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

The Canterbury

page 71

The Canterbury.

Fast Craft of the '70's—Made 22 Trips to New Zealand.

the Canterbury, a beautiful clipper ship of 1242 tons, built in 1874 for Patrick Henderson by Robert Duncan, sailed the seas for many years, and during the 'seventies and 'eighties brought thousands of immigrants to New Zealand. She was one of the fastest sailers and most comfortable ships afloat,
The Clipper Canterbury.

The Clipper Canterbury.

and made some remarkable runs both out and Home. In 1881 she ran from Glasgow to Port Chalmers in 76 days port to port. Most of the voyages were made after Patrick Henderson amalgamated with the Shaw, Savill Co. the Canterbury was exceptionally fortunate in avoiding the heavy gales usually met with in the Southern Ocean. She made twenty-two voyages out, and it was only on the last two passages that she suffered any serious damage.

Terrific Gale Encountered.

On the first of these runs to Otago under Captain Collingwood, who had been transferred from the Margaret Galbraith to the Canterbury, the ship left London on September 9, and did not clear the land until eight days later. The equator was crossed on the 15th October. On the 19th, when travelling at 10 knots, an apprentice fell from aloft overboard.page 72 The ship was immediately hove aback, a boat lowered, and in less than half an hour the youth was on board again. The Cape was rounded on the 6th November, and on the 27th the ship met with a terrific gale from the south-west, with mountainous seas. The vessel was hove-to for several hours, during which immense quantities of water were shipped, the vessel rolling and straining heavily and endangering all the fixtures about the decks. One sea broke on board and washed away the solid teak rail on the forecastle, and did other serious damage. Thence the ship had moderate weather to the Snares, which were made on the 9th December. Light and variable winds carried the ship to anchorage on the 19th December.

Captain Collingwood had another stormy passage when bound from Glasgow to Port Chalmers the following year, and this was the second passage in which the ship had exceeded 100 days to Dunedin. the Canterbury made some rapid passages home, and on one occasion is credited with a run of 69 days port to port.

the Canterbury was sold to Norway in 1905, and was still afloat in 1915.

Voyaging In 1877.

Some very interesting details concerning the passage of the Canterbury from Glasgow to Port Chalmers in 1877 are given in a letter I received from Mr. Andrew Gray, of Messrs. Gray and Cockroft, Auckland, who came out on that occasion, he being then a lad of twelve. Mr. Gray speaks very affectionately of the old ship, and as an instance of the deep impression made upon travellers by the old sailing ships as compared with the very sketchy impressions that one gathers in a trip in these days of steam and speed, it is interesting to know that he retains a most vivid recollection of what happened, and of the fascination of the shipboard life.

Even in those days cargo-broaching was known and Mr. Gray tells of a steward that awakened the suspicions of the chief from the fact that he always carried the slop bucket forward to be emptied. One day the chief made an investigation, and snugly lying in the bottom of the bucket was a bottle of grog that the steward had purloined from the lazarette. Put in irons, confined for two days, and then degraded to "brass man," was the punishment of the steward, and an apprentice was mastheaded on a charge of being accessory before the act, but at the solicitations of the passengers was pardoned by Captain Leslie.

Washed Off The Poop.

South of the Cape the ship was pooped by a following sea which so frightened two nursemaids that they clung to the wheel and made it impossible for the quartermaster to trim the helm to meet the situation. One boy was found under the hencoop, and young Gray was thought to have been washed overboard, until they found him in the single girls' quarters where he had been washed from the poop via the deck as far as the mainmast and aft again.

Owing to the stopping of the condenser the emigrants were, against the doctor's advice, put on cask water brought from Home, and the result was that there was an outbreak of fever and several lives were lost, so that when Port Chalmers was reached quarantine was ordered for two months; from which, so Mr. Gray understood, some of the men escaped by swimming ashore.

