Captain Richard (Dick) Farrell (1897 -1993)
Log of first Passage in ‘JORDANHILL’
I was working by the ship from mid-August 1915 in Salthouse Dock, Liverpool
30th October 1915
Left Herculaneum Dock Liverpool, in ballast, bound for Port Arthur (Texas) to load case oil for Australia. We were towed to sea by Tug ‘CAIRNGARTH’, very fine weather. On leaving Bar Lightship I was sent on the look-out to convey orders from the tug to our mate. At about the Nor-west Lightship we gave the tug some more hawser. I was picked by the mate for his (port) watch, our first eight hours in.
We are all busy clearing up the decks and getting all running gear in order, the ship begins to roll a little we pass several steamers. The Captain of the tug said he should cast off the tow-ropes as all his stokers were sea-sick and I could not keep up steam, I gave the pilot my letter, on leaving he wished us all bon voyage. We next set our main upper and lower topsails and were sheeting home the foresail when the sheet snapped and the sail got torn. We then sent it down and bent a new one, set fore top-sails also mizzen topsails, mainsail, crossjack, inner jib and spanker, doing about seven knots.
Lashed our casks of salt pork and beef and potatoes, got our first whack of sea provisions and half a gallon of water, to be served out every evening. We passed a three masted ship, homeward bound, we all wished we were heading the same way.
Rained slightly this morning, we set fore main and mizzen and t’gallant sails. Later on set the three royals, I was sent up to loose fore royal, a boy for each sail. Three boys also whipped all the gaskets on each mast.
We are getting along pretty well, doing about ten knots and rolling heavily, breeze freshens towards evening, order given to clew up royals, an apprentice and I take in mizzen royal. Wind is on the port quarter, wind increases so much that we have to take in the t’gallant sails at night. (First watch).
Rained slightly this morning, we set t’gallant sails and royals again, cook hurt his leg in the galley so we get biscuits instead of fresh bread, the steward does the cooking in the meantime. We lash our sea chests as they are rolling from side to side. We are doing, on an average, six knots.
Take in mizzen t’gallant sails, morning watch (4 to 8 a.m.). A cask of beef and another of pork get adrift from their lashing and break, we collect all the meat together and then find that some of our stores in the Lazeratte aft have also come adrift, we find sugar, oatmeal and rice all over the auction, however we scrape it all up. Cook is better but not turned to yet. We got Newfoundland fish for breakfast.
The wind is blowing pretty strong and keeps on increasing so much that we must shorten down to lower topsails foresail and inner jib. A few squalls strike us accompanied with rain. I have had a chat with the mate this evening, in the dog watch, he was asking me all about Waterford he was there several times. We are going nine and a half knots by log. We got the afternoon off, it being Saturday.
7th November Sunday.
We do no work to-day except necessary work, the wind has moderated a lot the other watch have set upper topsails mainsail and cross-jack. We are all surprised to sight the ‘GARNETHILL’ a sister ship to this one, she was laying in the Albert Dock with us, she has been sold to the Russians. The ‘GARNETHILL’ left Liverpool about six hours before us bound for Pensacola not far from Port Arthur. She is on our port beam now with all stay-sails and lower topsails set. The third mate took a photo of the three apprentices of our watch with the mate and myself. I must try to get one from him. Our position at noon was (Latitude 31degs 40’N 20degs 18W Longtitude) doing six knots.
We again set all plain sail, it is very warm today, the nicest day we had since we left. We are sailing about seven knots. There is not much work doing on deck, a few are setting up the main t’gallant rigging as it has worked slack, the rest including myself are sweeping out the ‘tween decks, preparatory to painting it out, as the ballast is only in the lower hold. The sailmaker has to sew the rent in the foresail that carried away the first day out, the ship is nice and steady today.
