‘The people suffered greatly in consequence’: Discomfort, weather, and Great Circle sailing
Extreme Great Circle sailing seriously affected the health of emigrants. This time-saving route, which took ships far south and west, was introduced in the 1840s, following recommendations by an examiner of masters and mates at Liverpool. Vessels following this course steered close to the coast of Brazil before sailing in a further south-westerly direction to pick up the westerly winds and currents which would carry them to the southern coast of Australia. This route shortened the voyage considerably, both in time, and in nautical miles owing to the close proximity of the high southern latitudes to the polar axis. Previously, emigrant ships had hugged the coast of Africa. They called at the Cape of Good Hope to purchase fresh water and food, and undoubtedly picked up pathogens during the stopover. Ships following this course missed the time and distance-saving strong westerlies and currents of the roaring forties.
KeywordsDeath Toll Scarlet Fever High Southern Latitude Quarantine Station Immigration Agent
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