Wednesday, 22 August 2007

Voyaging well

A third of all voyages from Europe began between April and June. 20% left between January and March and the rest left spread over the rest of the year. That means that a little over half of the voyages began in the first half of the year.

Why would this be of interest to me? Well I am wondering about the trip itself and also what the weather would be like on arrival. According to Woolcock, April to June were seen as the most favourable months for departure. January through March were the least favourable because of the winter storm conditions of the southern latitudes.

Sailing ships had to pay more attention to the weather. Once steam ships began plying the route, the weather was of less concern – a matter more of comfort than safety.

The Queensland government advised migrants to arrive in the winter months of June, July and August so that they could settle in before the shock of a southern hemisphere summer.

The average passage for a sailing ship was 109 days with the speed record held by a trip from Greenock, England to Maryborough completed in 69 days. The record for the longest trip was a journey from Liverpool to Moreton Bay that took 196 days. Apparently none of the passengers and crew were happy about this. Mean passage time for German ships was 112 days.

So the average trip was Hamburg to Moreton Bay was a little over 3.5 months. Leaving between April and June would mean arriving between July and September. Leaving in the less favourable winter months would mean arriving between April and June. So if you survived the trip (and remember that 94% of all ships arrived without incident and there was only one case of a ship going down with all hands), a winter departure would mean a winter arrival in Brisbane. A spring departure from Hamburg would still mean pleasantly cool temperatures on arrival although August and September temperatures can reach the high twenties and low thirties. And if they arrived in weather like this week’s, their ship would be stranded off the coast struggling not to be blown northwards and unable to tack against a southeasterly of 87kph around Cape Moreton into Moreton Bay.

Any departure later in the year would mean arriving in the hottest times. And anyone whose ship left Germany in October or November would have quite a shock arriving in the often blazing heat of January and February. I shall have to consider whether to make the Jaeckels’ journey and arrival more or less pleasant.

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