The original log-book of Captain Verney’s ship Meteor (plus a personal notebook) are currently held in the special collections of the State Library of New South Wales. (Call numbers: MLMSS 3401/Box MLK20/Item [2]).

This log-book chronicles Captain Verney’s voyage from Newcastle, New South Wales to the Chinese cities of Ningpo [Ningbo], Shanghai, and Hong Kong, and Foo Chow [Fuzhou]. From China, he sailed to Vietnam and Japan. He stopped in China again before returning to Sydney.

A ship’s logbook may not make a ‘thrilling story of the sea’1 for everyone; however, for those with some ‘imagination and knowledge of sea-ways’,2 they can be exceedingly interesting. In general, each day is represented by a brief entry, such as the following:

Wednesday, July 28th 1867: Light winds from SSE to East and fine clear Sky with a heavy SW swell heading to the NE[ward]. Employed Variously. Latitude by observation 29° 42′ N Longitude by Chronometer 133° 45′ E

Captain Thomas Verney. A Logbook containing the Proceedings on board the Barque ‘Meteor’, 1866-1868

But, as W. J. Dakin states, ‘every now and then entries occur which repay one well for pages of curt weather reports.’3 For example, Thomas Verney’s observations of Japan in June 1867, a country which, approximately a decade before his arrival, had been living under a strict policy of exclusion from the outside world.

Captain Thomas spent approximately one month at home in Sydney, before venturing back to China again on the Barque Meteor.

Logbook of the Ship Meteor, 1866 – 1868
Source: State Library of New South Wales, MLMSS 3401/Box MLK20/Item [2]

The transcription of this logbook is a work in progress.

November 1866November 1867
December 1866December 1867
January 1867January 1868
February 1867February 1868
March 1867March 1868
April 1867April 1868
May 1867May 1868
June 1867June 1868
July 1867July 1868
August 1867
September 1867
October 1867

  1. W. J. Dakin. Whalemen Adventurers (Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1935): 69 ↩︎
  2. Ibid ↩︎
  3. Dakin. Op. cit. 70 ↩︎