|(The following comes to the
Ocean Liner Gazette courtesy of the diarist's granddaughter, New Yorker
Elizabeth Cater. Douglas Cater was born in 1869, a good student, short of
stature, well-mannered and bright. He crossed in June of 1880 on board the
Baltic aged eleven.)
24 June 1880: Left the dock at the foot of 10th Street at 4 p.m. Thursday, June 24th. Wrote a few lines to Mamma and Edith.
25 June: Got up at 5 o'clock a.m. Saw lots and lots of
porpoises and they followed our steamer for about half an hour. Different
gentlemen played coits (sic) the whole day long. I also played coits with
another little boy. Ocean was like a lake.
26 June: Was up and dressed at 6:30 a.m. Ocean a little wee
bit rougher, but still very pleasant and very calm. Sailor lost his cap.
Yesterday, a little cat bird was blown out to sea and she landed on our Steamer
& I think that she is going to go across with is. The Steamer has made about
1,000 miles at 8:30 a.m® this morning. Yesterday evening Aunt Addie and
I walked 33 times around the upper deck. Last night when I was in bed, a very
large flying fish jumped out of the water and came in the window of the ladies'
cabin and struck a lady in the face. The Steward preserved its wings & Aunts
Berkeley and Addie saw them. Saw what some people said was an iceberg but
afterwards that it was a sail & I heard one of the gentlemen say that it was
a canvas iceberg. Saw 7 Steamers and 3 vessels. Walked 35 times around the deck
with Aunt Addie.
27 June: Was up at 5:30 a.m. and was the first one on deck.
Saw vessels. Was sick at 11 o'clock and I went to bed at 4 p.m. & the doctor
came to see me and gave me some medicine which I had to take every 4 hours. Had
service at 10:30 a.m. Saw 2 whales.
28 June: Felt a great deal better. Captain saw an Ice Berg at
30 June: Was up & dressed at 5 a.m. & was the first
one on deck. Saw no vessels at all. Played coits all day long. Walked 20 times
around the upper deck with Aunt Addie. Yesterday at 12 p.m. we were half way
|1 July: Was up at 5 a.m.
and had a bath. It was a girl's birthday & we had a party. Captain gave us a
lecture on boats. Had a concert also. The girl was left in charge of the captain
& that is why we had a concert.
2 July: Was up at 6 a.m. & was the first person on deck.
Played at coits the whole day long. Saw lots of porpoises. Chatted and talked
with some Spaniards who were very very nice.
3 July: Was up at 5 a.m. and saw land. Arrived at Queenstown
at 8 a.m. Uncle Charlie Cater came to meet us at Queenstown & went back to
Liverpool in the same steamer we did. A common seaman on board painted a
beautiful picture of the Baltic and he got $20 for it. It was raffled and Mr
Giles won it.
4 July: Arrived at Liverpool at 1 o'clock in the morning but
we could not get across the bar before 8 o'clock a.m. Yesterday, we passed the
Abyssinia of the Cunard Lines & she started the day before we did but still
we caught up and beat her. One man threw over a rope and offered to tow them
along. Some gentlemen stuck up this (indecipherable diagram) which to say
goodbye. We all gave 3 cheers for Abyssinia twice and passed her. Was up at 5
a.m. & was up before the steward. As we got into the Pilot, we all gave 3
cheers for the captain and Grandpapa said he was a very nice man. Went to church
with Uncle Charles.
(Douglas Cater's ocean-going diary reveals him a staunch early
riser, a keen observer, dedicated sportsman, indefatigable walker (together with
his Aunt Addie), meticulous recorder of the day's events and a good sailor. One
wonders what 1880 medicine was prescribed for seasickness. Also, what about that
flying fish? Even in high summer, your Editor has never heard of or seen one at
large in the North Atlantic. But we must not forget that Baltic's people lived
far closer to sea level than modern-day passengers. Surprising, too, that White
Star's Baltic would overtake Cunarder Abyssinia if she had sailed from New York
a full day earlier. Our thanks to Elizabeth Cater for sharing her grandfather's
diary, a little gem of a transatlantic memoir.