Journal Volume 5 2006

Log for 1860 (continued/1)

HMS Forte ( the twenty sixth of February we went to show up on the ’Dec’, Store Ship, we arrived at Sheerness the following day. She was fitting out at Sheerness. On the seventh of April she sailed out of Sheerness for Portsmouth. On the eleventh of the same month she arrived at Spithead and from there she went into Dock to have a bit taken off her screw and when she was going into dock she broke her Ict. boom. On the twenty eight she sailed out of Portsmouth for Plymouth. Arrived in Plymouth on the twenty ninth. On the thirtieth she sailed out of Plymouth bound for the Cape of Good Hope. She took Sir George Grey and his wife with her: he was going to the Cape as Governor. Arrived at Madeira on the ninth of May. It is a Portuguese settlement. There was an American Man of War in while we arrived. While we arrived she had a theatrical performance on board, which was performed by the Ship’s company. The ‘Armesi’ British Paddle Boat Steamer of War was there also. She was coming home from off the Cape of Good Hope Station, being relieved by the ‘Sidon’ Paddle Boat Steamer (22 Guns).

On the twelfth of May we proceeded from Madeira to Rio de Janeiro. On the twenty fourth of May we crossed the line and we held up the old rule of shaving and I will give a little account of the manner it is conducted. I will begin with the manner I was treated myself. I tried myself to keep out of it, but the ’Bears’ as they are called caught me on the main deck close to the sheep pen on the starboard side and dragged me onto the upper deck, were I was blindfolded on the top of the ladder and no sooner had I got there, than I felt something nearly knock me down. It was a hose that they were playing salt water with and I can tell you it came with great power. After that they conducted me to the starboard gangway, where Neptune and his amphitheatre were arranged in brilliant costumes.

Crossing Equator ( next performance was bringing me before the ‘Barber’, one adept at his trade, he is one of the S. Co. who is generally merry and can use some witty sayings and he will ask you ‘What country man you are’ and if you open your mouth you will have a pill administered (by the Doctor who stands alone aside of him) which is not composed of any herbaceous or medical matter, but of animal refuse. So if you are green as to answer them you will have some relish, but they did not give me any pills, although I seen plenty who did get them. There are several other questions which they will ask such as ’have you anything the matter with you. Have you a pain in your stomach’. After this is over the Barber will shave you and you are dealt with leniently or severely with according to the way you behave yourself. If you are silent and let them shave you they will be very likely give you a No. 3 razor, which is the best, it being a long piece of hoop iron let into a handle of wood. Nos. 1 + 2 razor being of the same metal, but nicked like a saw which will rear the skin from off your cheeks, as I have seen several times.

After that is gone through, they will take the handkerchief off your eyes and turn you right over head over heels into a sail that is about a foot of salt water in it and it is so put up that it is the same as being encased, for you cannot get out only at the one part. The sail is first laid on the main deck and is subsequently, nailed or tied up to the beams of the main deck. Ours was on the starboard side, right from the fore ladder to the main ladder and it is nearly opposite the main hatchway that you go in and come out at the forehatch. It is through the skid gratings that you are pushed down. Skid gratings are on each side of the upper deck and run from the fore to the main deck. They are made that way for air and light to be let on the main deck. Well after you are nearly smothered by the Bears, you can go and watch the sport yourself. I picked one of our bandsmen, one W. Gore who was so very old and infirm that I think it was a shame to do it to him, but everyone has to go through it, even the officers. After all was over which was towards the night the main Biaco was spliced i.e. they got an extra phial of Grog. The Ship that day was like a bathroom for you could go nowhere without getting wet.

We arrived in Rio de Janeiro on the 3rd June. There was a stoker named Townsend died of suffocation in the Stoke Hole through excess heat when we were crossing the line. He was brought up on the Starboard Gangway on the upper deck, to try if that would do him any good, but it would not and he died not long after.

On the 7th day of June we steamed out of Rio de Janeiro, with a nice wind for the Cape, but unfortunately we had to turn back on account of something which occurred between Admiral Keppel and Lady Grey on the third day after leaving. I heard Sir George Grey having suspicion of Old Harry, he watched one night and caught him in the act of committing an indecent action towards his wife. Therefore he ordered the ship to be ‘boated’ directly, which was done and we were on our way towards Rio de Janeiro again, before we hardly knew.

On the 12th June we arrived at Rio de Janeiro and Lady Grey was sent out of the ship at night and I heard she would go home in the next mail to England after which we coaled ship and steamed away again next morning for the Cape of Good Hope. Sir George went in our ship from Rio to the Cape. In the morning of the 13th of June we steamed out of Rio for Simon’s Bay. On the passage from Rio to Simon’s Bay there were two men fell overboard, one of which was the main deck sweeper, he had overbalanced himself when he was throwing out dirt, out of the Starboard main deck Bow port, he was soon picked up, and was sentenced to fourteen days Black list for throwing it out of the Bow port. He should have thrown it out through the Ash Seassmon M.D.


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