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Week 05 - the Cygnet sets sail

[ 20th of March 1836 to 26th of March 1836 ]
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After four weeks at sea the poor passengers on the John Pirie and the Duke of York had barely left sight of land. But the capricious spring weather had not finished with them yet, as both vessels continued to battle gale force winds and high seas. The animals on board the John Pirie suffered greatly, and many of the passengers were seasick. The Cygnet meanwhile was just getting underway. By 24 March both Captain Morgan and Captain Rolls of the Cygnet decided to seek the shelter of the land once more. The Cygnet slipped two anchors in its haste, meaning no doubt to retrieve them later. Captain Morgan put in at Torbay, where he ran out 40, then 20 more fathoms of anchor cable, in anticipation of even worse weather. Once again he made use of the enforced delay to go on shore and replenish supplies. The John Pirie was more exposed. About to enter the Atlantic Ocean and much further from the safety of the shore, it bore the full force of the weather.

Ship progress week 5.


Journals from passengers at sea:

Week 42: Numeracy Onboard

Over the past eight months we have read many journal entries, diaries and letters describing the experiences, thoughts, ideas and feelings of those onboard the nine ships. We have followed the authors…

[ Read the full journal extract ]


Week 25 – The demon drink

[ | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | , on board the | | | | | | | | wrote.]

On land It is one week into the grand experiment of colonisation and things are not going well at Nepean Bay. Samuel Stephens and Captains Morgan and Ross have their hands full, with both the company …

[ Read the full journal extract ]


Week 20 – infectious disease

[ | | | | | | | | | | , on board the | | | | | | wrote.]

The Duke of York is now in the Southern Ocean, making good progress. It is Captain Morgan’s wife’s birthday and he reflects endearingly on his love for her and his happiness in the married state….

[ Read the full journal extract ]


Week 14 – steady progress

[ | | | | | | | | | , on board the | | | | | wrote.]

All six ships are making steady progress, sailing south in the Atlantic. The weather is fine and conditions pleasant, but relations on board the John Pirie and the Cygnet are tense. On the John Pirie …

[ Read the full journal extract ]


Week 13 – tensions reach breaking point

[ | | | | | | | , on board the | | | | | wrote.]

This week we catch up with the Cygnet as it approaches the Equator. A bout of bad weather has seen many of the passengers sick and conditions below deck are foul. Boyle Travers Finniss is impatient with…

[ Read the full journal extract ]


Week 06 – a ‘perfect Hurricane’

[ | | | | , on board the | | | wrote.]

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…

[ Read the full journal extract ]


A tremendous storm wreaks havoc with shipping all along the coast. Many vessels are wrecked. Will our three ships manage to ride out the storm and continue their journey? And what of the John Pirie just west of the Bay of Biscay? Read on next week to find out.

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