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Packing for a Sailing Voyage in 1882

Updated: Aug 5, 2020

ASHMORE - 219 ft - 1099 tonnes

Picture by: Angela Curtis

It’s 1882 and it's time for you to pack for your voyage on the Ashmore. What would you take?

What is precious and what is necessary for your relocation in the new colony, New Zealand?

If you have pre-purchased land, you will need to take tools and farming equipment.

But before you get there, you will also need to pack clothing for all four seasons during your three month journey.

You will have to share your bunk with most of your personal belongings if you are traveling in Steerage Class. Games, paper, pencils, books, diaries, wash cloths and bedding are just a few of the items you will need. You are also obliged to bring extra food with you, as only three meals a day and rationed water, are provided for the entire three month journey.

As you are departing from Gravesend in England during the month of May, it will be spring so the temperatures will range from a high of 11.7 to a low of 6.8 degrees Celsius. There is only an average rainfall of nine days per month, but weather changes frequently in Great Britain and it's normally raining, so wet weather clothing would be sensible.

It would be wise to pack the belongings that go down in the hold, in waterproof crates. Also, make sure they are made from strong material to keep out the vermin.

You will sail down from England across the North Atlantic Ocean and cross the equator out from Gabon in West Africa. The temperature there in June will be around 30 degrees Celsius so a straw hat is essential.

As you sail around under the Cape of Good Hope, at the bottom of South Africa, temperatures drop to a high of 18 down to 8 degrees Celsius. The holds will be opened for you to swap clothing and collect further supplies twice during the voyage, but be prepared for anything in between. There is a possibility of snow and hail during this leg of the journey.

As you cross the Indian Ocean towards Australia, the water temperatures will rise again, up to 29 degrees Celsius, causing the Ashmore’s iron hull to heat up. Keep a light layer of clothing handy and stay on deck out of the steam room that the steerage cabin will become.

Finally, the weather and water will cool again as you sail up towards New Zealand and north up the west coast. The country in in it's last month of winter.

Please note that candles are not permitted as they are a fire hazard and all single ladies will be kept separate from all other passengers.

Spittoons will be provided.

So, what will you pack?

Leave me a comment and your suggestion may be written in to my book Ashmore.

This actual newspaper article is from the Wanganui Herald. It forecasts the weather for the 29th August, 1882.

This dinner set came over on the Ashmore

James and Mary Curtis, Lillie’s parents, took a dinner set on the Ashmore, which has been passed down and is currently owned by Mr Roy Ramsey, Ashmore’s grandson.

In most cases family heirlooms were put aside for more necessary items, so this dinner set must have been of extreme value to the Curtis family, to take us such precious and limited space.

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