The Africa was a twin ship (sister) to the Asia which was launched earlier (January) the same year. The Asia had then proved to be one of the fastest vessels afloat (there are some more interesting interior end exterior details on the Asia page
). The Africa just as the Asia, was built by Messrs. Steele and Co., of Glasgow. Her dimensions were reported as follows:
Length of keel fore and rake: 267 feet
Breadth of beam: 40 feet, 6 inches
Depth of hold: 27 feet, 6 inches
Tonnage: 2128, - 78-94ths.
Length on deck: 265 feet
Breadth on ditto at midships: 37 feet, 2 inches
Depth of hold at ditto: 27 feet, 2 inches
Tonnage: 2226, - 24-100ths
She was equipped with a pair of side lever engines of 814 nominal horse-power. The diameter cylinders were 96 inches x 9 feet stroke. The paddlewheels’ diameter was: extreme, 37 feet 7 inches, and 36 feet 10 inches effective; 28 floats, 9 feet 2 inches x 3 feet 2 inches, three sets of 28 arms, 8 floated in the water at 19 feet draft of water. She had four flue boilers and 20 furnaces. The bunkers were constructed to hold 890 tons of coal. The engine room was manned by 38 crew. The Africa was built of the best British oak, and planked double outside and inside. Between the frames she was filled up, from the keel to the gunwale, with rock-salt, to preserve the vessel from the dry rot. The number of her berths enabled her to carry 180 passengers. The quantity of coal she was estimated to carry was 900 tons. She also had capacity for the transit of 600 tons of cargo, not including the stores of ship and passengers. The ship was fitted up for carrying guns, so she could at any time be transformed from the peaceful original into an Admiralty ship of war. The Africa’s first commander was Captain Byrie.
The following is the copy of the log of the Africa's first outward voyage to New York:
Oct. 26 — Wind northerly. 0.15 P.M., received mails; 0.21, set on full speed; 1.40, pilot left. Fine weather.
Oct. 27. — Wind N.W. 2.20 P M., passed Cape Clear. Light airs and fine weather, increasing to strong breezes with heavy squalls and rain.
Oct. 28. — Wind N.W. Lat. 51 32, long. 14.33. Strong gales and squally, with heavy head-sea. Distance run, 194 miles from Cape Clear.
Oct. 29. — Wind N.W. Lat. 51.43, long. 20.13. Strong gales and squally, with heavy head-sea Distance run, 203 miles.
Oct. 30. — Wind N.W. to W. Lat. 51.43, long. 25.30. Strong gales and squally, with heavy head- sea. Distance run, 200 miles.
Oct. 31. — Wind S.W. to W. Lat. 51.18, long. 31.18. Strong gales, with very heavy squalls and rain. Distance run, 219 miles.
Nov. 1. — Winds S.W. to N.W. Lat. 50.24, long. 35.43. Strong sales, with very heavy squalls and head-sea. Distance run, 175 miles.
Nov. 2. — Wind N W. Lat. 49.25, long. 40.00 Strong breezes, with squalls and rain. Distance run, 183 miles,
Nov. 3. — Wind N.W. Lat. 49.20, long. 44.53. Fresh breezes and cloudy, with a heavy sea from the northward. Distance run, 198 miles.
Nov. 4. — Wind N.W. to W.S.W. Lat. 46.30, long. 1.02. Fresh breezes and hazy, with a heavy rolling sea Distance run, 275 miles.
Nov. 5. — Wind N. to S.W. and N.E. Lat. 44.06, long. 58.04. Moderate variable winds, and hazy weather. Distance run, 329 miles.
Nov. 6. — Wind N.E. to N.W. Lat. 41.36, long. 64,30. Moderate and fine throughout. Distance run, 321 miles.
Nov. 7. — Wind variable. Lat. 40.22, long. 1.12. Light variable winds, and fine. 11.0 P.M. stopped the ship, Sandy Hook bearing W.N.W., about eight miles; 8.0 A.M. passed the Royal mail steamship Asia. Distance run, 310 miles.
Nov. 8. — 8.0 A.M. arrived at the dock, Jersey city.[Source: The Illustrated London News 1851]