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

The Crusader

page 36

The Crusader.

A Fast Shaw, Savill Liner—Twenty-seven Voyages Out and Home—Erroneous Impressions Corrected—A Great Ocean Race—Strange Story of a Leak.

That the Crusader was one of the fastest and most consistent sailers flying the Shaw-Savill and Albion Company's flag is undoubted, but there is no foundation for the statement frequently published that she made the record passage to New Zealand. My figures are taken from the reports furnished from the log at the time of arrival, and are reliable.

Great Turn Of Speed.

the Crusader had certainly an excellent record for consistent passages made to the four chief ports of the Dominion, which averaged 91 days. The fact that between 1871 and 1897 she completed no less than 28 voyages out and Home again demonstrates that she had remarkable speed, and justifies the claim that she was one of the fastest sailers afloat at the time.

the Crusader is credited by Mr. Basil Lubbock with having made a remarkable run in 1877 from Lyttelton to the Lizard in 69 days. This statement is corroborated by several commanders of ships trading to the Southern ports at the time. On this occasion no single day's run exceeded 300 miles, and it was remarkable that the ship never once had the wind on the port side from the time she cleared New Zealand with a westerly wind until her arrival Home. the Crusader was then commanded by Captain Llewellyn.

When she first traded to New Zealand the Crusader was owned by the Peter Henderson and Albion Line, and was painted black, with a yellow streak; when this company amalgamated with the Shaw, Savill Company, she had painted ports.

Captain C. H. Renaut, who was in command of the Crusader for two voyages, previously commanded the ship Celaeno, from 1864 until 1873. Upon leaving the Crusader, he took command of the Pleione, and sailed for Wellington, arriving there on March 31, 1877, and was later appointed London manager to the Wellington Gear Meat Company, a position which has been filled by one of his sons, Mr. F. W. Renaut, after his father's death, which occurred during 1915. Mr. C. H. Renaut's father, Captain William Renaut, arrived in Dunedin as far back as 1848 in the ship Blundell. This was the first ship to enter on the Customs records at Port Chalmers, and was also the first ship that came out in connection with the Otago Settlement scheme.

Captain C. M. Renaut, another son of Captain C. H. Renaut, has an interesting record of sea service. He served for eleven years in various sailing and steam vessels belonging to the Shaw, Savill and other companies. In 1897 he entered the service of the Union S.S. Company. Later he was appointed Government surveyor of ships to the New Zealand Marine Department, and was acting in this position for several years in Auckland. Recently he was promoted to senior surveyor at Lyttelton, and prior to his departure in April, 1923, was entertained by the masters of vessels in Auckland.

An Ocean Race.

the Crusader has been credited with having made the record passage out to Port Chalmers in 65 days during 1878, when commanded by Captain Renaut.

I believe the key to the puzzle of this supposed record run to Port Chalmers has been supplied by Mr E. F. Warren, of Remuera, Auckland, who writes a most interesting account of a 65-day passage the Crusader made from Lyttelton to the English Channel. It should be explained that a passage Home from New Zealand was a very different thing from a passage to New Zealand from the Old Country, as owing to the nature of the trade winds the Homeward passages were generally done in much faster time than the outward trips. It is most probable that this 65-day voyage is the one that has misled people as to the Crusader's alleged record between London and Port Chalmers

Mr. Warren writes: "So far as my memory serves me it was in 1877 that the Crusader, the Avalanche and the Ocean Mail had a memorable ocean race Home. the Crusader went Home in 65page 37days, land to land, and the Avalanche in 78 days. The ships left their respective ports on or about the same date, the Avalanche and Ocean Mail from Wellington on the same day, and the Crusader from Lyttelton. the Avalanche (Shaw, Savill) was in charge of Captain Williams, a very popular and able commander, and the Ocean Mail (New Zealand Shipping Company) in command of Captain Roberts. As the Avalanche and Ocean Mail proceeded down the Wellington Harbour a heavy "southerly buster" sprang up, and the Avalanche anchored off Worser Bay. the Ocean Mail put back and anchored off Soames Island. The following morning with a fair wind both ships sailed away. the Avalanche on this occasion carried about one hundred passengers.
the Crusader At Port Chalmers.

the Crusader At Port Chalmers.

