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The Old Whaling Days



On 9th February the Vittoria, a barque of 281 tons, under the command of Captain Hawke, sailed for New Zealand with 50 head of cattle, 300 sheep, and 3 horses. Her passenger list included Colonel Wilson in the cabin, and Mr. and Mrs Russell and their two children in the steerage. On the night of the twenty-ninth, as she was running in towards the land, she struck upon the long sandspit which stretches out from Cape Farewell. The sandspit was not at all unknown, but it was claimed that it was not correctly laid down on the charts. The Vittoria struck about 11 o'clock. The sea ran very high all night, and as the vessel drove deep into the sand she remained fast until morning. About 9 o'clock the crew and passengers got into the boats, and reached the shore in safety about 11 o'clock. Little or nothing was saved, as the vessel went all page 300 to pieces some time after she was abandoned. The crew behaved throughout the unfortunate catastrophe with praiseworthy composure and exertion. Colonel Wilson's cattle were, of course, lost, but the Colonel made arrangements to get back to Sydney in the Tory.

On 2nd April W. Hay was at Port Nicholson and sent the following letter to Hempleman by the Nimrod:—

Port Nicholson,
2nd April, 1840.

Dear Sir,—

As I could not get the men to engage to whale under you I am obliged to consign my goods to the care of Mr. Samuel Hodge which will make no difference between you and me as I shall abide by former agreement that is to say you are an owner as well as myself, and Mr. Hodge will act between us

I am. Dear Sir

Your Obt Servt.

W. Hay

Captn. Hempleman

On 11th April (according to Hempleman's log) the Nimrod arrived at Piraki. The next day being Sunday the men refused to work and Captain Hempleman's men had to be employed at five shillings per day, and by Monday afternoon everything was got ashore. Goods were landed by the Nimrod to the value of £574 14s. On the Saturday following three of the men ran away, and the following day Hodge went to Akaroa and managed to procure two men, and two more were engaged a few days later.

The major portion of the Cook Strait news for 1840 will be found in the various chapters dealing with special events during that year.