The voyage of the RALPH WALLER
On the 4th January 1855 the Ralph Waller set sail from Liverpool for Australia with Thomas Raymond, Mary Ann(1) his wife and Mary Ann(2) Raymond, his 15 year old daughter aboard. As they lived in London. and plenty of ships set sail for Australia from there. it is hard to explain why they went to Liverpool to get this ship. They would probably be taking a great deal of luggage and other belongings with them so how were they all transported to Liverpool?
Another passenger on the ship was James Butters who kept a diary of the passage. Although, disappointingly, the Raymons are not mentioned, it gives a wonderful idea of what life on board ship on a journey to Australia was like - much of it dull and without much happening, through all varieties of weather, amusements and dancing on deck, producing a journal for the passengers to contribute poems, etc. the sightings of many other ships, the 'crossing the Equator' ceremony and getting irritated with his cabin mate, John. On 22nd March there is a graphic account of the near wreck of the "Ralph Waller" after hitting an iceberg in the Southern Ocean. This is particularly moving; how near the Raymonds were to losing their lives!
Many of the diaries that I have read of passages to Australia tell of bad captains, drunken sailors and a great many deaths on the journey. The Ralph Waller seems to have been very fortunate in this regard - for the captain we get nothing but praise and although there was some sickness on board there don't seem to have been any deaths.
Included in the diary is a description of Melbourne as it was when the Raymond family first saw it.
From the diary which often contains the longitude and latitude of the Ralph Waller on certain dates, David Broughton has produced a map of the voyage. The ship followed what is called "the Great Circle Route" which takes advantage of the prevailing winds - especially the strong westerlies in the Southern Ocean. There were no ports of call at all between Liverpool and Melbourne.
by James Butters
Notes taken on board Ralph Waller, bound for Melbourne, from Liverpool, which sailed from the Mersey, January 4th 1855.
After lying in the river 10 days, the steam tug, Samson, came along side on Thursday 4th January at 12 o'clock. We were immediately after moving out of the river and were in a few hours in the open sea. The Samson left us about 5 o'clock with the pilot and our Captain's brother & sister who had come so far with us. We had on board upwards of 170 passengers, 36 of crew all hands were at work getting sails set. & unfortunately the wind was unfavourable which caused tacking necessary. At first the wind was moderate, but it got to blow very hard, after sun set (head wind). Nearly all on board sea sick! as I expected I was not at all affected with it. I along with some others attended the sick and did what we could for them.
Friday 5th January: The wind still ahead and blowing very hard. Nearly all aboard in bed sick: making little progress, only heading about in the channel, the wind moderated about 8 o'clock and changed more in our favour. I was on deck at 11 & 12 o'clock night and saw several vessels which we passed, many on the same course as ourselves, at the above hour we were running 8 knots an hour. At 6 o'clock morning the wind fell to a dead calm, making no progress.
Saturday 6th January: No wind and in consequence making no progress. The sick patients are beginning to make their appearance on deck but all very sickly looking - 1 o'clock the wind begins to blow and our good ship again begins to pitch. We are sailing south by west, towards Dublin.
Sunday 7th January: Still in the Irish channel against head winds. - had prayers at half past 10 o'clock a.m. and again in the afternoon at 3 o'clock the attendance was small owing to sickness.
Monday 8th January: Still in the Irish Channel & making little progress owing to contrary wind blowing very hard: a circumstance occurred which has caused some dissatisfaction to the passengers: the captain and surgeon ordered that no steerage passengers were to be allowed on the Quarter Deck, and confining them to the Main Deck, a small space for so many people to walk.
Tuesday 9th January: Sailing in the Bristol Channel with fair wind, expect to get clear of the Channel by tomorrow and into the Western Ocean. We can now say thank God we have got clear of the dangers of the Irish Channel. Nothing of importance has taken place on board. Sickness much abated. John is now quite recovered and as wild as ever. I cannot get him to do as he should.
Wednesday 10th January: Making no progress, the sea has the appearance of a Lock. there being not a breath of wind a beautiful day with sun shine, still in Bristol Channel. Spoke with the `Fighting', she sailed along side of us all day and last night within 200 yards of us, all well on board.
Thursday 11th January: A beautiful day and stiff breeze. Sailing in our right course, 9 knots an hour, 1 o'clock passed the Scilly Islands and Land's End. No appearance of the `Fighting' today, supposed she has got ahead of us, all on board in good health and capital spirits, all sorts of games going on, at half past ten sailing 11 knots.
