Schlagwort-Archiv: Red Sea

Steamer Point, 26 December 1892

During the night we passed the reefs of the dangerous narrows between the islands of Jebel Zuquar and Hanish. Our Arabian pilot demonstrated cat-like eyesight as he could locate even the most distant reef in this dark night without moonshine.

In the morning, the sea is quieter. On the right is the African mainland, on the left is the Arabian coastline on which appear the high jagged mountains of Yemen whose steep cliffs reveal a different type of landscape than the granite mountains on the Northern coast of the Red Sea. A view through the telescope also shows some spare vegetation on the front of Yemen’s mountains. At the shore glister huts and tents, probably occupied by Arab nomads.

After the church service we pass through the straits of Bab-el-Mandeb, the „gate of grief“, a name verified by the silent witnesses of so many wrecks.

The practical English have occupied this important location on the way to India already in 1857, that is even before the Suez Canal was opened. A seemingly strong fort on the rocky island of Perim guards and blocks the passage of the narrowest point of the Red Sea. Both coasts are within cannon range of a passing ship. When we signalled the lighthouse of Perim the name of our ship, we received the common answer at the end of the year: „The compliments of the season!“

A giant turtle of nearly 2 m length surfaced a few paces away from the fore, observed us with its large yellow head for a number of seconds and vanished again in the sea.

Now the African coast disappears more and more while Arabia’s 844 m high rocky Jebel Kharas comes into view.

A large smack of jellyfish is approaching. They glitter and glow in the most beautiful rose red and dark violet colors which makes us stop the machines to pick up some of these sea flowers.

At 8 o’clock in the evening the lighthouse of Steamer Point was blinking and soon we were anchoring in the outer harbour of Aden. A small English patrol boat, the cannon boat „Redbreast“ and three large steamships were moored in the harbor, where just a powerful English transport ship was hoisting its anchor. This colossus let loose its steam whistle and departed quickly towards the East, probably in the direction towards India.

Just after we had dropped the anchor, the consular representative came on board, followed by a couple of merchants who eagerly offered their services in numerous languages.


  • Location: Aden
  • ANNO – on 26.12.1892 in Austria’s newspapers. Due to Christmas Day, few newspapers are published on 26 December. Time for the Wiener Sonn- und Montagszeitung to shine: In Dublin on 25 December, a dynamite bomb killed a British detective, wrecking the detective office. In Paris, the Panama scandal is hotly debated.

At Sea to Steamer Point, 25. December 1892

The South wind became stiffer and stiffer. The huge sea waves made it questionable whether church services could be held. Only our brave chaplain did not let himself be intimidated and read mass on the altar which was surmounted by the standard, despite the fact that all lights went out and the candelabra tumbled down.

In the afternoon the islands of Jebel Teir und Zebayir came into view, naked empty islands without any vegetation. Again some flying fishes crossed our path like silver stars. Of birds, I observed besides the common seagulls multiple flocks of swifts.

The sea grew more and more violent; wave upon wave crashed onto the bridge on which we, completely drenched, stayed during nearly the whole evening and admired the impressive play of waves.


  • Location: Red Sea
  • ANNO – on 25.12.1892 in Austria’s newspapers. On 22 pages, the Wiener Zeitung lists the army promotions separated by rank and branch of service. The Wiener Salonblatt notes that the Emperor is spending Christmas with his son-in-law, Prince Leopold of Bavaria, in Munich while the Empress departed from Palermo, Italy, to her villa Achilleïon on Corfu.
  • It also informs its readers about the progress of Franz Ferdinand’s journey as well as fellow passenger Archduke Leopold Ferdinand (who will be recalled shortly after Franz Ferdinand’s plea to the Emperor to do so). The Salonblatt states that they arrived in Port Said on 20 December and departed the following day to Colombo (Ceylon) . It pledges to provide a weekly update about the journey.

At Sea to Steamer Point, 24 December 1892

Christmas Day, the day whose purpose seems to consist solely of an evening, with a Christmas tree at the center and happy give and take among the family members. Wistful feelings overcome me. For 29 years, this is the first time of spending that evening not with my family. Even though I stand on patriotic ground, we miss out on the winter landscape that is presented at home and which is connected so closely with this day. Truly glowing wishes and thoughts I send home from the Red Sea, as Phoebus is not considerate of us. In the sun, we have more than 40°, in the machine room over 60° Celsius, plus a glowingly hot South-Southeastern wind that takes away all refreshing effect out of the air.

Clam and I smiled as we dressed up a small Christmas tree I had taken along from the woods in Konopiště and were sweating copiously: „from the hot brow, sweat must flow”. Every quarter hour we hurried on deck to breathe better air as the oppressing mugginess below deck was barely supportable. The lights and other objects which my mother has given me to decorate the tree were showing signs of the tropical heat too: They had become all soft and started melting.

During the day, I saw for the first time flying fishes which flitted swift as an arrow above the waves and resembled large butterflies with their shiny wings. On the aft deck we caught some large locusts whose flying skills I admired as the next stretch of land lay 56 sea miles distant from the ship. The poor animals were very exhausted and therefore easy to catch!

Just after dinner we ignited the lights of the Christmas tree and started a small ceremony in my cabin to which besides the gentlemen of my suite had assembled Leopold, the captain and the officer of the day?. Many different small presents including many surprises from home secretly taken aboard were laid out on the table.

