On 14 July 1788 Borrowdale, Alexander, Friendship and Prince of Wales set sail for England, carrying Governor Phillip’s dispatches to the British Government and the settlers’ letters to family and friends back home.
In his account The voyage of Governor Phillip to Botany Bay, published in 1789, Governor Phillip described how the four ships were ill prepared for their long journey:
‘their complement of men was small, only six to a hundred tons, officers included; they were without a surgeon, and unprovided with those articles which have been found essential to the preservation of health in long voyages, such as bore-cole [kale], sour-crout, portable soup, and the other antiseptics recommended by the Royal Society.’
On the return journey the ships’ crews were badly affected by scurvy, with at least four men dying on Borrowdale before it reached Rio de Janeiro. Arriving in England in March 1789, Borrowdale and Prince of Wales were the first of the fleet ships to return to home.