Friday 12th January: Sailing S.W.W. 12 knots outside Bay of Biscay. Spoke to a homeward bound vessel. Wind favourable and full sail. Running 23 sheets.
Saturday 13th January: Blowing a gale. Reefing sails. None but the sailors can walk the deck. Some excitement caused by tables, forms etc. upsetting & passengers tumbling about in all directions. Capital sport for John.
Sunday 14th January: Making no progress. Calm but heavy sea rolling which makes it disagreeable, the ship rolling from side to side. Had prayers forenoon and afternoon, attendance small - nothing of importance took place.
Monday 15th January: A beautiful day and light favourable wind, sailing 6 knots in Latitude 41 off Oporto. It is really pleasant to be on deck today it being such a day as at home in May. Saw several sails at a distance. In the evening sailing 8 - 9 knots.
Tuesday 16th January: Sailing 8 knots, having showers of rain with occasional sunshine. Saw several sails at a great distance.
Wednesday 17th January: 7 a.m. torrents of rain falling till 11 a.m. Turned out a beautiful day with sunshine. Sailing 8 knots in our right course. Spoke with a French Steamer, William, bound for the West Indies. Several sails seen at a distance. The first number of a newspaper Journal came out today in which all the passengers can contribute. We expect to have some amusement with it. I will endeavour to get a number of it by & bye.
Thursday 18th January: Sailing from 8 to 12 knots. Wind favourable and pleasant weather. A great many fish seen swimming about the sides of the ship. All well.
Friday 19th January: Head winds - rather off our course. Madeira Island seen a great way ahead. Sailing 9 knots. 2 o'clock sailing between the Islands of Porto Santo and Madeira. 6 o'clock the wind down to a calm. Lying 3 miles from the Madeira Island till about 12 night.
Saturday 20th January: 6 o'clock no land seen and blowing a stiff breeze. Sailing 11 knots till 9 o'clock when the wind again moderates. From 6 to 9 sail have been run every day we have been at sea. A young man very ill between decks. Some say fever. Weather getting warmer every day. Dancing on Main deck in the evening.
Sunday 21st January: Had prayers at half past 10 o'clock a.m. No afternoon service owing to the stormy weather. In the evening it blows to a gale. Sailors kept at it reefing etc. Head winds, off our course.
Monday 22nd January: 4 o'clock morning wind very strong and has been all night. I got up and stood at the cabin door at the above hour and witnessed one of the grandest, and I may say, most terrific scene I have ever witnessed - viz. a thunder storm: flash after flash of lightning in quick succession, continuing all night until day light. 12 o'clock a.m. turned out a beautiful day with sunshine. Lots of amusements going on, everyone doing their best to kill time. 8 p.m. light wind, sailing 6 knots: the sky has every appearance of a thunder storm and a deal of lightning flashing on the water. Still fighting against head winds, sailing in the direction of America. The young man between decks rather better. A whale seen on the leebow.
Tuesday 23rd January: Supposed to have got the Trade Winds, slight breeze, sailing 6 knots in right course. 12 o'clock a.m. in Lat.27.1 [N]Long. 43.12 [W] 8 o'clock p.m. a beautiful moonlight night. Sailors and passengers dancing on deck.
Wednesday 24th January: A dead calm. The passengers have just been amused with the Journal which has appeared and which I will endeavour to get a copy of.
Thursday 25th January: Still calm: sailing 3 - 4 knots. Beautiful weather and getting very warm in Lat 27.[N]
Friday 26th January: Light winds sailing 5 - 6 knotts. Nothing of importance.
Saturday 27th January: Sailing 8 knots. Spoke with the Francisca from Liverpool for East Indies. - 20 days out.
Sunday 28th January: Had prayers on Poop. The passengers not being allowed on the Poop except at prayers, they would not go up to show the captain that they were not pleased at being prohibited from going there occasionally.
Monday 29th January: Sailing in Lat 15.[N] Getting very warm. Winds still light. I feel we will have a long voyage. Saw a whale blowing up water about a mile off. The first day that no sail has been seen. Saw a great many flying fishes and some sea birds which I cannot name. The first day the captain has sold spirits in any quantity, the consequences are that a number got themselves the worse of it and a regular row took place. It first commenced with wrestling and then fighting. Some nearly got themselves put into chains. All on board in good health. (The young man that was ill is now getting better).
