The Whaling Journal of Captain W. B. Rhodes: Barque Australian of Sydney 1836 - 1838
The Barque 'Australian' from Vavaoo towards the Kermadec Islands and the east coast of New Zealand, and from thence towards the coast of New Holland and Sydney W. B. Rhodes, Master, 1837–8
The Barque 'Australian' from Vavaoo towards the Kermadec Islands and the east coast of New Zealand, and from thence towards the coast of New Holland and Sydney W. B. Rhodes, Master, 1837–8
November 4th. Having completed the wood and water, and received such refreshments as the place affords, got under weigh from Port Refuge, Vavaoo, and at 9 a.m. cleared the heads with a strong E.N.E. wind. Unbent the cables. Lat. obsd. 18° 24′ S.
November 5th to 9th. Fresh breeze. Kept a good look out for whales. Saw nothing worthy of notice. I now intend going more to the Southward; consequently to-day is the furthest we have cruised to the Northward. Lat. obsd. 16° 49′ S., Long. 171° 46′ W.
November 10th to 14th. Strong trade wind. Saw nothing worthy of notice. We are now off Eooa. This has been considered an excellent place for whales during this season. Lat. obsd. 20° 41′, Long. 172° 35′ W.
November 15th to 18th. Fine whaling weather. Saw nothing worthy of notice. It is very discouraging to page 70be so long without seeing whales. At noon Eooa N.W. by W. ½ W., dist. 10 leagues. Lat. obsd. 21° 46′ S.
November 19th to 22nd. Steady breezes and fine weather. Cruising in sight of Eooa these four days. Ground lively with small fish and birds. Saw 3 ships this day. Lat. obsd. 22° 36′ S., Long. 174° 33′ W.
November 23rd & 24th. Fine whaling weather. Saw nothing but a sail occasionally. Lat. obsd. 24° 00′, Long. 173° 6′ W.
November 25th to 27th. Fine weather. Kept a good look out for whales. Saw nothing. At 9 a.m. saw a ship to leeward in chase of whales. Stood after her under all sail. Lat. obsd. 24° 48′, Long. 173° 53′ W.
November 28th. At 1 p.m. spoke the Ann of London, Capt. Ball. They have been chasing a large whale. Could not get on him. The Captain came on board. At 3 saw a strange sail to windward standing towards us. At 5 spoke the Nantucket of Nantucket, 5 months out 60 barrels. The Captain came on board. He reported having. spoken the Diana, Capt. Harvey, on the 23rd inst., 300 barrels, 15 months out from London. Captain Ball spoke the Colombus on the 13th instant, 350 barrels 18 months out from America. At 7 p.m. the Captains returned on board their ships. At noon 2 ships in sight. Wind S.E. Lat. obsd. 24° 50′ S., Long. 174° 20′ W.
November 29th & 30th. Steady breeze and fine whaling weather. Saw nothing worth notice. Lat. obsd. 25° 20′ S.
December 1st. Light breezes and fine weather. At sunset saw a ship on the larboard beam. At daylight a page 71ship standing towards us. It proved to be the Ann. At 11.30 I went on board her. Lat. 25° 38′ S.
December 2nd. p.m. Light breeze and fine; steering to the Southward. Wind East. Found that Capt. Ball had cut his hamstring with an adze and was in quest of a surgeon. Saw porpoises and abundance of small fish. At 8 I returned on board. At daylight the Ann on the lee beam. Saw him manoeuvering; stood towards her. Employed tarring and ratling the rigging. Lat. obsd. 26° 16′, Long. 175° 56′.
December 3rd. p.m. Steady breezes and fine weather. At 10.30 a.m. rose whales. Down all boats after them. Noon, boats in chase of whales.
December 4th. At 1.30 p.m. boats returned without success, the whales going too fast to windward. Wind N.N.E. At 3.30 p.m. saw another school of whales on the lee bow. Lowered the boats after them. At 5 the boats returned without success, the whales going very fast to windward, N.N.E. Shortened sail for the night as usual. A sail in sight. Saw blackfish.
