Monday, May 17, 2010

Voyage of the Silvery Wave to Natal 1863: a passenger's account

Those who have come before us into this favorite colony [Natal] have felt the anxious looking forward to their arrival lately experienced by the voyagers in the Silvery Wave, and we venture to request space … for a short account of our journeyings.

We left London on the first of August, taking advantage of a fine north-easterly breeze, but alas! the uncertainty of the wind is too proverbial and when the Isle of Wight lay basking in the sunshine on our lee, the fickle breeze became a head wind, and short tacks and little headway the order of the day; so we put into Torquay and rambled amid the beauties of Devon, until favorite winds should blow.

On the morning of the 10th we once more spread our sails, and on the 12th were clear of the Land’s End and speedily our sea-sick bodies were exposed to the tender mercies of the Bay of Biscay, where a heavy swell was setting in from the Western Ocean, and for the first time we were reduced to close-reefed topsails. Here also were tested the sea-going qualities of the Silvery Wave, for this was her maiden voyage … buoyant as a cork, quick in stays, dry as terra firma, she is meet in all things to gladden a sailor’s heart.

On then we sped and caught the north-east trades, but they were light, and progress not being rapid we made efforts to pass the time as profitably and pleasantly as might be, and so it was proposed to commence a series of lectures under the auspices of the Silvery Wave Debating Society.

Mr Jenkins of Natal was the first to open the ball in a lecture on the colony to which we were hastening. As may be imagined this excited our interest in a great degree, all information on this head being of necessity valuable, and throughout our voyage this gentleman had been always read to give advice and counsel as to our future proceedings, and I believe we shall all be indebted to him for a clearer insight into colonial affairs than we could otherwise have obtained.

Mr Scott followed Mr Jenkins in a series of lectures on Poets and Poetry, interspersed with readings from Shakespeare, Tennyson and Byron. [An] accompanying prologue was also composed and read by him ...

Mr Walter Peace [Natal Immigration Agent] also entertained us well by an account of his Journey into Russia.

On the 18th September we crossed the line and gave Father Neptune a hearty welcome on board, we paid the penalty, scraped acquaintance with the barber, and became freemen of his august dominions; concluding the day with a pleasant party and dance on the quarter-deck. This gladdened our hearts after the three weeks of the doldrums we had the ill luck to encounter.

Singularly enough, the north-east trade winds deserted us … The south-east trade winds were very favorable but off the Cape we experienced baffling winds and for a week were detained by a strong easterly breeze.

But at last this voyage, though a pleasant one, drew to a close and as we hoped in two or three days to sight land, it was desired to testify to the well-deserved respect we bore to Captain Warren, by the presentation of a testimonial expressive of our high opinion regarding him as a seaman, a gentleman, and a Christian. Mr Peace took the chair, Mr Wilkes presented the Testimonial, and Mr Jenkins a Bible as an earnest of their high regard.

The Captain spoke in a most feeling manner, reciprocating the kindly wishes, and expressing his gratification at being held so well in their estimation. A very pleasant evening was then passed. After the usual loyal toasts, the health of the Lieutenant-Governor and Legislative Council of Natal was given, and several others followed, all responded to by various passengers.

So ended a pleasant passage, made the less tedious by the kind, unwearying attention of Captain Warren, by fine weather, and all the attendant advantages with which a kind providence saw fit to bless, and in a spirit of humble thankfulness to God for his almighty care and guidance, we desire to end this short notice of the


[Source: The Natal Mercury, 1 November 1863; original spellings etc retained]

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