Weather still warm, all sail set, doing about seven knots. Squared all yards, fore and aft, as wind is aft. We have begun to unbend some of our heavy weather sails and bend find weather sails, flying jib and outer and inner jibs, main and mizzen t’mast staysails and jigger staysail. We rove off new fore and main upper top-sail braces, port and starboard, I had job of whipping the ends with a palm and needle. We clewed up mainsail to give extra draught to the foresail, then rove off new mizzen topsail clewlines. This is our first day in the North-East trades.
Real tropical weather, not much wind for sailing only doing about three or four knots. We got our first allowance of lime juice today at noon a cup full each. This will continue every day while we are in the tropics. Some of the men are painting the ‘tween decks the rest of us working on deck, reeving off new, fore, main and mizzen royal halliards. I overhauled buntlines on foremast as some of the stops had carried away. We have a Russian forward who has got a violin and he can play it very well, but of course most of his tunes are Russian. Washed down decks first time since leaving.
Washed ship down fore and aft in the morning watch and washed poop in first dog watch. We our stove away until the cold weather. I had the job of getting fore top-mast staysail halliards with blocks down from aloft, they are not needed as we have no fore t’mast staysail bent. Afterwards I was painting the hold with the rest. Not much wind today, doing only three knots. Sighted a French three masted barque at daybreak going same way as us. We lost sight of her away on port quarter by four bells (2 p.m.)
Washed poop down in morning. Unbent our heavy weather (No.1) foresail and sent up (No.2) fine weather foresail, set our flying and outer jibs, spanker and gaff-top-sail braced yards up on port tack, got mainsail out of sail locker to mend some seams that had carried away. We are doing about four knots today. Our position at noon was Latitude 23degs 46degs N Longitude 29degs 8’W
13th November – Saturday
Got coal up for the cook this morning it being Sat. I did my first washing today. 1 singlet, 1 dungaree pants and a pair of socks. Third mate took a photo of all the apprentices and myself. We had lifeboat drill this afternoon (8 bells noon to 2 bells) swung the boats out, we were supposed to lower them and pull a quarter of a mile astern and back again. Our watch then washed down deck finishing a little after three bells for the afternoon. No wind. Doing about 1 ½ knots.
14th November – Sunday again
Our watch on deck at 8 a.m. no work doing. It is still warm, we had a shower of rain this morning. There is a little more wind today. We hauled weather yard-arms about 1 point, further aft and took in spanker gaff-topsail and inner jib and clewed up crossjack early in the morning but the wind shifted about four bells 10 a.m. and we let the yards go forward again, and set gaff-topsails and inner jib, also sheeted home crossjack. She is going about four knots today. There was great excitement aboard at about 10 p.m. we sighted a big French four-masted barque, fully laden. We did not notice her until she was very near, she was running with wind on port quarter and we had the wind aft, both going same way. We did not mind her at first but shortly after saw her drifting right on top of us, we were almost alongside her when we hauled our yards round and just cleared her, we morsed but could get no answer, our old man thought she wanted some food but as he could get no answer we left her behind.
Our yards are all squared yet, a bit more wind today. Doing about five knots still warm. I started my navigation today. I intend to do a little every day. We have not finished painting the hold yet and as there is not much work doing on deck, we are all down below.
Got our stores for the week, ½ lb butter and 1lb of jam each, 1 tin of Nestle’s condensed milk between three of us, also sugar. We generally run short Sunday or Monday. Still painting down below, a good breeze today, she is doing about seven knots, at 9 p.m. a squall struck up, the mate sung out “Stand by your royal halliards” but we did not shorten down as the squall lasted only ten minutes. It rained in torrents and we were out saving the rain water. We collected it in buckets held under the scuppers and then put it in a large tub. It is very good for washing clothes.
Washed down decks at 4 bells (6 a.m.) Very warm. The wind has moderated since last night, doing about four knots now. Everyone is busy washing with the water we collected last night. Third mate, an apprentice and I rove off new fore and main topsail halliards of four inch manilla, second mate’s (starboard) watch rove off mizzen topsail halliards.
