Search billions of records on

The People of Western Kings 1785 to 1901
Go to Index ---
next                                          previous The Epidemic of 1860
A Short History of Western Kings

The Logbook of the Three Masted Schooner Xebec

                The Xebec was either from Harbourville or Morden or had a Master who was from that area.  In 1883 he or one of the senior officers went ashore there and he took the logbook which was full with him.  It lay there gathering dust until my father bought it at an auction and it lay in his house gathering more dust until I happened on it.  It covers a year in the life of the schooner.  The first page has the heading:

                It lists the ports visited and the cargo loaded.  It sailed to Harbour Grace, Sydney, Port Caladonia, St John, NB, (noting Shelburne, Cape Roseway and Seal Island in passing).  From St John, NB it sailed directly to Barbados.  The first date noted is 4 Aug 1882, the last date shown is in Harbourville, 2 Sep 1883.  The information given is terse, no extra words are used to describe exactly what they are doing.  They didn't say specifically that they left St John on the fourth,  They just made a note on the 4th in St John and another on the 24th in Barbados.  So Its guesswork to say that the trip took 3 weeks, it could have been a few days less.
Xebec photo
                On the right is an old photo supplied by Mason Dorey said to be the Xebec anchored at Harbourville.

                In the south they visited Barbados, Guadelope, Nevis, St Kitts, Fernandina, Trinidad, St Thomas and St Kitts staying a few weeks at each.  If you follow it on the map you'll notice that they didn't take a straight line but were going back a forth.  That's because on the first pass they unloaded cargo and on the second pass they picked up cargo.  There is a note on 24 Feb 1883 in Trinidad which says:

"run in toward the town to a convenient place for rafting cargo ashore, part of all the deck load, commenced to take lumber out of hold"
This is typical of a string of notes which refer to rafting cargo ashore.  They unloaded lumber at various places from their arrival in October until December when they unexpectedly had a problem in Fernandina where they stayed from 9 Dec until 23 Jan.  It's summed up in a note of a few words:
"Monday, 11 Dec '82: Harbour log, day fine, Captain gone ashore, wind northwardly.  Doctor came on board and said the vessel would have to fumigated unless the Board of Health made it different"

"Tuesday, 12 Dec '82: Day fine winds northwardly.  Two gentlemen came on board to fumigate Sch Xebec about mid day and told me to keep shut down for three hours but not long after the appeared to be on fire, took off hatches to assertain, and the smoke prevented getting any water to it.  I immediately put up signal of distress, saw steam boat, hailed her but she did not come to.  Another which came to assist us putting on hoes and pumping water till extinguished fire.  Boats name Oyster Bay"

Not many words for what must have been a serious problem.  A note dated 20 March 1883 in St Thomas reads:
"Day quite fine got under way and went to St Tho for Cargo, molasses, anchored at Basston, St Kitts about 3 Oc PM"
And at St Kitts in April, 1883:
"St Kitts about 3 PM took in molasses for 6 out of 11 days"
One might ask what they were doing for the other 5 days and was any of the molasses fermented.

                From all this I infer that they were carrying mainly lumber to the Carribean and picking up a cargo of molasses and other products which one would expect to find in that area of the world at that time of year.

                As near as their descriptions will allow they left St Kitts 10 April and arrived in Portland,  Maine 30 April.  From there they went to New York, St Johns, Nfld, Sydney, Boston and finally in August to Harbourville where the cycle of loading cargo began again.  The logbook being full this is where it went ashore and is still there.

                I include this because it must have been typical before the railroad took over as the main supply route.  At it's height the census of Morden listed 3 ships captains and it's traditional that the port housed 3 or 4 sailing ships at that time.  I've seen photos at the turn of the century where there were 2 schooners anchored at the wharf.  The graveyards are full of "Lost At Sea" inscriptions  Throughout the logbook whenever they spotted a steamer they made a note.  In the face of the steam engine which they knew about they clung to their sailing ways and this signalled the end of an era.

On the right is a photo of a three masted schooner anchored at Morden.
  Go to Index -                                               -- next: 
---------------------------------------------------------------------------previous The Epidemic of 1860