Schlagwort-Archiv: on ship

At Sea to Hongkong, 19 and 20 July 1893

When we entered the region of the Gulf of Tonkin the wind grew notably stronger and caused much heavy pitching. The weather was very inconstant and the rainstorms looked very menacing from time to time.

Many signs indicated that a typhoon was approaching as the sky was filled with broken up clouds that are characteristic for the approach of such a storm. At sunset, the horizon was colored in an abnormal livid yellow and the rough sea flung „Elisabeth“ violently to and fro. Only the barometer was not announcing the scourge of these seas as despite a quick decrease in barometric pressure it did not show the important oscillations that are usual precursors of these feared storms. Various weather observations had to made and all kinds of contradicting guesses were uttered. Timorous souls predicted one of the heaviest typhoons while staid meteorologists at first were of the opinion that the storm was behind us or would move parallel to our direction but at some distance to it. When the wind continued to grow stronger, the waves became rougher and rougher and finally there was a heavy rainstorm, everybody was nearly convinced that we would not reach Hongkong without having to pass through a cyclone.

A rare spectacle was presented by the numerous flashes in the night which crossed horizontally and illuminated the perturbed sea clear as daylight but ghostlike.


  • Location: In the South China Sea
  • ANNO – on 18.07.1893 in Austria’s newspapers.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater is closed for summer until 15 September. The k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is closed from 1 June to 19 July.

At Sea to Hongkong, 17 and 18 July 1893

The South-eastern wind was replaced by a strong South-west monsoon in fairly calm sea at the beginning but the weather grew worse and all too often heavy continuous rainstorms were pouring down which made staying on deck very unattractive. The constant humidity turns clothes and shoes in the cabins into a sad state of affairs.


  • Location: In the South China Sea
  • ANNO – on 17.07.1893 in Austria’s newspapers.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater is closed for summer until 15 September. The k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is closed from 1 June to 19 July.

At Sea to Hongkong, 16 July 1893

In the bad mood caused by the forced cancellation of the visit of Siam, we left Singapore in the morning. Gorgeous palms on its coast waved us good-bye. Passing the South-eastern tip of the Malacca peninsula and the light beacon of Horsburgh, we drove through the Strait of Singapore into the open sea steering towards Hongkong.

During the departure and in the Strait of Singapore there was rainy weather but the sky cleared up in the afternoon. The changes between sunshine and rain created impressive color effects and reflections on the horizon.

At the onset of darkness we sighted Aur Island and soon afterwards individual islands of the Anambas group.

During the night, the wind turned to South-east but remained light. The sea was calm.


  • Location: At Sea near the Anambas group
  • ANNO – on 16.07.1893 in Austria’s newspapers.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater is closed for summer until 15 September. The k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is closed from 1 June to 19 July.

At Sea to Singapore, 11 July 1893

The inescapable fate that had struck nearly everybody on board selected me as one of its last victims. In the afternoon, I lay with fever in my cabin.

I had probably attracted the evil passenger on the Aru islands whose swamps deep below sea level befoul the air with miasmas. There a part of our crew became ill. While the fever showed itself immediately in case of a sailor, I had carried the lingering illness within me. Fortunately my illness was only of a lesser degree, but I was not spared the disagreeable side effects of tropical fever, especially the great weakness.


  • Location: at Sea to Singapore
  • ANNO – on 11.07.1893 in Austria’s newspapers.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater is playing „Die kluge Käthe“. The k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is closed from 1 June to 19 July.

At Sea to Borneo — Cape Po, 9 July 1893

At 4 o’clock in the morning the anchors were hoisted and we now steered through the Api passage passing the island of Merunduny at a distance of 2.5 sea miles, followed by a small steam boat that had also spent the dark night awaiting daylight and now used our wake.

The North-western coast of Borneo was very close to us and offered a strange image much different from the islands we have seen before: along the coast and also in the interior of the land, as far as one could see, there were low-lying plains out of which abruptly rose hills and mountain ridges some of which were of respectable height and mostly in grotesque shapes. Thus some mountains had the form — to use culinary terminology in spite of all deference shown to the science of geology —  of a „Gugelhupf“ others those of a sugar loaf. Other parts of the mountain ridges appear, like many Alpine mountain ranges, as an irregular mountain land with steep slopes and faces whose parts do not queue up as in a regular range or even are connected to a continuous ridge line but instead stand there alone as if they were dispersed over the area. A mirage made water appear in place of the low coastal areas so that the mountain giants rose as if they emerged out of the water and looked like a maze of tall islands — a picturesque and original illusion. Among the heights we saw produced by the mirage, Cape Datu and Sipang were especially conspicuous.