Both ships were becalmed for a day off the Chatham Islands, and Captain Roberts paid a visit to the Avalanche.

A large number of fine albatrosses were sailing about the ships, and several were shot for their skins, which were presented to some ladies on the Avalanche. The sailors predicted bad luck from killing these birds, and strange to relate, Captain Roberts' boat was stove in against our ship's side, and he had to be conveyed back in one of the boats belonging to the Avalanche. A breeze coming up we parted company that evening and never sighted the Ocean Mail again, but when our pilot came aboard in the English Channel we were informed that the Ocean Mail had gone ashore and was totally wrecked at the Chathams. When rounding Cape Horn and in sight of land we sighted a full rigged ship, sailing much closer to the Cape and rapidly overhauled her. To our surprise it was the Crusader. By evening we had left her hull down astern.

Sails Blown Away.

"The following day our course was altered a point or so to the south, and some hours later we were taken aback in a heavy squall. Our wheel was smashed and many of our sails blown to ribbons. Heavy weather and head winds held us up for 14 days, and but for this unfortunate mishap we should probably have had a neck-and-neck race to the Channel. When the pilot boarded our ship he informed us that the Crusader had passed up the Channel 13 days ahead of us. the Avalanche arrived on the 2nd of June, 1877, making the passage in 78 days.

"On her return trip to Wellington during September she was in collision with the barque Forest of Windsor, going down the Channel, and over 100 persons were drowned, including more than sixty passengers from the Avalanche.

"Captain Williams was in command and was drowned. Three of the crew were saved by clambering on to the Forest of Windsor. The latter ship also sank, but had time to launch several boats, and the whole of the crew were landed safely."

One of the Southern papers recently,page 38referring to this ocean race, credited the Rangitiki with being in the race. It stated: "An interesting race between the Crusader (Captain Davies) and the Rangitiki (Captain Scotland) from Lyttelton to London took place in 1877. Both vessels were renowned for their fast sailing performances. The ships left Lyttelton together on March 10, 1877, much public interest being manifested and heavy betting taking place. The vessels kept together until leaving the coast, and the next thing heard was the arrival of the Crusader in London after a splendid run of 65 days. She was the first sailing ship to perform this feat." This paragraph was copied in other New Zealand papers, and is misleading.

Passages To Auckland.

the Crusader visited Auckland in 1884, in command of Captain Scotland; on this occasion she occupied 103 days on the voyage from Gravesend. She made another voyage to Auckland during the following year (1885) arriving here on May 25, after a fast passage of 85 days from London. She arrived a third time in the Waitemata on September 4, 1887. This time in command of Captain Perriam, the run from London occupying 99 days, and again in 1888, still in command of Captain Perriam, she dropped anchor in harbour on August 25, after another fast run of 84 days.

Sprung A Leak.

Captain C. M. Renaut tells a good story of an incident in his father's career in the old Crusader. It happened on the voyage out to New Zealand. After leaving the Azores the ship began to leak, and she was making as much as two and a half inches an hour, so the skipper was sorely tempted to put into one of the ports on the South American coast towards which ships used to keep in order to pick up the trade winds, but the ship's doctor (the late Dr. Guthrie, of Christchurch) advised against this, as yellow fever was rife in the South American ports at that time, and he did not like taking the risk of getting the scourge among the immigrants, of whom there was a large number on board. Captain Renaut therefore held on, and by the time the ship was nearing the Cape of Good Hope the leak took up, and no water was coming in, so it was decided there was no need to put into port.

Leak Breaks Out Again.

When the ship had passed the Cape, and it was too late to beat back to Capetown, the leak got as bad as ever it had been off the South American coast, and everyone had a most anxious time.

