The Epic Voyages of Maud Berridge

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The Seafaring Diaries of a Victorian Lady

By Sally Berridge

Sally Berridge

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Description

Maud Berridge (1845–1907) was the wife of Captain Henry Berridger, with whom she sailed in 1869, 1880, 1882, 1883, and 1886, to Melbourne along with emigrants and cargo. Their first voyage was as newlyweds in 1869, when Henry was Captain of the Walmer Castle, setting forth from the U.K. They returned via New Zealand instead of travelling east and around Cape Horn.

However, most of the Berridge’s voyages were undertaken in the three-masted clipper Superb, sailing from Gravesend at the start of summer and leaving Melbourne for home at the end of the year (the southern summer, best for heading east with the trade winds and rounding Cape Horn). Record times sailed from London to Melbourne under Captain Berridge were 79 days (1878), 76 days (1881), and a final time of 74 days (1886). This was the era of fast clipper ship sailing and the Berridges’ lives give an intimate portrait of life aboard.

In 1880, the Berridges took their two sons (age six and eight) aboard. In 1883, they sailed on from Melbourne to Newcastle in New South Wales to take on a load of coal, then on through the Windward Isles to San Francisco (51 days)–where they stayed and explored, unloaded the coal, and then took on a load of wheat (in large bags) at Port Costa. They then sailed down the west coast of the Americas, around Cape Horn, and on to Queenstown in County Cork, Ireland (134 days). The whole voyage took 14 months. Epic Voyages includes photos of Henry, Maud, and the crew taken in San Francisco, and a rare photo showing the Superb at dock in Melbourne.

Maud wrote intimate and passionate diaries of these voyages–the 1883 voyage is over 50,000 words. Epic Voyages tells Maud’s story through her diaries and relevant contemporary documents, painting a vivid picture of the life of a sea captain’s wife in the Victorian era. Her enthusiasm for new experiences shines through her writing. PB 256 pages