A Cruise in the Historic Water of QUEEN CHARLOTTE SOUND
Fhotus. hf the Pilot and F. J. H.
HE Marlborough Sounds are situated at the Northern extremity of the South Island, and embrace a coast line of about 500' miles, generally known as Pelorus and Queen Charlotte Sounds. With the object of exploring- this locality, a crew consisting of an
officer, pilot, and sixteen pettyofficers and men from the Petone Naval Artillery, which has its headquarters at Petone, near Wellington, visited Queen Charlotte Sound. A cutter, in which was stowed kits, tents, and provisions, was taken across Cook Strait by the s.s. " Rotorua," Capt. McArth'ur. The distance between Poneke and the entrance to the Sounds beinoonly forty miles, a stranger might have expected that the crew would prefer to sail their craft. Unfortunately this could not be done with safety. The Strait is subject to sudden changes of wind., and as there are many strong currents, heavy seas soon get up, which would swamp an open boat. The " Rotorua " left Wellington at five p.m. on Christmas Eve, and
reached the Tory Channel at a quarter-past eight p.m. The passage in this instance was a smooth one, but the tide at the Channel, only a quarter of a mile wide at the entrance, was running out from live to seven knots per hour, and the sea it raised caused the steamer to pitch and roll. The sudden change was the subject of much comment by the passengers. There are two leading- lights which guide the mariner, but after passing these he gets no more help from such means until Picton lights are picked up, having in the meantime run a distance of twenty miles by a circuitous course. To one unaccustomed to the navigation of these waters, it is little short of marvellous that vessels are brought up in safety, at full speed on a dark night, in one steamer, an officer was asked, " However do you manage to find your way in the dark V " Handed if ] know," he replied, " the old man gets through somehow." In places the ship hugs the land so close that one could toss a cap ashore with ease, the dark shadows adding another difficulty to the navigation of these waters. The steamer leaves Tory Channel at about ten miles from tlie en-
trance, passing en route Te Awaite, at one time an important whaling station. It then opens up Queen Charlotte Sound, which is thirty miles long from the entrance to its head, the course to Picton lying to the south-west. Picton is a quiet little township of about SOU souls, at the head of Waitohi Bay, and cannot be surpassed as a resort for the tired city man. From the balcony of an hotel, of which there are several, a magnificent view is obtained across a stretch of water generally with a surface like a mirror, and flanked by hills clothed with bush. Beyond the water, out of which Mabel Island rises like a sentinel, high hills culminating in Mt. Stokes, 3951 feet, complete the picture. The cutter was safely lowered from the ship's davits at a quarterpast ten p.m., and having been made fast to a jetty at Picton for the night, all hands turned in to the Terminus Hotel, where accommodation had been secured. At Christmas time there are so many excursionists travelling, that it is necessary to book a room in advance, otherwise it means having to put up with a bed on the diningroom floor, or in the bathroom. On Christmas morning the crew were early astir, and after a hearty breakfast, and having shipped additional stores, the boat was pulled out from the wharf to obtain an offinp'. Sail was hoisted when abreast of the " Fdwin Fox," an old ship now used as a freezing hulk, but which, in its youth, is said to have earned distinction in Arctic explorations. As the wind was liQ-ht and contrary, nrogress was slow for the heavily-laden cutter, whose occupants had to put up with much banter from the crew of a cockle-shell, carrying a large spread of cloth, who kindly held up a rope's end, with its suggested invitation. The intention was to get as far down the Sounds as possible, and
