ODHS 972A: Journal of Wilhelm Kromer, Steward on Bark Lagoda, 1881-1883

Sandy Point

Sandy Point, 2007. Image from Ed and Edith Gray.

Wilhelm Kromer was 22 when he joined the Bark Lagoda’s twelfth voyage out of New Bedford. This journey lasted from April 1882–June 1886 and took place in the Tierra del Fuego at the Chile–Argentina–Antarctica border. His series of six logbooks are the only known journals from the vessel under Capt. Edward D. Lewis. The first book is in mixed English, German, and French. The other five are in English with New Year’s and birthday blessings in German. This page contains transcribed and translated selections from Kromer’s first book.



An aster*sk denotes an illegible letter or sequence of letters. Probable letter choices {ar,we}re enclosed in curly brackets. Square brackets clarify idiosyncratic [characteristic] words, and fill [in] those missing. Modern grammar conventions are used except with proper nouns.

Please download the annotated PDF with all the entries. It has a functional table of contents, bibliography, and index for shelf-like reference (23 Dec 2014 revision).


5 November 1881

Anchored in Good Success Bay, Terra del Fuego on Straits le Maire. Made water and wood. Had to keep a good look out for Indians. 5 days.

Sailed from there far for the South Shetland on a SE course. Reached there after about 7 days. All full [of] snow and ice. This group is composed of several 100 islands, small and big. We stayed around there about three weeks and got about 20 seals but lots of fishes and penguin and other birds. On one of the islands, a lone sandy arc, were erectet 2 erons [two herons stood erect]. On several other islands we found old boats and different pieces of [the] ship Aimber.

From here we kept an easterly course, and after about 4 days we reached the South Orkancap, another big group of islands. We got here about 60 seals and a few young ones, birds plentifully. On the easternmost side of this group there are several hundred isolated rocks, and going amongst them in a small boat seems just like going through an old town. The channels are very narrow [in] some places, and there are rocks going straight up like a church tower.

From here we went in an easterly direction to the Sandwich Groupe, consisting of about 12 islands. One very small one had a volcano, working. On another larger one there were 3 hot springs close to the water’s edge. We got five seals here. One day I went out with the second mate in the boat and a heavy snow storm came.


9 June 1882

Raised the anchor in the Cockburn Channel. One canoe is going on land to get wood. The weather is good.

At 12:00 midnight the captain struck a noise at once. All hands on deck turned and we nearly crashed into the rocks with the rudder. Now the anchor was drawn up and the ship brought further out. At 1:00 we saw a lunar eclipse.

Lainez allez l’ancre dans le «Coxsburn Channel.» 1 canoë est allez à terre après du bois. Il fait beau temps.

Um 12 Uhr nachts schlug auf einmal der Kapitain Lärm, und all hands on deck der [illegible] hatten sich gedreht und wir stießen mit dem Steuer beinahe auf die Felsen. Nun wurde den Anker heraufgezogen und das Schiff weiter herausgebracht. Um 1 Uhr sahen wir eine Mondfinsternis.


25 August 1882

On the Ildefonso Islands we had 136 nets on the 21st, on Deceit Rocks four. The same on Evout Island, where our third mate is with two whites, three blacks, and two Indians. 26 nets in three months. We gave him Prussians and lie anchored today at the entrance to the Beagle Channel.

When we arrive at Sandy Point this time, I hope there are some true letters for me because I wouldn’t know what he was thinking in the six months since I’ve written. And I think well of the captain to deliver my letters. Jim seems to be fine. Finally everyone at Evout seems to be healthy. There are four months yet, and after that I think we will all go back but not with the same views with which we went out. I fear that we’re not at a low point; and these two years are lost, two years’ lost labor finally flew from my life.

An der Ilfonso Island hatten wir 136 Tülle am 21., an Deceit Rocks 4. Und an Evout Island, wo unserer dritte Mate ist mit 2 Weißen, 3 Schwartzen und 2 Indianer. 26 Tülle in 3 Monaten. Gaben ihn Preußen und liegen heute am Eingang von Beagle Channel nur Anker.