December 5th to 10th. Good whaling weather. Kept a good look out for whales. Ground lively with small fish and birds. Saw plenty of shipping. Lat. obsd. 28° 43′ S., Long. 176° 30′ W.
December 11th & 12th. Strong S.E. trade and cloudy weather, with a heavy sea. At sunset saw Sunda Island bearing S.W. by S. At noon the isle W. by S. ¼ S., dist. 3 leagues. Lat. 29° 12′ S.
December 13th. Steady breeze and fine. At 1 bore away to run to leeward of the island. Saw blackfish. Sunset, shortened sail for the night as usual. At 8 a.m. stood page 72in for the island, and at 10 I left the ship to proceed on shore. On landing I found Read and his family. They had succeeded but badly since I paid them a visit last year. The soil is bad and for want of rain their crops had failed. He had nothing to supply die ship with: in fact they had scarcely anything to eat. He informed me that some persons had settled on the North side of the island. Noon, light airs, the island bearing N.E. by N., dist. about 6 miles from the ship. Lat. obsd. 29° 14′ S.
December 14th. Calm weather. At sunset I returned on board the ship. At daylight light airs, the island bearing East, distant 3 or 4 leagues. At 10 the Mate went on shore on the North side. Noon, light S.W. breeze and fine weather.
December 15th. p.m. Light airs and fine. At 3 two settlers came off in the whale boat, bringing 30 fine pumpkins. One boat went away to fish. At sunset both boats returned on board. Hoisted them up and stood under easy sail to the Northward. Daylight, fine weather. Kept a good look out for whales; saw two sails. At noon the island W.N.W., dist. 10 miles, Lat. 29° 9′ S.
December 20th. ′Since the 15th inst., most part strong Westerly winds and rough weather. Saw nothing worthy of notice). p.m. Light breezes and fine. At 3.15 saw spouts on the larboard bow about 2½ miles off. Lowered the boats after them. At 4 the Captain's boat-steerer hove but did not fasten; whales going to the Northward. Sunset, boats returned on board. Noon, light breeze and fine weather.
December 21st. Weather as yesterday. At 10 a.m. saw a breach about 8 miles off, and at noon saw spouts page 73about 5 miles ahead of the ship. Made all sail after them. Lat. obsd. 32° 6′, Long. 175° 45′ W.
December 22nd. Fresh breeze and hazy. Saw nothing more of the spouts. Lat. 31° 25′, Long. 175° 40′ W.
December 23rd & 24th. Steady breeze and fine weather. Kept a good look out for whales. At 9 a.m. spoke the Rambler, of Nantucket, 1750 barrels, 27 months out. Lat. 31° 14′ S.
December 25th & 26th. Fresh breezes and fine weather. Saw several vessels cruising in company. At noon Brind's Rock West 95 miles. Lat. obsd. 31° 26′ S., Long. 177° 4′ W.
December 27th. Steady breeze and fine; steering W. by S., wind S.E. 2 sail in sight. Sunset, shortened sail as usual. Ship ahead. At 10 spoke the American ship Parker, Capt. Austin, 30 months out, 1650 barrels. I went on board, and at midnight returned. Hove to for the night. Daylight, made sail, steering to the Westward in company with the Parker. At noon Capt. Austin came on board to dine.
December 28th. Steady breeze and fine. At 4 saw the French Rock bearing W.N.W., dist. 8 or 9 leagues. Sunset, shortened sail, spoke the barque Hope, of London, out 40 months, 600 barrels sperm oil. At 8 Capt. Austin returned on board. Daylight, 2 ships in sight. At 11 a.m. spoke the Parker again. Capt. Austin supplied us with 750 lbs. of biscuit. I went on board to dine; found the Capt. of the Rambler on board. Lat. obsd. 32° 30′ S.
