Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

The Whaling Journal of Captain W. B. Rhodes: Barque Australian of Sydney 1836 - 1838

Barque 'Australian' of Sydney Wm. B. Rhodes, Commander towards New Zealand

page 4

Barque 'Australian' of Sydney Wm. B. Rhodes, Commander towards New Zealand

June 14th 1836. At 2 a.m. got under weigh from Camp Cove, and at three, being abreast of the Heads, the pilot left the ship. Moderate Westerly wind and fine weather. Shaped a course for Cooks Straits.

June 15th. Saw a spout to windward: Lowered two boats—they returned without success.

June 16th & 17th. Contrary winds and squally weather with a heavy sea. Kept a good look out but saw nothing.

June 18th. Saw Black Fish. Lowered boats returned without success. Lat. obsd. 34° 22′, Long. 156° 23′ E.

June 19th to 30th. Most part strong gales with squally disagreeable weather. Steering a course during the time when the wind permitted for Cooks Straits. Kept a good look out but saw nothing worthy of notice.

July 1st. Fresh breeze with passing squalls and a heavy sea running. At daylight saw the land about Mount Egmont, at noon Mount Egmont N. ½ E. Lat. 40° 18′, Long. 173° 18′.

July 2nd. Most part hard Easterly gale and thick cloudy weather. At 5 a.m. the Captain went on deck and page 5found, with the exception of the officer and two others, the watch had not been relieved. After some time had elapsed the Second Officer succeeded in getting the watch on deck. Richards, a boat-steerer, on being remonstrated with, behaved in a most disrespectful and insubordinate manner to the Captain. At 8, standing to the E.N.E., wind S.E. Noon, extremes of the land from E. by N. to N.W. by W. ½ N., about 8 miles off shore, sun obscured.

July 3rd & 5th. Most part contrary winds and disagreeable weather; ship making little progress through Cook's Straits. Mount Egmont in sight.

July 6th. Moderate contrary wind, ship working through Cook's Straits. At 9.30 all hands were called to shift some sails that had been damaged during the late gales and other necessary work, the sails at present bent not being deemed sufficient or safe to encounter another gale in such a dangerous place as Cook's Straits. The watch then below peremptorily refused to come on deck. Consequently the officers found it impossible to carry the Captain's orders into execution which tends much to endanger the safety of the ship in the event of another gale coming on. At noon the Captain ordered the rations to be brought aft in the cabin. The Chief Mate went forward and told those men that had been working to go into the cabin and get their dinners. They reply'd they would have it forward or not at all. They then all went below, with the exception of Wm. Stirling, boat-steerer, the mechanicks & boys. Mount Egmont N. by W. Lat. obsd. 40° 20′ S.

July 7th. Light breeze throughout. Johnson, seaman, came aft and requested he might be permitted to go page 6again to his duty. All those who refused to work the Captain stopped their provisions.

July 8th. Moderate throughout. John Myers returned to his duty. At noon Stevens Island S. W. by W. ¾ N., dist. 4 miles.

July 9th. Passed through Cooks Straits. At noon two boats came alongside from Queen Charlotte's Sound, and afterwards several whale boats belonging to the ships in Cloudy Bay.4 From the information received from the boats, which was very discouraging of the fishery, I determined not to go into Port but proceed on to Port Cooper.

July 10th. Passed Cloudy Bay and steered towards Port Cooper. Midnight strong gales & cloudy.

July 11th. Fresh contrary winds with a short head sea, wind Southerly, Sounded 47 fms.

The crew came aft and requested the Captain to let them have their provisions and they would go to work; the Captain told them they would have their provisions when they turned to. They did so, and now all hands after a voluntary fast are on duty again.

July 12th & 13th. Variable winds and weather; tack'd ship as occasion required. Lat. 42° 59′, Long. 173° 17′ E.

July 14th. Steady breezes and hazy. Saw a dead whale to the westward. The Captain lowered his boat and went after it. At noon Banks Peninsula bearing from S. ½ W. to S.W.

page 7

July 15th. At 1 p.m. got the whale alongside. At 10.30 got the try-works under weigh and hove the ship to for the night.

July 16th. At 2 p.m. put out the try-works and lowered all boats to tow the ship. At sunset came to an anchor in Port Cooper;5 found six vessels at anchor.6 At 9 got the try-works under weigh again. Midnight fine weather.

July 17th. At daylight sent two boats away after whales. At 1 p.m. hove short and got under weigh. At 5.30 p.m. moored with two bowers in Port Levey7 in 4 fthms. water about ¾ of a mile off shore. The two boats returned without success.

July 18th. Two boats out after whales. 3rd Mate got fast but his line parted. Employed unbending sails.

July 19th. 4 boats out but returned without success.

July 20th. The 3rd Mate killed a whale and anchored her 25 miles from the ship.

