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

The Zealandia

page 107

The Zealandia.

Eventful Career—Collision with Ellen Lamb—Storms in Southern Ocean—Two Ships of the Same Name.

the Zealandia, a fine iron clipper-built ship of 1116 tons, was built for the Shaw, Savill Co. in 1869, and made her maiden voyage to Lyttelton, arriving there on November 20, 1869, in command of Captain Henry Rose, late of the Mermaid, making a good run of 84 days from Gravesend and 76 land to land. the Zealandia was a beautiful ship, specially designed for carrying passengers. Her saloon was spacious and lofty, and the cabins were unusually large and well ventilated, having extra large portholes to them. The decoration of the saloon was extremely chaste. She had some special cabins for families, and a ladies saloon. The second cabin was on deck and the berths were larger than usual and well lighted. The ship sailed from Gravesend on August 18, crossed the Equator September 23, the meridian of Tasmania November 11, where northerly Winds were met with, and continued until reaching Stewart Island on November 15. She was delayed with light winds on the coast, and sighted the Peninsula on the 19th, arriving in port the following morning.

Captain James White, late of the Blue Jacket, and more recently of the Charlotte Andrews, brought the ship out on her second voyage, arriving at Lyttelton on December 24, 1870, after a fine weather passage of 89 days. Running from the Cape to the New Zealand coast the Zealandia, in seventeen consecutive days, covered the extraordinary distance of 5044 miles, averaging 296 miles 3-5 miles per diem, nearly twice the distance from Queenstown (Ireland) to America, thus proving to be one of the fastest ships afloat. In December, in ten days, she ran 3000 miles. On the next trip to Lyttelton, in 1871, Captain White made the passage in 91 days. On the homeward passage Captain White was washed overboard and drowned.

the Zealandia had an eventful career, at one time being in collision with another ship in mid-ocean, about a month after leaving London docks, and on other occasions encountering terrific gales in the Southern Ocean. In 1877, when the ship collided with the Ellen Lamb, the Zealandia was in command of Captain Sellars, a fine old English gentleman, who will be remembered by old Auckland residents when he brought the Bombay into port with all her masts gone, and remained here for several months.

The Collision.

Mr. James D. Knowles, who was a cadet on the Zealandia when she collided with the Ellen Lamb, and visited Auckland in 1922, kindly supplied the following details of the disaster:—

"the Zealandia left London for Wellington with first, second, and third class passengers on June 4, 1877. In Iat. 21 N., on July 7, at midday, she met the barque Ellen Lamb. Both ships were closehauled, the Zealandia on the port tack and the Ellen Lamb on the starboard tack. About midnight, while on the opposite tacks, the two vessels met, and as the Zealandia was running starboard tack the Ellen Lamb, according to the rule of sailing craft, should have given way.

"the Zealandia struck the Ellen Lamb about amidships, and cut her almost in two. The former vessel, with a large hole in her bow, soon found the watertight compartment filled, while the Ellen Lamb went down in three minutes, taking with her eight men, including the captain. The weather was calm, thus enabling the men of the Zealandia to lower the boats and so rescue seven of the men off the Ellen Lamb.

"A temporary shield of sails and boards was made sufficiently strong to cover the gap in the Zealandia, and the fore-watertight compartment held until Rio de Janeiro was reached. On reaching this port the cargo was taken out of the fore part of the ship and placed aft, thereby raising the bow. With the assistance of men from a British gunboat a fire was built around the cut-water, and kept burning while the stem was straightened and the bows replated.

"The topmast, topgallantmast, and jib-boom, which had been carried away in the collision, were replaced by a firm on shore, the repairs taking six weeks.

"the Zealandia had been out from Rio de Janeiro only two days when smallpox broke out on the ship, but was, how-page 108ever, confined to the forecastle. Two deaths resulted from the outbreak."

Tempestuous Voyage.

the Zealandia had a most eventful passage in 1882. Captain Sellars described it as the worst he had met during an experience of thirty years in the Southern Ocean. the Zealandia sailed from Gravesend on July 9, and all went well until the ship reached latitude 42.1 S., longitude 65.19 E., when she encountered a cyclone of hurricane violence, during which both lower topsails were blown away, and the ship ran under bare poles, while tremendous seas broke on board, and carried away the forecastle and head rails, pig pens, front of the deckhouse, and washed the contents of the galley entirely out. The doors of
The New Zealandia At Port Chalmers.