December 29th. Steady breeze and fine. Kept a smart look out for whales. Sunset, shortened sail. At 8 I returned on board. Noon, fresh E.N.E. wind and fine page 74weather. Saw nothing. Lat. obsd. 34° 10′ S., Long. 179° 43′ W.
December 30th. Fresh breeze and fine. Saw 2 sails on the larboard bow. Lat. obsd. 35° 43′ S., Long. 178° 57′ 45′ W.
December 31st. At 1 p.m. spoke the Ann of London, Capt. Ball, and Pantheon Capt. Pell, 27½ months out, 1900 barrels. I went on board the Ann. They had got nothing since leaving Vavaoo. Sunset, shortened sail. At 8 I returned on board. Noon, strong breeze and rain.
January 1st, 1838. Strong breezes and hazy weather. Noon, fresh gale and hard rain with a heavy sea.
January 2nd. Hard gales with a heavy sea. Lat. 40° 45′ S.
January 3rd to 6th. Variable winds and weather. On the 4th saw spouts going fast to windward. Lat. 41° 35′, Long. 178° 54′ W.
January 7th & 8th. Most part hard gales with a heavy sea. Saw fin-backs. Lat. obsd. 43° 24′ S., Long. 179° 42′ E. Therm. 63.
January 9th. These 24 hours light airs and calms with a delightful clear weather. At 5 p.m. saw a spout. Lowered the boats after it. At 7.30 boats returned without success. Supposed it to be a right whale. Lat. obsd. 43° 34′, Long. 179° 32′ E.
January 10th. Light airs and fine whaling weather. Saw blackfish and porpoises. Lat. obsd. 43° 57′, Long. 179° 21′ E.
January 11th. Fresh breeze with a rough sea. At 4.30 p.m. saw a large school of sperm whales going to the N.W. Lowered 3 boats after them. The Mate darted but page 75did not fasten. The whales took to windward. At 8 the boats returned; hoisted them up. a.m. Hard gales. Hoisted the boats up to the davit heads. Lat. 43° 57′, Long. 179° 25′ E.
January 12th & 13th. Strong gales with a heavy sea and hazy weather. At 10 a.m. spoke the Corinthian, of Bristol, boiling out. Abundance of fin-backs in sight. Lat. obsd. 44° 31′, Long. 178° 31′ W.
January 14th. Strong breeze and cloudy. At 7 a.m. saw spouts to the windward. Noon, moderate, turning to windward. Lat. 44° 43′ S.
January 15th. p.m. Steady breeze and fine. At 1 lowered the boats after right whale. At 3 the Mate fastened: his line parted. Boats returned to the ship. Lowered the boats again. Great numbers of right whale and two sperm whales in sight from the ship. At sunset the boats gave up the chase and returned on board. 4 ships in sight. a.m. At daylight lowered the boats after right whale: at 8.30 returned. At 11 great numbers of right whale in sight. Lowered the boats after them. 1 ship in sight.
January 16th. p.m. Boats in chase of whales. At 2 returned on board: whales going fast. At 3.30 lowered the boats again: abundance of right whale in sight all round the ship. The boats could not get on the whales. At sunset boats returned: hoisted them up. a.m. Moderate Southerly wind and fine weather. Daylight saw right whale going fast. 8 ships in sight, one boiling out. Lat. obsd. 44° 52′, Long. 178° 46′ W.
January 17th. Light Southerly airs and fine weather throughout. Lowered the boats and got three blackfish. Ground lively. Lat. obsd. 44° 57′ S., Long. 178° 37′ West.page 76
January 18th. Light Southerly wind and charming weather. Therm. 59.
January 19th. Calm and foggy weather. Midnight, light Easterly breeze. At 10.30 a.m. the boy at the mizzen saw a right whale close to the ship. Down boats. The Mate and Captain got fast to him. After being lanced the whale made a breach into the Mate's boat and broke her to pieces in an instant, taking the wreck of the boat as well as the crew down with him. However the crew soon rose up to the surface unhurt. The whale turned up dead and sank; spare boat picking up the dead whale for some time, but at last was compelled to cut it away.