Tuesday 30th January: A very hot day, much warmer that in Scotland in the warmest day in summer. In Lat.13 [N] Sailing 5 knots. Nearly all the passengers lying on the floors of their cabins and no sleep can be had. The scene I cannot describe. A grand concert & dancing on deck till 1 o'clock morning. A beautiful moonlight night.
Wednesday 31st January: Almost a dead calm. Very warm up till 2 p.m. when the wind freshened up. Sailing 8 - 11 knots an hour all night. Singing and dancing as usual. Our weekly Journal appeared. Nothing of importance this week. Sailing in Lat.10.30 [N]. M.Wade went overboard and bathed.
Thursday 1st February: Sailing in Lat. 9 at 10 knots an hour being a good breeze. It is much more pleasant than the two previous days. Getting near the line. Rather squally with heavy showers of rain.
Friday 2nd February: Sailing 8 knots in Lat. 6 [N]. Spoke to a homeward bound ship but could not make her out. The Ralph Waller being new, could not be made out. Every day getting warmer as we approach the line. All well. Wrote a letter for home to be ready should we have an opportunity.
Saturday 3th February: Sailing 4 knots. Very hot. Spoke with a Dutch ship.
Sunday 4th February: Making little progress. Thunder storm with heavy showers of rain. Prayers intimated to take place in Main Deck, weather permitting, being wet we had none. Our cabin being badly ventilated, we now feel it most uncomfortable and in consequence can get little sleep.
Monday 5th February: Sailing 4 - 5 knots in Lat 2 or thereabouts. All going on still. No sickness on board. Expecting to be at the line tomorrow when we expect to get shaved. 10 p.m. hailed by Neptune.
Tuesday 6th February: All on board on tip toe for sport. The sailors get a holiday from 12 a.m. At 1 o'clock the shaving commences, first with the ship then the sailors who have not crossed the line before. 10 in number then the doctor and passengers, but as the sport could not pass off without grog and the grand object of it being for that purpose, the passengers were deemed to escape by paying a small fine (viz 1/-) each. Those who would not or could not pay had of course to undergo the operation of which there were not a few and capital sport it certainly was for the onlookers. The first performance is the procession of Neptune accompanied by his wife: barber, barbers clerk and a host of subordinates, well armed with clubs, proceeds to the captain's cabin intimating that as the ship had not crossed these seas before they came to claim their privilege of shaving or fining the Ralph Waller. The mate makes a speech and pays the fine viz. 2 bottles of rum. They then go to the Main deck where a large barrel with one end knocked out - and full of water - is placed. Alongside is a bucket of tar and a hose. The parties [to be] shaved are set upon a plank of wood over the barrel. The shaving brush is applied (viz. one made of rope ends), the tar is well put in then shaved off with a large iron razor made for the purpose. The plank is then knocked out from under them and down he goes head first into the barrel of water. After he gets up the hose is then applied and having plenty of water for pumping they do not spare it. Shaving etc. lasted till 4 o'clock when the sailors got a glass of rum round. Speeches and songs went on after and finished off with dancing. So passed the crossing in our good ship. Sailing 8 knots.
Wednesday 7th February: Sailing 10 knots with breeze freshening. Got into S.E.Trade Winds, rather off our course. All going on well. Yesterday being such a [busy] day the paper will not be published till tomorrow.
Thursday 8th February: All well on board. Sailing 9 - 10 knots S.S.W. in Lat.6 [S]. The paper out. Nothing of importance. Splendid weather and fun mind.
Friday 9th February: Making 3 sheets a day. Sail on the horizon. Number of fish seen.
Saturday 10th February: Beautiful weather. Sailing 10 knots with steady breeze. Nothing of importance. All in good health. See number of flying fish.
Sunday 11th February: Had prayers forenoon and afternoon on Main deck. Being a good day the attendance was large. Sailing 9 - 10 knots in Lat.14.50 south 12 o'clock.
Monday 12th February: A steady breeze. Making 9 knots in Lat.16/17 (St Helena). Saw about a dozen porpoise in a row leaping like hounds out of the water and crossing the bows of our ship - the wonderment.
