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THE PILOTAGE OF THE HARBOUR.

To the Editor of the Lyttelton Times. Sir,—As a sum of £250 appears on the estimates in a late impression of your paper, for beacons on Cachalot and Toloa Heads (I adhere to the names on the chart), I shall offer a few remarks upon the subject of Port Lyttelton and its tidal economy. With all reverence be it spoken, the Great Architect of the Universe has placed beacons enough by which, when the weather is clear, and the hio-h land unobscured by fogs and floating mists, any sailor can ascertain his position without trouble or anxiety and Admiralty chart No. 1,999, price Is., contains two sketches of the coast, so well done that the most inapt tyro at reading a chart cannot fail to recognize at a glance the features they portray. But It is when the beacons—Mount Pleasant, Witch Hill, Cass s Peak, the Knobs, the square top of Castle Hill, Rhodes' Sugar Loaf and Look-out-with their differing and distinguishing characteristics, are shrouded in mist, and a rimy foe* lays low on the much resembling headlands, leaving their scarped faces or long grassy spurs to be identified by him who desires to bring his voyage to a conclusion in Port Lyttelton, that a beacon is wanted. Where then should a beacon be placed, to be of the greatest utility, except afe no great elevation above the sea level? Aud where could its site be better chosen than on Baleine Point, the eastern limit both geographically and fiscally of the Port of Lyttelton? What should such beacon be? Would it not,—if it be seriously contemplated to establish a pilot station with a separate efficient staff (for so rumour says)—be as well before deciding on their location to give Baleine Poiut due consideration. There is a large cave on this point called by the old shagroons "Preservation" large enough and into which the Maories used to haul their boats when grabbed" by bad weather off the land (S.W.) aud there are several places where a good landing place and slip might be made; if placed there the Maories m 1 ort Levy might take service with the Crown, and a fine boat's crew bo secured. The pilot's residence and out offices, the boatmen's house, and flag-staff (resembling the coast guard stations at home) surrounded with a bright gorse hedge, would then serve all the purposes of a beacon. The pilot, having the sweep of the horizon, would notice every passing event, both of circumstance or weather, and be in a position to communicate warning by cannon, rocket, bluehght, or flags, to ships in the offing, or to a station on the Sticking Point (Sumner road.) . yenfyiug his position by such a conspicuous object, the commander of a vessel running in for the land, leaving the Baleine Point one mile on his port hand, would cross the line of bearing between l/achalot and Baleine Points equi-distant from each, or any way thereabouts, and find safe anchorage in

Port Lyttelton ona S.W. by W. course from three to five miles, while by night the lights enforced by, the new Port Regulations to be borne by the shipping in the roads would assist in taking up a berth. The only place in Whaler's Ketreat (Little-Port Cooper) where it could be pretended to locate a pilot establishment would be a mile from the lookout ground on Toloa Head, with very steep ascent, much out of the suu during winter, quite out of signal communication with the town or shipping, and equally unable to communicate by the same channel with ships outside ; much time would be most unprofitably spent in going up and down the heads ; while a look-out man, finding a ship close in with •the land at daylight, would up there be just not where he was most wanted, viz.: in the boat. With the knowledge that there was on Baleine Point a pilot station in view of every thing at all hours, the commander of a vessel would derive considerable confidence in his approAch by night, able to signalize by rocket or blue light, particularly as the bank of soundings extends 25 miles from the coast: the feature almost peculiar to this part of New Zealand, (Vide Pilot, page 179.)

As a ship in and out twice every week (and there are many now privileged to carry the white flag of exemption) can only, with the various shiftings in the port, provide amusement for the Harbor Master and his Coxswain (furnished with a branch), it appears that if the establishment is located opposite Kipa, on the southern or Aveather shore for bad weather, and in signal line with the site of the new Custom House, they would be in an excellent position to perform, if they kept afloat, their responsible duties entirely to the public's satisfaction and underwriters' protection.

I would then suggest a skeleton beacon on Baleine Point, diamond shaped, of open work, or broad battens—transfixed with an arrow pointing S.W. by W.—constructed of totara, painted in alternate stripes of white, black, and red, as these colours in contrast shew best through a hazy medium, with a surrounding hedge of gorse. This may be done for £100. I enclose a very rough plan for the beacon.

Lastly, I would deprecate this question being handled by unprofessional men hungering after a little ephemeral popularity, and rather hope that it will be left by those avlio can only approach it empirically to be decided by persons whose avoca tions and duties as principals and agents point it out to be their affair. Your obedient servant, INDENTURE. November 18th, 1559.

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/LT18591119.2.21.4

Bibliographic details

THE PILOTAGE OF THE HARBOUR., Lyttelton Times, Volume XII, Issue 734, 19 November 1859

Word Count
941

THE PILOTAGE OF THE HARBOUR. Lyttelton Times, Volume XII, Issue 734, 19 November 1859

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