The Cruise of The Flying Squadron
1869 - 1870
Thursday October 5th
"Arrived at 2am and hove too 8 miles off Bahia, it being too dark to go in. Thursday at 8 am, wind being then light, got up steam and proceeded for anchorage. 11.45 anchored in Bahia harbour. Only one other man of war here a Brazilian sloop. Heard news of the loss of the Captain 1 and Napoleon being made prisoner." 2
"The heat here is very great. Went onshore and found everything much the same as when we were last here. 5.30pm Squadron arrived we having only beaten them by 5hrs and ¾ but that was on account of having arrived in the night time off the port. We were sent on to order bullocks etc and get everything ready for the squadron on arrival so as they might get away at once. Unfortunately the Satellites rudder was carried away and we had to unship it for repairs."
In recounting the tale of the suicide the authors hand dramatically changes from his usual copperplate to an upright style - perhaps indicating his shock at the event
Friday Oct 7th
"At 4am a horrible tragedy took place onboard the Liverpool. The poor Japanese Officer who had been rather despondent for some time because he could not pick up our language, seamanship etc quick enough committed hara-kiri on his portmanteau in the ward room. It appears he had been forbidden the ward room some time because he was in the habit of sharpening his knife every five minutes of the day. The morning of the deed he went down into the ward room at 4am and sat on his portmanteau. When the sentry went in to turn him out, as per orders, he took out his knife and ripped himself up the stomach then stabbed himself three times in the throat. He just lived for quarter of an hour. His brother officer has put up a tombstone to him and says that when they got back to Japan they would have to pass an examination which if they did not acquit themselves properly they would be told to commit hara-kiri. He was buried in the British cemetery."
"A small French gun vessel came in she had been capturing Prussian merchantmen outside."
Sunday 9th at 8.30am
"Rudder being repaired, bullocks onboard etc. Weighed under steam (the ship full of Marmoset monkeys, parrots etc)"
"10am down steam made sail to the SE trades. Nothing of note occurred until Sunday 16th Oct. We used to spread out every day to look out for steamers with late news of the war."
"Spoke to the American barque the William Loyd from Baltimore. The captain of her guessed there was heavy fighting on the continent. HMS Phoebe dropped a man overboard but picked him up."
Sunday 16th October
"Crossed the equator at Long 29 20 W at 1am. This is the third time we have crossed the line on a Sunday. Sighted St Pauls Rocks at 12 am. These are a few barren rocks 60 feet above the level of the sea doubtless the top of some mountain."
"7.30 pm Stopped the outward bound Valparaiso mail steamer and received late news from England confirming the loss of the Captain, the surrender of Strasbourg etc. We still keep the SE trades going at six and a half knots."
"We find by the latest statistics that there are 60 parrots onboard."
Wednesday 19th October
"Having lost the SE trades, we up steam and take Phoebe in tow. Liverpool and Satellite taking Endymion and Pearl.
Friday 21st October
"Cast off tow and made sail to a fresh southerly breeze Lat 12 N. About noon a heavy squall came on and we lost many sails. This is rather unusual in these parts to get a strong southerly wind when we ought to have the light NE trades."
Saturday 22nd October
"We have now got the NE trades and are going along 5 knots (during the last four days we have had continuous heavy rain). We have had SE winds with occasional heavy squalls."
Friday 28th October
"Departed this life of consumption William May B.I.C after a short illness."
Saturday 29th October
"Committed to the deep the remains of the late W May. Observed HMS Pearl also bury a man."
Monday 31st October
"Phoebe dropped a man overboard. The man got hold of the life buoy and we saw him pass the ship holding on to it when he was picked up by the Pearl boat."
"We had theatricals in the evening, in the middle of which the bugle sounded off for general quarters. The there was such a clearing away of stage, scenery and actors flying about in all manner of costumes some dressed as women but all trying to get their guns clear for action first. It is an order that you go to night quarters once every 3 months and the Admiral seems to have by chance picked out this night. The wind has now changed to the North."
"Wind falling light at 7am. Up steam and took Phoebe in tow Liverpool and Satellite taking Endymion and Pearl in tow.
"7am cast off tow and made sail to a fresh northerly breeze."
"Wind shifted to the west bowling along nine and a half knots."
"Wind shifted to the North and from that round to the east. A dead foul wind for us Wednesday and Thursday. It blew a gale from that direction and we split several sails, Friday and Saturday wind came a little fairer."
" We are now six hundred miles from Plymouth. Very heavy squalls from the NE."
"Saturday night Phoebe lost her foreyard in a squall and we lost several sails. Sunday we were rather delayed by Phoebe but a NW wind sprung up in the afternoon when we moved along 8 knots."