This morning at three o’clock we took in the three royals, as the mate was expecting a squall or something. A Russian Finn and I took in main royal. At four o’clock the starboard watch took in main t’gallant sail. At eight o’clock, our watch on deck, we set the mizzen royal again. We also rove off a new main t’gallant starboard leechline. At about ten o’clock we squared our yards and took in flying and outer jib as they can do no good with the wind aft. The carpenter had a go up loft today as something was wrong with the parrel of the main t’gallant yard. It is typical tropical weather. At five o’clock we washed own the poop. Ship is doing about four knots.
Washed down poop and foc’s’le head this morning. We then got up a No. 2 main t’gallant sail (light canvas) to repair, as it carried away last voyage. I was aloft clearing the mizzen royal weather leechline as it got foul of a buntline block on t’gallant yard. It is very warm, especially down in the sail locker getting those sails out, we had to haul out foresails, mainsails, topsails, etc to get at the t’gallant sail, it was at the bottom. In the afternoon, the third mate and I sent down all the gaskets from the fore upper topsail, t’gallant and royal yards. When we got them down we sorted out the bad ones and put new ones in their places. I am congratulating myself on being so lucky as to be sent up aloft. It is lovely and cool up there all the other chaps are painting down in the hold. Doing only 1 ½ knots.
At 1:30 o’clock this morning the mate sang out to give her fore and main royals. We were all lying asleep, in our bunks, as there was no work doing. Two of us had to loose the sails, I went to fore royal. You can guess how sleepy I was when I went out on the t’gallant yard thinking it to be the royal, however I was not long up there before I was properly awake. We then set flying jibs and did nothing else for the watch. At 8 a.m. our watch on deck, I was sent up in a boatswains chair to grease down jigger topmast it being wooden. That finished, sent down the gaskets off fore yard and lower topsail yard and sent new ones up same as yesterday only I am by myself today. There is no work doing this afternoon Sat. We had a shower about noon, we are doing about four knots today.
Sunday again, this morning I took four hours at the wheel (4 to 8 a.m.) no work doing today. The mate taught me how to use the sextant at noon on the poop. It is not very easy to understand but I expect to be able to master it after a couple of days. Lovely weather, doing about four knots.
A little cooler today. We had heavy rain this morning and it has been showery all day. In the morning the mate and I set up the mizzen lee lower rigging, the weather side having been set up by the starboard watch. We were two hours at the rigging, I then started chipping the bottles of the rigging screws previous to painting them. We are doing about five knots. Our positon is 55 degs 22’W. Longitude and 17degs 24’ N Latitude. We took in fore, main and mizzen royals.
At midnight it commenced to blow and all of a sudden wind shifted and we were caught full aback. You should have heard the noise of the sails flapping. We hauled our yards sharp up on the other tack. It was blowing so strong that it was thought best to take in the three t’gallant sails, mainsail and crossjack. It should have been our watch below then but all hands were on deck until four bells, (2 a.m.) when we were sent below. We first tackled the t’gallant sails six on each sail. I was up the main. Next all hands got on the mainsail, port watch, port side and starboard watch their own side. We had a hard job as it was raining heavily and the sails were soaking wet. The mainsail finished we took in crossjack same way. It was pretty hard also. At four a.m. our watch on deck it was still raining and we saved a big tank full of rain water for washing purposes. At 7 bells (7:20) we again set crossjack, the wind having moderated and at 9 a.m. the other watch set mizzen, main t’gallant sail and mizzen royal.
Wet weather but pretty warm. We are saving a lot of rain water some of the men have been putting ratlines on the main futtock shrouds. Between the showers I painted the mizzen lower rigging screws with composition paint. We are expecting to sight one of the West Indies very soon, I do not know which island but I think it is Antigua. At four o’clock we took in the crossjack, the other watch having taken in the main and mizzen t’gallant sail and mizzen royal as it was blowing too hard. We then braced the yards sharp up on the port tack and for the first time since leaving home we are steering by the wind, that is we are not steering any course only keeping the weather clew of mainsail, just lifting (in strong breezes) you watch the royal in fine weather. We sight a sailing ship on port quarter and keep her in sight through the night.
