Wednesday, October 21, 2009


From 1858 Captain John Austen sailed the cutter AQUILLA - she was built at Mercury Bay, Coromandel in 1858 by Geo. Browning. He sailed her to Thames, Russell, Otago, Akaroa, Napier, Wellington and "the Society Islands" (part of French Polynesia). He carried gin, timber, furniture, bricks, a few passengers and 30,000 oranges and 2,500 coconuts. It was not always plain sailing - no motors, no G.P.S - and in October 1861 the Aquila very nearly was lost. This report appeared in the Hawke's Bay Herald on the 8th October 1861:
"The 'cutter Aquila, while drifting out on Saturday, morning, to resume her voyage to Otago, got aground , abreast of the flagstaff. The wind was blowing hard at the time, with heavy squalls, from the westward. There was no pilot on board— the master himself having usually taken the vessel out and in. The ship after touching rolled heavily. Her passengers and cargo were landed— the latter, consisting of nails, soft goods, &c, damaged by sea-water. She was got afloat on Sunday afternoon by means of empty casks and other appliances, and was immediately hauled round to the Iron Pot— about 40 men lending a hand. When opposite the stores of Messrs. Stuart, Kinross, & Co., she heeled over and came right on her beam ends — the mast in the water. She is considerably damaged, but it fortunately happens that the damaged planks can be got at easily, and the necessary repairs are being rapidly proceeded with. The passengers (13 in number) are clamorous at the delay thus occasioned in their voyage, and threaten proceedings against Captain Austen. It is said that the vessel will not be thoroughly repaired under £200."
It can't have been too bad because on 22nd October she resumed her journey to Otago.

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