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White Wings Vol II. Founding Of The Provinces And Old-Time Shipping. Passenger Ships From 1840 To 1885

Revolt On The Victory

Revolt On The Victory.

The John Wickliffe and the Philip Laing with their 330 and more passengers were the pioneer Otago ships, but three other vessels also arrived that year—the Victory, 579 tons, on July 8, the Blundell, 578 tons, on September 21, and the Bernicia, 548 tons, on December 12. Thanks to the unearthing of half-forgotten old diaries in Dunedin I have been able to recall some of the interesting incidents that seem to have marked the voyage of at least two of these three craft. The total number of immigrants landed at Dunedin in the year 1848 was 566.

An extraordinary state of things prevailed on board the ship Victory, Captain Mullens, during her voyage from Gravesend to Otago in 1848. The story is told from a diary kept by a passenger, Mr. L. Langland, one of the twenty-four adults who came out in her. Leaving Gravesend on March 3, the vessel ran into heavy weather in the Channel and had to shelter at Cowes for ten days. At a very early stage of the passage there was much discontent among the crew. Right from the start, during the bad weather, the captain had a most vexatious habit of ordering "all hands" to shorten sail, 'bout ship, or carrying out some other manoeuvre. He had a smart crew, but this continual calling out of all hands left them no time for regular rest, and they became very disgruntled. The men looked on a young fellow named Robinson as their leader—a dark, handsome man, who seems to have acted with much spirit and showed much judgment in dealing with a rather peculiar state of affairs.

Naturally the grumbles of the crew reached the ears of the skipper, and he took a singularly unfortunate way of showing his displeasure. When the men were out on the yards reefing the sails on a dark wild night, the "old man" would stand beside the steersman and compel him to keep the sails "full," as it is called. That is to say, instead of letting her come up somewhat into the wind, and so taking much of the weight of the wind out of the sails, making the work of handling them easier for the men struggling with the heavy, wet canvas, he would keep the sails full of wind, and much prolong the work of the men. This, and the fact that he would not allow a man ashore when the ship was sheltering at Cowes, proved the last straws.