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

Washed Off The Poop

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.