Rio de Janeiro / Baltimore: 1849. Manuscript on paper. Folio (310 x 195 mm). Stitched in contemporary marbled stiff wrappers (worn and partially defective, shaken). 63 pp. numbered in MS. TOGETHER WITH: working collapsible brass spyglass (likely contemporary), three draws, lens cap no longer present, clearly damaged but FULLY FUNCTIONAL. Dimensions: 440 mm (open), 190 mm (closed), 46 mm (diameter). Good. Item #3933
FASCINATING MANUSCRIPT SHIP'S LOG, RECORDING THE 60-DAY VOYAGE OF THE BRIG HELEN FROM RIO DE JANEIRO TO THE PORT OF BALTIMORE, CHESAPEAKE BAY. The log records the ship's daily course, wind directions and conditions, longitude, latitude, "Remarks on board," ailments of various crew members, and seafaring sightings. The voyage commenced on Feb. 3rd and ended on April 4, 1849. Named are Maceió (Brazil), Cabo de Santo Agostinho (Brazil), Barbados, Cape Hatteras (Virginia Beach), Cape Henry (Virginia Beach), and Baltimore.
The manuscript was compiled by shipmaster Thomas Crosby Perry (1807-1885), lifelong resident of Cape Cod, Mass. (specifically Sandwich / Bourne). Herein Perry records very heavy gales and strong winds on March 10-13, March 21, March 23, March 27-28, and March 30-31, often causing the ship to take on water, and necessitating hauling down sails. On April 2 the Brig made anchor at Cape Henry: "So ends these 36 hours [...] and I am glad." The Brig then went to Sandy Point, VA through the Chesapeake Bay. Upon arriving to Bowley's Wharf (Baltimore Harbor), Perry states: "I had the indescribable joy to hear from my wife, Brother & sisters by letter conveying the pleasing inteligence (sic) that all my family & friends were well."
While at port, the sails were sent to the sail loft of B. Buck & Sons for repairs, and the crew discharged (with the exception of two mates). On April 14th "got the [unidentified] cargo all out & put in store at Messrs. T. Whitridge. Perry Gipson was our stevedore." Of particular interest are the events on April 16, at which time the brig was transported by rail to Messrs. Flannigan & Kimbul "and concluded to copper her anew & put on a shoe on her keel [...] the whole weight of the new put on not including the nails was 537 sheets, 3795 lbs (!) and the weight of the old was 2007 lbs including the old nails & the weight of the new nails used was 430 lbs. The brig was painted and the deck and cabin varnished.
Perry notes that already by April 14, he made ready to undertake a voyage to Demarara (now Guyana). "Since I have been in Baltimore have written regularly twice a week & got 2 letters a week from home and have had the pleasure of seeing 3 of my near neighbors, but all that is not like going home."
On p. 13 the compiler states that the average number of miles traveled per day is "61." Also, he notes "The rule for working longitude by the sun's setting taken with a spyglass [i.e. THIS spyglass?]: Note the time of her setting by cronometer (sic), in getting the lower limb subtract 21 minutes from the sun and add 21 minutes to the half sun for the remainder; for the upper limb subtract 53 minutes from the sun and add 53 to the half sun. See p. 42 for example."
It is possible that the Brig Helen described herein is the same as that which transported Alfred Russell Wallace from Belem, Brazil, to London, in 1852 (Wallace was one of the greatest field biologists of all time, and had just spent four years in the Amazon collecting specimens).
The penultimate leaf records Perry's abstract of a voyage by the brig Wm. Crawford from Boston to Cardenas Cuba, Jan. 8 - Feb. 1, 1854 ("a very long passage"); on the final leaf is an abstract of the same brig, likewise to Cardenas, but the port of call is Savannah (March 15-26, 1853). Perry's manuscript log book of a three-month trading journey from Charleston to Bordeaux on the brig Abby & Elizabeth (New Bedford, Mass.) is now at the University of South Carolina (see Caroliniana Society Annual Gifts Report April 2010). The date of the log is Nov. 1856 - Feb. 1857.
The spyglass is engraved by the maker: “Steel & Co Cornhill London Improv’d Pilot Telescope.” We have been unable to locate any information about this firm.