Samuel Wallis Circumnavigation
During the late nineteenth century there emerged a new type of tall ship that would circumnavigate the globe - the rich man's pleasure yacht. The Sunbeam was built around 1870 in Liverpool at the Bowdler and Chaffer's ship yard. The Sunbeam was 157 foot long, with three masts, and was a topsail schooner with tons of sail and also driven by a steam screw propeller. The Sunbeam was designed by St Clare Byrne for Thomas Brassey.
The Sunbeam left Cowes on July 6th 1876 with 43 people and sailed west via the Guinea Coast, Rio di Janeiro, Magellan Strait, Valparaiso, Tahiti, Hawaii, Japan, Singapore, Colombo, the Suez Canal and Lisbon. The circumnavigation was completed in 324 days. When the Sunbeam got into tropical waters first up, Annie Brassey suffered from sea sickness when the sea was rough. But as soon as the schooner dropped anchor she was off and away exploring the sights and sounds of volcanoes in Tenerife, hunting for deer in Patagonia, and trekking into the Brazilian rain forests. Off the Plate River the schooner came upon a barque in trouble, the Monkshaven out of Swansea in Wales. The Monkshaven was headed for Valparaiso with a cargo of coal and the coal had started burning. The crew were taken on board the Sunbeam and later transferred to a ship that was bound for home.
The Sunbeam's cellar and larder was certainly well stocked with sumptous delights such as fresh meat, fish, fruit and vegetables that were replenished at every port that they stopped over at. The Sunbeam went through Magellan Strait without any problems at all within five days. The schooner Sunbeam sailed to Santiago in Chile where Annie went on a sight seeing tour of the inland. The Sunbeam left Valparaiso on 30th October for her haul across the Pacific and set a course north west looking for the trade winds. They wallowed in calm winds for weeks until they had to fire up the steam boilers.
The Sunbeam had sight of land after twenty eight days and made harbor in Tahiti on the second of December. The Sunbeam enjoyed Christmas and New Year 1877 at Honolulu and sailed for Japan on the fourth of January. Unfortunately the schooner sailed into some shocking weather - wild seas and howling winds buffeted them for days on end. The foreward gig was torn away by a rogue wave and the jib-boom snapped clean in half. The Sunbeam also lost the top of the foremast with the topgallenat spars and yards. They enjoyed their stay in Japan but did not have a good time in Canton - Annie was horrified that they ate puppy dogs and cats.
In Johor Bahru, they were guests of the maharaja who gave them expensive guests and a state dinner. One of the crew contracted smallpox, so they had to go to Melacca for medical attention and vaccines. They then sailed across the Indian Ocean to Kandy in Sri Lanka( or Ceylon as it was then known as). On the 5th April the left Colombo and sailed for the Mediterranean via the new Suez Canal. They stopped off briefly at Aden and arrived at Suez on the 25th April. The Sunbeam left Alexandria on the second of May , sailed via Valetta in Malta, Gibraltar, and Lisbon, then reached Cowes on the 26th April 1877.
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