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

The Waipa

The Waipa.

One of Five Sister Ships—Consistent if Not Fast.

the Waipa was one of a type of five ships, built for the New Zealand Shipping Co. They were all built by Palmer's Iron Shipbuilding Co., Newcastle-on-Tyne, in 1875, and were practically all alike, being of the same tonnage and rather heavily rigged. All were full rigged ships originally, but subsequently converted into barques. They were remarkably strong and well built vessels. Though they were never regarded as clippers, they made some fast passages, but under the most favourable circumstances and when getting every chance with such skilled men as Captains Miller, Forsdick, Mosey, Fox, Gorn, and others, if we except the Otaki, they were somewhat disappointing, as they seldom exceeded 13 knots, the Otaki's passage in 1877, when she made the phenomenal run from Dunedin to the Channel in 63 days and to the docks in 69 days and beating the fast Crusader by one day, stands out by itself and she must have experienced very favourable winds throughout; but taking the five ships together they were much the same. Take, for instance, the sailing from London of the Waipa and Orari, the Waipa leaving the S.W. India Docks on August 5, 1888, and the Orari on the previous day. the Orari was under the command of Captain Miller and Waipa under Captain Forsdick, the Waipa being bound for Port Chalmers and the Orari for Wellington. Both ships had light westerly winds in the Channel and continuous fogs. On the afternoon of the 7th the fog lifted a little and the two ships were in sight of each other, the Waipa leading. the Waipa sighted the Orari again on the following two days, when the latter was coming up fast on the Waipa. On the tenth they were still in sight and in company all day, the Orari leading. On the 11th and 12th the two ships were still in company, but the Orari was hull down at sunset. On the 13th they parted company, the Orari going on one tack and the Waipa on another. The two ships had then beat practically from the Downs to 46 N. and 8 W. in the nine days, very poor going. On September 1 the Waipa again exchanged signals with the Orari, when in the north-east-trades 28 days out, and remained in company on the three following days. They soon afterwards parted, and saw nothing of each other until September 17, when they again exchanged signals in 4deg. N. and 20deg. W. The two ships were then 44 days out. On September 18 they were still in company, but the Waipa waspage 262 leaving the Orari fast, at 4 p.m. the Orari being out of sight right astern, and was not seen again during the passage. The foregoing details are taken from Captain Plunket's log, who at that time was second officer on the Waipa. They support the views already expressed that, taken all through, the five ships were much alike, 45 days being a fair test.

In 1880, shortly after passing the meridian of Greenwich, the Waipa encountered a terrific gale, attended with a tremendous sea, during which she lost some sails and her main topgallant yard. This occurred on September 16. The ship experienced heavy weather until the 27th, when it increased to another very severe gale. A terrific sea broke on board, filling the decks and rendering
the Waipa When Rigged As A Barque.

the Waipa When Rigged As A Barque.

it necessary to batten down the immigrants. One of the boats was smashed and other damage sustained. After making the Snares the ship met with another hard gale from the north-east. Notwithstanding the light winds met with during the early part of the passage and the gales when running down her easting she reached port in 90 days from Plymouth and 82 land to land. The ship was then under the command of Captain Gorn, an excellent seaman.

On another occasion, in 1878, the Waipa and Opawa left the English Channel almost together, the former under the command of Captain Gorn and the latter under Captain Triston. the Waipa sailed from London on August 30, and cleared the land on September 6. the Opawa left London on August 29, and called at Plymouth, leaving that port on September 7, so the Waipa had at least one clear day's start. Both vessels experienced light north-east winds until September 26, when the Opawa overhauled and passed the Waipa. Light baffling airs prevailed, and the two ships were in company for three days. the Opawa crossed the Equator on the 6th and the Waipa on the 7th of October. Fine weather, with light winds, generally, was experienced in the Southern Ocean, and the Opawa sighted the Snares on November 30. From this until arrival at Lyttelton she experienced head winds, with fog and rain up the coast, and arrived on December 7. the Waipa, which was bound for Port Chalmers, sighted Dog Island on December 7, and arrived on December 11.

the Waipa was engaged in the New Zealand trade from 1875 until 1893, when she was sold to a Norwegian firm, and is, I believe, still afloat under the name of Munter.

Captain Gorn commanded the Waipa for five years, and on his last trip in 1883, died when off the Cape of Good Hope. The ship was brought on by the chief officer, Mr. Baxter.

the Waipa on one occasion, after loading a cargo at Picton and Wellington, made a fine run of 84 days to New York, under Captain Silba.

Captain Norbury, for many years with the Northern Steamship Company, Auckland, came out in the Waipa as an A.B. on her first trip, arriving at Wellington in April, 1876.

page 263

An Over-Christened Babe.

Some queer names were fastened on innocent children during the Boer war, and again during the last conflict, but it is extremely doubtful if one small head had to bear so many and so strange appellations as an infant whose first cradle was the deep, and whose birthplace was the cabin of the ship Waipa. Mr. Houghton, until recently manager of the New Zealand Shipping Co., who tells the story says the string of names made such an impression on him that it has been impossible for him to forget. Captain Gorn was master on the Waipa at the time, and when he arrived at Auckland he was duly questioned for particulars, that would enable the shipping office to fill in the usual Board of Trade forms. Yes, there had been one birth, and when asked for the name he reeled off a list almost as long as the dinghy's painter. "Cyclone Four Bells Cape Dove Gorn Bendall Waipa—."

And in spite of the fact that the skipper and all others concerned were humane people, this unresisting and helpless child had these things fastened upon it for life, the crime being duly entered on the Board of Trade return. The explanation of the names (but not of the mental condition of a mother that could so handicap her offspring) was that the child was born in a cyclone at four bells off Cape Dove. The other names explain themselves, and it only remains to say that Bendall was the name of the ship's doctor. I expect she was called "Psyche," for short.

Here follow the records of the outward passages made by the Waipa.

To Wellington.
Sailed. Arrived. Captain. Days.
Dec. 17, '75 Apr. 2, '76 Seaborn 106
July 19 Nov. 11, '89 Forsdick 115
To Lyttelton.
Oct. 27, '76 Jan. 24, '77 Millman 89
April 29 July 30, '81 Gorn 92
Feb. 11 May 27, '82 Baxter 105
Jan. 28 May 17, '83 Baxter 109
Sep. 3 Dec. 17, '84 Jamieson 104
July 5 Oct. 23, '90 Forsdick 91
* Jan. 30, '94 Silba 97
To Port Chalmers.
Aug. 26 Nov. 21, '77 Gorn 87
Aug. 30 Dec. 11, '78 Gorn 102
July 30 Oct. 31, '79 Gorn 92
Land to land 82
July 26 Oct. 25, '80 Gorn 90
Land to land 86
Nov. 30, '83 Mar. 3, '84 Jamieson 94
July 4 Oct. 13, '85 Jamieson 101
Aug. 5 Nov. 4, '87 Forsdick 90
Aug. 5 Nov. 2, '88 Forsdick 88
May 6 Aug. 5, '91 Forsdick 89
Oct. 22,'92 Feb. 2, '93 Silba 101

* New York, via Port Chalmers.

From Plymouth, the others being from London.