Sailing south

The voyage of the Caesar wasn’t all misery. Ernst Middendorf does capture some of the wonder and romance of a long sea voyage in his descriptions. His favourite pastime was to climb into the crows nest and observe the world from high up. I think I would have enjoyed this too, despite my hesitancy about... Continue Reading →


Dover to Tenerife

     Towards morning I had fallen into a peaceful slumber, when the Captain called into the cabin, "Come up, Doctor - Calais and Dover." I rubbed my eyes; the dawn light shone through the little window. As I was half dressed, I threw a dressing gown over and climbed onto the deck. One could... Continue Reading →

Seasick… the English Channel

The Fischer family and Johann Holtorf were landlubbers; they had never been to sea. After leaving the sheltered waters of the Elbe on their respective migrant ships they traversed a corner of the North Sea and then entered the English Channel. The Fischers sailed on the Caesar, which was hit by a storm shortly after... Continue Reading →

Leaving Hamburg

Gottfried and Viktoria Fischer with their four children departed Hamburg on the Caesar in November 1854. Johann departed from the same dock on the Steinwärder in November two years later. It is cold in November in Northern Germany, and the morning that the Fischers departed was foggy. A hundred and fifty years later, but now... Continue Reading →

Hamburg to Sydney in the 1850s

Johann Holtorf, a 28 year old farmer from Bramstedt, Holstein, sailed in November 1856 from Hamburg to Sydney on the sailing ship, Steinwärder, as I have mentioned in a previous blog. Two years earlier another German family, the Fischers of Harheim in Hessen, near Frankfurt, had departed Hamburg on the same route. They sailed on another... Continue Reading →

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