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LAST HAVEN.

STEAMER TANIWHA.

LONG YEARS ON PAEROA RUN.

WOW AWAITS A BUYER.

, (By "KARL LARSEN.")

Those who read their "Star" carefully may have noticed a brief paragraph the other night announcing that the old coastal steamer Taniwha was to he sold by tender. She has been lying for some months in a partially dismantled state alongside Julian's Wall, in a lonely corner of Freeman's Bay.

For upwards of forty years her name was listed daily in the shipping columns. "For Paeroa, Te Aroha, s.s. Taniwha. Leaves Auckland, 22nd, 5 p.m. Leaves Paeroa, 23rd, 3.30 p.m." Year in and year out, she jogged to and fro between those two ports at her comfortable eight-point-something knots. The Great War came and went, the boom years, the depression years, and still the old Taniwha plied steadily between Auckland and Paeroa.

She was, it seemed, ageless; she was part of the Gulf, like Rangitoto Island or the Watchman. Somehow, one expected that she would go on for ever ... when at last the news came that she had been pensioned off, as too old for service, one almost refused to believe it. But it was true.

The writer was fortunate in securing some old volumes of the ship's log, and they make interesting reading. "Loaded cargo of this barge with shore labour only. Tide too far gone to proceed." She carried all sorts of cargoes, from gold and racehorses to motor lorries and empty bottles. Apropos of which is this quaint-entry made at Paeroa just after the festive season: "Loaded bargeload of empty barrels" (previous contents not stated!) Then another curious,

entry reads:—"l p.m. Resumed loading heavy rain "squalls." Let's hope the import restrictions have put a stop to that commodity. Fought Many Storms. There is drama in those pages, too. "N.E. strong. Wind and sea increasing . . , N.E. hard gale. Ship rolling heavily. ... Thick rain. Unable to pick up Sandspit light. Altered course W. x N. 2 a.m." But any mental picture of the ship fighting heroically against the storm, with her officers straining their eyes for .a glimpse for a guiding light through the murk, is severely jolted by the prosaic entry two lines further down. "8 a.m. Commence discharge with shore labour only. Crew attending s/work meeting." Fogs, gales, strandings, accidents, deaths, and all the hufidred and one vexatious delays and minor mishaps which come to all ships, large and small, at some time in their careers are to be found faithfully recorded in those yellowing pages. Proceeding up the Wailiou River one thick, blustery night, the Taniwha ran into the half-opened Kopu swing bridge, "carrying away her fore and fore-top-mast stays, all of port rigging, then ship's bridge, smashing wheelhouse, binnacle, steering gear and telegraph, making a perfect wreck of everything on top," as the log says breathlessly! The ship could not be held to blame, for the green "all clear" liglit was showing on the bridge, signifying that the centre span was open and that the 6hip might safely proceed. Some years later she met with another mishap a little further up the river. Groping her way in thick fog, she struck a "submerged object" and sank near the Puriri wharf. She was raised and repaired, and carried on with the job again, as she had always done. On one occasion her steward died at sea, on another her chief engineer was taken I fatally ill, on yet another a seaman was seriously injured through falling down the after-hold.

Time and again the ship ran aground, both in the river or on the Thames mudflats, owing to poor tides or delays in the river. Floods', too, caused all kinds of trouble for her. Towards the last, when she was growing aged and infirm, minor failures in her equipment began to occur more frequently. "Tiller carried away," one reads, and "Steering chain carried away," or "Lost blade oi port propeller." ■■ — J

"Stop and Bail Out." Sometimes the Taniwha towed that comical little paddle steamer Kopu from Paeroa to Auckland. On such occasions there are rrequent remarks in the log like "2.15 a.m. Stop, pump and bail out p.s.s. Kopu. 3 a.m. Proceed 4.30 a.m. Stop, pump and bail out Kopu. 5 a.m. Proceed." Now and again one comes across a hint of the end of some sister ship of the company. "Crew transferred from Waipu" and, again, "Crew turned over from Daphne."

It was inevitable that the Taniwha's turn must come sooner or later, and so for the last time she made the familiar passage past all the old landfalls she knew so well: "Fairway buoy, Orere Point, Sandspit light, Brown's Island— arrived Auckland and moored. HarbouiJ regulations properly attended to." Driven from the seas by old age and road competition, worn out and unwanted, she was taken out and moored in Rotten Row last autumn. The unusual idleness after her busy and eventful life must have driven her to desperation, for a few months ago she opened up lier seams and commenced to sink at her moorings. This suicidal attempt, however, was hastily frustrated. A launch took her in tow and rushed lier to her present berth on the Freeman's Bay mud.

It is highly improbable that the Taniwha will ever be relittcd for sea service again, and if she is sold it is likely that it will be snly for a houseboat or for the timber in her hull. Soon the only trace of her may be her logbooks. And to those officers who took such pride in keeping the pages accurate, neat and without a blot, I should like to say that they are in the keeping of one who appreciates their > worth—and understands.

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/AS19390211.2.89

Bibliographic details

LAST HAVEN., Auckland Star, Volume LXX, Issue 35, 11 February 1939

Word Count
946

LAST HAVEN. Auckland Star, Volume LXX, Issue 35, 11 February 1939

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