The health of the First Fleet convicts was the responsibility of Surgeon General John White and his assistants. While each of the convict transports carried a surgeon on board, the masters of the storeships were not obliged to. When sickness or accidents occurred on these ships treatment was often delayed until they could bring a medical man on board. On 8 January 1788 White boarded the storeship Fishburn to check on one of the crew who had been badly injured from a fall days earlier. In his journal entry he wrote:
'I went on board the Fishburne, to see the boatswain, who on the first night of the new year, having probably drank more grog than he ought, and the ship labouring much, had fallen from the top-sail yard, by which he bruised himself in a dreadful manner … he died about half an hour after I got on board.'
Fishburn’s departure from Sydney was delayed until a storehouse could be built to receive its cargo. Finally, as David Collins noted in October 1788: ‘the cellar being completed and ready for the reception of the spirits that were on board the Fishburn, they were landed from that ship; and she, being cleared and discharged from Government employ, hove down, and prepared for her return to England’.