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


In a previous article telling of a famous race to London between the Avalanche and the Crusader, mention was made of a third competitor, the Ocean Mail, flying the N. Z. Shipping Co.'s flag, which never got very far on the long trail round the Horn. This Ocean Mail was well known in New Zealand waters, having made four passages to the colony. On February 2, 1874, she arrived at Wellington from London, via Plymouth, which was left on November 15, 1873. She passed the Snares on January 27, 1874, was off Dunedin next day—only 74 days out—
the Ocean Mail Stranded At The Chathams.

the Ocean Mail Stranded At The Chathams.

and thence had calms and north-west breezes, but still did the passage to Wellington in 79 days. By the end of the year she was back again, this time visiting Nelson, for which port she had 400 Government immigrants. She arrived there on November 9, 1874, after a passage of 78 days. On both the above occasions she was commanded by Captain Watson. In 1875 she visited Auckland. Leaving London on August 15, the ship arrived in the Waitemata on November 23, doing the passage in an even 100 days. She was then in command of Captain Cawse, but in the following year, when she again visited Wellington, Captain Watson was in command. She left London on August 25, and reached Wellington on December 12, having taken 109 days on what proved to be her last voyage.

On the passage the Ocean Mail made to Auckland in 1875 she had an exciting experience in the English Channel. When she was about 15 miles below Portland, in a dense fog, she collided with an Italian barque called the Partitoe. the Ocean Mail lost her jibboom and starboard anchor, but sustained no other damage. The Italian lost his mizzen mast and sustained some other damage, but exactly what it was the people on the British ship did not know, as they were told no assistance was required. Another vessel on the loading berth for Auckland at the same time as the Ocean Mail was a vessel called the Star of Germany. Although she left the Docks a week before the Star of Germany, the Ocean Mail was seven days behind by the time the Cape of Good Hope was passed. In the run across the Southern Ocean, however, the Ocean Mail, which was a fast sailer, picked up a lot of leeway, and strangely enough the ships arrived in the Waitemata within an hour of one another.