J’espère quand nous arriver à Sandy Point cette temps, il y à vrai quelques lettres pour moi, si son je ne saurais quoi penser parcque, il y à justement six mois que j’aie écrit. Et je pense que le [capitan] à délivrer mes lettres. Jim à l’air d’être très bien. Enfin tout le monde à Evout parait d’être en bonne santé. Ils sont l’encore pour quatre mois et après cela je crois que nous retournerons mais pas avec les vues que nous sortons. Je craigne que nous ferians pas un sous; et que ses deux années sont perdue, du travail perdu enfin se deux ans volé de ma vie.


4 September 1882

We’ve been two days in the Second Narrows. We brought the schooner on land and painted it fresh. Yesterday two officers shot a beautiful silver [thing]. It isn’t as large as our ordinary one has, but it’s a bit higher.

I’m curious whether there are any letters for me in Sandy Point. I get jealous when I see others reading letters and I don’t have any. I’m vexed the rest of the night. I’d love to hear if Louis has already finished his military service and whether it satisfied him. I don’t think I’ve found anything in a nice helmet with a lightning rod.

I’ve not written in a while. We were in Sandy Point. I received a letter from Louis and one from Mother. That’s what I’d hoped for and I replied immediately. The captain remained in Sandy Point and we travelled to Elisabeth Island and went duck hunting for a couple days. Then back toward Sandy Point. Two men pass through fourteen new on board. And away toward Staten Island and on the 28th September, abandoned seven men in St. John Harbor. Then toward the Missions instead of Ushuaia and took two Indians. We met the Schooner Tom Hunt there, and this afternoon at 3:00 on the 6th October we’re anchored in the Talbot Passage.

Wir sind seit 2 Tagen in den Zweiten Narrows. Haben den Schooner aufs Land gebracht und frisch angestrichen ihnen. 16 einer 2 Officer hat gestern einen schönen silbernen [illegible] geschossen. Er ist nicht ganz so groß wie unserer gewöhnliche hat, aber etwas höhere beim.

Je suis bien curieux, s’il y à des lettres pour moi à Sandy Point. Je deviendrai presque fon, quand je vois les autres lires leur lettres et moi j’en ai pas. Je ne peut pas comprendre pourquoi elle reste nuit. Je voudrais bien s’avoir si Louis et déjà fini avec son service militaire et si il lui a plu. Je ne pense pas, parcque mai je ne pas trouvé quelque chose elle joli dans une casque provienne avec un paratonnerre.

Ich habe lange nicht geschrieben. Wir waren in Sandy Point. Ich habe einen Brief von Louis und einen von Mutter bekommen. Was mich sehr gefreit hat, ich habe gleich geantwortet. Der Kapitain ist in S. P. geblieben und wir sind nach Elisabeth Island gefahren, und für ein paar Tage auf die Entenjäger gehen. Dann zurück nach S. P. 2 Mann durchgeben 14 neue an Bord. Und fort nach Statenland und am 28. Sept, 7 Mann in St. John Harbour ausgesetzt. Dann nach der Missions statt an Oschavaia und 2 Indier genommen. Schr Tom Hunt nieder da getroffen, und heute Nachmittag 3 Uhr den 6. Oktober sind wir in der Talbot Passage vor Anker.


15 October 1882

We went through the bay and let the anchor go. For half the time the M. E. Higgins came around. Around 3:00 in the afternoon we let the large anchor go and at 4:00 its chain broke and we let the smallest anchor go and were satisfied. Captain Kocheis is visiting us with four men and his boat.

We make everything ready to go out to sea should the chain break again there. At 9:35 the chain on the largest anchor breaks and we let the small one go too and stand out. There’s suddenly a dreadful storm. We get such a wind that we’re thrown out onto the nets.

11:10 in the morning. We packed up the bare essentials together and the captain, 1st Officer Koches (who is the cook), and two Frenchmen were the last to leave the ship.