Tuesday 13th February: Sailing 10 - 12 knots with steady breeze in Lat.20.48 south. Very hot but not unpleasant having a cooling breeze. Tomorrow being Valentine's day, a letter box is placed on deck to receive letters.
Wednesday 14th February: Sailing 11 knots in Lat. 23.42 [S]. Some amusement at delivering letters and reading them. It is most astonishing the plans we have to resort to to kill time. We have not seen any ships for some days. With the exception of a few trifling complaints, I may mention that all are in good health.
Thursday 15th February: All going on well & sailing 10 to 12 knots.
Friday 16th February: Sailing 5 knots S.S.E. in Lat. 29.48 south. Sail on the horizon. Saw a Cape pigeon, the first we have seen.
Saturday 17th February: Almost a dead calm in Lat.31 [S]. About 2000 miles west from the Cape of Good Hope. There being no wind we find it very hot, rather unpleasant, however the time is passing away amazingly. There are always some things going on to amuse us..
Sunday 18th February: Had sermon forenoon & afternoon on Main Deck. Beautiful day and very warm. Number of Cape Birds flying above the ship.
Monday 19th February: Sailing 8 knots S.S.W. Nothing of importance took place.
Tuesday 20th February: Calm, not making above 2 knots. Very warm. The same amusements going on day after day. Little or no change. Several albatross flying about. Sailing in Lat. 33 South. A young man from Orkney Island has been ill for some time which I was not aware of. He is on deck today but looking very ill.
Wednesday 21st February: Sailing 10 knots but off our course 6 points owing to head wind. Wind changes more in our favour towards following morning.
Thursday 22nd February: Making 11 knots in our right course in Lat 39 [S] and now getting very cold at night. No lying about the decks as there was 4 days ago. All going on well (so far). Towards evening it blows very hard right after 8 p.m. Running 12 to 14 knots and continued all night.
Friday 23rd February: Heavy sea running. Sailing 10 knots in right course, Lat 40 [S], Long. 29 [W] or about 2000 miles west from Cape of Good Hope. Heavy rain fell all last night. Best day's sailing we have had since we sailed. Making 12 to 14 knots all day till 11 p.m. when the wind fell down.
Saturday 24th February: A dead calm. Great numbers of albatrosses & other birds flying about the ship. Cast a line out to try & catch them. Wind freshening up again in the afternoon and towards evening blows pretty hard. Sailing all night at 10 knots. Caught no birds. A passenger shot an albatross but of course did not get it. Sailing east by south - right course.
Sunday 25th February: Fair wind & full sail. Making 12 knots all day as in same Lat as I suppose the Sabriola was in when she had the 4 days gale Alexander spoke of in his letter after arrival. We now expect stormy weather for some time. We are getting near the Cape of Good Hope. Had prayers forenoon & afternoon in second cabin. All going on well and I may say a more healthy passenger ship never was at sea. The young man that was ill is getting better. I have been unable to get the proper Lat. & Long. for 2 days. Yesterday and today a number of birds called by sailors the Stormy Petrel. They are no favourite with the sailors as they make their appearance only before a storm - so say the sailors.
Monday 26th February: Quite unexpected almost a dead calm. Not making more than 2 knots all day but about 10 o'clock the wind again freshened up and gradually increased. Sailing all night 11 to 13 knots in [similar] Long. of Greenwich. Getting very cold.
Tuesday 27th February: Very stormy sea and the ship rolling a good deal. Making 12 knots in right course - wind dead aft. Few can make their appearance on deck. Moving towards evening & making 14 to 15 knots in Lat. 45 [S], Long 3 E. Much the same as when we left home in November.
Wednesday 28th February: Had a capital night's run sailing all night on right course E.S.E.. Capital day's sailing. Few can walk the deck - squally. Blows very hard towards night and at 10 p.m. had our flying Gibbons Cross Jack yard carried away. The gale continued all night.
Thursday 1st March: - Heavy sea running which causes the ship to roll a great deal. Wind still blows pretty hard. Sailing 10 knots. Carpenter and others busy getting new spars prepared for those broken last night. Now very cold and heavy showers of hail and snow. Lat. 45 [S], Long 13 E.
