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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 13, Issue 9 (December 1, 1938)

The Return to Dusky Bay

The Return to Dusky Bay.

The two vessels left Sydney on September 8, 1793; the “Britannia” arriving at Dusky on the 27th of the same month, while the “Francis,” having been blown four times off the coast, did not reach the bay until the 12th of October.

Raven anchored at Anchor Island, and the moment the vessel was moored, “Leith, and a party of five, who had been seen coming round the south point of the island from their sealing station at Luncheon Cove, came on board and reported that all was well.”

During their stay of ten months the party had collected 4,500 seal skins, which was not considered a very successful result for their labour; but Raven was satisfied that the men had done their best to procure skins.

With the boat which he had ordered to be built, Raven was delighted. “What excited my admiration,” he says, “was the progress they had made in constructing a vessel of the following dimensions—40 ft. keel; 53 ft. length upon deck; 16 ft. 10 inches extreme breadth; and 12 ft. hold… . . she is planked, decked, and sealed with spruce fir, which in the opinion of the carpenter is very little inferior to English oak… . the carpenter has great merit, and has built her with that strength and neatness which few shipwrights belonging to the merchant service are capable of performing.”

Dr. McNab says that as far as he can ascertain, this was the first vessel built in Australasia, purely from Australasian timber, and “is an Australasian historical event.” Also, since the early whaling trade was carried on away from the coast, “beyond a spur or two put on board a stray vessel in the North Island,” the Dusky Bay sealing of Captain Raven in 1792–93 was the first trade with New Zealand; and Luncheon Cove the first settlement. Thus early did Samuel Enderby and Sons touch New Zealand.