Wind has moderated, ship astern is coming up on us, hand over hand, under full sail except fore royal. We set fore and main t’gallant sail mizzen royal, flying outer and inner jibs, spanker, gaff topsail, main and mizzen topmast staysails and jigger staysail. The other ship is now a beam and we recognise her as the ‘GARNETHILL’ again. This morning we sighted the island of Antigua on our starboard (lee) bow, it is very close now, there are also several other islands around. At noon we were alongside Montserrat and the wind died away leaving us becalmed, the French island of Guadaloupe is on our other side, the sea is like oil, not a breath of wind. Montserrat supplies all our lime juice, there are groves of lime fruit trees and banana plantations. I wish we could get ashore.
A shark was swimming by the ship’s stern this forenoon, one of the boys got a harpoon, a steel point on it and a wooden shaft about five feet long, the Captain struck it right on it’s head and it pulled the rope out of the boys hand and commenced to swim around in circles, like a submarine, with the periscope out of the water, finally it sank. Another one came up shortly after, the carpenter made a hook and we put some salt pork on it, we hooked him alright, but it was in the mouth and he got away, you should have seen him rush around immediately and cook threw over an empty milk tin and he made one rush for it and swallowed it whole. You could see him quite plain as the water is like crystal. There was a pilot fish swimming behind on of his fins. We went away shortly after, there were a few dolphins around as well, but we have no hooks. One of the men caught a benito. I am painting out our mess room today. We passed three steamers. In the evening we set the mizzen t’gallant sail we hauled the yards up to the shanty ‘blow the main down’ it sounded fine.
At six this morning I greased down the mizzen royal and t’gallant mast. Then I started to paint the new seizings on mizzen lower rigging. We are still lying becalmed, it is very warm, I would like to go for a swim but there are too many sharks around. We caught a young shark today, he was only about three feet long. I have got his dorsal fin and am trying to preserve it, we took the skin off and boiled it, the fish is not very nice, it is rather strong, some of the fellows liked it.
28th November – Sunday
We set main royal this morning and braced up sharp on starboard tack as there is a very slight breeze. It rained slightly this morning. There is a large steamer in sight on the starboard beam. I took my washing in today as they are dry. The steward fainted in the galley this morning from the heat he is acting as cook, the cook has been laid up for the past week, one of the apprentices is acting steward. The Captain gave the steward some whisky and he came to again.
We took in main royal this morning at 3 a.m. We then braced up on the starboard tack, we had a fine breeze this morning, she was doing nine knots and she has slowed down to about five now (8 a.m.) I overhauled fore buntlines this morning. We then squared the yards and took in fore t’gallant sails and head sails. I varnished our mess room out, it looks fine, it has been grained all over, we got a shower bath fixed up as well.
This is my birthday. Today the men washed the white paintwork on the bulwarks and rigging screws. We got our whack of stores this morning. The Russian and I shifted the fore royal clewlines, so that the sail will clew up to the yardarm instead of clewing in to the mast, it will be easier to stow it now.
Set mizzen royal this morning and hauled down inner jib and mizzen topmast staysail. Sujying the midship house and half deck (our quarters) fine weather today and a good breeze. We are going about 8 ½ knots by log. We are expecting to sight Jamaica soon.
We braced sharp up on starboard tack this morning and set fore, the main royals, outer and inner jib and spanker. We sighted the island of Jamaica this morning on our starboard bow. I had a job up aloft, putting some rovings in mainsail, main lower topsail, foresail and fore upper topsail also main t’gallant sail. I had a fine view of the land, I stayed up aloft for a good while sitting on fore upper-topsail yard, looking at it. We are chipping and painting the beams in the hold today. There is a splendid breeze, every stitch of canvas is set and drawing, she looks fine, and doing nine and a half knots.