then work back to Picton in easy stages. For this reason, the many tempting nooks which shewed up on eack tack, had to foe passed by, and the cutter therefore left behind Waikawa Bay, Boot Cove, and Curious Cove, on the starboard side,, and Double Cove, Acre, Powerful, and Blackwood Bays, on the port side. Motungarara island, 2()0 feet high, covered with trees, and having not less than eight fathoms all round, stood out in mid-channel, "but no landing- was attempted. When compiling a provision list, the pilot urged that the ordinary penny bun should be taken, and although at the time this was considered a fad, his wisdom soon became apparent. The tucker beingall carefully stowed, it was impossible, without going ashore, to have a midday meal, but the buns were kept handy, and the issue of one to eacli man at intervals during the day, staved oft hunger until a proper meal was available. As evening was drawing on. and the wind had fallen away, there was no hope of reaching the Cove before dark. Oars were therefore got out, and the boat headed for one of the inlets in Fly Bay. To the delight of everyone the spot chosen for a landing turned out most suitable. With the exception of a small clearing, bush clothed the hills to the water's edge. Tn the clearing stood a Maori whare, in the midst of a small garden, with here and there a few fruit trees. There was no sign of any occuoant. When the boat glided on to the soft yellow beach, all wereenraptured with the beauty of the surroundings. The men tumbled out, and formed a line along which to pass the kits and gear, and then evidence of a recent occupation by a native made itself unpleasantly apparent. Between two tall posts, and suspended from a cross-bar, were several sharks, put there to dry in the sun. Dried shark is a favourite article of diet amongst the Maoris, the fact
that the odour would knock down an European at a long range, not being any drawback to the native taste. Carefully avoiding the leeward side of the dried shark, camp was pitched on a clear space close to the shore, and adjacent to a stream of pure water. The officers occupied a seven by nine ridge tent, and petty officers and men two bell tents respectively of the ordinary army pattern. By the time all was made secure, the cook's party, which had been detailed immediately upon landing,
liad prepared a first-class meal, and on the bugle being' sounded, full justice was done to the provisions. After discussing the first meal, fishing tackle was over-hauled, and the cutter manned and pulled out a short distance from the shore and the anchor dropped. Prior to leaving, however, the dried shark was gingerly attacked, and several hunks brought off to be used as bait. Scarcely were the lines at the bottom before the fish were biting, and in. a few minutes the boat was
alive with fine specimens of blue cod. Many of the crew had never experienced such fishing, and it was a great source of amusement to the older hands to see the excitement aroused by the successful hauls. Although more fish were caught than could possibly be consumed, it was with much reluctance the men hauled in their lines to return to the camp. A supply of bracken was cut and placed in each tent for bedding, and after a supper of coffee, biscuits and cheese, "last post'"'" was sounded, and all hands turned in.
" Revielle " awakened the last sleeper at six a.m. on Boxing- Day, and the next relief of cooks soon had breakfast ready. The larder having been supplemented by the fish supply, meat was off the menu at this meal. The pilot had come well-provided with charts, and his books, which contained full information about Cook's visit to these historic waters, were much appreciated. In addition, his voice would frequently be heard hailing", the crew with, "To you see that island, lads ?"
