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White Wings Vol I. Fifty Years Of Sail In The New Zealand Trade, 1850 TO 1900

The Waimate

page 252

The Waimate.

Record Passage to Lyttelton—Narrowly Escapes Disaster.

A vessel that was very well-known In the New Zealand trade—more so in the South than in Auckland to which port she made three trips—was the New Zealand Shipping Company's ship Waimate, 1123 tons, which held the record for the fastest passage, London to Lyttelton, during the thirty years from 1870 to 1900. She was built by Messrs J. Blumer and Co., Sunderland. Captain Peek, who made several successful voyages to New Zealand, was in command when the Waimate made the record trip. She left London on October 24, 1880, passed Eddystone Lighthouse on October 30,
the Waimate At Port Chalmers.

the Waimate At Port Chalmers.

and reached Lyttelton on the evening of January 6, 1881. Commenting on the arrival of the Waimate, the "Lyttelton Times" said it was worthy of note that the steamer Northumberland left London while the Waimate was loading yet in spite of this the steamer only beat the sailing ship to Lyttelton by seven days.

Describing this fast trip of his, Captain Peek reported having left Gravesend on the afternoon of October 24, 1880, and the ship was then delayed by a heavy gale from the eastward. Off Falmouth the ship struck a terrific gale from the south, the glass being as low as 28.30. At one time the vessel was in a critical situation, but eventually she got clear of the Channel, and took her final departure from the Eddystone on October 30. Good north-east trades were met with, and the Line was crossed on November 16—only 16 days 8 hours from the Eddystone Lighthouse. The meridian of the Cape was passed on December 7 in 44deg South; the Easting was run down in 48deg South, Cape Leeuwin was passed on Christmas Eve, Tasmania six days later, and the Snares on January 4 at 4 a.m.—66 days from the Eddystone.

Among the passengers on that trip were the Rev. James Buller, Mrs. Buller and Miss Buller; Dr. Farrell, of Nelson, who acted as ship's surgeon during the passage; Mr. and Mrs. Cholmondeley, and other colonists returning from a trip to the Old Country.

the Waimate, when Homeward bound, after making the record run to Lyttelton from London in 1881, in command of Captain Peek, narrowly escaped disaster. One of the crew, who was on board at the time, has supplied me with the following details of the incident: the Waimate after leaving Lyttelton on the run to Cape Horn, possibly owing to the lack of suitable opportunities for obtaining observations, suddenly found herself land-locked off the Patagonian coast. The position was critical, inasmuch aspage 253 the Waimate, like all vessels making the three months' trip Home, had unshackled the cables from her anchors and run them down into the chain locker in the fore part of the ship. The anchors had been hoisted inboard by the aid of special tackle rigged for that purpose, and were lashed very securely on the fo'c's'le head as it was not anticipated they would be required for many weeks. It was in this condition that the Waimate found herself on a dark and dirty night off a rocky, rugged coast, full of indentations, with very deep water right up to the cliffs—very much the same as the West Coast Sounds in New Zealand. There was no anchorage. It would have been folly to anchor there. The chances were desperate. The ship, running right before the wind, was rushing on to the shore, and nothing could be done except round to immediately under a heavy press of canvas, and get the anchors out. Chains were hurried up from below and bent on to the anchors, which were got outboard again, and both anchors were let go in deep water. The occasion called for nerve and promptitude, and it must have been a most exciting time, as every moment the ship was drawing nearer and nearer her peril. Fortunately, the anchors held, and the ship was saved. And what a save it was, with the rocks right close up, and the ship standing gallantly beside them. Luckily the ship held on until a shift in the wind came; the chains were then slipped, and when the time came to start not a moment was lost. But two anchors and 120 fathoms of chain were left behind—all that had been between the ship and destruction.

The saving of this ship, and the fine seamanship displayed, is deservedly attributed to a large extent to a very fine old boatswain—Ned Parker—a typical sailor of the Nelson type. Quite a number of passengers were on board.

The next best run made by the Waimate was in 1887, when, in command of Captain Canese, she came out to Port Chalmers in 74 days land to land, or 78 days anchor to anchor. She crossed the Equator 19 days out. According to the "Otago Daily Times" this was the best passage of that season. The same commander in 1889 did the same trip in 78 days land to land, or 84 days port to port. Her last run to Port Chalmers, in the year 1895, completed her nineteenth passage to New Zealand, and during the whole of that time she never met with any serious accident.

From New Zealand the Waimate's best run Home was 71 days to the Scillies.

A smart piece of sailing that stood to the credit of the Waimate was her run to the Horn from Lyttelton in 18 days in April, 1880.

In running her Easting down when bound for Lyttelton in 1881 with Captain Mosey in command, she logged 354 miles in 24 hours in latitude 47deg South, and her best week's run on that trip was 1807 miles, the distance run from November 27 to December 3. As will be seen from the appended table of her various passages to New Zealand, the Waimate was very consistent.

the Waimate was sold to the Russians in 1896, and renamed the Valkyrian. She was lost between Newcastle, N.S.W., and Chile, in 1899. She was bound for Iquique, and was never heard of after leaving Newcastle.

Here follow passages made to New Zealand:—

To Auckland.
Sailed. Arrived. Captain. Days.
Nov. 29, '84 Mar. 21, '85 Tribe 112
Feb. 22 May 29, '90 F. Canese 96
June 22 Sep. 18, '94 Worster 88
To Wellington.
*Dec. 4, '91 Mar. 13, '92 Canese 89
To Lyttelton.
Oct. 28, '74 Jan. 25, '75 Rose 89
Land to land 84
July 28 Oct. 31, 76 Peek 95
Land to land 89
June 6 Sep. 3, '77 Peek 89
June 17 Sep. 25, '78 Peek 100
Mar. 4 June 10, '79 Peek 98
Land to land 81
Nov. 26, '79 Feb. 24, '80 Peek 90
Oct. 24, '80 Jan. 6, '81 Peek 74
Land to land 66
Sep. 19 Dec. 17, '81 Mosey 89
July 29 Nov. 5, '82 Mosey 99
Jan. 5 Mar. 28, '86 Canese 82
To Port Chalmers.
Sep. 4 Dec. 2, '75 Peek 88
May 14 Aug. 16, '83 Mosey 94
Land to land 88
Feb. 7 May 18, '84 Mosey 100
Oct. 20, '86 Jan. 7, '87 Canese 78
Land to land 74
May 3 July 25, '89 Canese 82
Land to land 78
Feb. 7 May 11, '91 Canese 90
Apr. 14 July 16, '93 Worster 92
Apr. 11 July 25, '95 Worster 104

* Was detained ten days in Channel.