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

The Rakaia

page 288

The Rakaia.

Good Average Passage-maker—Captain Bone's Career.

A ship that made good average passages out and Home was the New Zealand Shipping Company's full-rigger Rakaia, 1022 tons, which was built for the company in 1873 by Blumer and Company. After completing seventeen voyages to the colony she was sold to a German firm and renamed the Marie. She was sold again, and again named the Rakaia. She was once more sold to a firm in Boston, U.S.A., the price being 4850 dollars, and re-named the Ruth Stark, and as such was reported in a dismasted condition whilst
The New Zealand Shipping Company's Rakaia

The New Zealand Shipping Company's Rakaia

on a voyage from Boston to Secondi. The vessel's name disappeared from Lloyd's register about four years ago.

In 1875, under Capt. McInness, the Rakaia ran from London to Lyttelton in 80 days. She also made another fine run to Auckland when in command of Capt. J. Bone in 1881. During 1880, when Capt. Bone was in Auckland as chief officer of the Wanganui, he received instructions from headquarters to proceed to Wellington to take command of the Rakaia, and he made a very fast run home in her of 79 days to London. The run from Wellington to the Western Islands was accomplished in the marvellously short time of 60 days. Here the ship was jammed by easterly winds and did not reach the docks until the 79th day out.

Good Land To Land Passage.

After discharging and loading, Capt. Bone sailed again in 1881, and finished up another fine run to Auckland. the Rakaia left London on May 13 with saloon and steerage passengers, mainly married couples, destined for Vesey Stewart's settlement at Te Puke, but only finally left the Lizard behind on May 21, and fairly good westerly winds carried her to the Equator in 26 days from land. Tasmania was reached on August 3, and the Three Kings sighted on August 9. Coming down the coast with a strong westerly wind the Rakaia anchored in the Waitemata the following day, the passage occupying 88 days from London and 78 days land to land. The run from the Cape was made in 29, days.

Capt. Bone made another voyage in the Rakaia in 1882. The ship sailed from the docks on April 15 for Lyttelton, but unfortunately owing to smallpox breaking out on board the ship had to return to Plymouth. She remained there until May 28, when she made another startpage 289 with 151 nominated immigrants for Grant and Foster's settlement at Te Aroha. The ship met with light and variable winds until rounding the Cape, and reached Lyttelton on September 2 all well.

Captain Bone has had a remarkable career. I remember he was introduced to me in 1870 by Captain William Ashby, of the City of Auckland. Young Bone was then an apprentice, and Captain Ashby was proud of him. He said to me, "Mr. Brett, this is a nice boy, and he will make a fine sailor." Captain Ashby's prediction has been fully verified. Four
Captain J. Bone in 1880.

Captain J. Bone in 1880.

years later he joined the N.Z. Shipping Company as third officer—his first appointment as an officer. He was the first of the company's trained men to be in command both in sail and steam. After making two successful voyages as commander of the Rakaia he passed, after a voyage on the chartered Ionic, to the Tongariro, where, after three voyages, he took command, Captain Hallet being transferred to the first Rimutaka.

Captain Bone made 26 voyages in the Tongariro, and then took command of the Ruahine, the second voyage after she was launched. He completed 18 voyages in this ship, and was then appointed marine superintendent for the company in New Zealand, being stationed in Christchurch until about three years ago, when he removed to Wellington. He is still in the company's service, and "going strong," but has decided to resign at the end of 1924, after 50 years' service. On the 30th July, 1924, a banquet was tendered to the veteran in Wellington on board the steamer Remuera, Captain J. J. Cameron presiding. Among the guests present were the Governor-General, Lord Jellicoe, the Prime Minister, the Minister of Marine (Hon. G. J. Anderson), Sir Joseph Ward, Sir Harold Beauchamp, His Majesty's Trade Commissioner (Mr. N. E. Elmslie), the Consul-General for the United States, the Agent-General for Tasmania (Lieut.-Colonel Snowden), the New Zealand Superintendent of the New Zealand Shipping Co. (Mr. J. H. C. Bond), Commander Butcher, and representatives of shipping companies and leading citizens. In proposing the toast of the guest of honour Mr. Massey (the Premier) said he had come out with Captain Bone 54 years ago when he was an apprentice in the ship City of Auckland. He had known him ever since, and had come to look upon him as one of his most intimate personal friends. Mr. Bond hoped someone would some day write the history of those captains of the mercantile marine who had traded for so many years to the Dominion. When that history was written the foremost chapter would be devoted to Captain John Bone. Captain E. A. McIndoe then sang a sailor's chanty specially composed in honour of Captain Bone, in which all the seamen, including Lord Jellicoe, heartily joined. When Captain Bone rose to reply he was accorded an ovation. Referring to his long record at sea, Captain Bone said a sailor's life was not all beer and skittles, but he had had some very good times during the past 50 years. Mr. Bond announced that Captain W. Olphert would succeed Captain Bone as marine superintendent for New Zealand at the end of 1924.