Friday 2nd March: Sailing 10 1/2 knots at 12 a.m. S.E. Lat 46.5 [S], Long 16 E. We have made a splendid 30 miles a day. We now expect to make the voyage in less than 80 days. Heavy sea on today yet more sunshine which makes it feel less cold. The decks were covered with snow this morning at 8 o'clock. All in capital health and good spirits. No amusements going on outside cabin. At 4 p.m. a large square iceberg seen on weather bow. Passed it about 5 o'clock at a distance of about 8 miles. Supposed to be 80 or 90 feet out of water and upwards of a mile in length. Has the appearance of a large block of polished white marble. Other 2 much larger seen about 8 p.m. One similar in appearance to the first one and the other very much larger and nearer us. Passed it 12 o'clock night. Supposed to be 200 feet high out of water and 2 or 3 miles long. Passed a great many smaller ones during the night. Sailing 10 knots.
Saturday 3rd March: Passing a great many floating pieces of ice within 100 yards or so of us and a severe snow storm. We are not as far south, as Lat 50, but is much colder here than on the corresponding Lat. north. We all wish to get out of this and hope the captain will consider that he is far enough south and steer away to the east. I understand the reason for getting so far south is he expects to get heavier wind and besides the further south he goes the shorter the Long. becomes. Sailing 10 knots E.S.E. Lat. and Long not known. Had a regular snow ball set to in the morning after a good fall.
Sunday 4th March: Another berg was seen to the north of us this morning at about 10 o'clock. Had prayers forenoon and afternoon. Several showers of hail and snow. Lat. Long. not known. Sailing E.S.E.
Monday 5th March: Still very cold. Sailing 9 knots S.S.E. Nothing of importance.
Tuesday 6th March: Making 10 knots S.S.E. Lat. Long. not known. All well. We are now kept in the dark about the Lat. & Long. For what reason I cannot say. Several large icebergs seen ahead. Can scarcely make out their appearance in the dark.
Wednesday 7th March: Almost a dead calm. A beautiful clear frosty day. Several small icebergs seen. Lat. now 52.13 [S], Long. not known. Today a man and woman that have been ill came on deck. They are looking very ill and require assistance to walk.
Thursday 8th March: Still calm which makes the time hang heavy on our hands. The sky has the appearance of snow, at least such as it looks before snow in Scotland.
Friday 9th March: A slight breeze this morning making 5 or 6 knots, right course. Lat. 53 [S]. Very cold. A large iceberg a mile off. Several small ones floating near. Showers of rain and sleet in the afternoon. It then fell down to a calm.
Saturday 10th March: At about 12 o'clock last night the wind again got up and blew pretty hard. Notwithstanding the captain continues carrying lots of canvas! Stunsail Boom carried away. Sailing 13 knots - right course in a direct line to Melbourne. Lat. & Long not known. At 4 p.m. a large iceberg seen on lee deck within a few miles of us. At 10 p.m. it blew so strong and squally that canvas had to be taken in and she left scudding before the wind with only mizzen & main top set.
Sunday 11th March: Last night was the stormiest night we have yet had. Went to bed at 10 o'clock but had little sleep till early in the morning from the rolling of the ship. Today still very strong wind with heavy seas striking the ship making her tremble. It is now we see the mountains of water running fore and aft, but we know we are making good progress and sailing in right course.
Monday 12th March: Still blows right aft driving us along at a rate of 12 knots. Shipping tons of water. Very unsafe & unpleasant outside. The poor sailors are kept at it and what is worse for them 5 are unable to work. In our cabin we are comfortable and dry but Between decks are often flooded. Had several booms broken. Towards evening the winds moderated a little.
Tuesday 13th March: At 4 this morning when all sail was set it began to blow a gale which caused some sensation and work on deck. Sailing at that hour 15 knots for a short time only. Several spars broken. Sailing all day 10 to 12 knots. A little off our course. Long.58.4. Rains all day making everything uncomfortable outside and inside.
Wednesday 14th March: Still very strong and disagreeable. At 5 p.m. the fore yard broke right though the centre and stern sail at the same time. Carpenter and others working all night getting another ready.
