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On July 4th, Challenger arrived at St. Michael, and on the 5th, the crew was granted shore leave. Matkin was unable to go on this first day as his duties kept him on the ship, but he relates with some amusement the return of those who'd spent the day ashore.

July 5th
Nearly all hands on shore, they will be off again at 6pm. I am to go tomorrow or Monday. The men have just returned on board, and it was worth 6d to see them come up the ship's side and fall in for inspection. Very few could walk straight and several were rolling; being Saturday night a great many had brought off the materials for a Sunday's dinner, some had half a sheep on their backs, some had pigs heads, some goats flesh, large cheeses & lots of other things; very few were properly dressed, a great many had lost their shoes, & hats. All who could not walk along the deck without staggering were set down as being drunk, several lay down there and then went to sleep; some excused themselves on the ground that the ship was unsteady, these were all reported and had a days leave stopped.

 


Matkin himself opted for a quieter day when on July 8th he finally took shore leave.

I went on shore yesterday with 2 messmates and spent a very pleasant day.....The country was beautiful but the oranges are all green & will not be ripe until September, we saw whole forests of orange trees, they are as thick as blackberries in England. The corn was nearly all in, they pull it up by the roots & instead of threshing it oxen head it out in the open field. We saw the Cemetery, such a nice one, monuments all after one pattern and the ground laid out with such taste. The town of Ponta Delgado is quite a large one & has some fine squares & public gardens. The streets are something like Lisbon. There are enough Churches here to accommodate all the islands, the bells were ringing for evening matins at 6 o'clock, but only a few sisters of mercy, and ugly old women seemed to be going. The soldiers amused me most. They stand about 4 ft 10 in high, and are armed with old muskets. The whole kit and arms would fetch about 1/8d in England. One of our men said that on Sunday night about 45 of them in single file were driving him down to the Boat & every time he turned round & pushed the end man they all fell over. I think they are hired out by the day by anyone that wants them, for at the Portuguese Hotel where we had dinner, a Sergeant waited on us.


Ponta delgado today


A church at Ponta Delgado