Story: The voyage out

A shipboard diary

A shipboard diary

In the days of sailing ships, the voyage was long and expensive, and most passengers left with little prospect of ever returning. They said goodbye forever to loved ones and familiar places. Most shipboard diaries, such as this one of 1879, record sadness and a sense of loss, though these feelings were often tinged with hope. This is an extract from the diary of Clara Jane Skelton:

May 18 1879 Left home for New Zealand felt much too lonely and miserable to notice particularly the things going on around me.

19th Have had no sleep all night the noise overhead is tremendous, what with the thumping of the pump which draws the sea water for washing decks, the continual tramp of the officer keeping watch, and the unceasing bellowing of some bad-tempered children in the cabin to the right of me, then again the realization of my desolation, prevented my even closing my eyes. Found on going on deck at 6.30 that we have left Gravesend far behind, having started at 3.30 a.m. Wind and tide are however so sadly against us that we do not make much headway.

Using this item

Private collection, King family

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How to cite this page:

John Wilson, 'The voyage out - Departure to landing', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 14 April 2024)

Story by John Wilson, published 8 Feb 2005