At Sea to New Guinea, 11, 12 and 13 June 1893

On the 11th, we were on the open sea; on the 12th, the Louisiades archipelago came into sight, and, in fact, first Rossel Island with Cape Deliverance, then the large island of Tagula that is surrounded by a crest of small green islands. Great Britain has also extended its protection over the Louisiades.

Early in the morning of the 13th we noticed the contours of New Guinea, namely the South-eastern tip at South Cape. We steered at around 40 sea miles along the coast to Port Moresby. But the coast disappeared again from view only to come into view now and then for a few moments as heavy rain clouds were staying over the island and blocked any view. The weather was very good, except for the rising temperatures in the cabins. During the first two days  there was wind from the North, that is out of an uncommon direction for that season but on the third day it switched to the normal South-east monsoon.

During the whole journey remarkably many flying fishes showed up partly in schools partly individually. Many also flew on board, were caught and wandered quickly into alcohol containers. Many different species of sea gulls were swarming around us especially large fully dark-brown birds  — a species of boobies (Sula piscator) — of which I bagged six pieces, three of them dropped on deck. Such a bird was also caught by the sailors during the night when it tired from the long flight and attracted by the many lights landed on a boat crane. The number and diversity of the sea gulls and storm birds in the tropical seas can not, by the way, be compared to that in the Northern seas which are vitalized by many flights.

The cleaning, drying and packaging of our coral catch in Ugi was hard work as the pieces fished out had to rest first for 24 hours in fresh water which we had filled into three boats and then put the corals in them. Then, the dead animal parts and attached algae were brushed off with a steam spray which made the forms glitter in the most beautiful white. Another 24 hours were required for the corals to dry in the open air and were finally packaged up in boxes filled with wood shavings. Unfortunately, the supply of wood shavings soon came to an end. Our engineer in charge working with Clam had soon invented a circular saw which was connected by a transmission gear to the ash removal machine and thus made new wood shavings out of crushed boxes and broken straps etc. The procedure took quite some time. Nevertheless, we were very happy about the invention, as it resolved a problem.

The expeditions in Ugi, namely the wading through swampy ground and connected to this probably also the coral fishing unfortunately caused multiple cases of fever among the crew.

Links

  • Location: near New Guinea
  • ANNO – on 11.06.1893 in Austria’s newspapers.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater is playing „Die alten Junggesellen“. The k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is closed from 1 June to 19 July.

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