Continuing our blog on Cutty Sark’s thirteenth voyage, this week Cutty Sark volunteer Roger Hodge looks into what Captain Moore's logs, and other historic documents from that time, can tell us about events that occurred while the ship was arriving or leaving port. 

In his log Captain Moore records the manor of sailing the ship into a port and to a mooring, but none of the administrative side necessary for a ship to enter or leave that port. Fortunately we found papers relating to this particular voyage in the National Maritime Museum’s archive,  and they’ve added a lot of detail to what a stay in port entails.

In port

The ship’s thirteenth voyage began in New York on 1 May 1882. There are two documents, one clears the ship to leave with cargo and states there are twenty three crew and the other is a Bill Of Health which certifies that ’no plague nor other dangerous or contagious disease, at present exists in the said port.’ This needed to be presented to the Dutch authorities at the next port of call, Samarang.

The log about Cutty Sark entering Madras harbour (reproduced below) was quite detailed. There is no mention of a pilot to take the ship to her mooring.

November 7th11am. Came to anchor in 11fhs  [illegible] port bower and veered   60fhs to windlass also buoy [illegible] to anchor with 16ftm of rope Madras lighthouse W¾ N of Flagstaff NW by W ½ N dist about 2 ½ miles Furled sails and cleared up decks Crew Varnishing Fore house and painting Carpenter repairing boat Sailmaker as yesterday   This log contains 36 hours sailing and log to commence harbour log John Norman AB night watchman

Once the ship was anchored and made ready for her stay, it was necessary to engage the services of the bumboat providers. Their services ferried crew members to and from the shore and also acted as a delivery service with small deliveries of goods. The relevant papers would have to be presented to the port authorities soon after arrival and the local agent contacted to help organise the discharge of the cargo and provide local labour to augment the crew.

Before the ship can leave the harbour the necessary port dues must be paid, clearance and health documents obtained and all accounts with local businesses settled. The ship must be prepared for sea. Samarang was a Dutch port and the clearance certificate has been translated and says in part:

F Moore, Commander of the ship Cutty Sark, sailing under English flag, from England, arriving here from New York on 21 August, having supplied me with the necessary paperwork requested through the Harbour-Requirements and subject to the local laws and regulations, he is allowed to leave for Madras, the place of its destination.

Granted at Samarang, 4 October, 1882

The log records:

4TH Crew employed [illegible] ballast  & bent mainsail and main  & Mz royal yards up and got ship all ready for sea  Carpenter as yesterday. Sailmaker Abraham and Jackson [G.D.] apprentice laid up Ships draught aft 15ft 8½  inches Foremast 15ft 6 inches mean 15ft 7¼

5th  4am started heaving in to? 16ft 8/30 am set all sail &  hove up anchor and proceeded out to sea Secured anchors and chains lashed spare spars Abraham AB and Jackson apprentice laid up Sailing along the land this log contains 12 hours ending harbour log to commence with sea log

The ship’s draught is recorded at the bow and stern to show that the vessel is in trim and, since she has no cargo, sufficient ballast must been loaded to make her stable and sea worthy. Cutty Sark then left harbour and safely navigated to her next port of call.

Join us again next week, when we find out more about communication on board, or for previous blogs about Captain Moore's log, click here

About Roger

“I have been a volunteer at Cutty Sark for eighteen years; assisting with school programmes, acting as a tour guide, carrying out surveys for the archival records and, during the conservation project, assisting with the recording of items dismantled and removed from the ship to be preserved and reinstalled. Recently I was asked to research the log of Cutty Sark’s thirteenth voyage, which has formed the basis for this series of blogs. I also write comedy plays for adults as well as plays and pantomimes for children, several of which have been published. The writing stems from forty years of acting and producing plays with amateur dramatic societies.”