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

Preparations at Sydney

page 1

Preparations at Sydney

On the 12th April [1836] I was induced to take the command of the barque Australian by the urgent request of my friends, her owners, Messrs Holt & Roberts, and fit her out for a whaling voyage.1

As I had recently disposed of the Harriet, and being out of employment, it was my intention previously to the Australian being offered me to invest my little capital in the Colony and then proceed to England, taking charge of a vessel home should a command offer, or otherwise paying my passage.

My objects in going to England were to see my friends after so long an absence, and to arrange the Harriet's accounts with the owners; also to sound my friends as to their making advances; to my ultimately settling respectably in N. South Wales.

I have not as yet made up my mind altogether about settling in the Colony: it will depend a good deal on the answers I may receive from my friends in England to Letters I shall write from this place previous to my sailing in the Australian.

On joining the vessel I found she required coppering; therefore set to work, and after due preparation hove her down at Aspinal and Brown's Wharf. April passed over and still found her in the hands of the carpenters. As it page 2is intended to send her a Right Whaling and the season commences this month (May), it is a great object to get her ready for sea as expeditiously as possible.

About the middle of May, her coppering and other repairs being finished, commenced rigging and fitting her out for whaling.

What with my private affairs and the ship's I was kept pretty well employed. Nevertheless I found time to make investments as follows—six hundred three-year-old ewes and their lambs; seven shares in the Union Marine Assurance Company; five shares in the Gas Company; and fifty acres of land on Narrabean Creek. After investing one hundred and fifty pounds in an adventure for the contemplated whaling voyage, I shall lend the residue to Mr. Chapman, receiving his note bearing interest.

June 1st. The Australian is now all ready for sea, except provisions. The owners don't give that despatch they ought to do, and I begin to get extremely anxious to get to sea, as we are now losing the best of the season at New Zealand.

A. B. Smith & Co. I duly appointed as my agents and attornies to act for me during my absence, having made over to them my entire property in the Colony and also left a policy of insurance to the amount of two hundred and fifty pounds for the now intended voyage. Having engaged a crew of thirty-two persons and received on board twelve months' provisions,2 together with every thing necessary to prosecute the voyage, the Australian was hauled out into the stream and anchored off Pinchgut Isle, page 3where I was complimented by the owners and my numerous friends on the gallant appearance of my vessel.

June 11th. The vessel being all ready for sea, I received my last sailing orders3 from the owners. Permission was given me to proceed to the following ports & places for the purpose of procuring Right whale oil & whalebone—Cloudy Bay, Port Cooper, and Otago, New Zealand, and also the Chatham Isles.

It was hoped by the owners that one hundred and fifty tons of black oil might be procured during the season and probably fifty or sixty tons of sperm afterwards; the vessel being ordered to cruise after sperm whales until the provisions should be nearly expended, and then return to Sydney.

June 12th. Got under weigh and stood down the Harbour: falling calm, came to an anchor off Point Piper. Here I was joined by Mr. Roberts, one of the owners, and several other gentlemen, who honoured me with their company to dinner. After the cloth was withdrawn several appropriate toasts were drunk in sparkling champagne, and the evening passed over with great hilarity.

June 13th. Got the ship under weigh again, but, falling calm, anchored here in Watsons Bay.

1 For articles of agreement see Appendix 1, p. 87.

2 For stores list see Appendix 3, p. 94; for list of whaling gear see Appendix 4, p. 96.

3 See Appendix 2, p. 91.