"On December 16 (1854) Levi and I went to hear A.S. Fowler lecture on Phrenology. Went to his rooms and had our heads examined. Paid for the job-$4.00. Heard him again at the Universalist Church in Concord, N.H."
During the weeks that the brothers worked for Mr. Perkins he accepted several of Frank's ideas which facilitated construction.
On January 1, 1855 Frank Kimball takes stock of his possessions...
"So that all of my property amounts, on my 24th birthday to the immense!!! sum of --- $545.00"
Gordon in his berth asleep and I'm as sick as a sick, sick monkey."
"Washed and put on clean clothes and went ashore to the captain's house. Saw a cannon used in the Revolution. Carries a ball about 4 inches in diameter."
"Captain needs some work done on his house; so we boys have been hanging blinds, painted 5 pair; dug up the garden. Hanging a door."
"Sicker than "Texas" all the time; cannot eat, sleep, drink, stand, sit, walk or lie down."
"I caught 9 fish but when they were all counted it left me 11 less than none! Avery said he salted 30 fish but Howe had 31 backbones. This all seems curious to me but perhaps it is so"
"Capt. pits his memory against my written journal."
"Capt. wouldn't let me count my fish. I know I caught more than anyone else."
"Fish Chowder every day!"
Now and then they have a good 'sing'. One day, after singing 20 pieces, Frank felt much better. That was on the 27th, the time they met two schooners, "The Witch of the Waves" and the "Ben Franklin." Some of the Ben Franklin crew came aboard the Alvarado.
"Scalded my hand with hot oil. At night all of us were talking about spirits and witches."
Avery is the one crew member that takes advantage of the younger boys whenever he has a chance. "He did me a dirty trick last night. It was his morning watch to stand alone 3 1/2 to 6 o'clock but he thought I was green so he called me early and crawled into his berth and lay there until breakfast. For that he is a dirty dog and if he does that again, he'll catch 'Texas'."
"Met the 'Joseph Law'. Captain came aboard. Had just buried a murdered man and had to deliver the murderer to Boston for trial."
The 4th of July, 1855. "What a bedlam there has been on the Banks today; dogs barking, flgs displayed, men screaming, ringing bells, blowing horns, hitting pans and beating on barrel heads. Couldn't happen any other place."
The Captain likes to stay with the fleet. When they first reached the Banks they were in a good spot for fishing but , no they had to leave and it's been tough luck ever since.
"Boswell in bad fix with a felon on his thumb and has been walking the deck like a mad man."
"Went out in the dory with Gordon. Glad to get back, there were sharks all over."
"Some of the ships are running out of coal but Capt. says he brought 4 cords of wood and 1/2 ton of coal which should see him though."
The Captain hired the crew for 2 months but now refuses to go to port and says as long as his provisions last he will stay on the Banks.
Chowder, chowder, chowder. I'm sick on the name. Nothing but a heap of bones and a brook of slime! We are not to leave the Grand Banks and may a curse has the Captain got from the boys for fooling us."
One advantage of the fleet staying together was the chance to meet some kindred souls. "Have been blue all day. Wilt, Sam, Crain and Charley Hubbard came on board then we turned in and had a good sing so that I feel pretty good now. They stayed until 9:30 o'clock.
Frank "takes the sun" at certain intervals and computes the latitude and is learning all about setting the various sails.
"Had a horrid scrape with a Portuguese Man 'O War that came floating by under sail. I gaffed the fish thinking to put it in ta bucket of water for observation. The fish hit the deck and I picked it up and put it on the bucket but never did a man get such a hot bath. My hand was covered with his slime and it burnt worse than fire. Soaked the hand in rum and vinegar and rubbed it with salt. Pained for 13 hours, as much as I could bear, so I guess I shall let such things alone in the future."
They have entered into a period of gale then fog; a "sneeze every morning".
At fist the events of the voyage had been more or less of a routine but little by little the dissention that comes from the close association of persons with different personalities began t o assert itself. Boswell is becoming a slacker, always being later for his watch and quarrels are becoming more frequent between the others though few blows have been given.
After a period of several days when everything went wrong Frank "had the best wash this A.M. that we have had any time since we have been aboard. After we washed our necks we took the draw buckets and threw water, cold water from the ocean, at each other as hard as we could and got as clean as could be. Boys from the Florida came aboard and we had a first rate 'sing'. Three sword fish came close, 15 feet long, but the fellows missed the gaff. Taking all in all this has been the pleasantest day since we left home."
Then followed a good day's fishing. "I dressed 244 of them, all salted. Pleasant enough today or at least it would be if I were anywhere else than on a Bank cruise after cod fish and not finding them."
Fishing is better when they go out in a skiff and Frank brought in 381 fish. "We rowed 5 or 6 miles and the Captain was furious because the boys would not go out again after dinner. He vows he will stay out until he gets a load of swears he would rather have a crew of Nova Scotians. I have never heard such harsh, abusive language as I did when the crew said the fair thing to do would be to divide up the fish and go home. They have been out on banks for 3 1/2 months now.
