Richard Haydon's shipboard diary of his voyage to New Zealand upon the SS Taranaki between 4 August and 21 October 1883 is a modest affair both in prose and physical appearance. Written in pencil on a small folding notebook 5" x 3" it lost its cover & back somewhere through the years, and possibly a few opening pages. It is so unprepossessing that it was nearly mistaken for a child's scribble book & likely would have been discarded but for a curious descendant taking a closer look...
The diary starts on 19 August 1883, suggesting early entries on the voyage have either been lost or Richard did not start writing until nearly two weeks into the voyage. Spelling, grammar, and punctuation have been retained as in the original, with some editorial comments in brackets for clarification. Not all entries are included here:
[first few lines indecipherable] today in the _____ held service at half past 10 o'clock on the poop. we saw a large number of flying fish this afternoon she is sailing about ? miles an hour. I am on duty as Watchman from 10 tonight till 2 morrow morning.
Its very hot today. we had to get our bedding on deck to air it and .... [indecipherable]. for the first time this morning the ship sailing about 5 miles an hour.
We ____ an Island in the afternoon called Cape De Verde very hot had to lift off a lot of our clothes is sailing about 6 miles an hour all's well.
The sea very calm ship sailing very slow today only going about 3 miles an hour and she is gone off her course we saw a large shark this afternoon a steamer past us about half past 4 with passenger on board she was called the Gelicia homeward bound for Liverpool our Captain reported to her with the flags to say that we was all right and we will be reported in the paper when she gets to England and the weather is still getting hotter.