Both capes are already within the sultanate of Sarawak declared sovereign and since 1888 a British protectorate which contains 106.200 km2 with 320.000 inhabitants of which around half are Dajaks while the rest mostly are members of Malayan tribes. A tiny percentage of the population are Chinese who here too are controlling the considerable trade and agriculture.

The territory of Sarawak is to a large part alluvial land of the numerous rivers flowing from the Southern border of the region to the coast, among them especially notable are the Rejang with its highly branched estuary, the wide Batang lupar and the Sarawak on whose Western shore the capital Sarawak or Kutching is situated as it is also called. The coastal area is followed by a hilly terrain. In the South furthermore there are high mountain ranges.

Sarawak has been ruled since 1868 by Sultan Charles Johnson Brooke, the nephew and successor of raja Sir James Brooke. The latter — originally in the service of the British East India Company — had equipped a ship at his own cost, being a heir of a considerable fortune from his father, the yacht „Royalist“ and had sailed to Borneo seeking adventures and enterprises where he found a favorable terrain for his actions. The Sultan of Brunei had just subdued an insurrection in what is now the territory of Sarawak but could not complete the task with his own means. James Brooke now offered his services and that of the ship’s crew to the sultan and soon thereafter put down the insurrection. But Brooke as practically thinking Englishman was unwilling to provide his assistance for free. He demanded and received the territory of Sarawak as compensation.

After skillful political intrigues and scheming Brooke was festively declared raja of Sarawak or Sindjavan on 24 September 1841 and knew with energy and smart actions to consolidate his rule so that he became a relatively powerful, fully independent prince.

His most noble task was to eradicate piracy that was very common in the seas around Borneo as the many bays and rivers of the land offered most welcome hiding spots for the hyenas of the sea. He organized a small army in the English manner, built schools and public buildings and tried as well as possible to tame and civilize the wild Dajaks, the natives of the land who used to practice head-hunting. He favored the immigration of the Chinese in order to promote trade and agriculture in Sarawak starting in 1850. He had repeatedly to step in forcefully, however — in 1867, there even was a general insurrection against the yellow people — but still their contribution, their trading industry still remained irreplaceable for Sarawak.

The growth of the sultanate made England integrate this territory into its domain even though this hitherto independent state owed its existence to a British citizen and had friendly relations with Great Britain both under James Brooke, as well as under Charles Johnson Brooke since 1868. Due to this action, Sarawak was put under an English protectorate in 1888 in a peaceful manner. In a treaty it was stipulated that the territory should be turned into a crown colony of England in case the ruling house of Brooke became extinct. The heir presumptive of the governing sultant is his nineteen-year-old son Charles Vyner Brooke.

Kuching, the residence of the sultan, may have been our main destination, but we anchored at 2 o’clock in the afternoon at the mouth of the Sarawak below the lighthouse of Cape Po as the town was about 25 sea miles upstream of the Sarawak river and the commander considered the water too shallow for „Elisabeth“ and there was no pilot. The position was picturesque but nothing was moving, no pilot, no boat and no signal.

How could we now learn whether the drive upstream was possible, at least to the coaling station where we wanted to load coal to reach Bangkok? Our ships „Saida“ and „Nautilus“ used to drive up to 15 sea miles upstream to the confluence of Sarawak and Quops with the anchoring spot of Pindany. The much deeper bottomed „Elisabeth“ however could not dare to undertake this journey solely based on the maps. It thus was decided to send a cadet to the lighthouse to ask for information and then drive with the steam barge to Kuching the next day.

Even though it was already quite late in the afternoon I had myself rowed in a boat to the shore nearby to inspect the vegetation and if possible hunt some birds. Wherever I saw land, my urge to collect and research became overwhelming. And in such cases, I could not stay behind on board.

The piece of Borneo we saw was very beautiful. One of the gentlemen of the staff even compared the surrounding of the bay, the rising hills and mountains and rocks to the lake of Gmunden. But I found the comparison of this landscape with the much praised pearl of the Upper Austrian mountains too audacious despite my willingness at the first glance of something to seek and appreciate its beauty.