On this voyage the first mate was Mr. McMillan (afterwards captain) and Mr. Gray recalls a sailor's joke that caused much amusement. The single girls were quartered apart, and the sailors were not supposed to converse with them. One day a sailor dressed up a mop to resemble one of the crew and placed it so that it looked like a man talking to the girls, through the iron grating of the hatch. The sedate mate scented some fun, and collecting the saloon passengers that happened to be promenading the deck he quietly went to the break of the poop and dashed a bucket of water over the supposed Romeo. Of course the watch and the girls howled with delight when the mate discovered that he had been nicely "sold."

Among the saloon passengers was one that used to report the exchange of notes between the sailors and these so-carefully-guarded damsels, and of course she earned the cordial hatred of every jack-tar and girl aboard.

Random Memories.

Some of the other fragmentary but illuminating memories of Mr. Gray include two days among the icebergs; a parakeet that flew on board far from land; the fun of being allowed to keep watch with the second mate (Mr. Tom Dunlop) and of the dire trouble that arose from striking one bell too many one morning and rousing the captain too early by half an hour; the old emigrant that used to wear a tall hat and frock coat to the church service held roundpage 73 the windlass over which was draped the Union Jack; and the woman that smoked in bed and set the bedding alight one night in the single girls' quarters. There were lots of other incidents that could not to-day be duplicated—travel has changed so much since 1877—but sufficient has been said to show that shipboard life in the days of sail was not quite so monotonous as some people seem to think.

The saloon passengers on this trip were Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Melville and family, who resided for many years in Auckland, Mr. and Mrs. Macauley, of Totara South, Oamaru, Mr. and Mrs. Gray and family, Mr. Ford, who was Mr. Andrew Gray's tutor, another young man, and the nursemaids.

Here follow the record of the passages made outwards:—

To Auckland.
Sailed. Arrived. Captain. Days.
Oct. 20, '89 Jan. 21, '90 McMillan 93
To Wellington.
July 31 Oct. 25, '85 McMillan 86
June 1 Sep. 13, '86 McMillan 104
Oct. 19 Jan. 23, '98 Culbert 96
Oct. 11, '01 Feb. 21, '02 Collingwood 134
To Lyttelton.
June 6 Sep. 2, '74 Strachan 87
Aug. 2 Nov. 2, '84 McMillan 91
To Port Chalmers.
Sailed. Arrived. Captain. Days.
Sep. 1 Nov. 19, '75 Anderson 79
Sep. 28 Dec. 29, '77 Leslie 92
*Nov 3, '80 Jan. 19, '81 Leslie 76½
Sep. 30 Dec. 16, '81 McMillan 76
Land to land 73
Sep. 21 Dec. 11, '82 McMillan 81
Land to land 78
Aug. 8 Nov. 2, '83 McMillan 86
Land to land 77
Aug. 31 Dec. 1, '88 McMillan 92
Oct. 7, '90 Jan. 9, '91 Culbert 91
Sep. 2 Dec. 12, '91 Culbert 99
Oct. 11 Dec. 31, '92 Culbert 79
Land to land 75
Oct. 12, '94 Jan. 8, '95 Culbert 88
Oct. 16, '96 Jan. 8, '97 Culbert 83
Sep. 9 Dec. 17, '98 Collingwood 99
Sep. 2 Dec. 12, '99 Collingwood 110
To Napier.
Aug. 28 Dec. 24, '95 Culbert 117

This ship must not be confused with the ship Canterbury, a vessel of 970 tons, which was launched in 1857 and christened by Lady Lyttelton. The ceremony took place at a public break-fast given at the East India Docks to the main portion of the Canterbury settlers. The ship arrived at Lyttelton on August 19, 1857.

The Nuggets Lighthouse, Otago.

The Nuggets Lighthouse, Otago.

* During the run through the Southern Ocean the ship averaged 240 miles daily.

Via Taiaroa Heads and Lyttelton for orders.