Sailing the British Empire : The Voyages of The Clarence, 1858-73

Round Trip: London/Melbourne 1871-1872

Log M6
This tale of the Clarence began on September 5th, 1871 in Gravesend, England. The first leg of the voyage was largely uneventful. Midshipman Huggup recorded the weather and various tasks of the crew. Passengers enjoyed entertainment with fiddles in the cuddy cabin. The Clarence landed at the Sandridge Railway Pier on December 13th, 1871.

The return trip was not quite so tame. The Clarence cast off from the docks on January 20, 1872 and by January 27th, she had already encountered some drama. Henry Smith, the steward, began acting strangely and the surgeon, Dr. Wheeler, was called. The surgeon determined he was suffering from delirium tremens, relieved him of his duties, and placed him under surveillance until an improvement in his condition could be observed. On February 7th, Henry Smith was reinstated to his duties with the restriction that he could not drink alcohol. Not long after Smith's recovery, a shocking discovery was made in the water cabin. On February 12th, Mrs. Sutherland was found dead, lying in a pool of her own blood. It was determined that she died from a self-inflicted wound to her neck half an hour before the discovery.

Midshipman Huggup reported that the next few months passed mostly without incident. The Clarence was making its usual progress, the crew assigned to the various tasks of ship improvement and repairs, and passengers enjoyed the changes of scenery from other ships and sighted land such as Cape Padrone, Bird Island, Cape St. Francis, and St Helena. Captain Gibson went ashore Born Point in the cutter to restock some supplies in late March.

May 8th comes and a curious sight is spotted: the Clarence has caught up with another ship with full sail, but with no crew or passenger visible on deck! Curiosity and philanthropy inspired Captain Gibson to investigate. The ship revealed itself to be the Russian Imaha, from the Island of Gunapie in Peru traveling to Falmouth, England. The entire crew, except for two hands, were suffering of scurvy and were short of provisions. Capt. Gibson and Dr. Wheeler go aboard the Imaha with provisions then return to the Clarence. Two members of the Clarence's crew volunteered to continue their journey aboard the Imaha and assist with the voyage to Falmouth.

May 22nd: Finally, the voyage is over and the Clarence makes fast to the docks at Blackwall.


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