The lighthouse is on a 150 m high hill that drops steeply down to the sea and is surrounded by mighty and very fantastically formed rocks. The strong tides of thousands of years and the breaking waves had scoured the foot of the rocks and formed numerous caves and grottoes on whose walls, high above the water level, the common swifts had artfully attached their nests, while below the water surface oysters and other shells had taken up position. Furthermore still there are rocks gnawed and hollowed out by tidal waves along the coast and now and then small bays as well as insections jut out. Everywhere there are between the rocks and stones picturesque bunched palm trees, ferns as well as pinewood which everywhere reminds me of home. Where the rocks recede, there are plenty of mangroves whose hundreds of branched air roots dip into the swampy water and form horrible almost impenetrable thickets filled with myriads of mosquitoes.

As my deficient footwear — the nailed shoes from Goisern that I had sent for had been catching up to me for five months and were currently in Sydney — did not permit climbing the rocks, I tried to enter into the mangrove thicket. But the pestilential air full of miasmas and putrid water forced me after a few steps to go back. With the exception of mosquitoes, those small but especially today very annoying bloodsuckers, the fauna here was very sparse and only a few beautifully colored sunbirds scurried through the branches while all kinds of great and hermit crabs were mingling.

Having no chance to land here, I drove around Po Point in a Southern direction and using the opportunity bought some fishes from two Dajaks who rowed by in a small boat. I then returned on board.

The cadet we had sent to the lighthouse returned only after sunset on board as he spent much time looking for a way to ascend to the lighthouse and had lost his way. The messages the cadet brought with were not especially favorable: He had tried to communicate with the two lighthouse guards, two native Malays, with a dictionary but could only ascertain that there were no river pilots here and there was no telegraph or optical relay from Po Point to Kuching — thus we had to go and look upstream for ourselves the following morning.


  • Location: Cape Po, Sarawak, Borneo
  • ANNO – on 09.07.1893 in Austria’s newspapers.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater is playing „Der Störenfried“. The k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is closed from 1 June to 19 July.

At Sea to Borneo, 8 July 1893

The navigation was very difficult as in the previous pitch-black nights. At least some prominent islands offered excellent direction markers such as Soeroetoe and Karimata that we passed towards 1 o’clock in the night. Exactly at noon we crossed for the second time the equator and namely at 108° 20′ 2″ Eastern latitude but this time in consideration of the sick on board without song and noise, even though we had planned to celebrate the day with a shooting competition that now had been cancelled.

Soon after having crossed the equator we steered between Direction Island and Pulo Datoe and were approaching the Api passage towards evening.

As the island of Meroendoeny and Cape Api are low and the currents in the Api passage at times quite strong and furthermore a rainstorm obscured all visibility we could not dare to cross the narrow passage and thus had to anchor shortly after 10 Uhr o’clock near Tandjong Api.

The maps of Dutch origin that we had to use in these seas were partly very unreliable as the coasts had only partially been sounded and points of direction on land had only been noted in limited numbers. Thus, for example in the Api passage between the groups of the North and South Xatoena islands, the name of the Diana reef is inscribed but neither its exact position nor its surroundings have been sounded. Instead a laconic warning notes the lack of detailed information: „Hier waarschijnlijk nog eenige Gevaaren.“ (Here probably some more dangerous locations).


  • Location: near Pulo Datoe/Datu
  • ANNO – on 08.07.1893 in Austria’s newspapers.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater is playing „Der Hüttenbesitzer“. The k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is closed from 1 June to 19 July.

At Sea to Borneo, 7 July 1893

Towards noon, there was a change in course to the North-northwest through the Strait of Karimata that separates Sumatra from Borneo towards the sea of China. Of Borneo we did not see anything as walls of clouds continuously lay in front of its coast.


  • Location: in the Strait of Karimata
  • ANNO – on 07.07.1893 in Austria’s newspapers.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater is playing „Die guten Freunde“. The k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is closed from 1 June to 19 July.

At Sea to Borneo, 5 July 1893

At 5 o’clock in the morning we caught sight of Celebes and the Selayar islands. An hour later we passed through the Strait of Selayar that separates the elongated Selayar island from the Southern tip of Celebes. In the afternoon we drove by the lighthouse of Taka Reva at a distance of eight sea miles.

The weather had again turned erratic. During the day it was clear but towards evening and during the night there were heavy rainstorms. The sea remained smooth and calm.


  • Location: South of Celebes
  • ANNO – on 05.07.1893 in Austria’s newspapers.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater is playing „Die Grille“. The k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is closed from 1 June to 19 July.