Quarreling and bad food are having t heir effect on Frank and t he hard bunch in his stomach becomes worse. He is sick, yet the Captain orders him to wash down the deck. "Never saw a vessel roll as this did, " he writes.
Next day he couldn't' stand on his feet. "Avery got 590 fish but Howe didn't return and we are afraid he is lost. The steward is blowing the horn and ringing a bell for him." (He came in later)
"Captain called me to stand watch. Have been growing weaker ever since I started spitting blood. Couldn't stand my watch and called Levi."
Levi talked with the captain about sending Frank home. The Captain finally consented and contacted the "Rough and Ready" which had a load and was sailing for home on Saturday. Lack on food and no sleep brought on increasing discouragement though the 8th of August was a pleasant day yet it gave satisfaction to the sick man.
"How little can I enjoy what brings no prospect of happiness." Here I sit with my limbs tottering under the weight of my light body. Every day brings to mind the comparison of adjectives in the old grammar, via: weak, weaker, weakest. In 3 days I expect to be sailing for home and when the time comes I may have to write; "Oh, ever thus, from childhood's hour, I've seen my fondest hopes decay."
The cruise off the Banks had brought little pleasure and who can tell but that his health was affected by its rigors. He was transferred to the "Rough and Ready". No pay for all his work, both on the Captain's house and on ship for he hadn't completed the cruise.
"Sick, sick, sick! The wind is blowing a gale. They have done nothing but take the sails down, clear the deck. Put up the sails. Call all head on deck - - reef in; take out; reef the job; haul down the top sail. Put it up. The Captain is frightened and holding a council."
Sunday, the 12th of August. "The terrible storm is over. Never did I see a vessel roll and pitch as this one did."
Frank is still very sick but there is a different atmosphere around the "Rough and Ready". The food is just about as bad as the "Alvarado" but Frank begins to improve and got up this A.M.. Had some tea and bread. A year ago I was at home and at Church, little dreaming that today I would be hundreds of miles from home and at sea and so sick I can hardly walk the deck. Then I was in enjoyment of comparative health and lived in anticipation of happiness, beyond which there is but one step. What a difference in a man's circumstances a few short months will make but then these changes might occur to me as well as any one else, that I know. Perhaps it is my destiny though pre-destination is not in my creed."
"The birds are flying overhead watching the Sunday morning exercises; doubtless thinking it is sacrilege but anything is deemed a work of necessity aboard ship."
"Have read 200 pages of "The Children of the Abbey."
"We had pies for supper made in a novel way. The meal was pounded up instead of cut and it was rolled out with a pipe on an old table. We had a 'sing' in the cabin. Nickerson and Jordon have been spinning yarns for my benefit."
(Jordon must have come along with Frank.)
Tuesday, "Finished the 7505 page "Children of the Abbey". Remarkable adventures, all of which terminate in marriage, the 'height of happiness', so to speak, as Hones Bernard says, Why read stories that bring to mind the 'dream of other days' which alas may too long be remembered."
"Spoke to John Hancock at 7-1; coming from St. Johns, under full sail." Little did Frank Kimball know that the next time he saw the John Hancock, it would be thousands of miles from the banks and under far different circumstances.
Thursday. "Cook went overboard to swim. Captain washed in a dory full of water on deck."
"Have been talking about the Bible in our cabin this evening. All seems to believe the whole of it and no one knows better than men at sea."
Captain and Connors had a real jaw this even at supper about cooking sour and musty mean (corn and rye). Make it into a pudding with a quantity of salernatus and molasses . It was a hard storm on both sides and many harsh and large words were spoken which would not look well on paper. Heavy sea which knocked everythnig to one side."
"This A.M. at daybreak passed Casha's Ledge. We had the roughest time. Probably the keel of our vessel was withing 3 feet of the rocks. The breakers rose as high as our masthead and a sea broke just at the weather of us that would have thrown us on our beam ends had it broke 10 feet further to leeward. Captain called it a little the narrowest chance he ever had. The water on Cashe's Ledge is but 20 feet deep."
"Half way past I was standing with the Captain and I saw land. It was the back of the Cape; we'd gotten 45 miles off course in the storm. I have seen the first land sunset that I've seen for months but how much more natural it would seem if my feet were on shore."
19th of August. "Got a breeze that carried us to Gruro in good shape. Went to shore with Captain in the dory."
Sunday the 19th of August Frank returns from that cruise that began on the 19th of April and was to be for just two months.
"Got my clothes from Frank Small and my shirts from Mrs. Averys. Offered to pay her for doing them but she would not take a cent. How could she when I haven't' the shadow of a cent about me but she refused altogether and of course saved me the mortifying acknowledgement that I was a poor devil, 'so to speak', as Jones says."
"Well here I am sitting alone under an old shed maturing a plan to get me to Boston without money. Strange world this, for as long as a man has money he will have at least 3 friends in every house. This is to no purpose for here it is one o'clock and I have had no dinner and the Lord knows where I will get it. How I can get an "???" is beyond my comprehension unless I sell my watch or the clothes off my back.
"O Phew! Who ever saw a man so mean that he would not pay a fellow for fishing on the Grand Banks. Gave Boswell my last dollar."