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From the Archives: This Week in 1898…

This week in 1898, the Bath ship Benjamin F Packard was enjoying a relatively calm mid-summer passage around Cape Horn.  Captain Zaccheus Allen’s son, Thomas, listed some of the highlights in his journal:

“Jan. 7.  Wind from the Northward & Westward.  There was a large school of whale came quite close to us this morning they were accompanyed by a number of Albatross and smaller birds.  A seal came under the stern.  The Staten Land is only five or six miles off, can see the whole of it plain…a large school of Blackfish came quite close to the stern.  Saw a flock of Penguins.  Just passed a large steamer painted white with a yellow smokestack…

Jan. 8.  Had a fair wind this morning and got so we saw Cape Horn and the wind jumped around and we got flat aback and had to go back in our tracks…Cape Horn has got snow on the top.

Jan 9.  It is foggy and southerly winds.  Thought we could weather the Diego Ramirez but found they were right under out lee and had to ware ship in quick order [to avoid running aground]…

Jan 10.  The wind has been quite strong and so that we had to go to the Southward.  A school of porpoise came round the bow but went away before we could get a shot at them.”

Over the next few days, the weather deteriorated to gales more typical of Cape Horn, the seas picked up, and wildlife sightings were less relevant.  On January 18th, Allen reported that “the dishes are flying” in the cabin, and on the 20th, calculated that “if one of the[se] waves should strike Swan Island [Richmond, ME] it would clear all of the houses off and carry them over Augusta Dam.”

Journal of Thomas M. R. Allen kept aboard the Benjamin F. Packard, January 7-10 1898.  Maine Maritime Museum MS 203.

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