June 20th, 1851
It has been two weeks since we left port from Bermuda. Our course sets us due south, following the coast of South America and to eventually pass between Cape Horn and Drake’s Passage on the southernmost tip of this vast continent. From there, we change course and travel north, up the western coast of South America until we make port in Panama. I cannot say I much like the idea of harboring in Panama. Plenty of unsavory folk about those parts. You hear tales from time to time of pirates and the pearl islands. How much truth is in the tales, is any man’s guess. But, when you hear the tale enough times, your mind starts to wonder if there is not some truth in the fiction of a liar’s tongue. Once we reach Panama and refit the Salty Beggar with food, medical, and any other type of provision that may be needed, then we strike out for the Sandwich Islands. As we draw closer to Cape Horn, the weather becomes nearly unbearable. The doctor has mistakenly informed the crew of the potential for that hideous form of sun poisoning as we draw nearer to the equator. The problem is, the ship’s doctor (whose name I just realized I’ve forgotten to mention), Herman West, has no clue what the early onset signs of this sun poisoning may be. So now any ache, pain, strange tingle, or fanciful tickle is being reported to the good doctor as a potential sign of this uncanny ailment. A bunch of crewman trying to get free of their duties if you ask me. I can look at them and tell they are fit as any man ever could be, but the doctor feels that it is better to look into these complaints than to ignore them. I digress and say that I do see his point although, I am still unsatisfied by the two day work restraint that he feels he must put them on while they are under his care. It’s not such a large number of crewmen that have made complaints to the doctor though. 26 in all with one of them being an officer. I imagine any job has a band of misfits comprised of any number of peoples. It looks to be that I have 26 of them in my band. The Salty Beggar is still afloat and that is all that matters in the grand scheme of things. I have included a trinket from the Caribbean for you and your family to enjoy. It is called a conch shell. The natives hollow them out and turn them into horns. The local legend goes, if you hold them to your ear, you can hear the ocean. Seeing as how I am always near the ocean, my ears are somewhat biased to this particular legend so I cannot properly verify this tale. Be sure to let me know if you can indeed hear the sea. Although, the last time you were near a sea was when you were eight years old so I doubt you could properly remember the sound. Well, at any rate, it makes a nice trinket, to be sure, and (by blowing in the small hole on the end) you can use it as a horn if the occasion ever called for it.
I would be a fool if I did not say I was a bit uneasy about our trek between Cape Horn and Drake’s Passage. Many ships have been lost to the sea out there. God willing, the weather will be favourable and the Albatross’ will keep to themselves. Thankfully, it will be at least another three months before we are at the mercy of those strong westerly winds of the roaring forties. Pray for my safe passage, Tiberius. Nay, pray for mine and my crew’s safe passage, for they are as close as family. Oh, how I wish you were here to share a sip of spirits. I would give you the grand tour of my quarters, if only you were here. Ah well, I will sip one with you in my heart and describe them as best as I can. After all, I am no writer. Just an unimaginative ship’s captain. Had I a storyteller on board, I would have him write this part of the letter though I fear you would know it was not penned by my hand. Alas, though, there is not a storyteller among us. My quarters are simple yet, elegantly refined. My desk and book shelves are carved of the finest grain koa wood from the Sandwich Islands. A rare commodity indeed, but only to the right people. I have a cot that I sleep on, same as every man in my crew. I could have spent a dowry on a nice feather bed, but I opted to, instead, give my crew the finest threads and provisions. I do this for a very simple reason. You see, most captains I have had the liberty of meeting live with comforts that their crew only dreams about. The lot of these captains have also been lost to either mutiny or their own uncontrollable urges of greed. This is something I hope to avoid at all costs which is why I do not overindulge in the finer things. I do keep little spoils for myself on occasion though, locked away safe. Barrel-aged whiskey to be more specific. My first mate, Bradley Newton, and myself oft times sit down for a snuff of this unlabeled spirit and discuss matters regarding family, ship, and crew though, as I have said, they are all one in the same at this point. If ever there was a man I trusted more than you, my own brother, it would be Mr. Bradley Newton. A fine fellow indeed and a soon to be father. He is the eyes in the back of my head and the ears in the walls on the Salty Beggar. Though, I do not suspect I am in need of such things, it is better to be prepared than not. I hope all is well with you and yours and will write as duty permits it.
Capt. Edgar P. Wright