Monday, May 23, 2011

A bold and adventurous life - well lived!

On the 5th August 1899 Captain John Austen died.
His obituary read:
"Captain John Austen, a very old and well-known master-mariner of Auckland, died yesterday at his residence in Union St. at the advanced age of 76 years. The funeral takes place at Waikumete to-morrow. The late Mr Austen was a fine specimen of the old-fashioned sailor, and was to his last days a hard-working and able-bodied mariner. He had been at sea for over sixty years, and had a marvellous experience of sea-faring in all its phases. Austen a native of Devonshire, whence comes so many good seamen, and he went to sea at the age of 14. Many years ago he came to Auckland, and for a time he was engaged in the coasting and South Sea Islands trade. One of the vessels he had charge of was the schooner Charybdis. He also had charge some 30 years ago of the brigantine Reliance, running out of Auckland to the South Pacific and was wrecked in her near the Soloman Islands. He made a long and perilous journey from the wreck in an open boat, eventually reaching the Queensland Coast. During his island adventures he sustained a spear wound in the head, which lately began to trouble him again. He had various small vessels in the South Seas Island trade. A good many years ago Captain Austen was master and owner of a smart little 27 ton cutter called Aquilla, in which he traded along the New Zealand coast to the South Sea Islands. Of late years he served as mate on the schooners Ysabel and May Howard, and his last vessel was the schooner Croydon Lass, of which he was master. He was a very hardy old man and enjoyed good health up to within three or four weeks of his death"

Captain John owned 4 ships, captained at least 12 more, he sailed around the world from England, around New Zealand, around Australia, and around the Pacific to Fiji, Tahiti, New Caledonia, the Solomon Islands. He survived many hurricanes, groundings and 4 shipwrecks. He sailed into his old age - as mate on the Asia to Australia in 1897, he was 73. He had 10 children, at least 30 grandchildren and many more great and great, great grandchildren.
His legacy lives on.

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