Altogether, in sail and steam, Captain Bone made 52 voyages to New Zealand, and when he retired from the sea, this was believed to be the record.

One of the passengers by the Rakaia on her voyage to Wellington in 1880 has supplied me with the following incident. He states: "We had an ordinary run as far as weather was concerned until we were towed into Wellington by the old steamer Go-Ahead. During the first month of the voyage we seldom saw the captain on deck, and for the remainder of the voyage only two or three times. To increase our anxiety, after being about a month at sea, the first mate was more often below than on deck, andpage 290 the whole responsibility of navigating the ship fell on the second mate, a young Jerseyman named Hamon (afterwards captain of the Turakina and other ships). It was to his untiring energy and good seamanship that some 150 passengers owed their safety. The saloon passengers took the matter up on arrival at Wellington, and after a searching investigation had been held the Captain was dismissed by the company, and Captain Bone placed in command. The mate was discharged on the next voyage of the Rakaia to Auckland.

"Mr. Hamon, who brought the Rakaia to Wellington in 1880, was making his first voyage to New Zealand, and, being extra cautious when coming through Cook's Straits, he kept too far to sea when approaching the Wellington Heads. A piping N.W. gale came on, and although the lighthouse could be seen, we were blown away to sea and did not enter the heads until three weeks later."

the Rakaia, when berthing at Lyttelton in 1889, caused considerable damage to one of the iron sheds on the wharf. The ship's anchor failed to hold, and the jibboom went right through the shed, completely wrecking it. The forepart of the Rakaia was slightly damaged. the Rakaia sailed from Lyttelton under Captain Watson, and made Cape Horn in 17 days. Captain Watson is now marine superintendent for the U.S.S. Company at Melbourne.

Here follow the passages made by the Rakaia:—

Akaroa Lighthouse, Canterbury.

Akaroa Lighthouse, Canterbury.

To Auckland.
Sailed. Arrived. Captain. Days.
May 13 Aug. 10, '81 Bone 88
Land to land 78
Sep. 16, '86 Jan. 8, '87 Forsdick 114
To Wellington.
Nov. 20, '76 Feb. 27, '77 Triston 93
July 6 Oct. 8, '78 Metcalf 93
May 31 Sep. 9, '79 Metcalf 101
July 12 Oct. 20, '80 Metcalf 100
July 19 Nov. 4, '90 Cracroft 108
To Lyttelton.
Jan. 4 Apr. 25, '74 Rose 111
Nov. 18, '74 Feb. 7, '75 McInnis 80
Sep. 8 Dec. 10, '77 Triston 101
May 28 Sep. 2, '82 Bone 96
April 13 July 18, '83 Jamieson 96
Oct. 15, '88 Jan. 29, '89 Banks 106
July 2 Oct. 21, '91 Silba 87
To Port Chalmers.
Sep. 30, '75 Jan. 10, '76 Triston 96
Dec. 4, '87 Mar. 18, '88 Banks 103
Oct. 13, '89 Jan. 14, '90 Watson 93
To Timaru.
Oct. 4, '84 Jan. 8, '85 Fowler 95
To Bluff.
Oct. 8, '85 Jan. 14, '86 Forsdick 98