January 20th. Moderate breeze and fine weather. Saw right whales. At 3 p.m. lowered three boats after them. Got up to the whales several times, but they could not get a chance of fastening to them. At 7 the boats returned, a.m. Strong breeze and hazy weather. A Hide before noon saw a dead whale on the weather bow, sent two boats to bring it to the ship.
January 21st. p.m. Saw another dead whale. Sent a boat after it. At 2.30 got the two dead whales alongside the ship, and at 4 began to cut in the large cow whale. She busted fore and aft. At 8 left off cutting for the night. At 10 p.m. got the try-works under weigh. Daylight, strong breeze. Recommenced cutting in. Noon, finished one whale— the bone dropped out. Fresh gale with a heavy sea. Lat. obsd. 45° 00′ S.
January 22nd. Fresh gale and cloudy. Employed cutting in the bull whale. Saved part of the bone. At 7 page 77p.m. finished cutting in the second whale. a.m. Employed boiling out the whales. Noon, moderate N.N.W. wind and fine weather. Lat. obsd. 44° 36′ S., Long. 179° 14′ E.
January 23rd. p.m. Moderate breeze and cloudy. At 5.30 saw a right whale. Lowered the boats after it. A French ship also lowered her boats in chase of the whale. At 7.30 boats returned. At 8 the Capt. of the French Gange, of Havre de Gras37, came on board and remained a short time. a.m. At daylight lowered two boats after a right whale. At 8 the boats returned. Exchanged visits with the Gange, Captain Grandsaigne. Employed boiling out.
January 24th. Light breezes and fine. At 5 finished boiling out the two right whales. a.m. Daylight, began to clear away for stowing down. Six ships in sight. At 9.30 lowered two boats after right whales. One ship cutting in. At 11.30 boats returned. Spoke the French ship Oriental. Lat. obsd. 44° 55′, Long. —.
January 25th & 26th. Fresh breeze and cloudy weather. Saw nothing except shipping. At 6 p.m. finished stowing down the oil—58 barrels. Lat. obsd. 44° 31′, Long. 179° 5′ E.
January 27th to 29th. Variable winds and weather. Kept a sharp look out for whales. Saw nothing but shipping and one fin-back. Lat. obsd. 45° 31′, Long. 176° 54′ E.
January 30th & 31st. Most part variable winds and weather with hard gales and heavy squalls. Saw finbacks and spoke the Oriental again. Lat. 44° 31′, Long. 176° 6 (E.page 78
February 1st & 2nd. Light variable airs and calms throughout. Saw nothing worthy of notice. Noon, water discoloured. Lat. obsd. 44° 17′, Long. 174° 38′ E.
February 3rd. Light airs and fine. 2 ships in sight. At 7 I went on board the Warren, of Warren, 7 months out, 5 whales. I met with the Captain of the Oriental on board. He informed me that he had seen sperm whales 4 times, and several other ships that he had spoken had also seen then about this part of the world lately. a.m. Steady breeze and fine weather. 2 ships in sight. Lat. obsd. 44° S., Long. 174° 35′ E.
February 4th. p.m. Steady breeze and fine. Spoke the Oriental, of Havre. At 4 the Captain came on board. Saw the land about Bank's Peninsula bearing W. by S., dist. about 10 leagues. Noon, strong wind and cloudy. Two ships in sight.
February 5th & 6th. During most part of the time hard gale with a heavy sea. The boats turned over the davit heads. Lat. obsd. 46° 2′, Long. 176° 10′ E. Therm. 67.
February 7th. First part light N.E. wind and thick foggy weather. At 10 a.m. the fog cleared away. Saw a right whale. Lowered three boats after it. Noon, boats in chase. Lat. 46° 5′, Long. 176° 25′ E.
February 8th. At 1 p.m. the boats returned. Hoisted them up and steered to the N.E. Wind N.N.W. a.m. Moderate and fine. Saw fin-backs.