There was nothing for it but to hold on, and eventually the ship made port, still leaking badly. A sail had been rigged under the hull, and other precautions were taken, when the leak broke out after passing Cape of Good Hope, because no one knew what was going to happen. The boats, fully provisioned, were swung out, to be in readiness whatever happened. Owing to the amount of work the pumps had to do the pump leather supply gave out when the ship was in the southern seas. One day an American ship was sighted, and the Crusader signalled her asking for some leather, but not the slightest notice was taken of the flags, and there was nothing for it but to make shift with whatever could be found. A bucket brigade was formed from the young men among the immigrants to supplement the pumps. It was a most anxious time for everyone on board. The incident shows how easily something quite unforeseen may happen at sea, and also possibly gives us the key to some of the mysteries of the sea—mysteries surrounding the fate of gallant ships that have sailed away and never been heard of again.

Saved By A Fish.

After the immigrants were landed and the cargo discharged the ship was docked. A hole was located in the ship's bottom, and inside was the skeleton of a fish that had got in through the hole. It is possible that when the leak took up off the Cape of Good Hope the fish's body was blocking the orifice and prevented the water from flowing in freely. A photograph of the hole and the fish skeleton was taken by Mr. de Maus, a noted photographer of ships at Port Chalmers. the Crusader was an iron ship, but she had previously been engaged in carrying copper ore, and it was thought that a lump had been left in the hull, got wet, and gradually wore or corroded a hole in one of the plates.

On the voyage out to Lyttelton in 1875-6 Captain Renaut reported that terrific weather was experienced in the Bay of Biscay, when the whole of the valuable livestock shipped were lost. At one time the ship was in imminent danger from the heavy seas breaking over her. She, however, weathered the storm, proving her seaworthy qualities. Gales continued until November 14, and then moderate winds to the Snares. On this occasion the Otaki, which left Start Point on the same day, encountered the same storm. This was an ocean race between these two ships, as both were bound for Lyttelton. the Crusader sailed three hours after the Otaki, andpage 39reached Lyttelton exactly three hours later, so the race was a dead heat between the two rival ships.

During the passage to Lyttelton in 1889 the Crusader, on July 8, was hove-to for several hours in a terrific storm, during which time she shipped a heavy sea, which smashed up two boats forward of the deck-house, carried away 80ft of the topgallant bulwarks, and did other serious damage.

the Crusader was eventually sold to the Norwegians.

Following is the record of the Crusader's voyages to New Zealand:—

To Auckland.
Sailed. Arrived. Captain. Days.
Feb. 7 May 19, '84 Scotland 102
Mar. 1 May 25, '85 Scotland 85
May 27 Sep. 4, '87 Perriam 100
June 2 Aug. 25, '88 Perriam 84
To Wellington.
Feb. 17 May 22, '82 Davies 94
Mar. 28 June 22, '86 Scotland 86
July 4 Oct. 6, '94 Burton 95
To Bluff.
June 11 Sep. 10, '96 Burton 91
To Lyttelton.
Sailed. Arrived. Captain. Days.
Dec. 17, '70 Mar. 13, '71 Kerr 86
Dec. 22, '71 Mar. 31, '72 Sutherland 99
Oct. 16, '72 Jan. 5, '73 Sutherland 81
Land to land 74
Nov. 3 '73 Feb. 1, '74 Sutherland 90
Sep. 25 Dec. 30, '74 Renaut 96
Oct. 31, '75 Feb. 8, '76 Renaut 99
Oct. 18, '76 Jan. 13, '77 Llewellyn 87
July 21 Oct. 12, '77 Llewellyn 83
Land to land 74
July 12 Oct. 11, '78 91
Land to land 82
June 24 Sep. 24, '79 Davies 92
July 4 Oct. 7, '80 Llewellyn 95
Dec. 15, '82 Mar. 23, '83 Davies 98
May 11 Aug. 16, '89 Perriam 97
To Port Chalmers.
Apr. 2 July 27, '81 Davies 95
Apr. 25 July 19, '90 Perriam 84
Feb. 25 May 29, '91 Perriam 87
July 29 Oct. 26, '92 Perriam 90
June 30 Sep. 22, '93 Fullarton 84
Land to land 78
June 22 Oct. 1, '95 Burton 98
Sep. 4 Dec. 8, '97 Burton 89