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

Barque 'Australian,' W. B. Rhodes, Master from New Zealand towards Eoaa11 cruising after Sperm Whales

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Barque 'Australian,' W. B. Rhodes, Master from New Zealand towards Eoaa11 cruising after Sperm Whales

September 29th 1836. At daylight hove short, and at 8 a.m. got under weigh. Wind S.E., ship beating down the Harbour. Noon, light air and fine weather, lowered two boats to tow.

Friday September 30th. Light contrary winds: working out of the Bay. Noon, moderate N.W. winds. Stood to the S.E. Kept a good look out but saw nothing. Lat. 41° 38′, Long. 175° 18′ E.

Saturday October 1st. Wind variable with fine weather. Steering towards the East Cape. Saw blackfish. Lat. obsd. 41° 20′ S.

Sunday October 2nd. Steady S.E. breeze. Lat. 40° 04′ S.

Monday October 3rd. Light airs and fine. Saw spouts: lowered three boats after them, which proved to be fin-backs.12 Noon, light airs and fine. A number of fin-backs around the ship.

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Tuesday October 4th. Light airs and calms. Saw a number of fin-backs. Lat. obsd. 39° 51′ S.

Wednesday October 5th. Light airs from N.E. Saw a great many fin-backs. At Noon Table Cape W. by N., dist. 6 leagues. Lat. 39° 12′, & Long. 178° 25′ E.

Thursday October 6th. Light Easterly winds. At night shortened sail, being off the East Cape. Saw a strange sail, supposed to be the Tuscalusia.13 A number of fin-backs about.

Friday October 7th. Variable light breezes Lat. 37° 21′ S.

Saturday October 8th. Fresh Easterly breeze and cloudy. At 10 a.m. saw spouts. Lowered two boats: proved to be fin-backs.

Sunday October 9th. Fresh Northerly breeze, ship standing to the Eastward. Lat. 38° 12′, Long. 177° 36′ W.

Monday October 10th. Fresh N.W. gale with a heavy sea. Ship pitching and labouring much. Weather thick and cloudy. Noon, more moderate.

Tuesday October 11th. Strong Westerly winds, and cloudy with heavy sea. Ship steering to the N.E. to shift her ground. At 9 a.m. saw right whales. Lowered three boats. At 10.30 the 2nd Mate darted but missed. The Mate found much fault at being desired to lower after right whales, there being, as he said, too much sea. Lat. obsd. 36° 47′ S.

Wednesday October 12th. Strong breeze and cloudy with a heavy sea. At 4.45 p.m. saw a right whale ahead, dist. about half a mile. Lowered three boats. At page 216.30 the boats returned, whale going too fast to windward. 36° 25′ S., 173° 18′ W.

Thursday October 13th. p.m. Strong N.W. wind and cloudy; latter part hard gale. Close reeft the topsails; a heavy sea; ship labouring much. Lat. 35° 48′.

Friday October 14th. Hard Northerly gale. Secured the boats to the davit heads. Gale increasing, hove the ship to under close reeft main topsail.

Saturday October 15th. Continues hard gales and thick cloudy weather and a heavy sea running up, N.N.E. off N.E.

Sunday October 16th. Hard gale with a heavy sea. Saw a right whale going fast to windward. Noon, more moderate, made sail. Lat. 35° 15′ S.

Monday October 17th. Begins strong breezes and thick hazy weather. At 1 p.m. saw right whales. Lowered three boats. At 2 p.m. a boat fastened and the iron drew again. The whales took to windward. At 4 the boats returned. Noon, strong breeze and cloudy weather, wind N.W. by N.

Tuesday October 18th. Strong N.W. winds and thick hazy weather. Saw several fin-backs about. The ship having now been 14 days off the East Cape, and the weather continuing bad, I intend, weather permitting, to steer towards the Curtis Islands.14 Lat. 34° 12′, Long, 171° 00′ W.

Wednesday October 19th. Steady N.W. by W. winds and hazy weather, steering close hauled to the Northward. Crew and tradesmen employed as most page 22requisite. Kept a good look out: saw nothing worthy of notice. Lat. obsd. 32° 50′, Long, 170° 9′ W.

Thursday October 20th. Steady Westerly wind and fine weather. At 10.30 a.m. saw a school of sperm whales about 5 miles distance. Lowered all boats. At noon all the boats got fast.

