January 19, 1820 – Just obtained the first sounding since we left Boston, in 65 fathoms of water, off cape Helena. Three vessels are now in sight. Two of them appear like men-of-war and the third is a Brig. Whether friends or foes we know not: but we are always gratified to see a sail, and when one appear we never fail to think of home. – P.M. A huge spermaceti whale has just appeared and approached very near our Brig. His head seemed to be covered in part with sea-shells. After elevating the upper part of his head and monstrous back above the surface of the water repeatedly, and through the large orifices on the back part of the head, blowing up the briny spray, he descended and passed our stern, and after rising again to the surface, tossed his broad tail high into the air, and went down again to the chambers of the deep, thus he obeys the voice of God. – The maneuvering of the three vessels indicate that they are whalemen, probably English. (Thaddeus Journal)
Jan. 19th. We have been driven back from the 45° and have not yet passed it. This morning it was thought bottom might be found—sounded and found it 65 fathoms.
In Lon. W. 60°. Just now three sails appear off towards the coast—supposed to be Spanish. We find different emotions, almost at the same moment, at sight of a sail.
2 o’clock. A monster of the deep has just presented itself to full view. There is a calm and the vessel is lying to. I found a little nook, behind one of the sails let down, where I was enjoying a few turns before commencing my after—noon studies, when my eye was suddenly turned by a dashing in the water, and, much to my gratification, caught a huge whale whose hump back was quite above the surface. He spouted as if in a frolick. All eyes were soon turned towards him, while he advanced, jumping up and down, till he came along side the vessel, when at once all was still and smooth. Every one was upon the watch, but nothing more was known of him till he had passed silently along a great distance, the other side of the vessel. His monstrous head appeared as if covered with shells, and on the back part of it were orifices through which he spouted the water. We have been much gratified with the sight of those noble birds, called Albatross; within a few days. Previous to a gale they are about our vessel, moving with majestic wing.
When it is a calm they sit upon the water along its side, like tame geese. One was killed, last week, and brought on board. It measured, from the extremities of the wings, about ten feet—its bill was long and hooked—its feathers white, spotted with black, and very numerous.
I am writing with one of its quills. (Sybil Bingham)
Jan. 19. We are now in latitude 45° S and are pleasantly sailing along the coasts of Patagonia, 6 miles an hour. The sea is calm, and the weather moderate. The motion of the vessel is but gentle, so that I can write very well. Sometimes it is almost impossible to use my pen we are in such unpleasant motion. We have had much boisterous weather of late, and a pleasant day is hailed with gratitude. We feel a peculiar pleasure, when our family are able to be about and enjoying comfortable health. Brother Ruggles, Sister Holman, and Sister Loomis, have been quite gone well most of the time. Indeed Brother R has scare seen all well days since he left America. (Mercy Partridge Whitney Journal)
19. – We have not had a pleasanter day since we left Boston. Fast approaching Cape Horn. The north & east winds warm, the south winds cold & dreary. (Samuel Whitney Journal)