To King George the Third Sound for Whales
Transcribed from the original Kingston's logbook
by Rod Dickson
ISBN 0 85905 372 5, (2006 New) Hard cover, dj, 174 pp, 25 x 17cm, illustrated, maps, 480grams
$55.00* + POST (A limited edition of 500 copies)
The log a of a voyage aboard the British whaling vessel Kingston of London under the command of Captain Thomas Dennis, 1800-1802. Transcribed from the original ship’s logbook by Rod Dickson.
This is the first publication in the series of publications complementary to Western Australian Exploration, known as the Historical Records of Western Australia.
To King George the Third Sound for Whales is one of the seminal documents of Western Australia and describes the voyage of the first whaling ship to New Holland, just nine years after Vancouver's voyage, a year before Matthew Flinders ‘rediscovered’ King George Sound, and significantly, 26 years before the 1826 settlement of Albany.
Unknown until located by the Editor in the State Library of Western Australia, the historical importance of the Kingston’s log book, in detailing the origins of the first European industry in Western Australia, is significant.
This book has been transcribed and annotated from the Pacific Manuscripts Bureau series of microfilms of mainly American whaling log books. Further work by the Editor resulted in the finding of a series of rare maps and charts of the period, which accompany the log.
The log book kept by Captain Dennis is marvellously descriptive and the writer produced an enduring record of a secret two year voyage carried out by two small ships owned by the London merchant and whaling ship owner, Daniel Bennett. The Kingston and the Elligood (under the command of Captain Dixon) were sent to New Holland for whales, with instructions to examine King George Sound, then proceed to Shark Bay and the north-west coast before returning via Madagascar and southern Africa.
The incidents recorded are both amusing and horrifying. In 1800 Britain and France were at war and any vessel wishing to proceed from the Thames to the West Indies or the South Seas had to sail to the Solent and form into convoys guarded by ships of the Royal Navy.
The Kingston's convoy was escorted by three of His Majesty's Ships, one of which was HMS Snake, a sloop of war. Shortly after clearing the English Channel, the Commander of the Snake, Captain J.M. Lewis, decided to hold a gun drill. His seamen and gunners were timed during the loading and running out of the 18 pounder great guns. The black powder in the touch holes was lit and within seconds a massive broadside was fired.
Unfortunately, one of the massive guns was still loaded with ball and when fired was aimed directly at a merchant ship, the Salamander. The shot penetrated the hull, just as the vessel rolled, three feet below the waterline. A boat crew from the Kingston went across to assist in keeping the Salamander afloat until repairs were effected.
Another incident in this two year long voyage was a whipping round the fleet. The cooper of the Cornwall, another South Seas whaler, allegedly committed mutiny and for that he was sentenced to 150 lashes with the cat-o-nine tails - thirty lashes alongside of each of five vessels as a warning to all.
Of the crews, Captain Dixon and nine of his seamen died horribly from the dreaded scurvy and were buried at sea between New Holland and Madagascar.
This is a hard cover, illustrated, 174 page volume in the series
By the same author:- A voyage of no importance, The price of a pearl, They kept this state afloat.