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The Old Whaling Days



The six months of the year with which we are concerned saw 26 whalers recorded on the coast of Southern New Zealand. Of this fleet New Bedford and Sag Harbor sent 7 each, New London 3, Fairhaven 2, and Warren, Newark, Poughkeepsie, Newport, Providence, St. Johns and Fall River 1 each.

The Alexander Barclay, 465 tons, Norton, of New Bedford, was the only vessel reported in Foveaux Strait. When 4 months out she had obtained 200 barrels.

Otago was rather better patronised than its neighbouring whaling ground. When D'Urville called in at the end of March there were two American whalers at anchor. Though their names are not given us they were probably the Washington, 340 tons, Osborne, of Sag Harbor, and page 316 the Superior of New London, ready for home, as these vessels are known to have been there in April.

During the month of May quite a number visited the Port. Sydney captains reported four:—The Fanny, 391 tons, Edwards, Sag Harbour; the Columbus, 382 tons, Fish, Fairhaven; the Ann Maria, 368 tons, Middleton, New London; the Newton, 283 tons, Hathaway, New Bedford. Of these the first wanted 600 barrels to fill up, the second 500, while the third intended to stay for the bay season there, and the fourth had 1400 barrels in her hold.

The Chariot, 355 tons, Littlefield, of Warren, was off Banks Peninsula on 9th February with 1000 barrels, and an American was at Akaroa when D'Urville called on 8th April.

On 1st April the Addison, Tower, New Bedford, sailed from Cloudy Bay with 1800 barrels of oil on board. The Favourite, Swift, followed on 2nd May, leaving the two New Bedford vessels, Good Return and Octavia, at that port. The former had on board 1300 barrels, and the latter 900. By 8th May they were joined by the John Wells, Russell, of Newark, and the barque Vermont, Kendrick, of Poughkeepsie. The Octavia was on the eve of leaving for a cruise to the Chatham Islands. Shortly afterwards the General Williams, the Columbia, and the Cherokee arrived, and there were at that date the following five American whalers in the Bay:—

Vessel. Tons. Captain. Port.
General Williams 446 Holdridge New London
Columbia 285 Edwards Sag Harbor
Cherokee 261 Cook New Bedford
>John Wells 366 Russell Newark
Vermont 292 Kendrick Poughkeepsie

all of them well on to complete their cargoes and return.

By this time the Town of Britannia was in a very forward state on the shores of Port Nicholson, but the whalers avoided it rather than sought opportunities to refresh at it; their captains, probably fearing the desertion of their men, seemed to avoid towns where law and order prevailed. page 317 When H.M.S. Herald called at the Bay on 10th June and proclaimed British sovereignty, Captain Nias reported that there were five American whalers at anchor. So far as we can determine they were those mentioned above.

The following whalers were reported at and around Chatham Islands:—

Date. Vessel. Tons. Master. Port.
Jan. 1 Chariot 355 Littlefield Warren
Jan. 8 Franklin 333 Howland New Bedford
Feb. 15 Panama 464 Crowell Sag Harbor
Feb. 15 Superior McLean New London
Mar. 4 Ann Maria 368 Middleton New London
Mar. 4 10 Neptune 338 Sleight Sag Harbor
Mar. 18 Hannibal 311 Bennett Sag Harbor
May 1 Concordia 265 Woodward Sag Harbor
May 9 Erie 375 Dennis Newport
May 9 Envoy 392 Pease Providence
May 9 Royal William Jenney St. Johns
May 9 Gold Hunter 281 Estes Fall River

Of these the Concordia sailed on 1st May and the Gold Hunter seven days later. On 17th May the Erie was lost. She was taken aback while attempting to beat out of the bay, was thrown upon the beach and bilged, and went to pieces a few days afterwards in a gale. She had on board 2600 barrels, including 230 of sperm, and 2400 were saved. Captain Dennis sold 1100 barrels to Captain Littlefield of the Chariot, and the remainder to Captain Jenney of the Royal William, at 1 dollar per barrel. All the sails, spars, and rigging were saved. The Captain, mate, and two boatsteerers, and two of the crew, came up in the Royal William and the remainder of the crew stopped on the Island. The vessel and her cargo were insured in New York and Boston. The Royal William and the Chariot left the Island on 18th June.