The New Zealandia At Port Chalmers.

the deckhouse were burst in, the water tanks were stove in, and the sheep pens smashed in two; while a considerable portion of the top-gallant bulwarks and the rail were carried away. During the gale the barometer fell to 28.70. Captain Sellars stated that the ship behaved splendidly throughout, but owing to the sea being so high and cross, she had very little fair play. The weather moderated on September 18, and all hands were employed in repairing damages and bending fresh sails. Thence she experienced fresh to light breezes, accompanied by a very heavy S.W. swell, and was constantly shipping great quantities of water.

On September 28, in latitude 45.2 S., longitude 120.1 E., the barometer began to fall very rapidly, and the wind came out W.N.W., increasing to a heavy gale. The vessel was put under her two lower topsails and run before it. The gale increased to frightful violence on September 30, attended by a high cross sea, which broke on board, filled the main deck and washed away everything movable, so that by noon nothing was left. Several heavy following seas were then encountered, which carried away the poop stairs and wing closets, and flooded the saloon—the water finding its way to the lazaret and doing considerable damage. At about 2 p.m. two tremendous seas came on board, washing away the bridge and boat skids and smashing one of the boats, bursting in the starboard door of the saloon, in which the third-class passengers were berthed, and driving the occupants completely out of their compartment into the body of the saloon. Another terrific sea then pooped her, breaking the skylights and forcing its way into the saloon, creating the greatest fear amongst the passengers, who were in a miserable plight; while the front of the forecastle was completely stove in and the seamen's chests washed overboard. Indeed, Captain Sellars stated that during the continuance of the September moon the weather was decidedly the worst, and the two gales the heaviest in all his thirty year's experience in the Southern Seas, and only to be compared with that which at times prevailed in the Bay of Bengal. The barometer, during the gale of Sep-page 109tember 30th, fell to 27.80, the sympesometer to 27.90. After passing Tasmania on 3rd October the wind freshened to another strong gale on the 5th, compelling the ship to heave to under her main topsail. The wind suddenly fell calm, and later light favourable winds enabled her to reach port on the 10th October. the Zealandia made her easting between the parallels of 42 and 43 shouth latitude. Notwithstanding the buffeting the ship received the passage was completed in 93 days, or 84 land to land.

Mrs. F. A. Davies (nee Goodwyn), of Kingsland, Auckland, states that she came to Auckland on the Zealandia in 1881, and that the voyage was no less eventful than the passage made by Captain Sellars in 1882. "We had a similar experience, the captain remarking to me that he had never passed through a more anxious time. We had a cargo of gunpowder and a large number of third-class passengers, many of whom, I remember, as soon as the storm abated, were carried from their (all but) living tomb and laid upon the poop deck in a state of exhaustion."

Of the passage from London to Port Chalmers in 1892, Captain Bate, who previously commanded the Langstone, reported having encountered a succession of heavy gales, mainly from W.N.W., and mountainous seas after rounding the Cape of Good Hope, which continued right across the Southern Ocean, during which a large portion of her gallant bulwarks and 40ft of her washboards round the poop were carried away. Under the circumstances the ship did well to arrive at Port Chalmers only 94 days from anchor to anchor, and 89 land to land.

the Zealandia had another rough experience when bound for the Bluff in 1897. Captain Bate reported that while the ship was hove-to during a fierce gale on August 8 the fore tower topsail was blown away, foretopmast staysail split, and the mizzen storm staysail split. The ship was stripped to bare poles and thrown on her beam ends.

the Zealandia also encountered terrific gales in 1888, when bound for Auckland.

the Zealandia, after completing 31 voyages to New Zealand, was sold to the Russians. She was stranded in 1911, and sold to a firm in Nova Scotia.

Here follow the Zealandia's records:

