The nights are magnificent and have a crescent moon. Last night we enjoyed a sign one seldom sees, the moon, Jupiter and Venus close together and forming a perfect angle thus; all shining with the utmost brilliancy. At first, we could only get a partial view as we were sailing directly towards the direction in which they were. Mr. Taylor went forward and soon returned with such a glowing account that Williams ordered the man to steer a little to the northward for a moment so that we all could have a view. It was glorious, but all too short. I was not half satisfied when the ship returned to her course. I also saw the Cross again.
The sky was cloudless, the sun warm, the air deliciously pure, and just cool enough to make walking on the quarter-deck enjoyable. The sea was smooth, and no sign in air or ocean betokened that we were in the vicinity of the dreaded Cape of Storms.
At night the young moon, Jupiter and Venus, if not exactly in conjunction, were so near it as to shine as with the light of a single planet. But two or three degrees distant from each other, they formed a splendid triangle, the effect of which, on the roseate field of the austral sunset, was indescribably magnificent. The sky was intensely clear, and towards midnight Taurus, Orion, Sirius, Canopus, the Southern Cross and the Magellan Clouds were all visible at once, bewildering the eye with their lustre.
Both Sarah and Bayard Taylor described seeing Table Mountain (Rock)
This morning at noon found us some miles west of the Cape of Good Hope. Last year and year before had a good view, perfectly clear and distinct. This morning there were clouds hanging over the land. Last year our view of Table Rock was very fine. It looked more like an artificial fortification; the upper outline being perfectly square and smooth.
The next morning we could plainly distinguish, though at a great distance, the vapors hanging over the Cape and the headlands which bound False, or St. Simon’s Bay, on the east. Towards noon they were lifted by the sun,and the far, faint, blue outline of Table Mountain, with that of the four or five broken peaks forming the Cape, was distinctly They were so precisely similar to the pictures I had seen, and to that in my imagination, that I recognized them at once, with a feeling of familiar acquaintance. They slowly passed astern, and at four o’clock faded out of sight behind us. And so farewell, savage old Africa! Shall I ever see your shores again? Now, at last, I felt that our prow was turned homewards— that our keel ploughed the Atlantic, and the old far-off Asian world lay behind me. We were again sailing for the North Star, for the hemisphere where the strong heart of the world beats, and will beat for ever ! We were on our own side of the globe, and I felt—what I had not before felt, since leaving China—that every day was bringing me nearer home. The very sky was changed; the sea was of a deeper blue; the waves danced and sparkled with a merrier life; the clouds gathered into larger masses and grouped themselves together with a sense of power, no longer like the slumberous vapors of the East, smouldering languidly away, in the fires of the sun. There was a prophecy of America in the very air, and I invoked a threefold benediction on the cold south-wind, which filled every inch of our towering piles of canvas, and carried us through the night at twelve knots an hour, dashing the ocean into phosphoric foam.
As Bayard Taylor said,
they finally felt that they were truly headed
Home to America!
Tracing the worldly travels of Sarah Nitchie Howland
through her well-kept archive of nautical journals and memoirs