Challenger left Portsmouth with 269 persons aboard: 23
naval officers under the command of Captain George Strong Nares, the scientific
team of six, led by Professor Wyville Thomson, and a crew of 240. Only a
few of the "bluejackets' or crew, are known to us now, most notably,
by virtue of his letters, Ship's Steward's Assistant Joe Matkin, who brings
Challenger's tale to life.
|Did I tell you we
had a Brass Band on board composed mainly of seamen and marines who
volunteered. The Officers bought the Instruments and provided a Bandmaster
to teach them; there were 15 volunteers and 9 wanted to play the big
drum, they practice every day in the fore peak of the vessel and the
noise is something fearful and causes the Watch below to swear a good
deal. The Bandmaster expects to fetch tolerable music in about 6 months.