At Sea to Borneo, 4 July 1893

In the morning the islands of Wangiwangi and Boeton came into view South-east of Celebes and we drove at 1 o’clock through the Buto Passage between these two islands. The weather cleared up, the sun was shining with tropical fervor so that the ship on whose deck everything was drying was formally steaming. But thanks to the air oversaturated with water, the humidity remained high.

The sick list on board saw new unfortunate additions as Clam, Bourguignon as well as my hunter were struck by the fever. The former two had very high temperatures and were hallucinating from time to time. Bourguignon even had further complications besides the fever which made us fear about pleurisy. Understandably the bad health affects the otherwise good mood as we had on „Elisabeth“  almost only sick or recovering patients.

In the evening, Hegadis Island became visible.


  • Location: South of Celebes
  • ANNO – on 04.07.1893 in Austria’s newspapers.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater is closed. The k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is closed from 1 June to 19 July.

At Sea to Borneo, 3 July 1893

Thus we left Amboina, — un-mooring at the break of dawn — without truly having seen this most beautiful island of the Malukus in its true form. The never-ending rain had destroyed any chance, any enjoyment of nature. I had especially been looking forward to see the Aru islands and Amboina as my expectations had been increased to the highest by the promising accounts about these islands. Now however I am closer to the opinion that the rain may have spared me a certain disappointment  as I found, based on what I however have seen only cursorily and in bad weather, the flora and fauna on the Aru islands and on Amboina by far not as rich and beautiful as the books I had read had promised and surpassed by far by the plant and animal worlds on other highlights of my voyage. My experience was similar to many other travelers before.

Countries, regions and places that quasi promise nothing and are visited only by the traveler because the route demands it or only with prejudice are often a most pleasant surprise and feel like home if the intimate attractions of the place happen in combination with meeting sympathetic people.

This success of underestimated countries and people is all the more important where no travel books or oral accounts can offer a good prediction. This happened to me in Sydney and all I saw in New South Wales for example where I had landed, contrary to my original plans, only upon the special request of the marine commander — and now the stay on the Australian mainland seemed to be an indelible highlight of my voyage. A similar experience I made in regard to the Solomon islands that were close to being cut from the route and instead had offered me the most beautiful of views that one can see in the tropical regions about the luxurious vegetation and original nature growing most pleasantly.

In contrast, often and highly praised landscapes such as those in the Aru islands and Amboina as well as many spots of British India I have found quite disappointing which may have been partially influenced by the fact that I did not see them at the most favorable time and have seen them exuberantly described in travel books. In no way do I want to accuse those who have visited and described the countries I have seen to have false ideas or made wrongful presentations, as I am well aware that on the one hand nothing is more difficult as describing something objectively where weather, lights, season and a hundred other circumstances may influence the viewer involuntarily, and on the other hand that every presentation rests too much on the very individual nature of the thinking and perceiving person to be not subjectively colored.

Here is to those who do not have to rely on other people’s description of so many gorgeous or strange things but can examine them in place with one’s own eyes, amend or correct them!

To reach Borneo would require us to undertake a journey of seven days. Just at the exit of Amboina that happened in a rainstorm, we were received by a turbulent sea and had to patiently bear the in no way agreeable pitching of the ship.

On board, it did not look pleasant. There were quite many fever patients and all were suffering from the continued wetness. The uniforms became quite damaged as they were too soaked to completely wring them. In the cabins, all kinds of fabric and leather was in a short time, often within a few hours, covered in a dense layer of mold.

We drove in a South-western direction alongside the coast of Buru and could only now appreciate the size of this island and its high rising mountains. Over Buru hung heavy clouds out of which flashes burst from time to time and there must have been as heavy rainstorms today as it stormed and rained on the day where we hunted in vain for babirussas on Kajeli. Continuously new streams of water was pouring down, lashed by the wind, upon our ship.

Despite these rainstorms the sea still retains its charms, and even in rain and rolling thunder it shows its majestic way. Sometimes the clouds rush by, is broken up for moments and offers, especially in the evening, light effects whose grand scale and colorful changes a landsman does not know but fully fills a seaman’s sight and senses.

In the evening I spend much of the time on the open sea on the bridge which is at the highest point in the ship and offers the best view. I let the fresh breeze envelop me and enjoy the images of the gorgeous sunset that offers something new every day and send my thoughts towards the distant home many thousands of miles away. These are quiet and peaceful hours that only somebody who has undertaken a long voyage can truly appreciate.


  • Location: near Buru
  • ANNO – on 03.07.1893 in Austria’s newspapers.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater is playing „König und Bauer“. The k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is closed from 1 June to 19 July.