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

First Wool Ships

First Wool Ships.

There used to be some dispute as to when the first ship loaded wool at Napier for London, but the best authorities seem to agree that it was the Southern Cross, Captain George Charlton, which took away a small shipment in 1858. According to some informa-page 98tion supplied by Mr. W. A. Harding, the Southern Cross was at Wellington when she got orders to go to Napier. Before taking his ship up Captain Charlton went overland to Napier and surveyed the harbour. Having done so he returned to Wellington in the s.s. Wonga Wonga. The Southern Cross arrived at Napier on December 19, 1857, having done the passage from Wellington in 36 hours. She left again for London, via Wellington, on February 25, 1858, having 650 bales on board. Her long stay of nine weeks was due to the fact that she arrived much too early for the wool season.

In some accounts of the port the Snaresbrook, 459 tons, Captain G. Mundle, is given as the first vessel to load wool, but she did not come until the year after the Southern Cross. She reached Napier from London, via Wellington, on October 19, 1859, and sailed for London, via Wellington, on February 22, 1860, with 345 bales of wool, 147 sheepskins, one hide, her cargo being valued at £7646 3/2. She took five passengers, four of whom were for London.

The first vessel to load wool for London from the Inner Harbour was the barque Eclipse, which met with an accident when leaving for Auckland, where she was to fill up.

For what happened to the Eclipse I am indebted to the researches of Mr. W. A. Harding. The Eclipse was a two-years-old Aberdeen-built clipper barque of 254 tons, commanded by Captain W. R. Elliott. At the end of 1859 she arrived at Napier from Wellington, and took on board 490 bales of wool, valued at £10,449, which was consigned to London. On March 14, 1860, advantage was taken of the s.s. Wonga being in port to have the barque towed out of the harbour. The morning being fine, the vessel cast off from her moorings preparatory to her being taken in tow. About two p.m., when all was ready, it unfortunately came on to blow hard from the north-west, and in ordinary circumstances the pilot (McKinnon) would not have attempted to take her out; but as she had cast off from her moorings she had to be got away. After she passed through the entrance and got beyond the influence of the tide, it was found that the little Wonga Wonga could not make any headway against the fierce wind that was blowing.

The pilot then ordered the barque's anchor to be dropped, but as the depth of water did not exceed twelve feet, while the vessel drew ten feet, he could not pay out more than fifteen fathoms of chain, which was quite inadequate to hold her. At the same time the tow-line unfortunately became entangled in the steamer's propeller, and for his own safety her master (Captain Renner) had to cut away the line. When Renner got his propeller clear he again sent a line on board the barque, but failed to move her, and as a matter of fact barque and steamer were fast going astern.

The Wonga Wonga again had to let go for her own safety, and soon afterwards the Eclipse took the ground just below the pilot's cottage. There was a considerable sea on at the time, and she rolled heavily until seven p.m., when she was towed off by the s.s. White Swan and taken into the harbour again.

The Eclipse was successfully taken out again on April 4, anchoring in the roadstead and eventually sailing three days later.page 99 In order to see what damage had been done to her bottom the barque went on to Auckland, where she arrived on the 12th. She apparently went aground off Official Bay, and was then taken up the harbour to have her cargo discharged, after which she went down to Swansea Bay, Kawau, to be hove down in order that repairs might be effected to her false keel, damaged when she was aground at Napier.