair breezes ... I got out the miniatures and Bibles, precious reminders of home, and dropped a tear to relieve a slight momentary twinge at the heart. Thus far I have found my duties and situation quite pleasant. I regret not in the slightest degree the step I have taken; some poor fellows have on the other hand become heart sick and sea sick but this will wear off.” — (29 December 1854): “This P.M. entered on first course of “holystoning”, which throws a person into a very devout attitude but the frame of mind hardly corresponds, and the less said of the frame of body, the better. For before 2 hours are spent, you are made fully aware that you are blessed with a back which is foolish enough to ache “like mad”. We literally earned our bread by the “sweat of our brows”. You drop upon your knees and after sprinkling the deck with sand and water, you shove a piece of sand stone of 4 lbs. w[ei]ght, to and fro with the grain of the wood until each plank becomes clean and white.” — (30 December 1854): “These sailors, whose nobleness we hear so much of, are a set of thoro’ swine, in “feeding”, language, and manners. In the forecastle all our tin pots and pans are used by anyone without ceremony. If one sees a pot at his elbow, he takes a “pull” from it, without leave or license. When a man asks for a piece of meat, his neighbor, if he have an oversupply, takes a farewell bite, then passes it with his fingers to his messmate. The cry sometimes is, “fleet along that beef kid.” “Pass me a dozen or six of those biscuits.” “Let’s take your spoon, a skake, won’t you? Come give us half that tea, ‘Moustache’, here’s some duff I don’t want.” “Sickly, light that lamp.” “Canvas-cap, cut me half your onion, if you don’t want to trot around here with one eye!” “Sasher, take your ‘corpse’ off my ‘donkey’”. — (5 January 1855 has a vivid description of hazing the new recruits by a group of older sailors through the application of coal tar and black varnish to their faces) — (18 March 1855, at Valparaiso): Just before the commencement of these 24 hours the Capt. took Mrs. Whitney & Miss Wright out from the ship, in a little cockle shell of a boat. On their return, the boat was overset, by one of the ladies stepping on the gunwale. Mrs. Whitney was thrown into the water and was drawn out by the Capt. and chief mate, escaping with merely a thorough wetting. She took the matter very coolly, tho’ there was at first some danger. No one made any outcry, at all. A few hours of tropical Sun repaired all damages to the millinery & tailoring departments. The 2nd Mate went headlong into the sea in pursuit of the articles from the wrecked boat, which were soon recovered. This was sufficient to send all those of the crew off duty, overboard at once. The sea was for half an hour the scene of aquatic revels of a most marvellous kind. ... It was now the turn of our watch and over we went, one after another, making the sea ring again with our shouts. ... when the cry was raised that a “shark was hooked aft.” This was true & a fine great fellow of 8 or 9 feet length was landed on the deck and soon dispatched. A half dozen knives were immediately employed about his carcass which sustained the severe losses of jaw bone, spine fins & skin, to say nothing of the heart, which continued to beat with regular pulsations for some moments after parting company with the parent body; nor of sundry steaks cut from his tender flank. These last were served up at the cabin board and pronounced good eating, by competent judges. ... Those who were overboard at the time he [the shark] was landed on deck, suddenly came to the conclusion that sea bathing disagreed with their constitutions; at least it seemed so, judging from the celerity of their movements.”
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