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They left Halifax on the afternoon of May 19th and within a short time were back in the tropics, a troubling change of climate which Matkin details to his brother:

May 26th, 1873
We sailed on Monday May 19th at 4pm and the weather was bitterly cold; 3 days after––we were in the current of the Gulf Stream and the weather was so warm that all the iron in the ship was dripping with damp, & the change was considered very unhealthy, a great many are even now on the Sick List with Rheumatics & low Fever. It has been gradually getting warmer every day, & to morrow all hands are to wear white trousers, white caps &c. We can't bear any bed clothes on at all now & only 7 days ago I had a Blanket & my Rug in use. We shall be 5 months now before we get any more cool weather, & the greater part of the time we shall be in the Tropics.

We have been under steam ever since we left Halifax, & that makes the lower deck where we live & sleep almost unbearable, today we are 280 miles from Bermuda, but are not going in before Friday as a good deal of Dredging has yet to be done. The distance from Halifax to Bermuda is only 730 miles, but the course we steer would make it about 1100 miles. On the 20th the depth was 80, & 200 fms close to the coast of Nova Scotia, the bottom was rocky & the Dredge brought up star fish, anemones &c. On the 21st depth 1250 fathoms, bottom of mud, more star fish, insects & c. On the 22nd bottom at 2,200 fathoms, but in hauling up, the dredge & 1800 fathoms of line was lost over board. The Line gave way––so that day's work went for nought. On the 23d bottom of rock at 2,800 faths (over 3 miles), nothing brought up. On the 24th Gale of Wind blowing & dead against us, ship steaming against it but only made 40 miles & rolled tremendously, no soundings could be taken.

During this transit, Matkin commits a daring act:

Being the Queen's birthday the Captain issued to "all hands" one third of a pint of the Sherry,––supplied to the ship as "extra surveying Stores". Being Father's birthday I drank his health instead of the Queen's, which is an offense amounting to Mutiny (if known), & is punishable by Death or such other punishment as is hereafter mentioned, according to the Articles of War.


He goes on to describe some of the special treatment afforded the Challenger, and the rationale for the issuance of wine to the ships' company (which seems less than fair!)

As this has been rather a stiff working day, Wine has been issued to "all hands" again to night. No other ship in the Navy is supplied with this Wine, neither with the Pickles & Preserved Mutton & Vegetables &c, because they have not as many changes of climate or such long sea trips as the Challenger. These provisions & a daily issue of Lime juice will prevent Scurvy, the worst disease a ships company is liable to. Captain Cook's expedition round the world about 100 years ago lost nearly half of their officers & men from scurvy.... The Wine is issued at the Captain's disecretion generally after a hard days dredging or sounding. If the dredge comes up empty or carries away, the men don't get any wine––although the work is equally as hard.