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

Passenger Ships

Passenger Ships.

With regard to the direct shipping from overseas to Napier, some difficulty arises in getting information, as no newspapers are available until 1863, the files at the Government Library in Wellington having been destroyed by fire.

The first vessel to arrive at Napier from London with passengers was the Royal Bride, 526 tons, Captain Laker, which brought out 24 assisted immigrants. She made a very good passage of 110 days to Auckland. This ship left the Downs on January 9, 1863, and arrived at Auckland on April 29. The pilot log-book refer to her as being the first "direct" ship from London, but the newspaper files show this was not so. She remained in Auckland from the end of April until May 31 discharging cargo, and reached Napier on June 10.

The Royal Bride was cast ashore on Petane Beach during a terrific north-east gale, but no lives were lost, all hands getting safely ashore. She was the first large vessel to come to grief on the beach. "I well remember the wreck of the Royal Bride," writes Mr. Harding. "From 7 p.m. on Sunday, June 21, there were strong gusts from north-east by east to east-north-east, with rain. At 9 p.m. the wind was still increasing and at midnight the gale was at its height—the wind gauge at the Napier meteorological station recorded a maximum pressure of 25lb. At 1 a.m., Monday, 22nd, the vessel commenced dragging her anchors, about 4 a.m. one of the cables parted, half an hour later she struck heavily aft, the sea making a clean breach over her. Until daylight the crew had a very uncomfortable time, but with the assistance of a large number of natives who had gathered on the beach, all hands got safely on shore. The spot where she struck was on the western spit (Petane Beach), about two miles from the entrance to the inner harbour. At 4 o'clock the same afternoon the wreck was sold by auction. Hull, spars, sails, rigging, etc., were purchased by G. E. G. Richardson far £35; anchors and chains £37, one hundred tons coal £5, to John Campbell."

Among some other details of old-time shipping that have been unearthed by Mr. W. A. Harding are some concerning the shippage 101 Margaret Roesner, 429 tons, Captain Eggers, which in 1861 took down 1800 sheep, 4 horses, and 3 donkeys for Mr. McLean's run at Oamaru, the passengers being Messrs. McLean and Bowler and eight stockmen. That was in March. A month later she was back again and took 1200 sheep, 8 horses, and 8 bullocks to Otago, the passengers being Mr. and Mrs. McLean and eight stockmen.

An early visitor to Napier was the barque Arabella, 466 tons, Captain Pinches, which brought cargo from London, via Wellington, arriving at Napier on March 5, 1862. She anchored in the roadstead, to the disappointment of consignees, who had hoped she would go into the Inner Harbour. On the 18th, when the bulk of her cargo had been lightered, she was taken inside and moored off the Western Spit, where she finished unloading. She then took on board 500 bales of wool and on Sunday, May 5, she was towed out by the s.s. Wonga Wonga, and anchored in the roadstead to finish loading, eventually sailing for London on June 12 in command of Captain Henton. Her cargo consisted of 1183 bales of wool, valued at £23,607, 397 sheepskins (£53), 30 hides and other produce (£47). She took eight passengers. The barque arrived at Gravesend after a passage of 111 days.