Millstone from L’Astrolabe, Stone, Retrieved from the shipwreck of L’Astrolabe in Vanikoro by Reece Discombe, 1958. Weighing approximately 80 kilograms, this stone is the bottom half of the mill which was used for grinding grain to make bread. The wheel was driven by a windmill on the stern of the boat as the ship sailed. An iron peg engaged the windmill’s driving mechanism, the rusted remains of which can still be seen on the outside of the wheel. Donanted by Reece Discombe, 1993. Acc No. 93.2
L’Astrolabe was under the command of Langle. In addition to fresh drinking water………………..”another of Langle’s concerns was a workable windmill to provide the flour needed daily for the crews. Flour perished quickly in the hold and it was soon attacked by rats; and when the French called at ports run by Europeans, they expected to buy mostly wheat and other grain, and not much flour. Grinding wheat was a a slow and cumbersome task, difficult to carry out at all when the weather was bad. Langle saw to the installation of windmills on the poop-deck of each ship. (from Journal of La Perouse trans. John Dunmore, Vol 1:xcviii).
Laperouse Expedition in Carmel, California
The women are largely employed in household tasks, looking after their children, and roasting and crushing the grain, a very slow, laborious task because their only method is crushing it on a stone with a roller, more or less as is done with chocolate in Europe. Mr de Langle who witnessed this operation gave his mill to the missionaries, and it would be difficult to render them a greater service; four women will now do the work of a hundred, and there will be time left to spin the wool of their flocks and manufacture some rough cloth; but until now the religious, more concerned with the interests of Heaven than with temporal matters, have been very neglectful of the need to introduce the more common crafts; they are so austere in respect of themselves that they not have a single room with a fireplace even though the winter is quite severe, and the greatest saints have not led a more edifying life. (from Journal of La Perouse trans. John Dunmore, Vol 1:182)