Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Voyage

It had been a wonderful two weeks with James' mother, but Pandora knew that even more wonderful things awaited across the ocean!  In just a few short weeks, she would be standing in Boston with her husband!  How delicious that sounded in her mind - it was almost enough to quell some of the fears she had about the journey.  Almost. 

A sailing ship was the only way to get to America, and the voyage could be dangerous.  It was bound to be long, uncomfortable and cramped.  She would be cooped up in her cabin, which she would share with strangers... how many she didn't know.  There were no true "passenger" ships in those days - all passage was booked on ships built for moving cargo or meant as war ships, so she knew it could be very difficult.  Dora was feeling apprehensive about the voyage, but tried very hard to look at it as not only a great adventure, but a way to know what James' life was like.

Having boarded the ship and waved a tearful goodbye to James' mother, Dora turned away to see to the stowage of her belongings.  The ship, "The Diligence" was sailing first to Glasgow which was meant to be the true embarkation point, so for now, she was the only passenger.  James had begged a favor from a colleague, and gotten her passage from London, knowing that the ship had been in for some repairs before the long voyage across the sea.

Several days later, in fine weather, Dora watched as several other passengers were brought aboard - but there were fewer than she had expected.  Perhaps it would not be as cramped as she had feared.  Only a partial passenger list survives from this voyage - listed are the captain, Charles Robison along with Robert Stevenson, merchant, Andrew Turner, merchant and William Burton, merchant.  Why Dora is not listed, nor any of the other women or children, is not known.

As Dora watched with amazement, she saw that one young lady was far along in her pregnancy and ought, really, to have been in her confinement now.  "This should be a very interesting voyage, indeed." thought Dora...

As they sailed out of Glasgow, Dora's heart was light and she went up on deck to see the harbor recede from view.  The fresh air was invigorating, and she headed back below decks to see if she could help some of the newcomers settle in.  She was especially interested to make the acquaintance of those who would be settling in Boston, as she would be.

Several days later, the weather turned stormy.  It was now forbidden to venture up on deck - the sailors had all they could handle to keep the ship on an even keel.  "Lydies and gents underfoot" was the last thing they needed, as the captain informed them...

Seasickness was now the chief concern of those below decks - everyone had brought such provisions as they thought they'd need for dining on board ship, but nobody felt like eating.  The smells, and now the cold and dampness which pervaded all the living quarters was overwhelming.  Dora, usually very amiable, now kept to herself.  She tried to read, but couldn't manage it with all the movement of the ship - this was going to be a very long voyage if the weather didn't calm the seas...

Finally, after several days of sea-tossed discomfort, the waters were calmer.  The wind kept up and they were making very good time, according to the captain.  Passengers were once again allowed on deck for exercise and fresh air, and there was a general feeling of gaiety as they felt the worst had passed them now.

One of the children - a boy of about seven - fell ill with a fever.  Unable to consult with a medical expert, his mother nursed him as best she could, keeping cool cloths on his forehead and feeding him weak beef tea when he could manage something.  It was to no avail, however, and he died after just three days of illness.  His mother was bereft once she realized that no proper burial would be allowed, and that his body would be delivered to the sea.  No headstone would be erected, and not much ceremony observed.   

Just as this disaster was coming to a climax, the other young lady from that company traveling together began to feel the first pains of her labor...  Dora was pressed into service as the men and boys were pushed out of the area.  Almost two full days later, a new soul had joined the group - a very angry young lady from the sounds of things!  She and her mother thrived, and everyone gave a sigh of relief as they realized that there would be no further burials at sea for their group...

The rest of the trip, while arduous, was uneventful.  On the 41st. day of the journey, land was spotted!  What joy and revelry were experienced.  Land - just think - by this time tomorrow, she would see James!

Dora carefully packed her belongings in anticipation of going ashore.  Her trunks were ready long before needed, and she had to go back in several times to get some items she'd already packed.  But soon- soon, she would see James!  She was ecstatic!

The next morning, as The Diligence drew into Boston Harbor, Dora saw that the sun was shining and her heart was very full as she alighted from the ship.  She seemed to feel the earth rolling under her as the sea had done on board ship, and as she looked around her at the bustling scene, she was amazed.  She hadn't really known what to expect, yet she realized now that she had been expecting this new land to be just the same as her home when she left it.  This was a very different place - perhaps not so established and sophisticated, but full of energy and movement.  People rushed about, busy with their errands, or their jobs.  As people rushed by, she looked for James - where was he?

Note from Julie:  While Pandora is a fictional lady, The Diligence is not.  She sailed from Glasgow to Boston, arriving on Tuesday, November15, 1763.  Her captain was Charles Robison and the merchants listed above were the only other people noted on the passenger list.

Information about sea voyages at the approximate time of Dora's passage was researched, so while much of what happened in this story is typical - it is all from our imaginings...  We hope you like Dora's story - as we continue on, we will follow her as she tries to make her way in this new and strange land.  James will not be meeting her - see the side bar to read about Dora's arrival (The beginning), but we know she will find a home here in America.

I've added a small chart of a sailing ship for your collection - under freebies on the side bar.


  1. With all of those ships, I felt as if I were on the voyage myself. I love tall ships!

  2. What a wonderful story! I hadn't seen it before, so, of course, I had to go back and look at all the previous parts.

  3. Every five years we have Sail Amsterdam here in the Netherlands.
    All the tall ships, just like the Diligence can be admired from up close.
    Old times comes to life!!
    This year I couldnt make it but five years ago I did visit this event.
    It was spectacular!!
    I saw the Amerigo Vespucci, the Kruzenstern,the Sedov and many more.

    And today I read your continuing story of Pandora and what happened to her.
    With a lovely freebie.
    Thank you so much.


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