“Just one month till Xmas day arrives. I wonder whether we shall be at our destination by then. Mr Wilson says that while in bed last night he felt us strike on something, but we think it must have been a straynge moonbeam. Had a fair wind all day & have done at times 13 knots an hour. We have fairly caught the trade-winds now & are moving along fine style.
Today we are in lat 42S & long 3½W & shall have the same time of day as at Greenwich tomorrow & then afterwards we shall gain something every day to make up the 10hours advance time of Melbourne.
At 11.30 today we saw the most interesting sight we have seen yet.
An iceberg of tremendous dimension appeared almost directly ahead of us about 10 miles off we suppose. But it is impossible to form any idea of distance as you must know the height of them to calculate the distance. The captain & the 1st mate think it was about 12 miles broad and about 30 miles long while they estimate the height of it at about 3000 feet. We now begin to think Mr Wilson was right in what he said for the mate says it may have been a small piece of detached ice that touched us. We must thank our stars we did not meet it during the night or you would not have had a chance of reading this account for we should have gone down sharp I feel sure. The 1st mate, who has seen more of these than any on board says it is the largest one he has ever seen. It looked very much like an island covered in snow & as we may find some more orders have been given to keep a man on the lookout for them. The breeze is now freshening so that they have reefed the rudder and thrown the main deck overboard so as to prepare for a rough night. Bed at 9pm”
Extract from A.Whelen’s travel journal aboard the Hesperides sailing from England to Australia in 1878