Thursday 15th March: Fortunately a calm which allowed time to get the fore yard set was finished by 12 a.m. when immediately after the wind again freshened up. Sailing all night 10 knots. The time is now hanging heavy on our hands and with me very wearisome. Several passengers and sailors complaining of chilblains on hands and feet. Land seen at 9 this morning and in a short time was very near it. Sailing all day within 1 or 2 miles of the shore. It was well named Desolation Island by Captain Cook. This is summer in this quarter of the globe but is not like the summer I have been accustomed to. Fancy what winter must be. The Island of Desolation is 100 miles long, running east and west and covered with snow perpetually. It was a grand sight for us although a desolate one. I cannot describe it as I should like but I cannot compare it to anything at home but some of the highland hills - one rising after another & not a vestige of anything growing on it. As I have already mentioned its mountains and hills are covered with snow to the water's edge. If this is summer, what will it be in winter? No human being can live on it and only a few birds and seals can be found on it. It is rather dangerous sailing here as a great number of rocks are scattered about. Sailing till about 9 p.m. 8 to 10 knots and still in sight of the island. 10 p.m. fell to a calm and about 12 p.m. the wind again freshened making 11 knots. Lat 50 [S], Long 70 [E].
Friday 16th March: Out of sight of land and rocks. Sailing 8 knots, Lat 49.15 [S], Long 72 [E]. We now expect to have better weather as we get east by north.
Saturday 17th March: Had a capital run making from 12 to 14 knots. Long 76. All going well. No sickness on board.
Sunday 18th March: Sailing 12 knots, right course. Had prayers as usual. Nothing of consequence.
Monday 19th March: Still going ahead 11 to 13 knots. Firm wind and right course. Long. 90 E. Eight days more at this rate and we shall be at Melbourne.
Tuesday 20th March: All going on with fair wind and right course. Sailing 10 knots.
Wednesday 21st March: Several icebergs seen at a distance. Very cold. Lat 49 [S], Long 100 [E]. Making 10 to 12 knots, right course.
Thursday 22nd March: I have till this date been able to give a pleasing account of our voyage and all of us were in high hopes of reaching our destination port in a few days. Alas how a moment can alter our position and blast our hopes. Such were our case. All had been going well throughout the day, sailing 10 knots in Lat 48 [S], Long. 105 [E], east of Desolation Island or about 1500 miles from Melbourne and 1000 miles from the nearest land. The lamps had been lighted for about an hour and all on board enjoying themselves as usual at their various games, when all were startled by the ship striking on an iceberg. That was an awful moment and can never be forgotten by me and I am sure by all on board. I cannot picture the look of horror that was depicted in each countenance. I was in my cabin talking to Charles, the steward, who had been ill for some time and confined to bed. I felt the shock as if the vessel had been knocked back 2 feet out of the water. She was running 10 knots at the time. I was on the quarter deck in a minute and saw the iceberg floating past on each side of the ship. It was about the height of our bulwarks and split in two. The scene on the quarter deck at this time was really awful. Men, women and children all crowded to it with their blankets wrapped round them and their cries for mercy were really pitiful. The boats were got ready and over the side of the ship. I ran to the forecastle to see what damage was really done and saw that her cutwater was clear away. The captain and carpenter got down the forecastle hatch and found the damage done to be very serious. I next got to the main hold and by the time (not more than 10 minutes after she struck) the water began to make its appearance above the xxx. I went along the Between decks to see a friend of mine and returned in 3 minutes. She was making water at the rate of one foot a minute. In about 15 minutes after she struck, there was 15 feet of water in the hold. It was apparent to all that she was fast settling down and that nothing but a watery grave was before us. But God heard the prayers of many a poor sinner on board on that awful night, for 10 minutes after she struck it fell down to a calm and was so for 3 days. In the meantime the pumps were kept going and the carpenter had got at the principal leak and got it stopped. It was now evident that the water was not increasing or gaining on the pumps. A faint hope again revived within us and during that awful night the noble passengers stuck to the pumps relieving each other by turns. I regret I cannot say the same of all the crew. Some 10 or 12 of them ran to the rum sacks and were not seen for some time after. Others of them behaved nobly and worked night and day with the passengers at the pumps. The first night the main pumps were kept working throwing out tons of water and 8 buckets baling out of the main hold which we could dip out of the between decks. Next day another pump was set going and all the men passengers put into gangs, 90 in number. For 3 days and 3 nights little difference could be seen but after that it began to decrease inch by inch and in about 6 days we got the pumps to suck, which was really cheering for us. By this time we were all nearly worn out with fatigue but now we could so arrange it that we could have 6 hours sleep each gang. Soon after she struck a sail was put over the bows and did some good during the calm but on the 4th day it again began to blow making 8 to 9 knots. The sails over the bows got torn to pieces. Exactly 8 days after she struck, Thursday, it blew a gale and such a night few ever experienced at sea. The wind blew right aft with a heavy sea running and our ship could not be carried on but was left rolling like an empty cask in the water. Few will forget that awful night. Every roll she gave we thought she was going in two from the disabled state she was in. The pumps had to be kept going as she was making water nearly as fast as the pumps were taking it out. But watch succeeded watch without a word or murmur although not able to keep their feet and many had to be tied by the waist with ropes to keep them from falling. A Sea would sometimes break over making all at the pumps, sailors not excepted, to the other side of the ship. I had my own share of it and I will never forget one awful roll she gave. The main yard touched the water and all of us fell to leeward. We thought she never would have righted again, but our disabled but gallant ship stood it out and we welcomed the light of another day which brought more favourable weather for us. Every day we were shortening the distance between us and land and many were the anxious enquiries how far we were from it. Eight days more and we sighted Western Australia - [ This cannot be right; it must have been Cape Otway as they are too near to the Port Phillip Heads ] a joyful sight it was indeed - and in the evening we got the pilot on board and early next morning entered Port Phillip Heads. We lay there at anchor for a day and were towed into Hobsons Bay by steamer the next day.