To Auckland.
Sailed. Arrived. Captain. Days.
July 8 Oct. 15, '74 Sellars 98
Sep. 28, '81 Sellars 115
June 2 Sep. 6, '83 Ruth 96
July 24 Nov. 8, '87 Phillips 107
Aug. 8 Dec. 7, '88 Phillips 120
May 31 Sep. 17, '90 Phillips 109
To Wellington.
June 16 Sep. 18, '76 Sellars 94
May 30 Aug. 28, '78 Sellars 90
July 7 Oct. 19, '79 Sellars 104
Apr. 16 July 18, '84 Phillips 93
June 16 Sep. 29, '85 Phillips 105
June 15 Sep. 15, '89 Phillips 92
June 29 Oct. 6, '93 Bate 99
Sep. 4 Dec. 11, '94 Bate 93
To Lyttelton.
Aug. 28 Nov. 20, '69 Rose 84
Land to land 76
Sep. 23 Dec. 23, '70 White 91
Sep. 8 Dec. 9, '71 White 92
July 10 Oct. 16, '86 Phillips 98
May 9 Aug. 10, '91 Bate 93
To Port Chalmers.
Oct. 8, '72 Jan. 4, 73 Curry 88
Aug. 29 Nov. 29, '73 Curry 92
July 17 Oct. 27, '75 Sellars 102
July 20 Oct. 21, '80 Sellars 94
Land to land 86
July 9 Oct. 10, '82 Sellars 93
Apr. 27 Aug. 2, '92 Bate 95
Aug. 17 Nov. 25, '95 Bate 97
To Nelson.
Jan. 13, '01 Bate 98
Dec. 15, '01 Bate 97
To Bluff.
May 29 Sep. 10, '97 Bate 104
June 22 Sep. 26, '98 Bate 96
June 29 Oct. 4, '99 Bate 97
page 110

The First Zealandia.

There was another ship bearing the same name which came out to the Dominion in the 'fifties, and she was also a fine vessel of 1032 tons. She was sent out by Willis, Gann and Co., and ran to Lyttelton on her maiden voyage in 1858, bringing out 400 immigrants from London. The following year she brought out 316 immigrants. Captain Foster commanded the ship on each occasion when she came to New Zealand.

Mr. Henry Chatteris, of Ponsonby, Auckland, who was a passenger on both Zealandias, has supplied me with the following interesting details. Mr. Chatteris writes: "It was in 1869 that I unexpectedly landed as a youth at Cork. In that year I was a passenger by the famous Omar Pascha, bound from Moreton Bay to England. All went well until the tropics, and about mid-Atlantic. There the ship was found to be on fire, and all hands—about 160 in number—were taken on board a little Italian barque bound from Palermo to New York.

Captain Grey, R.N.R., the commander of the Omar Pascha, was a noted saltwater dandy, and had everything aboard ship-shape and Bristol fashion. By virtue of his R.N.R. rank he used to keep up gun drill, and boat drill was a regular weekly event; not the perfunctory sort of thing carried on by masters of many ships, but a genuine drill, every boat being lowered into the water and pulled for a stretch from the ship's side. The result was that when the time came for the Omar Pascha's people to put off to the rescuing barque her boats were all as tight as a drum, in strong contrast to the equipment of the Italian, three of his boats filling and sinking as soon as they were lowered. There were only eleven of a crew on the Italian orange boat, and they were short of water, so it can be imagined what a quandary the captain must have been in when the Omar Pascha's people were added to his list. But there were plenty of oranges aboard, and these were served out to the rescued people.

Mr. Chatteris, in describing the end of the fine Omar Pascha, said she sank by the stern, and for quite a while stood up with her bows right out of the water. Before she finally went down every rat in the ship seemed to have clambered up on the bow, and there appeared to be millions of them.

Being in a pretty well-beaten track the shipwrecked people soon fell in with a large vessel that proved to be the ship Zealandia, loaded with guano and bound from Callao to Cork for orders. She took off the Omar's people, and the captain of the Italian barque was quite sorry to part with them.

When the Zealandia arrived at Cork she signalled to a ship there, "We have on board the passengers and crew of the Omar Pascha, burned at sea," and strangely enough the ship to which she sent the signal replied, "And we have on board the passengers and crew of the ship Bluejacket, burned at sea."

A few months later, in the year 1870, Mr. Chatteris started off on another trip, and by another strange coincidence he sailed on the new Zealandia. By still another strange coincidence the skipper of the new Zealandia was Captain White, who was in command of the Bluejacket when she was burned. "Bully" White, they used to call him; a real hard sailorman who delighted to carry on, and never took a sail in until he was absolutely compelled to do so.

The passages to New Zealand by the Zealandia were:—

To Auckland.
Sailed. Arrived. Captain. Days.
Nov. 3, '60 Feb. 14, '61 Foster 103
To Lyttelton.
June, 15 Sep. 20, '58 Foster 98
Aug. 11 Nov. 12, '59 Foster 94
* May 24, '62 Foster
sep. 3 Dec. 8, '63 Foster 96
Oct. 6, '64 Jan. 9, '65 Foster 95

* Called at the Cape of Good Hope.