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Week 06 - a 'perfect Hurricane'

[ 27th of March 1836 to 2nd of April 1836 ]
[ View related 'school content': Week 06 - a 'perfect Hurricane' ]

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 dramatically into what one of our informants described as a ‘perfect Hurricane’.  All but overwhelmed by ‘a most tremendious Sea’, the little ship was literally submerged on more than one occasion. Even the captain gave it up for lost. We include here two descriptions of the same event, the first written by our anonymous diarist, the second in the words of Captain George Martin, from a letter sent one week later to George Fife Angas. They provide graphic descriptions of the horror of the experience.

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

The Lady Mary Pelham was also caught in the storm. It left Liverpool on 30 March, but returned to port on 1 April after it was almost overwhelmed by the heavy seas.


Ship progress week 6.

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 ]

As the John Pirie limps back to England to make repairs the traumatised passengers begin to reconsider. For some, the terror of the storm may prove too much. Read on next week to find out more.

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3 Responses to “Week 06 – a ‘perfect Hurricane’”

  1. Errol Polden April 4, 2011 at 9:57 am #

    Thanks Kristy, I hit the correct button and found the details – quite amazing – and I now have a “barque” to follow.
    All the best,

  2. Kristy March 30, 2011 at 2:53 pm #

    Hi Errol,
    I am glad you are enjoying the journey! If you follow the below link you will find information on the Cygnet. Alternatively click on ‘ships’ at the top of the page and you will find that the Cygnet is third on the list.
    Regards, Kristy – History SA

  3. Errol Polden March 30, 2011 at 2:45 pm #

    If you should ever receive this it will be a miracle – my computer skills are so bad. The journey so far has been amazing. I think of my ancestors who arrived on the barque “Eliza” in May 1840 with 5 children. You have described many of the boats in the fleet, but I have not seen details of the “Cygnet”, nor have I been able to find these elsewhere. Could you please provide these details? Your enterprise and ability in presenting this journey are truly amazing and very much appreciated, and I thank you sincerely. Errol.

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