February 9th. Most part moderate S.E. wind and fine weather. At noon saw breaches to the S.W. 2 sail in sight. Hauled up S.W.
February 10th. At 1.30 p.m. saw spouts about 1½ page 79miles on the larboard bow. Lowered the boats after them. A ship standing towards to us. At 3.30 the Mountano's boats fastenend to a right whale. The iron drew again. At 4.30 gave up the chase: the boats returned on board. The Captain of the American ship Moutttano38 came on board. He was 6 months out, 1000 barrels black oil. He got it off the South Cape of New Holland in Lat. 43° S. At 8 a.m. saw right whales to windward—the Mountano got one. A strange sail in sight boiling out. Turning to windward after the whales. Lat. obsd. 44° 51, S.
February 11th. At 2 p.m. lowered after the whales. At 4 the Mate's boat got fast. The 3rd Mate's boat then killed the whale with his irons, but got stove. The whale sank, taking with it 60 fthms. line. My boat fastened to another whale, but the iron drew, At 7 the boats returned on board. 2 ships in sight. a.m. Strong breeze with a heavy sea. Lat. 44° 45′ S.
February 12th. Fresh S.S.W. gale, latter part wind West. Steering N.N.W. One ship in sight, boiling out. Noon, gale increasing. Lat. obsd. 43° 30′, Long. 176° 40′ E.
February 13th. Strong gale with a heavy sea. Turned the boats over the davit heads. Midnight, dreadful hard gale. At 8 more moderate. Noon, fresh breeze. Lat. obsd. 42° 36′ S., Long. 176° 24′ E.
February 14th. Fresh breeze and cloudy. Midnight, light airs and fine. Daylight, saw the land to the N.W. Saw abundance of blackfish. Lowered and got two— hoisted them in. At noon Cape Palliser W.S.W., Cape Turnagain North, offshore about 4 leagues. Lat. 41° 33′ S.
February 15th to 18th. Variable winds and wea-page 80ther; ship steering to the Northward, keeping the coast of New Zealand in sight. Kept a good look out for whales. Saw nothing. Lat. 38° 37′, Long. 178° 29′ E.
February 19th. Steady breezes and fine weather. At 9 a.m. spoke the cutter Trent of the Bay of Islands, bound to Hawke's Bay with a whaling party. Got 6 baskets of potatoes from her.
February 20th. Fresh breeze and cloudy weather. At 10 a.m. passed Cape East Island at the dist. of 2 miles.
February 21st. Strong breezes and fine weather. Running along the land looking for a place to land. Saw some native huts and a discharge of muskets. Lowered away my boat and proceeded on shore. We effected our landing about 2 p.m. through a heavy surf, and were kindly received by the natives, who assisted in the landing of the boat. I then proceeded, accompanied by all the natives of both sexes and all ages to the pa or native village. We remained with them till near sunset, and then departed for the ship, accompanied by three ladies and several New Zealanders. They, however, demanded that I should leave one of my boat's crew on shore as an hostage, and promised that on the following day as soon as the weather would permit they would bring off a good supply of potatoes and hogs to the ship for trade. At 6.30 returned on board the ship, hoisted the boat up, and stood off and on during the night. At 10 a.m. a canoe came off with 5 pigs: traded for them. At noon Cape East Island S.E. by S., off shore about 6 miles.
February 22nd. p.m. Fresh Southerly breeze and fine weather: standing off and on Ka-ki-ki-ca.39 At 5 page 81sent a boat on shore with a New Zealand Chief to expedite the getting the potatoes out of the ground. At sunset the boat returned loaded with natives, principally young maidens, and also the principal Chief of the pa. Stood off and on for the night, a.m. Fresh breeze and cloudy, with rain and thick foggy weather. At noon distance from the land about 2 leagues.
February 23rd. p.m. Weather cleared up with breeze off the land. At 3 sent two boats on shore with the greater part of the natives that were on board. At 4.30 boats returned: hoisted them up. Standing off and on shore. At 9 a.m. sent two boats on shore for potatoes. Noon, moderate breeze and fine weather; off shore about 1 league.