July 21st. Found the whale had gone adrift.

July 22nd to 25th. Four boats out every day but no success, no whales seen.

July 26th. The Mate killed a small whale, and after towing her some time anchored her 18 miles from the ship.

July 27th. At 4 a.m. sent out 5 boats to tow the whale. At sunset, the whale being about 2 leagues from the ship with a favourable tide, all the boats refused to tow any longer, although urgently requested by page 8me to do so. The officers did not at all exert their authority, and by their silence the crew were encouraged to resist the orders of their Captain. I was much grieved at the highly improper behaviour of my officers.

July 28th. At 5.30 a.m. lowered all boats to tow the whale. Weather thick and foggy. At 3.30 p.m. got the whale alongside and commenced cutting in.

July 29th to 1st august. These four days nothing occurred worthy of notice, none of the boats having seen whales.

August 2nd. At 3 p.m. fastened to a large whale and killed her. Left her at anchor about 25 miles from the ship in harbour. The 4th Mate fastened to a whale and got stove. He anchored the stove boat and returned to the ship together with the crew in the 2nd Mate's boat at 11.30 p.m.

August 3rd. At daylight, on turning the hands out to tow in the whale they refused, saying they were not able, being too much fatigued. I was therefore obliged very reluctantly to allow the whale to remain, together with the stove boat, at the great risk of losing both. However I thought it best to submit to the crew for once.

August 4th. At 4 p.m. lowered four boats to go and tow in the whale. At 9 a.m., being in company with the Mate's boat saw whales. My boat was not furnished with lines or irons; I made a signal to the Mate to induce him to fasten, there being many whales round the boats, when to my great surprise he did not endeavour to do so, but remarked in very disrespectful language that it would be better to go and tow the dead whale. At 11.30 a.m. took page 9the whale in tow with three boats, the other towing the stove boat. At 4.30 anchored the whale, being 20 miles from the ship. The Chief Mate and myself determined to remain all night by the whale. During the night the wind was fresh with a heavy sea, and our situation was not very comfortable at anchor in a whale boat during a cold night twenty miles from the land.

August 5th. At daylight strong winds and cloudy. Found it impossible to tow the whale. At 9 very reluctantly left the whale at anchor and pull'd towards the harbour with a strong wind and heavy sea against us. At 10 the boat that returned to the ship came out again with provisions. At 7 p.m. arrived on board the ship pretty well fagg'd after been two days and a night exposed in a whale boat.

August 6th. Strong breeze and squally weather. Boats not able to go out to tow in the whale. Lowered to go outside the heads, but being too much sea the boats returned. Midnight moderate.

August 7th. At 6 a.m. I chanced to awake and immediately went on deck. I was surprised to find the hands had not been turned out, as orders had been given the night before to turn out at 5 to tow in the whale. Finding the cook on deck, I asked why he had not called me at 5 o'clock. He replied he had no orders, and was extremely abusive. Being irritated, I gave him a beating. Notwithstanding the noise made on deck none of the officers appeared. On going down the cabin to call the Chief Mate, I found him awake and in the act of turning out.

On the hands being turned out they refused, and inti-page 10mated they would do no more duty until a committee of captains was held on board on account of my conduct to the cook. This was rather a novel request. However I immediately [asked] the Mate to request the attendance of three captains from Port Cooper. Indeed I feel pleased at an opportunity of others witnessing the state of my crew. At 10 a.m. the boat returned with Captain Howe of the Harriet, all the other captains having gone out a-whaling. The crew were then mustered, and after a good deal of desultory conversation, in which they appeared to take great umbrage at my having never been on a whaling voyage before, and said if only Mr Powel was allowed to be Whaling Master they would go to their duty, and no doubt they would make a good voyage. I told them by the advice of Captain Howe that I did not care what they called Mr Powel as long as they brought plenty of whales. They then went to their duty.

Capt. Howe observed that I had got an extremely rascally and mutinous set to deal with, and, not being supported properly by my officers, he plainly saw they were too lazy for black whaling, and advised me to go after sperm. It had been my intention at daylight to muster me crew and inform them of my intention to get the ship under weigh and take her outside to pick up the whale, she being now 7 days old, and also to anchor the vessel outside, which, although it would be very dangerous, and at my risk should any accident occur, yet I was willing to risk the vessel to save them towing, provided they would exert themselves in future in procuring whales.

Noon and middle part of the day calm: employed clearing the decks. At sunset got under weigh with a page 11favourable wind from Port Levey, and at 7 p.m. cleared the heads. The 3rd Mate, from some cause best known to himself, made use of a great deal of insolent language, and amongst other things said that if the ship was in danger of going on shore he would not put himself the least out of the way. I did not address him, not thinking it of any use to try to bring such a blackguard to terms. Ship standing from the land with a light breeze. Midnight fine weather.

