TITLE HERE Published in The Old Whaling Days, 1913
Extract from the Journal of the Revd. James Watkin, the First European Preacher Stationed in the South Island of New Zealand. May 1st, 1840. This day we left Sydney to take our appointment in New Zealand, tho' not the exact appointment given by the Committee the place to which we are proceeding being in the Middle (or South Island as it is called) and which place is called Waikouaiti a whaling station belonging to Mr. John Jones Ship owner of Sydney, who with a princely liberality towards our Society, and a Christian concern for the welfare of the Natives has offered to give land for the Mission Station, to convey the Missionary, his goods and stores free of charge and £50 Sterling towards the commencement of the Mission…. We were accompanied' to the ship by a considerable number of the excellent friends in Sydney, among whom was Mr. and Mrs. Weiss, Mrs. and Master Matthews. Mesdames Iredale, Orton &c. &c., besides the Revd. Messrs. McKenny, Schofield, and Webb, and Mr. and Mrs. Jones and part of their family, it was a painful parting from very very dear friends…. The vessel's name is the Regia, and a more comfortable one could hardly have been found, our accomodations are of the first order, and everything Mr. Jones could do to make us comfortable has been done, his kindness cannot be overpraised. Our friends accompanied us to the Heads a distance from the anchorage of six miles…. Three cheers were given, as the boat with our friends left us and returned by the ship's company, the pilot after taking us out. took his leave, and we once more launched upon the open sea, and soon left New South Wales behind us... May 2nd. Land out of sight tho' it is high, and our vessel not the quickest sailor on the sea... The poor horses, cattle and sheep on board seem to suffer a good deal from the violent motion of the vessel. Neither are the passengers the most comfortable, and from the same cause. The passengers are ourselves and a young man of amiable manners. May 10th. We have seen one vessel but did not speak her. She appeared to be bound for some port in N.Z. more northerly than ours... May 12th. Last night was one of storms and being at no great distance from the land one of considerable anxiety. We were hove to (as the sailors term it) good part of the night, and considerable alarm was occasioned about 5 o'clock in the morning by “a light” being announced, the captain was roused, the ship put about with no small noise but the light turned out to be the morning star, we were far enough away from the mainland. Soon after six o'clock Solander Island was seen on the weather bow distant 9 or 10 miles. This was a glad sight, as it indicates the entrance to Foveaux's Straits through which we have to pass. The Straits are bounded on the South by Stewart's and a number of small islands, and on the North by the Middle Island of the group, which is generally called New Zealand. We entered the Straits with a staggering breeze but before we had quite cleared them, the wind died away, which had well nigh proved fatal to the Regia, the captain not having passed them before kept well to the eastward hoping thereby to clear all danger but by so doing ran into it, for at 10 o'clock Island after Island appeared in fearful proximity as the wind was dying away, and the appalling sound (and sight too) of breakers grated on our ears. For some hours we were in extreme jeopardy…. We were drifted by the current past the danger, for wind there was none… After a while a little breeeze sprang up and we were removed to a distance from the rocks, and out of the heaving of the surf, the roar of which is awful even when you are on shore, but when on board it is most awful... May 15th. For the last three days we have been off the coast of New Zealand, but owing to calms and contrary winds we have not been able to make much progress, or we should have been at anchor ere this in our own or a neighbouring port. We are now off Otago distant from the place of our destination only 12 miles, we can distinctly see the heads of the harbour but there is a dead calm, so that we make little progress except the drifting occasioned by the current which we fear will carry us past if a wind should not spring up, it is tantalising not to be able to get in tho' so near... May 16th. We are now at anchor in the harbour of Waikouaiti, last evening the calm was succeeded by a very strong breeze, and having been boarded by some of the people from Mr. Jones Whaling Station at that place, we made for the harbour and about 7 o'clock had our anchor down, which was a cause of rejoicing to us, as it terminated our voyage, the harbour is an open one and much exposed, as we found before the night was over, the wind was very strong and came in fearful gusts, making the vessel labour as much as if she had been in a heavy sea with a heavy wind. The strain was so great upon the anchor that the chain parted and about 10 o'clock the unpleasant announcement was made “the chain has parted and the vessel is drifting.” The roaring of the wind, the dashing of the rain, and the hissing of the water as the vessel made stern way, added to the roar of the breakers to leeward, produced a sensation in my mind which will not soon be forgotten; the second anchor was let go arid all the chain that could be was given her (ninety fathoms) but with slight hopes that she would be able to ride by it until the morning; so that we had the melancholy prospect before us of being compelled to get out to sea again if we could and if not to go ashore with the certainty of the vessel being dashed to pieces, even if our lives should have been saved. Thro' mercy the wind moderated about twelve o'clock tho' it continued to blow hard all night, the chain held and in the morning I had my first view of the scene of my labour. We were soon visited by the people from the Shore English and Natives, and as far as looks and gestures went, I could see that they were well pleased at the arrival of a Missionary among them. For New Zealanders they appeared to me to be docile. I hope they will ere long be Christians. About noon we got ashore, and found miserable lodgings in a house which Mr. Jones had intended for us solely, but which we found occupied by his brother, who made us as comfortable as he could... Source: The Old Whaling Days by Robert McNab, 1913
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