The Journey of the Thomas Bell, Part 2

João Baptista d’Oliveira chronicled his voyage on the Thomas Bell.

Years:  1887 — 1888

Jan. 14, 1888:  “At 1:30 when we were all asleep, the ship took two great falls..The water entered on both sides of the ship, submerging the prow with a great force. The boat was tipped for more than two minutes without any tossing. All the lights were off because the oil had frozen. Some who were awakened by the tossing and saw no lights cried out, Oh, Most Holy Mother, the ship is near the bottom of the sea. Help us!”

Jan. 22, 1888:  “At 5 am the woman who had been ill since Nov. 10 passed away. She had been a native of Faial, and left a husband and four children. At 11 am the captain called me to be present at the funeral, which was conducted in the same manner as the others. The bereaved husband found it difficult to say his last farewell to his departed wife, and his four children wept with him.”

Jan. 30, 1888:  “Val Paraiso! This is the port where we will have our water-filtering machine repaired, and will take on provisions... We could not anchor because of rumors of cholera.”

Mar. 18, 1888:  “At dawn the wind was the same and the heat just as intense. By 6 pm the passengers had already stretched out their bedding on the deck, although it was too small to hold them all. No one could remain below the deck because of the heat and of the “soldados inglese” (English soldiers, or bed bugs).”

Mar. 25, 1888:  “O Dia dos Ramos (Palm Sunday), How heavy our hearts were as we recalled the sacred temples where holy sacrifices were being celebrated in Madeira! But we must face reality, here we are with the sky for a temple and the sea for the floor of that temple. Some prayed for the earliest arrival at our port of destination, Honolulu. Others to forget their sorrows.”

Mar. 26, 1888:  “At 6 am we were surrounded by certain huge fish which the English call sharks. An immense hook baited with a piece of pork was cast into the sea. The shark swam up to the bait, bit hard at the pork and was caught...  The shark was then cut up in pieces which they gave to the passengers who prepared some tasty dishes."

Apr. 4, 1888:  “Wedding bells rang today! The wedding of Manoel d’Aguiar and Maria Rosa. And at 2:30 am her child, a daughter, was born!”

Apr. 11, 1888:  “The news at the break of day was most heartening. We were told that we would be able to see Hawaii as soon as the day cleared. Eager for the first glimpse of our destination, we lined the rails in anticipation of that long awaited moment. We have been aboard this ship for 155 days now. Small wonder that such a glimpse would cause such a stir. At 8 am they buried at sea a two-year old child, the son of Victorino Martin. This unfortunate lad had been ill for a long time.”

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