August 8th. Daylight moderate breeze and fine weather. At 8 a.m. saw whales; lowered after them. At 3 p.m. the ship picked up the dead whale and came to an anchor in 20 fthms. water, Port Cooper bearing South, dist. about 7 leagues, off shore about three or four leagues, Eastern extreme of Banks Peninsula S.E.; N.E. extreme of the Bay, N. by E.; Lat. 43° 13′ S. The Australian is the first vessel ever anchored out here; the place is exposed to the winds from North to S.E., and with an Easterly wind such a heavy sea would set into the bight that no ship would hold on and must inevitably go on shore.

August 9th. Strong breeze and cloudy. At 7.30 a.m. commenced cutting in the whale. She was bursted, and in fact a complete wreck. Had we got her fresh she would have made 9 tons; as it was she only made 4 after having had not little trouble with her. On an average there is always 5 to 8 men off duty on pretence of being sick. At 8 p.m. commenced trying out part of the blubber, the whale being secured alongside.

August 10th. At daylight began to cut in the remainder of the whale. At 2 p.m. finished cutting in the whale, having been nearly two days over it. Lowered two page 12boats to go in search of the stove boat. At 8 p.m. the boats returned not having seen anything of the stove boat. I imagine she must have gone adrift during the late bad weather.

August 11th. Lowered after whales. Boats returned, blowing too fresh.

August 12th. Lowered two boats. At 1 p.m. the Mate killed a large whale; took her in tow. At 3 the whale sank; cut the line and boats returned on board.

August 13th. At daylight lowered 3 boats, and 3 p.m. killed a large whale and anchored her. At 5.30 the boats returned on board.

August 14th. At daylight lowered two boats. Found the whale killed on the 12th and took her in tow. Sent another boat. At 4.30 p.m. blowing too hard to tow. Anchored the whale about 4 miles from the ship, and the boats returned on board.

August 15th. At daylight, after the Mate's boat had lowered, the other boats' crews refused to lower unless I gave them a bottle of grog in each boat, which I did not choose to do, as I expected them to return with the whale by 9 a.m. I then enquired whether they would get the ship under weigh and take her to the whale, which they did not refuse. At 11 a.m. got the whale alongside and came to an anchor again in 13 fthms. At 1 p.m. commenced cutting in. Sunset, got part of the whale cut in and secured her for the night. Got the try-works under weigh.

page 13

August 16th. At daylight began to cut in the remainder of the whale. Noon finished cutting in. The remainder of the day employed trying out and stowing down oil. 7 hand off duty (sick).

August 17th. Got the ship under weigh and stood towards the dead whale. At 4 p.m. got her alongside. It coming calm and ship drifting fast towards shore let go anchor, and again anchored the whale off the ship. At sunset, a breeze springing up from the S.E., got under weigh and made sail off shore. At 9 came to an anchor in 14 fthms.

August 18th. At 6 a.m. lowered 3 boats to go and tow. At 4.30 p.m. got the whale alongside and secured her for the night.

August 19th & 20th. Employed cutting in the whale, trying out, stowing down, etc.

August 21st. Moderate breeze and fine weather. Lowered 2 boats after whales. At sunset killed a large whale and anchored her. 7 p.m. boats returned on board.

August 22nd. At daylight lowered 3 boats to tow the whale. At 11.30 a.m. got the whale alongside and commenced cutting in.

August 23rd & 24th. Employed trying out.

August 25th. At daylight lowered 4 boats after whales. At 9.30 a.m. the Mate got fast but the iron drew. At 4 p.m. fastened to a large whale, and at sunset killed her. Anchored the whale about 3 miles from the ship.

August 26th. Moderate breeze and fine weather. Lowered 4 boats to tow the whale and got her alongside page 14at 2 p.m. Began to cut in. At sunset the ships Friendship, Nile, and Sisters8 came to an anchor near us.

August 27th. Trying out oil and stowing down.

August 28th. Lowered two boats after whales. At 2.30 p.m. found the deck on fire under the try-works. After pulling part of the latter down succeeded in putting out the fire. Employed building up the try-works again and lining the deck underneath, which had been burnt away.

August 29th. Lowered after whales. Boats returned without success.

August 30th. At 5.30 a.m. lowered three boats after whales. At 10 the Mate got fast to a calf. The Captain fastened to the cow and got stove. The 2nd Mate took his line; at noon killed the whale and took her in tow. At 2 p.m. the Captain returned to the whale with another boat to tow. At sunset got the whale alongside and secured her for the night.

August 31st. Employed cutting in the whale and trying out oil.

September 1st. Lowered two boats after whales. Employed trying out and stowing down oil, cleaning bone &c. &c.