Most of the passengers were put ashore on Saturday 7th [April], the others going to Melbourne on Monday and the Adelaide passengers on Wednesday. We, for Sydney, go on Saturday next. Had all gone on well with us we would have made a splendid passage and have beat the "Lightning" or "Red Jacket". The other ships that sailed from Liverpool and London about the same time as our ship have not yet arrived.
During our lying in the Bay, I have been ashore several times with the captain in his boat and spent several days in Melbourne. It is just such a town as I expected and a most wonderful place it certainly is. The town is well planned, having broad streets running parallel with each other. Many of them are well paved and Macadamised. The stores and business doing in it seems immense, much like some of our large towns at home. Splendid shops and warehouses in almost every street. Having spent 2 days looking about me in it, I had the opportunity of seeing the most of it. A view from North Melbourne and Collingwood is really splendid - you command the whole country around and for many miles can be seen the plan of the city stretching in all directions. The country is very sandy and barren looking with little vegetation to be seen. Williamstown & Sandritch [sic] are pretty undesirable places miles from Melbourne. A railway running to Sandritch from Melbourne, fine 1/6. From Port Phillip Heads to Melbourne 40 miles. The shipping is in the Bay opposite Williamstown & Sandritch.
Report from the "Argus", Melbourne, Monday 9th April 1855
April 7th - Ralph Waller, 1087 tons, J. Lewis, from Liverpool 4th January. Passengers - Cabin; Rev. James Lynar and lady, Missess and master Lynar, Mr Pelo and one hundred and eighty in the intermediate and steerage.
In our last issue we gave short reference to the wonderful and providential escape of the ship Ralph Waller after she had struck an iceberg in her run from England to this port. To the chaplain of the vessel, the Rev. Mr Lynar, we are now indebted for a more minute description of the accident and escape of all on board from a dreadful death. The Ralph Waller left the Mersey on the 4th January, under the command of Captain Daniel Lewis, with 180 passengers on board and a crew of 40 men. Having crossed the line in 29 days, with very favourable weather, they soon afterwards fell in with fields of ice. The captain altered the ship's course, but still was unable to keep clear, and on the evening of the 22nd March, Lat. 48 S and Long. 106. E, the vessel was struck with considerable violence. This happened at about eight o'clock in the evening, the night being fine and clear, and the ship going through the water at a rate of ten knots. The collision carried away the cutwater and the stem, and as the vessel was fast filling, all hands were ordered to the pumps. The water was gaining nearly a foot a minute, and upon sounding it was found she had 15 feet in her hold. The pumps were kept going for seventy-nine successive hours, and having gained upon the water, Capt. Lewis lowered a sail under the ship's bows, and happily succeeded in partially stopping the leak. Fortunately the accident was followed by three days of calm, when the damage was so far repaired as to enable the ship to complete her run to the port of destination. Nothing can exceed the warmth with which all the passengers speak of the conduct of Captain Lewis and that of the ship's carpenter, Mr D Bowen, to whose exertions and courage in the moment when the vessel was expected to sink, they feel their lives to be indebted. Appropriate addresses have been presented to commander and carpenter, to the latter of whom the passengers handed a purse of sovereigns.