The normal problemsThe places where the people had to sleep, were very small. There were two square meters space for 4 people. Then there were rows of those small places, two rows above each others, with the hight of, together, two and a half meters. On both sides of the steerage, were those rows. The luggage, tins, and cases were placed in the steerage, taking up much of the room. It became worse when the hatches were closed, because of bad weather, and there was ventilation only through narrow openings. If this situation continued, then the room became stuffy and smelly, many of the weak died and babies were born premature.
At both ends of the corridors was a kitchen, where the stoves were, but only a few families could use it the same time. The 'toilets' for the women were there, with the men's on deck.
Since the journey was long, the immigrants took their own food with them. Those who had family or friends in the US already were given tips as to what to bring with them. But if the journey took too long, they had to eat from the food issued by the ship. The problem was that it only contained peas, beans, salted meat, and dried bacon. The drinking water, which was in tins, had to be disinfected with vinegar and smelled horrible.
ScurvyAnother journey with disasters (this time from W.H. de Lange from Deventer to Grand Rapids):
"The food was very bad, 12 days we ate mouldy bread and in July we only got bad potatoes with sauerkraut or pea-soup, both with tainted American bacon. And then we lost a packet, with all our food and other stuff, cause it was stolen in Rotterdam, and we missed it for the first time when we left the harbor, so we hadn't the time to buy some new. So we had pauperism, it was horrible to come to the dream. We had been 27 days on the ocean, so it was a great moment when we saw the mountain of Jersey. When we came in New York (or like some Dutch say, Nieuw Urk), it was again very busy for our luggage, which had to be unloaded and inspected. We were there for 24 hours, and we couldn't see much of it, because of the stir for our luggage, but she is big, dirty and restless. Were we arrived was Castel Garden, a building for emigrants. 15000 people can stay there, but on own bedding. Me and my family didn't used it, but we went to an inn, we suffered enough. Finally, we went, in a hurry, through mountains, valleys and tunnels, to Grand Rapids. We stopped for ten minutes to look at the Niagara, and I like to admire it, but we had to watch out for thiefs and swindlers. Even for the railway officials, immediately there was one who demanded 10 cents to give a cup of coffee in the morning, but dissappeared with changing trains. Finally, after 2×24 hours by train, we arrived in Grand Rapids. My wifes eyes were recovered at the ocecan (his wife became temporary blind, editorial). We were received with happiness on a loaded table and I saw that there was no shortage here so I got courage."
Ship sinks!Evert Wonnink had described his journey very well, when he emigrated from Geesteren to Grand Rapids in 1871:
"Sundaymorning, at half past four, we left Rotterdam, we passed Delfshaven, Schiedam, Vlargen, Hellevoetsluis, Goedereede. At the northern side, we saw at 9 o'clock, and at the southern side at 10 o'clock, the last coasts of the homeland. What a remarkable time, isn't it? All the time we had bad weather, and we came at the tempestuously North Sea. The boat was rolling all the time, so after a while, all of us were seasick. In the North Sea are sea-marks, which are, just like floating tuns, steady at the sea-bottom. It became better at the evening, and everybody was going to rest, not knowing what would come, but God knows everything and he foresees and cares for everything. We progressed, till we stood still at ten o'clock. There was a flute and an alarm, but we still didn't know what it meant. We were navigating slowly, and then, suddenly, there was a jolt, so that all of us, were awake. And there comes the water into the boat, fast! What a lamenting, what a crying. We all thought we were going to die. Cries of distress of the people, which you can't describe. The mother wept her children, the man his wife, the woman her husband. Mixed spectacle! The Lord was the one who gave us these trouble. He saved us, because of the weak people. You have to thank him now. Everybody climed upstairs, to look forward to our saving. All the sailors were busy, to make ready all the possible ways for the saving, immediately. The French boat "Frankland", came towards our boat ("Kestrel"), but there was a thick fog, so they hit each other, our boat had the most of the problems of it. Immediately, the "Frankland" prepared to take us on their boat. Our ship sank more and more, some of us were in the water with their knees, others with their arms. But God will let the water come to the lips, but not any further. All of us came onto the other boat, not one missed. One woman felt between the boats, into the water. Her husband jumped immediately into the water, and because he could swim, they came alive on the boat. But - gee, wat an acting. There were confusion and emotion by the shipwrecked persons. Think about it, the man missed his wife, the mother her child! God also cared about them, and because of him we all found our relatives. Now, we thought that we were save, which was true for a moment. But we didn't may think about our stuff, because the boat was sinking, the first one. When all the people where of the ship, the ropes were unbinded and we continued our way with the "Frankland". Those poor cows, 20 had to die in the waves. The steersman of the first boat beated the alarm and fired with fireworks, at the worst way, but we stupids didn't know what it meant. O if we knew our situation! But, again nobody knew it because nobody told us. Which was good, cause if it was told us, our patient would be small. Also this second boat made water, because they hitted each other, but it wasn't so big that we would sink immediately. But fortunately and again from God, there came another boat, and took us with them. Now we were save, and arrived in Grimsby and not in Hull, where we got sweet coffee with ship's bread, Monday morning 10 o'clock. We stayed there till 1 o'clock in the afternoon and went by express train, which brought us to Liverpool."In spite of that he lost everything, because of the shipping disaster, he enjoyed the journey. He didn't know it, and he liked that. He also wrote, quite cooly: "A woman from Sweden died, because of the consumption and 5 children were born, so we were with more than at the start of the journey."