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

The Famous Antiope

page 332

The Famous Antiope.

Afloat Over Fifty Years—War-time Resuscitation—and then Beat a Steamer.

Sailors are—or perhaps one should say used to be—very superstitious, and drew all sorts of omens from trifling incidents, while names were full of meanings that the ordinary landlubber would search for in vain. For instance, one day, when a ship was launched with the musical classical name of "Antiope" on her bows, the old shell-backs at once scented trouble. Perhaps only too naturally they pronounced it "Anti-hope," and asked one another what possible chance a craft could have that was deliberately so branded? The "Anti-hope!" Why, it was simply
The Antiope.

The Antiope.

courting trouble to give her such a name! For once the sea croakers were mistaken, for, as one of her old commanders writes, "I think she was one of the luckiest ships afloat, for through all the mishaps with which she met she seemed to defy the elements and escape the snares of Davy Jones' locker." I quote Captain D. N. Campbell, of Waipu, that prolific home of good sailors, who commanded the old ''barky" from March, 1917, until he came ashore in September, 1919, on sick leave. Built by John Reid and Co., of Glasgow, in 1866, just three years before her great rival the Cutty Sark, the Antiope was originally owned by Joseph Heap and Sons, well known rice millers of Liverpool. That firm had a number of fine sailing vessels for carrying its own rice from Rangoon to the Mersey, and, as Captain Campbell puts it, they all had (according to Mercantile Jack) jaw-breaking names, such as Cassiope, Parthenope, and others from the classics.

Turned Into Hulk.

When steam gradually ousted sail from the trade with the Far East, Heap and Sons parted with the Antiope, and the next definite information we have about her is that she was flying the Russian flag and that she was the largest vessel captured by the Japanese from Russians during the Russo-Japanese war. She was sold as a prize to J. R. Matheson, of Ladysmith, British Columbia, for the lumber trade, in which she remained for some twelve years, and then she was sold to the Paparoa Coal Co., of New Zealand, for use as a hulk. She was dismantled in Wellington, where she lay until the year 1915 saw the remarkable revival in sail, the war making it imperative that anything thatpage 333 could carry cargo should be pressed into the service. Bought by the Otago Iron Rolling Mills, the one-time clipper was rigged once more, and at the mature age of 49 she made a fresh start in life, much to the surprise of the most sanguine admirer of the old sailing ships and sailing ship days.

In 1916, when on the voyage from Tasmania to Port Chalmers with scrap-iron and hardwood, she was so storm-beaten that off the Bluff she had to show distress signals. A tug came out, and managed to get a line aboard, though it was too rough to transfer a pilot. Coming up the channel a squall caught the ship and swung her out of the channel, and she stranded on the rocks inside the harbour. After remaining hard and fast for many months the Antiope was at length refloated and towed to Port Chalmers, where repairs were effected, and at the very respectable age of 51 she once more breasted the ocean wave.

This successful salving of the Antiope was by no means the first of its kind at the Bluff. In 1856 the barque William Hyde lay ashore for two years before she could be salvaged. In 1864 the ship New Great Britain was ashore for several months, and in 1886 the Government schooner Kekeno had a similar experience. Efforts to salvage the Scotia, a steamer wrecked at the Bluff in 1864, on her maiden trip from Home, were continued for over a year, but without success, as her decks buckled by the pressure exerted by the compressed air bags used in the attempt. In 1874 an ex-slave trader, the brig Carl, was successfully refloated, but her sides caved in when she was beached, and she became a total loss.

When the Antiope came out of Port Chalmers dry dock—that was in March, 1917—Captain Campbell took command. He sailed in ballast to Newcastle, where he loaded a cargo of coal for Chili, whence he took nitrates to San Francisco. At the Californian port he loaded case oil for Auckland, and made two more voyages to San Francisco and back, the average passage being 52 days, which was not fast, but the old craft never did herself justice after being rigged as a barque.

Beat the Steamer.

That she could slip along under favouring circumstances was, however, proved on Captain Campbell's last voyage up to the Golden Gate. When 260 miles off that port he fell in with a Japanese steamer, both bound for San Francisco. The wind was abaft the beam and there was plenty of it, and a very interesting race ensued between sail and steam. At the time he met the Japanese Captain Campbell had some of his light sails furled, but these were afterwards shaken out, and in finishing the Antiope had everything set. At times she logged 15 and 16 knots, and if ships feel, as sailors are sure they do, it was not the least proud moment of her varied life when she passed through the Golden Gate an hour and a half ahead of the Jap. As there were a number of passengers on board the steamer, all keenly interested in the novel race, the event was more than usually piquant.

When Captain Campbell was relieved on August 26, 1919, Captain James Broadhouse, who is now residing in Auckland, was appointed captain, and the Antiope then proceeded to Suva, Fiji, making the passage in 13 days. There the vessel took on board a full load of copra in bulk (1850 tons). From there she sailed for London, but on proceeding up the English Channel she was signalled from Dungeness to proceed to Rotterdam instead, this passage occupying 108 days from Suva to Rotterdam, where the vessel remained for four months. She experienced variable winds until rounding Cape Horn, when the weather was very fine, a very unusual occurrence, the vessel logging 13 knots an hour, all sail set and a fine south-west wind. Owing to a strike at Rotterdam the Antiope was obliged to remain there for four months, during which time the ship was docked, and Captain Broadhouse was much surprised to find the excellent state the bottom of the vessel was in, the Antiope then being 54 years of age, and the oldest ship afloat. From Rotterdam the Antiope sailed for Viborg, Finland, to ship a full load of deals for Delagoa Bay, South Africa. Viborg was left on August 20, 1920, and the vessel finally arrived at Delagoa Bay on December 1, where six weeks later, on January 13, 1921, the vessel caught fire and became a constructive total loss. She was then handed over to the underwriters, and was finally sold to the Sena Sugar Estate, Ltd., and is now a hulk in Chinde, Portuguese East Africa.

Captain Broadhouse was formerly chief officer on the Canterbury with Captain Collingwood. He was also second officer on the Zealandia under Captain Bate.

According to Mr. Basil Lubbock, when the Antiope was in the Australian tradepage 334 her best passage out to Melbourne was made under Captain Withers. She was 68 days on the passage, and but for being hung up on the Line would have gone near to breaking the record. Some twenty-nine years ago, Mr. C. H. Poole, of Auckland, formerly member of Parliament, was third mate of the Antiope, which was then engaged in the Liverpool-Melbourne run.