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...
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.
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...
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...
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...
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
Source: The Old Whaling Days by Robert McNab, 1913
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