At 2:00 a terrible night passed by with cold and rain, and half-dead on another morning when the boat of another ship came to pick us up. But we had no space in the boat to take more clothes with us and that evening also broke their [the other ship’s] chains. But it was still light and so it came out and now it approached Sandy Point, where we also arrived after three days. Fin.

Gingen wir durch die Bay und ließen Anker gehen. Zur halber Zeit kam M. E. Higgins herein. Gegen 3 Uhr nachmittags ließen wir den großen Anker gehen, und um 4 Uhr brach die Kette desselber, und wir ließen den kleinsten Anker, den wir satten. Kapitain Kocheis ist mit 4 Mann und seiner Bot bei uns.

Wir machen alles fertig in See zu gehen, daran die Kette wieder brachen sollte. 9 Uhr 35 bricht ist die Kette am größten Anker, und wir laßen die kleine auch gehen und stehen aus. Es ist fürchterlicher Sturm plötzlich. Bekommen wir solchen Wind, dass wir auf die Tüllen geworfen wurden.

11 Uhr 10 M. Wir packten um das Nötigste zusammen und der Kapitain, 1. Officier Koches, [der] ist der Koch, und zwei Franzosen waren die letzen, die das Schiff verließen.

Um 2 Uhr eine fürchterliche Nacht durchgemachte Kalt und Regen, und am anderen Morgen halbtot, wenn der Bot vom anderen Schiff kam und uns aufnahm. Wir hatten aber kein Platz im Bot für mehrere Kleider mitzunehmen, und die Abend darauf brachen seine Kette auch. Aber es war noch hell, und so kam er heraus und nun ging es Sandy Point zu, wo wir auch nach 3 Tagen ankamen. Finis.


25 December 1882

Christmas Day. Lowered the boats at 3 o’clock in the morning to go to College Rocks, took the carpenter off and left the others, had only 1 skin at 9 o’clock. Seen the Rio heaved up and stand out for Sunday Harbour. At 1 o’clock came dead calm, towed the schooner about 4 miles in to Sunday Harbour. Wind light SW.

Ushuaia, 2011. Image from Rob and Debbie.


1 January 1883

?Took up the anchor at 3:00 and at 8:00 in the evening we let it go in Trinidad Bay. Wind NW. Finally we had a very enjoyable New Year’s Day. Den Anker herauf um 3 Uhr und Abends um 8 Uhr in Trinidad Bay gehen lassen. Wind NW. Fin sehr uh{e,n} angehnehmen Neujahrstag gehabt.


23–30 January 1883

In Sandy Point. Shipped the nets and cleaned the masts and tackle. Received one letter from Christian and one from Charley and answered that I was ashore. Removed all the people from the Wanderer on the rock to Staten Island. Here are the ships: M. E. Higgins, Tom Hunt, Express, Nimrod, Golden West, San Pedro, Rio, Anita, Espuma de Mar, and Allen Gardiner. In Sandy Point. Die Tülle verschifft, die Maste und das Tackelwerk gereinigt. Einen Brief von Christian und einen von Charley bekommen, und beantwortet am Land gewesen. Die Leute am Rock vom Wanderer alle abgenommen ausgenommen Staatenland. Hier sind die Schiffe: M. E. Higgins, Tom Hunt, Express, Nimrod, Golden West, San Pedro, Rio, Anita, Espuma de Mar und Allan Gardener.


7 February 1883

Raised the anchor at 2:00 this morning, and with SW wind traversed the Strait [of Magellan] until about 10:00. Then almost no wind till 4:00, then a light NE wind. At 8:00 we’re on the open sea and see no more land. Heute Morgen um 2 Uhr den Anker herauf, und mit SW Wind durch die Straße bis gegen 10 Uhr. Dann beinahe Windstille bis 4 Uhr, dann leichter NE Wind. Um 8 Uhr sind wir auf offener Meer und sehen kein Land mehr.


29 March 1883

Passed a bad night, foresail close reefed and the headsails down. At 6 o’clock, set all sails. Very little wind the whole day. Spoken [to] the Bark Veronica from Quebec and found there. Sea still very high.


Last modified: October 25, 2016