||VOYAGE OF THE PRIAM 1852 continued
An account of the Priam's 96 day voyage and safe arrival survives in a newspaper article of the Portland Guardian dated Friday 27th August 1852. The particulars were supplied by a cabin passenger, Edwin Fowler, who sailed on to Melbourne.
"The Priam is a new ship on her first voyage and so far as our experience goes, does great credit to her modelers and builders. She is owned by Henry Reed, Esq. of London, and I believe, intended for a regular trader to these colonies. Her commander is Captain Comyn, late of the 'Adelaide' of Hobart Town, who will no doubt sustain the high reputation he has already attained by untiring energy, in his duties as master, and by his attention to the health, comfort and general welfare of his passengers - qualities which were proved in our passage under very trying circumstances."
In short, the Priam was a well-built, brand new ship with an excellent captain and crew. The adverse circumstances faced were unfavourable winds and ill health which kept the ship's doctor busy.
After a good run out of the English Channel, the Priam sailed south into the Atlantic Ocean past Spain. On the ninth day, the tiny Portuguese island of Madeira was sighted off the coast of Morocco in Africa. The Trade winds failed them sooner than usual and they became becalmed in the tropical sun for twelve days. In the doldrums, the ship sat motionless on an oil smooth sea that rose and fell in a terrible stomach-heaving motion. Without a breath of wind, the sails flapped and fluttered to the up and down movement of the sea. To venture out on deck bareheaded could cause sunstroke which could bring on an attack of hysteria. Fanning did little to relieve the discomfort of passengers below decks who were bathed in perspiration.
CROSSING THE LINE
On the voyage south, off the coast of Brazil, families and crew members traditionally engaged in fun and games to celebrate the crossing of the Line - the Equator. From here on, the stars overhead lost their familiar pattern and the constellations of the Southern Hemisphere seemed strange and alien.
Perhaps this was a time of realisation of the finality of what they had done and the recognition of the immense difficulty of returning.
GREAT CIRCLE ROUTE
Following the Great Circle route into the South Atlantic, a constant succession of mostly east winds drove them as far west as Longitude 39 degrees, not a great distance from the coast of South America. However, they bypassed Rio de Janeiro on the Tropic of Capricorn, where ships would often call for a week to take on fresh provisions to complete the voyage to Australia.
On the 57th day, the Longitude of the Cape of Good Hope was reached, but the ship was several hundred miles to the south of Cape Town which was another popular port of call to replenish supplies.
The run east around the South African coast was made in 24 hours and the ship was swept into the Roaring Forties for the stormy race which carried them several thousand miles into the uncharted waters of the Great Southern Ocean. The grey skies and the cold of winter brought another form of discomfort to the passengers and they would delve into their trunks for warmer clothing.
In these latitudes, the danger of mountainous seas and drifting icebergs from the Antarctic continent were often reported by ships on the Australian sea route from Britain. On the return voyage, ships would sail to the south of New Zealand, round Cape Horn at the tip of South America, into the Atlantic Ocean and north to England. With the mainsail stowed and close reefed main and fore top sails, the miles fell swiftly behind the Priam which was driven by constant west gales for ten days. Their fast passage was finally delayed in the last two days by light winds and calms which had added many days to their voyage, yet the passengers felt that the captain and crew had made good time despite the fickle winds.
Voyage of the Priam 1852 continued ...
Voyage of the Priam 1852 page 1
George SMITH m 1850 Melinda ANDREWS
© Created : 18 July 2001
© Last Modified : 17 May 2011
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