September 2nd. Lowered two boats after whales. At 2.30 p.m. the Captain and 3rd Mate returned on board with a dead calf and after dinner the two boats went away again. Employed on board cutting in the calf. At sunset the Captain fastened to a calf and nearly killed the cow by lancing, but getting very dark and having no assistance page 15from the other boat was obliged to cut, not being able to see. At 9 p.m. returned on board and hoisted up the boats.

September 3rd. At daylight lowered 3 boats after whales. At noon 2nd Mate fastened to a calf and the 3rd Mate to the cow, and got stove. The 2nd Mate took his line and at 3.30 killed the whale. At sunset anchored her and returned on board.

September 4th. Fresh breeze and cloudy, lowered 3 boats to tow the whale. At 3 p.m. got the whale alongside and secured for the night.

September 5th. At 7 a.m. turned to to cut in the whale; at noon light air and fine weather. The 3rd Mate having a slight quarrel with one of the men in the blubber room about a steel to sharpen the blubber or bounding knife, and the work being retarded by his not bounding, the Captain took the knife and bounded, which gave the 3rd Mate great offence. After making use of a great deal of bad language he swore he would do no more duty on board the ship and instigated two of the boat-steerers to knock off. They then went forward amongst the people at the windlass, and persuaded the greater part of them to refuse their duty. All hands men went below except 14, viz. including the boys &c. The Captain, boys, &c. &c. then manned the windlass, and with great exertion managed to cut in the whale. On sending the people that were at work to dinner found that the 19 who had knocked off had stolen the provisions out of the galley; consequently was obliged to give them some out of the cabin. At 2 p.m. finished cutting in. The weather looking very threatening, and the ship being much lumbered with a whale head, page 16and 12 tons of oil on deck, it was highly dangerous to leave her in an open roadstead with so few hands on duty and the greater part of the crew in a state of mutiny. At 3.30 got the ship under weigh and stood for Port Cooper. At 11 p.m. came to an anchor at Port Cooper and with some difficulty furled sails, it blowing pretty fresh with a heavy sea outside. It was gratifying to have brought the vessel to a place of safety.

September 6th. At 8.30 a.m., by the request of the Captain, Captains Fowler and Collins9 repaired on board to investigate the state of the crew and ship. They called the 3rd Mate, and after examination advised the Captain to send him up to Sydney as a mutineer or turn him on shore. The Captain then ordered him out of the ship.

On enquiry why the rest had knocked off, they said because Mr Scott the 3rd Mate had done so. Captain Collins told them he could plainly perceive it was as rank a mutiny as could occur on board of ship, and that he considered them an infamous lazy set of scoundrels, and advised the Captain to allow them all to go on shore that wished to go, as he was confident nothing could be done with such a set of blackguards. The Captain immediately ordered the mutineers out of the ship. In consequence 17 of them went on shore, and I must say, as Captain of the vessel I was heartily glad to get rid of such a set of scoundrels; although had I been so lucky as to have had officers to support me in the execution of my duty I have no doubt that they might have been made to obey, and execute the proper duty of the vessel.

page 17

I may now consider the Right Whaling season over so far as the Australian is concerned and prepare for the Sperm Fishery.

From the 7th to the 13th september we were employed with the few hands on board getting the vessel ready for sea.

September 14th. Got under weigh from Port Cooper and stood out to sea, intending to touch at Cloudy Bay to secure hands.

September 18th. Nothing having occurred worthy of notice during the passage, at 5.30 p.m. came to an anchor in Cloudy Bay and found 12 vessels in port. Cloudy Bay is a noble and safe harbour, being an inlet of the sea with numerous coves. Here all the ships in the world might ride in safety, secure from all winds.

September 19th. Employed 20 New Zealanders to assist in cleaning whalebone. Lowered 2 boats after a whale but they returned without success.

September 20th to 23rd. Employed cleaning ship and preparing for sea, getting on board fresh water &c. The ladies at the Bay were very condescending, and took lodgings on board the ship, to the great satisfaction of the sailors. They were very industrious in washing &c.

September 24th. Shipped all the whalebone on board the brig Hind for Sydney, viz. two and a quarter tons.

I took my passage on board the Lynx10 for Queen Charlotte Sound to endeavour to procure hands.

September 26th. Returned overland from the sound, not having procured any hands.

page 18

September 27th & 28th. Having finished taking what water we required on board, and one ton of potatoes, and shipped fourteen hands, including four New Zealanders, which makes the crew in all thirty, I determined to wait no longer for more hands but proceed to sea.

4 At least 13 American whalers were in Cloudy Bay at this time. See Old Whaling Days, pp. 188-9.

5 Now Lyttelton harbour. See notes, pp. xxvi and 117.

6 See note to list of Ships, Appendix 22, p. 126.

7 Port Levy

8 The Friendship and the Nile were American: the Sisters came from Sydney.

9 Captain Fowler was master of the Elizabeth, and Captain Collins probably the master of the Nile.

10 A Sydney whaler, later (November 1837) wrecked at New River.