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

Ship With No Sidelights—The Tanjore

Ship With No Sidelights—The Tanjore.

The City of Tanjore, a ship of 800 tons, built in 1856, and chartered by Patrick Henderson and Co., sailed from Greenock under Captain Smith with passengers and cargo for Port Chalmers on January 16, 1874, and made an average passage of 104 days. A passenger sent me the following interesting narrative of the voyage. He writes:—

"The City of Tanjore left the tail of the Bank on January 27, and had light winds until past the Irish Coast, when a heavy swell set in. To the dismay of those new to the sea, the port and starboard lights were then taken in, and were not seen again during the whole voyage. When remonstrated with as to the danger of sailing without lights, an officer replied: 'Oh, we're out of the way of meeting any more boats now.' Before entering the Bay of Biscay, and on a fairly fine day, one of the youngest of the apprentices (a mere boy) fell overboard off the rigging, and the cry was given, 'Man overboard!' The ship was hard put to port, and she swung round like a bird, and lay for nearly an hour with her huge sails flapping in the breeze. In the meantime, of course, a lifebuoy had been flung to the apprentice, and one of the smaller of the ship's boats lowered and manned, with the first mate in charge. After being away as long as seemed an eternity for those looking on, they were seen at last to be slowly pulling back towards the ship, but no one could tell at that distance if they had effected a rescue or not, until they ran alongside, when it was seen that the boy was lying at the bottom of the boat. He was soon hoisted aboard again, with a large gully-knife stuck between his teeth to prevent lockjaw, and after being rubbed down and put to bed for a few hours he was soon himself again. It seemed the irony ofpage 128 fate that the same boy ran away from the ship when she reached port, giving the skipper another run for his money. He was not caught, and in later years he settled in New Zealand.

"The ship crossed the Equator on February 25, and as the drinking water (kept in iron tanks) was becoming very rusty and as red as paint, the opportunity to gather pure fresh water from the heavy tropical downpours was eagerly availed of by all, although they say that rusty water is good for the system, being a nerve tonic.

"Nearly a month after this an amusing incident occurred, The third mate had been hors-de-combat for some days in succession with a fever of the mild type, and there appeared little prospect of his early return to work. Captain Smith then decided to promote the eldest apprentice to act as third (temporarily). The eldest apprentice had, as a matter of fact, already finished more than his time, but his appointment as an officer, although applauded by the other boys of the deckhouse, was treated as a joke by most of the A.B.'s and O.S.'s. One foreign sailor named Jensen was particularly offensive over it, and when ordered by the new third to 'clew up' one of the sails, instead of the familiar, 'Aye, aye, sir,' replied, 'Clew it up yerself, kid!' This was enough, and a fight followed. Fighting is, of course, not allowed at sea nowadays, but at the time of the 'Cities' it was not uncommon. The foreign A.B. was a big burly brute of the Jack Johnston type, and had he got one blow in would have quashed the new third for ever and a day. But the young, fresh apprentice was alert, keen-eyed, and watched his chance, and he had also been brought up in a good school, as the fight had not proceeded long before he landed a lovely 'up stroke' on the foreigner's jaw which brought him heavily to the deck. After this he was, of course, the hero of the hour, and his orders were not again disregarded.

"The island of Tristan d'Acunha was the only land sighted all the way out. The City of Tanjore then experienced fine weather until after rounding the Cape, when she struck it very dirty, and a heavy gale raged for two days and nights, The seas were so high, and were breaking over the ship so frequently, that the passengers were 'battened down'—not nailed down, but ordered to keep below, and were glad to. After the third day of the storm the wind moderated to a good breeze, and continued off and on until the Snares were sighted on May 3, when the red and green lights were again swung out, and the coast of New Zealand was soon in sight"

In 1882 the City of Tanjore made a voyage to Wellington She sailed from London on April 28, and arrived on August 25, making a long passage of 119 days.