Friday October 21st. p.m. freshening breezes. The Captain got stove, and his iron broke in the shank. Pulled on board and hoisted his boat in. At 3 picked up the weather whale. Strong breezes and cloudy. In running down to pick up the lee whale the fluke rope broke. At 4 got the whale alongside again. At 6 picked up the 2nd Mate's whale. The 3rd Mate came on board and left his whale, saying he thought the ship wanted assistance. I immediately sent him aloft to look out for his whale, and steered towards the place he supposed it to be, but unfortunately saw nothing of it. Secured the whales alongside for the night. Daylight strong breeze with heavy sea, began to cut in. At 8 obliged to veer the ship to cut in to leeward. Got the head of one whale in by noon.

Saturday October 22nd. p.m. Strong breeze with a heavy cross sea. At 4.30 got one whale cut in. The other parted the fluke rope. Lowered a boat to pick her up again. At sunset got the whale alongside again and secured her with two fluke ropes for the night. At 10 began to boil out. At daylight employed clearing up the decks. Strong breeze with a heavy sea. At 11 began to cut in the other whale to leeward.

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Sunday October 23rd. At 2.30 finished cutting in. At 4 moderate breeze and clear. Employed clearing the decks and boiling out. Made sail to the Northward. Noon, light breeze and fine.

Monday October 24th. Light Westerly breezes and fine weather. Midnight finished boiling out. Two whales made 43 barrels, a.m. Employed cleaning the deck and stowing the blubber room. Lat. obsd. 29° 41′, Long. 169° 47′ W.

Tuesday October 25th. Steady breeze and fine weather. All hands employed clearing the hold, getting up water, etc. Wind Westerly.

Wednesday October 26th. Light Westerly winds and fine weather. Saw nothing this day; people employed stowing down oil, etc., etc.

Thursday October 27th. Moderate Westerly wind and fine weather, steering N.N.W. Finished stowing down oil. Kept a good look out: saw nothing.

Friday October 28th. Steady S.E. breeze, steering W. by S. Employed re-coopering the bread. Saw birds and small fish, etc., etc. Lat. obsd. 28° 41′ S., Long. 170° 44′ W.

Saturday October 29th. Steady Easterly wind and fine weather, steering W. by S. under all sail towards the Curtis Isles. At 10 a.m. saw a small patch of shoal water about half a mile from the ship. Lat. 28° 45′, Long. 172° 17′ W.

Sunday november 30th. Wind and weather as yesterday, steering W. by S. Kept a good look out. Saw nothing worth notice. Lat. 28° 54′, Long. 174° 29′ W.

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Monday October 31st. First part fresh breeze and fine wind hauling round to the Eastward, with cloudy squally weather. Double reeft the topsails. Crew employed as most useful. Saw nothing. Lat. obsd. 29° 15′, Long. 175° 44′ W.

Tuesday November 1st. Steady Easterly breeze and fine weather. Lat. 28° 48′, Long. 176° 45′ W.

Wednesday November 2nd. First part steady Easterly winds, a.m. the wind hauled round to the North, and steering W. by S. Saw small fish and birds. Lat. obsd. 28° 31′ S., Long. 177° 38′ W.

Thursday November 3rd. Light breeze and cloudy with rain at 8 p.m. Saw spouts about 5 miles on the starboard quarter. Supposed them to be sperm whales. At midnight passed the place assigned for Sunday15 Isle on the charts. Saw nothing of it. Noon, strong squalls with heavy rain, thunder and lightning. Lat. 28° 28′, Long. 178° 43′ W.

Friday November 4th. First part strong breezes with passing squalls and rain. Close reefed the topsails, heading to the Northd. Wind E.N.E. Noon moderate. Lat. obsd. 27° 47′ S.

Saturday November 5th. Continuous strong breezes and thick cloudy disagreeable weather.

Sunday November 6th. Moderate breezes and thick cloudy weather, with passing showers of rain. a.m. light airs and calms. Lat. 25° 42′ S., Long. 179° 38′ W.

Monday November 7th. light airs and calms throughout.

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Tuesday November 8th. Moderate Easterly wind. Saw a fin-back. Lat. obsd. 26° 15′, Long. 179° 10′ W.

Wednesday November 9th. Variable wind and weather. Saw nothing worth noticing.