Based on an invitation of the officer corps, I went to the Carré where the gentlemen had put up a beautiful Christmas tree that was covered in artificial cotton snow flakes and with its many lights was shining very merrily and clear. A joke tombola with the strangest of objects started the feast, while our chief medical officer Dr. Plumert brewed a tremendous pineapple mulled wine. With the first cup, the captain remembered in warm words all those left behind at home who were certainly with us on this day in thoughts. Afterwards, there were musical numbers. A cadet played the zither magnificently, while other gentlemen were putting the piano through its paces. The singing also commanded the attention and I felt very much at home, listening to so many truly Austrian melodies. So many canons, so many soldierly songs showed at least the good will as well as the love of our compatriots for their local songs. To my great delight I discovered a talented fellow yodeller in the person of our navigation officer. The captain and an engineer were so kind to join in and so we four yodelled all those famous yodel songs such as »Auerhahn«, »Zillerthal«, »Zwa Sterndia am Himmel« out into the Red Sea. A few weeks ago I had listened to the yodellers and hurrahs in the Salzburg mountains among firn and ice, as the hunters and boys were gaily singing during the chamois hunt in the cold but delicious morning, so that the echo resounded a hundred fold against the walls and Alpine bowls – and now we were singing the same songs swimming in the ocean at 40° Celsius. What a strange contrast! In unadulterated hilarity we passed the evening and it was late when I went up to the bridge to dream a bit more about the glorious starry sky.


  • Location: Red Sea
  • ANNO – on 24.12.1892 in Austria’s newspapers. On 23 December, the Prague diocese excommunicated a fallen priest („große Excommunication“). Out of Lemberg, Galicia, it is noted that 80,000 inhabitants emigrated. Hamburg counts two cases of cholera, one a local man who died. Budapest notes that it counts zero cases of cholera.
Thomas Cook & Sons on Stephanplatz, Vienna, promote tours on the Nile.

Thomas Cook & Sons on Stephansplatz, Vienna, promote tours on the Nile.

At Sea to Steamer Point, 23 December 1892

On the open sea. Saltwater around the ship’s planks and above it the canopy: That is all that is offered to the mariner’s view. And still it is a painting of simple majesty, not a monotonous image which brings forth air and water to us. Whoever is blessed with a sentiment for nature’s beauty will retain very enjoyable impressions of these changing images created by the elements. Off and on we are captivated by the range of colors and forms, then by their movements and again by the majestic calm of the sea and time and again, this grand work of god’s creation continues to excite our thoughts and feelings: now by the spray of the whirl in which the iron ship is spinning up and down like a shuttlecock. then by the foam crowns of the waves at the fore — a shroud of mist may obscure the horizon, the fiery sun may paint the air and sea in a rose or purple light or the soft moonshine may bathe the tireless waves in a silver light. Hour upon hour, I delight to stand on the bridge glancing first at the swelling waves, then to the sky. To whom the sky is more than airless space, who loves and understands the sea, will be pleased by the power and the might of the light, its glittering smoothness, as well as the roaring sea. When the sun has set, we look at the constellations and remember that our dear ones at home are looking at the same constellations and that they feel what is moving us.

I observe the beings that become visible from the ship like visiting ambassadors of our element, the Earth, a dolphin ambling around our vessel and boldly jumping out of the water, a soaring seagull, fast as an arrow; a small bird twittering on the yard, recovering for the long voyage over the shear endless sea. Most charming was a white wagtail that followed us on part of our journey and sang its happy song unbashfully on the rails of the command bridge and later picked up crumbs of bread fallen down from the seamen’s table in the battery.

The good seamen enjoyed a short midday rest to which they were fully entitled. From early morning to the evening, they are without interruption at work, not a moment of idleness or boredom. After reveille („Ausspurren“) starts the cleaning of the whole ship, and bucket upon bucket of water is versed upon the beautiful ship in order that she may complete her daily work in splendor. Exercises of all kind in the battery and on deck, from time to time a fire alarm or to test the martial impulse in earnest a battle stations alarm and are continued after a frugal meal and are filled with hours of countless mental composition in the ship’s school rooms. In the evening, after the toils of the day, the crew is meeting on deck, smoking cigarettes and sing their native songs and ballads, in which the Slavs and Dalmatians usually excel all others in their choirs about the old heroic tales of Marko Kraljevic, Peter Klepec and other songs. Finally, the retreat call („Abpurren“) is sounded and the hammocks are entered. Quietness reigns, apart from the pounding of the machines and the call of the outlook every half hour, „All right“ and „Lanterns clear“.

I passed the whole day on deck. The temperature is fully southern now. In front of my cabin, the thermometer shows  40° in the sun, the sea is 22° Celsius. The wind has changed and blows hot and dry from the south. Now and then a large mountain is visible in the far away mist on the horizon, otherwise just a few passing single steamboats. In the morning, we passed the lighthouse of Daedalus, which emerges out of the sea as it is located on a submerged coral reef — not even the tiniest morsel of land around it. Three Maltese men pass their lonely life here as lighthouse guards. One after the other is given a short vacation to escape to the mainland every six months.


  • Location: Daedalus Reef, Red Sea
  • ANNO – on 23.12.1892 in Austria’s newspapers. The Neue Arbeiter Zeitung reminds its comrade-readers that the new quarter will be starting soon and that subscribers better pay up on time in order not to miss an issue. The subscription is to be paid in advance. Content-wise, it informs that cholera is threatening from Hamburg. In Austria, protective measures which should have been undertaken to contain the disease have not been executed to the inactivity of the planning committees.  In other news, the consumption of horse meat has increased in comparison to the year before. Given that only weak and old horses are slaughtered, this is not seen as an improvement of the workers‘ lot.