February 24th. At 2 p.m. the boats returned. Three canoes came alongside loaded with potatoes &c. and firewood. I succeeded in trading with them for all they brought off—that is, about 200 baskets of potatoes, 20 buckets of corn, firewood, &c., &c. A misunderstanding took place about the white man on shore writing notes for different articles, and I was apprehensive of hostilities commencing. At one time they refused to bring the man on board till all the natives and the chief should have landed. However, I managed to get all the natives except two or three off the ship's decks into the canoes. Amongst those on board was the Chief. I then told them I should keep the Chief as a prisoner and not allow any more of them on board till they returned the white man. With that understanding the canoes went on shore. Stood off and on during the night. Daylight, stood in towards the pa. At 9.30 a.m. a canoe came off bringing the hostage with them, which healed up all our differences. At 11 the page 82Chief left the ship in the canoe and we made sail off the land.
February 25th. p.m. Freshening breezes and cloudy; steering N. by W., wind E.S.E. At 3 saw two grampuses. Sunset, shortened sail for the night, a.m. Brisk gales and cloudy, with squalls and rain and a heavy sea. Hoisted the boats to the davit heads.
February 26th & 27th. Most part hard gales, with a heavy sea. Ship rolling, pitching and straining dreadfully. Stove the waste boat and split the main staysail. At noon more moderate. Lat. obsd. 34° 47′ S., Long 177° 34′ E.
February 28th. p.m. Strong breeze and thick cloudy weather; turning to windward, wind N.N.W. a.m. Light winds and clear. Saw fin-backs. Four hands sick (off duty) with influenza and several more complaining of colds and sore throats. No doubt we have caught this sickness from the natives at the East Cape, as I observed many of them to be afflicted with colds. Lat. obsd. 34° 40′ S., Long. 178° 4′ East.
March 1st & 2nd. Most part light airs and fine weather. Kept a sharp look-out for whales. Saw nothing worthy of notice. Many of the people sick with the influenza. Steering to the N.N.W., wind N.E. Lat. obsd. 33° 25′ S.
March 3rd. Steady breeze and fine weather. Saw nothing, steering N.N.W., wind N.E. Lat. obsd, 32° 53′ S., 177° 59′ E.page 83
March 4th. p.m. Steady breeze and fine weather; steering as above, a.m. Fresh breeze and cloudy. At 7.30 saw sperm whales on the starboard bow. At 8 lowered all the boats after them. Three boats got fast. Noon, fresh breeze and cloudy. Got 2 whales turned up. The 3rd Mate's whale parted his line. The whales took off. Ship turning to windward.
March 5th. At 1 p.m. one boat returned onboard; ship steering to windward after the dead whales. At 4 p.m. got the two whales alongside. Employed reeving the falls, &c., and clearing away for cutting in. Midnight, strong breeze and heavy rain with lightning, wind South, heading to the Eastward. Daylight, do. weather. Began to cut in. Noon, strong breeze with rain. Finished cutting in the body of one whale and passed the head astern.
March 6th. p.m. Strong breezes and cloudy with rain. Employed cutting in. At 4 got the try-works under weigh, and at 7 finished cutting in the body of the 2nd whale. Left the head alongside for the night. At 8 a.m. began to cut in the heads. Noon, steady breezes and cloudy. Finished one head; baled the case. Lat. obsd. 31° 55′ South, Long. 178° 14′ East.
[The manuscript ends abruptly at this point, when the ship was again nearing the Kermadecs. The cruise continued for three months longer, one more sperm whale, of 64 barrels, being taken in the last week of March. The Australian returned to Sydney on 10th June, 1838, her catch comprising 720 barrels of sperm and 430 barrels of black oil.]page 84page 85page 86
37 Havre de Grace.
38 McNab lists the Montano, of Nantucket, Captain Sayer.
39 Apparently somewhere near Te Araroa.