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Matkin enjoyed Lisbon, and gives his first descriptions of the tedium of dredging in these letters written on what should have been a short journey from Lisbon to Gibraltar, drawn out by what would become their long daily routine of dredging and sounding.

Sunday, January 12
We left Lisbon at 4pm for Gibralter & left no mail behind, so I shall have to post this at the rock. It has been a beautuful summer's day & the city looked splendid as we steamed down the river. I don't suppose I shall ever see Lisbon again...but it certainly is a beautiful place and has a splendid climate.

Considering Mr. Matkin's unusually good command of English, we can certainly overlook his consistent misspelling of "Gibraltar" (and Professor Wyville-Thomson's name!)

January 13th & 14th, off the Spanish coast
The progress has been very slow as we have been sounding & dredging all day & only made sail at night with a very light wind. we shall not reach Gibraltar this week at this rate. When the dredge came up this morning full of mud & shell fish it was laughable to see the scientific gents with their sleeves rolled up overthauling the mud for Fish & insects &c. The Captain's son Mastr. Willie Nares, aged 9, was also very busy amongst the mud--I don't know whether I told you before that he was on board but he is going with us all the commission.

 

20 January
We sighted the coast of Africa on Tuesday night (the 17th) at the entrance to the Straits, and during the night we passed right through into the Mediterranean sea, where we hove to until Saturday morning early, then steamed into the Bay of Gibralter.