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

The May Queen

page 83

The May Queen.

A Popular Little Barque—Wrecked at Lyttelton.

the May Queen was a pretty little barque, and very popular with passengers. Although only 736 tons register she made excellent passages to the several ports. After making sixteen voyages to New Zealand she came to grief at Lyttelton in 1888. She ran to Dunedin from 1871 until 1876,
the May Queen Entering Nelson.

the May Queen Entering Nelson.

under charter to the Shaw-Savill Company, and also made three voyages to Auckland, two to Lyttelton, two to Nelson, and one to Napier.

On the 1st January, 1877, the May Queen anchored at Port Chalmers with the greater part of her bulwarks between the fore and main rigging gone. Captain Tatchell reported that on the night of December 7th the ship was head reaching under three lower topsails in a furious S.E. gale when the wind suddenly veered to the S.W., and orders were given to loose the fore topmast staysail. None of the watch were inclined to obey and the second officer (Mr. Boose), only 22 years of age, sprang on to the bowsprit. The ship dipped into a heavy sea and took it right over her bows. When she rose again the officer had disappeared.

In 1881 the May Queen sailed direct from London to Tauranga with passengers for the Vesey Stewart Settlement, and then came on to Auckland with pas-page 84sengers and cargo. While at Tauranga she was reported to have run aground. What really happened was that her cable parted while she was anchored at Stoney Point and she was steered into Blind Channel, where her stern just touched at low water. She did not suffer any damage and came on to Auckland, when the passengers and some cargo were landed, arriving here on 24th December.

the May Queen was wrecked at Lyttelton in 1888, while in command of Captain Colville, who made six voyages in the ship. She was owned by W. Shirris, of Aberdeen, and built by A. Hall and Company. She left London on 26th October, 1887, and made a good passage out of 91 days to Lyttelton Heads, arriving on January 27. The port pilot Lewin
Captain R. Tatchell.

Captain R. Tatchell.

boarded the ship and took the vessel up through the Heads against a strong uncertain wind. When off "Red Head," situated between the bay and Little Port Cooper, and close in shore, the vessel missed stays and ran upon the reef. A tug soon approached and endeavoured to tow the May Queen off, but in vain, for she had gone ashore at nearly high water, and as the tide had ebbed about a foot she held fast and would not budge an inch. The agents procured a lighter, which was sent down alongside the May Queen, and a gang of men commenced discharging the cargo. The vessel remained in the same position for two or three days, when it slightly altered and she took a list to starboard the water at high tide covering the stern almost to the main hatch. The following day the sea became very rough, the water was now level with the 'tween decks, and the cases and other packages were being washed about. Next day the vessel had settled down still more aft, and the whole of the main deck was covered to the deckhouse. On the 28th the ship was abandoned, only those interested in the salvage remaining on board. On January 30th the May Queen, which originally cost £22,000, was sold by public auction, and purchased by Messrs. Wood, Sinclair and Company for the sum of £275. Between 500 and 600 tons of cargo was salved, and the remainder, consisting of wines, spirits, fruit in hermetically sealed tanks, and a lot of valuable ironware, oils, drugs and drapery was sold by auction, and purchased by Mr. J. Mills stevedore of Port Chalmers, for £1000. The wreck was again sold for £7.

Here follow the records of passages made to New Zealand:—

To Auckland.
Sailed. Arrived. Captain. Days.
Oct. 1, '77 Jan. 7, '78 Tatchell 95
July 30 Oct. 19, '78 Tatchell 90
Aug. 27 Dec. 16, '81 Colville 110
To Wellington.
Sep. 27, '82 Jan. 6, '83 Colville 101
To Lyttelton.
Aug. 22 Dec. 3, '80 Colville 102
Oct. 26, '87 Jan. 27, '88 Colville 91
To Dunedin.
Aug. 20 Nov. 8, '70 Leslie 80
Land to land 75
Aug. 26 Nov. 15, '71 Leslie 81
Land to land 76
July 29 Oct. 24, '72 Leslie 87
Aug. 7 Nov. 5, '73 Tatchell 90
Aug. 19 Nov. 13, '74 Tatchell 85
Aug. 31 Dec. 4, '75 Tatchell 95
Sep. 18, '76 Jan. 1, '77 Tatchell 105
To Nelson.
Aug. 8 Nov. 18, '85 Colville 102
Aug. 16 Dec. 1, '86 Colville 107
To Napier.
Aug. 7 Nov. 7, '79 Tatchell 90

Via Tauranga.