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December 4th, 1873
Table Bay
Since I last wrote from Simon's Bay, a good deal has been done to the ship; has been newly rigged throughout, caulked inside & out, & fresh painted. We have also filled up with 6 months provisions,, coaled, & c, & fitted up stoves in all parts of the ship against cold weather. As soon as we get to sea, each man will have issued to him gratuitously—1 Pea Jacket, 1 pr Pilot Trousers, 1 pr Mitts, & 1 pr Flannel Drawers.

Challenger visits Table Bay and Cape Town after all, 60 miles from Simon's Town. Some development underway there provides alternative opportunities for crewmembers, some of whom take advantage thereof; this leads Matkin to describe the crew's growing dissatisfaction in this letter home:

There is a Breakwater under construction being made by convicts & prisoners; 4 or 5 of our Seamen are working on it, who preferred going to Gaol (jail) for a month, & afterwards to a fresh ship, instead of going further in the Challenger, 5 or 7 have gone to Hospital, and 3 have deserted to the Diamond Fields, but we shall fill up from the Guard Ship before leaving. Many will desert in Australia & New Zealand, as the men are very dissatisfied at not getting extra pay for this cold weather trip, & the work is so much harder for every one, than in an ordinary man of war, when the ship is in harbour six months at a time. Men who were in this ship last commission say she used to lie in Sydney for months at a time, & was a very happy ship then, but now when we go in harbour it's to refit, coal, or provision, & the men get scarcely any leave. Several of the Officers are great bullies, the most popular of the lot is Lord Campbell.

 

Sub-lieutenant Lord George Campbell was the youngest son of the eighth duke of Argyll, and was noted for his sardonic sense of humor.   He published Log-Letters from the Challenger in 1877