Thursday November 10th. Moderate Northerly breeze and fine weather. At 1 saw a sail on the larboard beam standing towards us. At 5 spoke the Tamar. The Captain came on board and reported 600 barrels 13 months out. At 9 a.m. I went on board the Tamar and exchanged 16 gallons of brandy for 17 cwt yams and 3 pigs. We determined to keep in company and proceed under easy sail towards Eooa. Lat. obsd. 27° 2′, Long 176° 52′.

Friday November 11th. Steady breeze and fine weather, Tamar in company. Lat. 26° 10′ S., Long. 175° 25′ W.

Saturday November 12th. Steady trade wind and fine weather, steering N.N.E. At 8 a.m. the Tamar hoisted a signal for whales. Shortly after, the Mate being at the masthead, saw a breach. At 9 lowered all boats; noon steady breeze and fine, boats chasing whales.

Sunday November 13th. Steady breezes and fine, boats in chase of whales. Tamar's boats got a 80-barrel whale. At 3.15 the Mate and 2nd Mate returned on board. Shortly after saw two whales near the ship. Lowered after them. At 4 p.m. the 3rd Mate got fast to a large whale to leeward. The Captain went to his assistance; the whale sounding parted the line and to my great sorrow we unfortunately lost him. At 5 p.m. all boats returned. Hoisted them up and hove to in company with the Tamar for the night. Lat. 25° 28′, Long. 174° 46′.

Monday November 14th. Moderate trade and fine page 26weather. I went on board the Tamar to see them cut in the whale. a.m. Fresh breeze and fine. At 10 the Tamar hoisted her signal for whales. Run down towards her: she informed us she had seen them close to our ship and that they were now bearing S.S.E. of us. The Mate being at the masthead saw nothing of them.16 At 11 saw the whales going fast to windward. Chased them under all sail but they were soon out of sight. Two strange sail in sight boiling out. Lat. 24° 53′, Long. 174° 50′ W.

Tuesday November 15th. Fresh trade and fine weather. At 3 saw whales ahead 4 miles off, going fast, to windward. They were soon out of sight. At sunset spoke the Tamar. The Captain came on board.

Wednesday November 16th. Wind and weather as yesterday. Tamar in company. Saw nothing.

Thursday November 17th. Steady trade and fine weather. Five strange sail in sight. At daylight saw a sperm whale about 1½ miles dist. Lowered all boats after him. At 8 a.m. the whale going fast to windward. 2 strange sail in sight. Tamar's boats in company in chase spoke the American ship's boats Envoy, out 33 months, 1600 barrels. Noon, the boats returned without success.

Friday November 18th. Light airs and calm weather throughout. The Captain of the Tamar came on board. Kept a good look out. Saw nothing but small fish which were round the ship in abundance.

Saturday November 19th. Steady breeze and fine, steering to the Northward. Latter partsqually and rain. Two sail in sight. Tamar in company. Lat. obsd. 24° 36′ S.

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Sunday November 20th. Begins fresh trade and clear, steering to the Northward. Nothing seen but small fish and the Tamar. The Captain came on board. Lat. 22° 41′ Long. 174° 10′ W.

Monday November 21st. p.m. Fresh trade and fine weather. At midnight saw the Island of Eova bearing N. by E. At 3 a.m. wore ship to the Southward and hove the main yard to the mast. At 5 stood towards the island. At 5.30 whales rose up under the bows and were seen by a little boy at the wheel. The ship alarmed them. It is strange that neither the Mate nor the watch on deck did not seem them before. Down all boats after them. At 7.30 the boats returned, the whales going fast to windward. Stood towards the island, Tamar in company. At 9.30 I went on shore in company with Captain Clapham. Noon, off shore ½ a mile.

Tuesday November 22nd. First part moderate breeze and fine at 5 p.m. I returned on board, having procured some fruit, etc. Daylight beating to windward of the South end of Eova six strange sail in sight, one boiling out. Ends strong breeze and cloudy. Off shore 4 miles.

Wednesday November 23rd. Fresh trade with squalls. Six strange sail in sight. At 8 a.m. stood in for the island of Eooa. Noon, light breeze and fine. I went on shore along with the Captain of the Tamar.

