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White Wings Vol I. Fifty Years Of Sail In The New Zealand Trade, 1850 TO 1900

The John Duncan

page 237

The John Duncan.

the John Duncan, a fine American-built ship of just upon 1000 tons, was chartered by the Shaw, Savill Co. to convey immigrants to New Zealand. She made her first appearance at Port Chalmers in 1863, under the command of Captain Browne. She sailed from Gravesend on November 6, 1862, and took her final departure from the Lizard six days later. She experienced light contrary winds to the Equator, which was crossed on December 14. Thence she had a fairly good run to the New Zealand coast, arriving in Port Chalmers after an uneventful passage of 98 days.

the John Duncan completed two voyages to Auckland under Captain Robert Logie. In 1863 she sailed from Gravesend on October 10 and was detained in the Channel for seven days by stormy weather. She took her final departure from Scilly on October 17, and crossed the Equator on November 11, the trade winds proving very indifferent. She ran down her longitude in the parallel of 44deg, experiencing fine weather, and made the North Cape of New Zealand on January 19, 1864. She met with light winds running down the coast, and arrived at Auckland on January 23, making the passage in 104 days.

Captain Logie reported that on November 18 he fell across a large steamer, which hailed and ordered the John Duncan to heave-to or she would fire into her. Captain Logie paid no attention to the threat but kept way on his ship, when a boat with an armed crew pulled alongside. The officer in command stepped on board and intimated that he came from the Federal steam frigate Vanderbilt. The officer was exceedingly civil, and when he saw the character of the ship did not even ask to inspect her papers. The passengers, who were at first alarmed, accepted the offer of the officer to take a small mail for England, which he undertook to deliver to the British Consul upon his arrival at the Brazils. Captain Logie described the Vanderbilt as a fine clipper paddle steamer, and evidently an ugly customer. There were four deaths on the voyage—three children and the New Zealand chief William Raipa, who came on board in the last stage of consumption.

Two melancholy occurrences happened during the passage, one of them in the English Channel. Whilst the hands were engaged in lashing the anchors two of them were washed overboard and drowned. On December 18 a passenger, John Carter, threw himself from the main chains into the sea. Efforts were made to save him, but without success. He left a wife and a large family to deplore his loss.

the John Duncan made another voyage to Auckland with immigrants in 1865. She sailed from Gravesend on March 27, and discharged the pilot on April 4. She crossed the Line on May 1, and the Cape on the 24th of the same month. When running down her easting she experienced heavy gales, during which she lost a portion of her bulwarks and suffered other damage. The North Cape of New Zealand was rounded on June 29, and the harbour made on July 3. the John Duncan landed 64 passengers in excellent health.