Site hosted by Build your free website today!

My Many Yesterdays - Number Three


Our next move was to New Zealand on 10th December 1868. My father bought a midship section of the Shaw Saville Company’s barque Fanny. We put all our goods into this and fitted it up with bunks and necessary furniture and left St. Katherine docks in charge of a pilot and tugboat. When off Gravesend we collided with a coal-laden brig and cut her down to the waters edge, the crew having only just time to save themselves; and we smashed our jibboom. Our captain speedily got another one made and made tracks for the open sea. A succession of heavy south-west gales kept us floundering and tumbling in the English Channel for over three weeks. The captain would not put in anywhere as the authorities would be sure to detain him for running into the brig at Gravesend. However, we never heard any more of the matter. Getting into more genial weather we all enjoyed it. When becalmed in the tropics we made a hooped net, filled a tub with sea water and netted different marine fish, sea weeds and creatures, having a good deal of fun thereby. There were the usual flying fish (Portugese men of war), bonitas, albatrosses and porpoises. We had two quadrants with us and an almanack so we used to work out our latitude. It was great fun comparing our observations with the captain’s. We were not always right as the eye required a certain amount of education. The albacore were very interesting – some we guessed to weigh 200lbs. In daytime chasing the flying fish their iridescent bodies gleaming in the sunshine was a most fascinating spectacle and at night their movements were visible by the phospherescence of the sea. The South East trades caught us with a snort in 2 degrees north and a 9 knot breeze. Two days afterwards we crossed the line on 7th February 1869.

On the 13th of February at 10pm we heard the second mate yell out “Port your helm!” It appears we were careering along without lights when another vessel before the wind nearly smashed into us. She had no lights either. Afterwards two other vessels passed us very closely. After this our ships lights were put in their place.


On 17th February the Isle of Trinidad was visible on our port bow about 12 miles off. This very rocky and peaked island belongs to Brazil, which is 700 miles west. To many it is a most interesting island, partly because there are no harbours and consequently very difficult of access, and also for the report that it contains pirates’ buried treasure. It is a small island about six miles round, but is 2200ft high.

In Lat 34S the seabirds came to see us, the albatross, mollyhawk, Cape hens and petrels gracefully and very majestically gliding and gyrating all round the barque in a most enthralling manner.

I should have mentioned that we made a small swing table in our cabin on which the ordinary movements of the barque everything was quite safe. We used to play chess on it.


On the 19th of April, having been 130 days on the voyage, we entered Blind Bay at the same time as H. M. S. Galatea which we easily recognised, having often seen her in the Cowes roads. Her commander was the Duke of Edinburgh, a son of Queen Victoria. He landed at 10:30am under a salute of 21 guns from the Galatea. Nelson city was having a lively holiday, all shops being closed. Most of the citizens were about the wharves to welcome the Prince. The Lady Barkly, then a paddle-wheel, with other coasters, was busy conveying passengers to and from the Galatea.

Next day the races were held adjoining the old Turf Hotel at Stoke, so no business could be done. The Prince left in the morning. The Lady Barkly towed our barque to the wharf. Next day was the second day of the races. On 23rd April we hired a cottage near the Raglan brewery at 8s a week.


On Sunday, 9th May, we walked to the Stoke Wesleyan Church, and were much amused to see a man with a basin coming from the Turf Inn to the church. This was for the Sacrament of Christening. Mr Crump was the minister and preached a very interesting sermon.

We saw and were all much impressed by the mighty mountains, as neither my brothers or myself had ever seen anything like them in the Old Country, and the tree ferns near the Brook Street reservoir about 20ft high were a complete revelation, as we had never seen anything so beautiful.

We heard a gun fired one day, and were told that on the arrival of an English mail in Nelson the citizens were notified in this way.


Outwardly we boys did not notice much difference between the Nelson population and that of the old English town we had just left, but when one was able to enter into their lives we observed great differences, the good feeling between all class; the absence of conventionality; the hospitality everywhere, the bright sunshine which seemed to have pervaded everybody and everything was a revelation to us, and we enjoyed everything immensely.

T. Blake HUFFAM's Page
HUFFAM Home Page
My Genealogy Gateway