Thursday November 24th. Ship standing off on shore. At 5 p.m. I returned on board, accompanied by the Captain of the Tamar. The boy Joe and a New Zealander remained on shore. One of the Tamar's boys also remained on shore. Whether the above had run or were detained page break
'Cutting in' a whale [From Life and Adventure in the South Pacific]

'Cutting in' a whale
[From Life and Adventure in the South Pacific]

page 28by the natives was matter of conjecture. The Chief intimated that they should be forthcoming in the morning provided I brought him a present. Kept the ship standing off and on during the night. At 7 a.m. I went on shore accompanied with the Captain of the Tamar. On landing we were received very coolly, and observed the Chief and a great many natives armed, and they appeared anything but pacific. However we endeavoured to conciliate them, and retired along with the Chief to his house. The forenoon was spent without hearing anything of the people missing, although we made diligent enquiry after them, and made the Chief some presents. We found it impossible to conciliate him, and imagined ourselves in some danger. At last he demanded several articles, and said when they were sent for from the ships he would produce the people and we might go on board. I accordingly sent for 3 axes, 4 knives, 1 doz. kerchiefs, 1 doz. fish hooks and a small box to pack them in, giving directions to have the ship prepared and two boats armed to assist us should they proceed to violence. Noon, light breeze and fine; working ship in shore ready armed.

Friday November 25th. After suffering many insults, which we were obliged to bear being completely in the power of the natives, at length, giving the Chief the articles specified above, together with others from the Tamar and also three men, natives of Onio, which the Tamar had on board, our people were produced and we were suffered to depart. At 5 p.m. arrived on board the ship and found all the men under arms and indignant at the treatment I had met with. The Captain of the Tamar suggested that we ought to retaliate by cannonading them, page 29but I would not agree to it, not wishing to shed blood. On enquiring I found mat the boy Joe and the New Zealander had been persuaded by the natives to desert; for the present I ordered them both into confinement.

Eooa, one of the Friendly Isles, is in Lat. 21° 24′ S. Long. 174° 30′ W., and is said to contain about 200 inhabitants. Nearly all the tropical fruits and vegetables are produced here, but the natives are indolent and, owing to the demand for the above articles by the numerous whalers which visit it, everything is exorbitant and in fact very little can be procured. From July to November whales frequent the S.E. end of the island.

Saturday November 26th. p.m. Strong breeze and thick cloudy weather, with heavy rain; cruising off the S.E. end of Eooa. On examining the New Zealander he said and proved that one of the white men beating him was the cause of him running away. Therefore, as I had promised the natives that the white men should not be allowed to ill-treat them, I thought it best to be lenient as the most likely way of securing the esteem of the natives. Consequently released without further punishment. The boy I ordered to be fastened to a gun with his posterior exposed and made the other boys inflict four dozen stripes with a cat prepared for the purpose. Noon, variable winds from the West to South, the centre of Towoza17 bearing N.W.; Eooa N.E.; Tamar in company.

Sunday November 27th. First part variable winds with passing squalls and rain. Kept a good look out but saw nothing worthy of notice. At daylight East end of page 30Eooa W.N. W. dist. 4 leagues. Noon, calm sultry weather. Lat. obsd. 21° 21′ S.

Monday November 28th. p.m. Light airs and calms. I went on board the Tamar to dine. Found Captain Clapham to be a native of Brig and grandson to Mr Richard Smith, Carside. He gave me the following articles which I promised to send to Lincolnshire for distribution amongst his friends and mine—13 clubs, 3 spears, 10 pieces of tappa procured at Ono; 5 whales teeth carved, 3 harp shells, a.m. light breezes and fine weather. At 8 saw white water on the quarter about 8 miles off.

Tuesday November 29th. Light airs and fine. Noon, calm. Lowered two boats, having seen white water 5 miles off. Returned without success. Eooa North dist. 5 or 6 leagues.

11 This was 'Eua, south-east of Tongatabu, in the southern part of the Tonga group. Rhodes variously spells this name Eoaa, Eooa, Eova, and Eoova.

12 Fin-backs and blue whales travelled too fast and were too strong for the whaling gear of the time. See Introduction, p. xi.

13 Tuscaloosa, of New Bedford, Captain Hussey. She had been at Cloudy Bay from 22 May to 27 September.

14 The Kermadec Group.

15 Sunday or Raoul Island, in the Kermadec group. In other places Rhodes spells this name 'Sunda'.

16 For Captain Clapham's certificate concerning this event see Appendix 10, p. 109.

17 Possibly Tongatabu.