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St George’s News - Waterlooville’s Parish Magazine

The Website for St George’s Church, Waterlooville and its Parish Magazine St George’s News

Summer 2018 issue

The Osmond Diaries

Continuing the series of diaries and letters of Alfred Thomas Osmond, relating to his sea voyage from Southampton to Calcutta and his early months in Calcutta, 1852-1853. Alfred Osmond was the son of Rosemary Monk’s Great great great Grandfather William, who was a stonemason at Salisbury Cathedral

Wednesday Jan 5  to Saturday 8th

During these 4 days we had been pitching and tossing about making but slow progress. The swell is tremendous and we have besides a current to contend with, getting (?) in apparently from the Mozambique Channel. The barometer has been falling gradually and there are other indications of bad weather.

Sunday Jan 9th

  Weather cleared a little for a short time this morning. Church service in the Saloon today. Towards evening weather got worse again. Very uncomfortable at dinner. Frames of wood called “fiddles” are strapped to the tables to keep plates and dishes steady, but in spite of this we had a deal of capsizing today. You may consider yourself fortunate if you contrive to swallow half the contents of your soup plate – the remainder either goes in your lap or walks across the table for the benefit of your opposite friend. Glasses of wine or porter etc., favour your white ducks* without impartiality.


Friday Jan.28

Very warm today. Thermometer at noon stood at 90 (32C). This evening we caught another booby. I ticketed him as we did the former one.

Saturday Jan.29

We are going full power in order to reach Ceylon on Monday.

Monday Jan 10  -  9am.

Weather if any difference, a trifle worse last night. I slept by fits and starts as well as I could. Just as you are going off the ship gives a tremendous lurch which nearly turns you out of your berth. What makes it worse is the total darkness you are in – all the ports are closed and lights extinguished at ½ past 10. The barometer is still falling fast! There must be very heavy weather at no great distance. The continued rolling of the ship produces the most disagreeable giddiness in the head – at times I feel almost light headed yet I walk about safely enough, from practise. The “Bentinck” is a wooden ship and when she lurches heavily, every timber creaks most dismally. Sometimes at night, when suddenly awakened by the pitching, I could fancy she was going to pieces. The decks above and below and partitions and sides of the ship all creaking in chorus. The effect is increased by the absence of any other sound. I am the only occupant of the saloon, and my berth is at the stern end. The officers tell me with a smile it is nothing – but I can see the Captain is getting a little anxious this morning, not on account of the weather we have now, but because it indicates really bad weather in our vicinity. It is one of the summer months here, which gives us hope, as it is rarely so bad in summer as winter.

8pm. This afternoon we have a slight taste of a hurricane or “cyclone” – by altering our course a few points we avoided it, we should have gone right into the centre of it if we had proceeded in our proper course. The cyclone has 2 motions, which may be likened to (the end ????) of the earth. In the centre of it there is a circle of dead calm, around which the wind revolves as it were, at a tremendous rate of 100 or 120 miles an hour – the general onward motion of the storm is from 10 to 20 miles an hour. By consulting works on the “Law of Storms” seamen can discover pretty nearly the centre of the cyclone and the direction in which it is moving, and consequently can easily steer away from it. I believe it is a new theory, and is ridiculed by some tars of the old school. Our experience this afternoon bears evidence of its general truth. We were for a short time just within the bounds but not much less than 100 miles from the centre. The vessel pitched and rolled fearfully. I took refuge on the 3rd deck. Heavy thunder, lightning and rain. We soon got clear of it and then I went on deck. We could see the forked lightning playing about in the direction of the cyclone for some hours.

Tuesday Jan 11th

Beautiful clear day, but still heavy sea. Thermometer about 75 (24 C).

Wednesday Jan 12 to Saturday 15th

Nothing particular has occurred – one day is just like another. We see no land and meet no ships. I amuse myself with sketching and reading, assisting the officers with their charts or I should find it very monotonous.

Sunday Jan 16th

Church service today. This evening, little Tiney, the Captain’s pet dog, fell down a stoke hole and was killed. He was often my companion and I shall miss him much – being very intelligent and moreover, the only pet on board, he was a favourite with all. We exchanged signals this afternoon with the “King John”, a vessel bound for Mauritius.

Monday 17 January to Saturday 22nd

We have had heavy swell during the whole of the week in fact the sea has not been calm since we left the Cape. We entered the Tropics again on Thursday – as we approach the Equator, the days are shortening again considerably. On Saturday the thermometer rose to 88 F (31C)

Sunday Jan 23rd

Very warm today – church service in the saloon.

Monday Jan 24 to Wednesday 26th

Nothing particular to mention. Very warm weather. Wednesday evening a large bird called the “booby” was caught by one of the crew. It measured nearly 5 feet from point to point of the wings. I wrote on a slip of paper the name of our ship and captain – the latitude and longitude and date – this we tied under the bird’s wing and let him go.

Thursday Jan. 27

This was the first quiet day we have experienced since leaving the Cape. The sea is almost calm again.

Sunday Jan. 30

Church service in Saloon today. We crossed the line today.

Monday Jan.31.  -

We sighted the light house at Point de Galle at 7.30 this evening. Could not venture to go into the harbour as it was dark and the navigation very difficult. Obliged to beat about in the neighbourhood all night.

Tuesday Feb. 1.

Pilot came on board at 7 this evening and we cast anchor about 8.  This part of the island appears to be covered with verdure, members of the cocoa nut trees etc. Galle is little more than a village at present, but promises to become a place of importance in consequence of the number of steamers and other ships continually calling for coals and provisions. The entrance to the bay is very dangerous – we had 2 pilots on board – Portuguese – Very skilful fellows. There are several ships here, but none of large size.  One of the P&O steamers left only 2 days ago for Sydney. Immediately on our arrival our ship was surrounded by the Cengalese in most queer looking boats imaginable – mere logs of wood hollowed (or grooved, rather) for the legs. They brought fruit and trinkets (the trinkets I believe of Birmingham manufacture).