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Week 04 – A fair wind

Sketch of the Cygnet at anchorage, Port Augusta, April 1833.

The middle of March found both the John Pirie and the Duke of York still anchored close to shore in the English Channel, as strong adverse winds and torrential rain delayed their departure still further. But by 19 March the winds had swung around and Captain Morgan prepared his ship once more for sea. His duty called, […]

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Week 06 – a ‘perfect Hurricane’

An oil painting by Washington Allston of ships in a storm at sea, 1804.

On 26 March the John Pirie seemed to be making progress, as it finally cleared the English Channel and struck out for the Atlantic Ocean. But just west of the Bay of Biscay the weather worsened…

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Week 07 – aftermath of the storm

After six weeks of bad weather and no progress, all of the travelers were unhappy.  The passengers on the John Pirie were still suffering the after effects of the terrifying storm, (one left…

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Week 09 – to sea at last

Model of the ship Duke of York

Clear of the Channel at last, the Duke of York was finally making progress, although conditions were still uncomfortable for the passengers.  Captain Morgan reported that the seas were high and that ‘great quantities’ of water continued to swamp the decks.  This was bad news for those below, who would have been wet, cold and […]

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Week 10 – fine weather and sea shanties

image of an emigrant's trunk with leather straps and brass fittings

With good sailing conditions at last, both the Duke of York and the John Pirie were making good progress, both heading south off the coast of Africa.  By 30 April the Duke of York sighted the Island of Brava, the southernmost island in the Cape Verde group, off the coast of present day Senegal, while the John Pirie passed […]

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Week 11 – ‘dangers stand thick all around’

1849 sketch of men bathing on deck.

At long last fair conditions prevail for the travelers and they make good progress.  But danger still stalks the Duke of York. Lucy Beare becomes dangerously ill and almost dies.  Reading…

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Week 15 – high drama on the John Pirie

Scene: sunday before a hard gale

  It is a week of high drama on board the John Pirie. First bad weather whips up heavy seas. The passengers all huddle on deck trying vainly to escape the leaks, only to be drenched by a sudden wave that washes right over them. This frightens the ship’s cat so much that he leaps overboard […]

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Week 16 – towards Australia

Scene: a fair wind and cross sea

Both the Duke of York and the John Pirie are now steering south east towards Australia, a novelty they appreciate.  Although it brings bad weather and rough conditions, the travellers on the John Pirie also welcome the cooler conditions, after being ‘almost stew’d alive for a Month’. There is an interesting comment here on the trying conditions of everyday […]

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Week 17 – wet weather and wild tempers

Both the Duke of York and the John Pirie are making good progress, as freshening winds drive the ships forward at speeds of between eight and nine knots The speed of ship or wind in nautical miles per hour. A float is dropped overboard and the speed is indicated by the rate at which the […]

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Week 18 – the port of Rio

This week we see the Cygnet in Rio Harbour, where it has called to replenish stores and take on fresh provisions.  From the terse comments in Finniss‘ diary we are led to believe that the decision to call at Rio was taken by Kingston, perhaps acting on John Morphett’s advice, but against the wishes of the […]

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Week 36 – the Africaine approaches

In South Australia It is a slow week for Colonel Light and his surveyors.  On 23 October deputy surveyor George Kingston finally arrives at Rapid Bay, after some weeks on Kangaroo Island.  It is not clear why he delayed there so long, but his arrival means that Light can divide his forces to cover a […]

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