We left the island behind today, she is doing very well, wind still pretty strong. We washed down decks fore and aft this morning. Early this morning, when we were near the shore, the order was given to hitch the ends of the lee braces fore and aft, so that they could throw them off quickly as we thought we should tack ship, however we had no need to do so. We got the deep sea lead ready, we marked it all over again up to 80 fathoms, as it was stranded about a half fathom from the lead. We are expecting to use it soon in some places here the water is very shallow. She is doing twelve knots today under the t’gallant sails as we took the royals off. She is leaning over to the breeze like a yacht. I was aloft today putting some rovings in crossjack, mizzen topsail and t’gallant sail.
Washed down decks this morning and set main royal, tarred all the decks except poop. We are glad of this because it will save us holy stoning a job I have no particular liking for. One of the starboard watch apprentices was put into our watch today, as he had a row with the second mate. This is a half-holiday for us, we are doing eleven knots.
Sighted a light on our starboard beam this morning, washed down poop and boarded main and crossjack tacks. I overhauled crossjack weather leechline. This is a holiday for us, no unnecessary work being done after 8 a.m. This evening two birds, exactly like wild duck but with larger bill landed on the end of our jib boom, they are sleepy birds and went to sleep in about five minutes, one of our fellows crept out and caught it by the bill, the other flew away. We let him go again as you could not eat him, they eat too much fish.
Squared yards today, no wind but there is a strong current with us, we are doing about three knots. We tarred the fore, main and after hatches, we were in an awful mess when we had finished as we had to put it on with rags, we also set mizzen royal.
Got our stores for the week, this morning, this is my week for scrubbing out, we take it a week about. We do it in our watch on deck of course, we are painting the bulwarks white and grey. The ship is doing about four knots.
Came on to blow a bit this morning, our watch took in main and mizzen royals, fore, main and mizzen t’gallant sail and crossjack, it was not much of a blow, at daylight we again set crossjack. We wore ship at 9 a.m. we are now braced up on starboard tack. Doing six knots. Our position is Latitude 25 degs 16’N Longitude 90 degs 3’W We expect to be in Port Arthur at the beginning of next week. Passed a steamer today.
Set fore main and mizzen t’gallant sails this morning. Braced yards sharp up, ship is “by the wind”, that is she is sailing as near to her course as the wind will permit and instead of getting a course to steer by, the helmsman keeps her as near to wind as he can with her sails full. We sujied the two after boats today and rigged up the gangway gear. Our position at noon was Latitude 26degs. 37’ N. Longitude 93 degs, 2’W doing about four knots. Got the port anchor over the side.
Made the crossjack fast, squared away all the yards, fair wind for Port Arthur. At noon we hove the ship to, to take sounding with the hand deep sea lead, we got 32 fathoms with a mud bottom. We also sounded with the patent machine and got practically the same. We had a shower this morning, getting everything ready for port as quickly as we can, we expect to be in either tomorrow or Sunday. Sighted Sabine Light at 9 p.m.
Picked up the lights of Port Arthur at 2 a.m. our watch below. At 2:30 we were called out on deck, as all hands were wanted to take in all sail. We were finished at 5 a.m. all sail off her and her anchor let go. At 10a.m. the tug boat came out to us and after a lot of arguing he gave us his hawser we had to heave the anchor up by hand as a valve on the donkey got broken. We were an hour and a half getting it up, it was forty miles to Port Arthur and as we could not get there before dark we anchored in the Sabine River.
12th December – Sunday
We weighed anchor at 6 a.m. and got to Port Arthur at 9:30 a.m. We were fast alongside at 10 a.m. We came through a pass, on our way up, about a mile long and about 90 feet wide. This is called Sabine Pass. There are a lot of alligators here in the swamps.
Signed – Richard Farrell – Seaman
This passage was in ballast, composed of clay, we are due to load a cargo of case oil for Australia. This passage commenced at Liverpool, on 30th October 1915 arrived at Port Arthur on 12th December 1915.