" That is so and so," or, "We should be picking up the buoy at Hawes Rock shortly/ and so on. All the impedimenta having been re-shipped, sail was set with the object of reaching Ship Cove, twelve miles distant, the haven towards which the chief interest was manifested. Prom Fly Bay, the cutter ran before a fresh breeze, passing in succession on the starboard side, Blumine, or Pig Island, Pickersgill and Long Islands ; and on the port side, Bay of Many Coves, Endeavour Inlet, and .Resolution Bay. Prior to reaching Gula Gula Point, known to the settlers as Humbug Point, in consequence of the baffling winds generally encountered in that locality, a visitor would imagine the waters of the Sound to be those of a large lake, there being apparently no outlet, but when abreast of this point, a glimpse is obtained of the ocean, lyini!' far out between Long and Motuara Islands. A course was set for the southern extremity of Long Island, the height of which is 498 feet. The western side of the Island is very precipitious, but there is a shingle beach at the principal landingplace. On the eastern side are small patches of bush, but the course did not enable a careful examination to be made. The wind freshening up from the south, the cutter bowled into Ship Cove in grand style, finally bringing up on a sandy part of the shore at noon. Mr. Fell, of Picton, who was camped in the Cove, met the party on landing, and very kindly supplied the officers with much useful information. The Cove is situated abreast of Motuara Island on the western shore, and close to the entrance of Queen Charlotte's Sound, which at this part is seven miles wide. Some of the party had doubts as to its being the most, suitable place in which to beach a vessel to refit, but Cook appears to have been quite
confident, having anchored there on three occasions for the purpose of careening his vessels. It would seem that the north - east wind would bring" in a heavy swell from the ocean. For this reason it was not considered safe to leave the cutter on the beach. It was therefore hauled clear of high-water Spring-tides. This operation entailed much labour, but tackle had been brought in anticipation of such a requirement, and the work was soon safely accomplished. As the trees grow close to the water, the boat was almost wholly concealed in the thick foliage. On the North and South side of the Cove, the land rises straight out of the sea, and is covered with native bush through which it would be difficult to force a passage. At low water the crew intended walking to the entrance of the bay, but found the sides so steep that the attempt was abandoned. On the western side is a shelving beach, covered in all but one or two places with loose round stones, which no doubt undergo a severe grinding when the water is agitated. From this shore, a low-lying flat slopes back a short distance; and is lost in the mountains which surround the Cove. Through the centre of the flat runs a clear stream of water, and there is, close to the sea, an ideal campingground, partly cleared of 'bush, which, with this exception, covers all the land. This site was selected for the camp, but before tents could, 'be pitched, it was found necessary to beat down the tall English grass and mint to enable the pegs to ! be driven in. There was no need to cut bedding here, the beaten grass formmq- an excellent substitute. The view from the camp was sufficient to arouse the enthusiasm of the whole company, already primed with all the particulars connected with this romantic spot. Tn the foreground and surround-
ing the tents, were numerous cherry trees and willows and honeysuckle, all mixed in grand confusion with the different varieties of native trees. The absorbing interest aroused by the traditions of the place gave a license to the imagination, and one could picture the scene as it appeared over a century ago. Cook's line old ship at anchor in the bay, surrounded by canoes which had come from the neighbouring pas, at that time filled with a multitude of savages ; and with what regrets it was remembered that almost all trace of this noble aboriginal has now disappeared. Looking out from the small clearing, which was probably Cook's garden, the eye ranged over a vast forest, clothed with the identical tints which so delighted the members of his party. Judging by the appearance of the trees aear the water, the sea has made some inroads, but in other respects Nature lias been undisturbed. The Crown has reserved an area of 2000 acres around the waters of the Cove '' in memory of its occupation by Captain Cook/ Good fishing is obtained, blue cod being caught off the beach, and hapuka and other large fish some distance off shore. Shortly after reaching the Cove, the " Torangi " yacht, of Wellington, in charge of its owner, Mr. A. H. Turnbull, dropped anchor close in shore. Fie paid a visit to the Petone Mavals, whose officers were invited to afternoon tea, this opportunity of admiring his trim vessel at close quarters was much appreciated. During the visit to the Cove the moon was full, and the view from under the trees, across the water, at nightfall, when the ripples sparkled in the light, was a sight never to 'be forgotten. As all eyes gazed in fascination, the shrill notes of the bugle rang out to remind the watchers that another day had closed, and regretful steps were turned towards camp, to prepare for " lights out."
After a hearty breakfast, the cutter was again afloat, and sail was made to stand out of the bay. The wind v had fallen away light, and was shifty, and as little headway was made, oars were got out, and a short pull took the boat from under the land, where a fair breeze filled the sails. Motuara island now lay across the course, and a good view of the land was secured before "'stand by to i>-o about." Time did not permit a landing, although there was sufficient interest to tempt the men ashore. Cook set up an observatory, and planted a garden on this island, which he frequently visited in the ship's boats. On the highest point, he fixed a post, inscribed with the ship's name and date, and hoisted thereon the Union Flag 1 - At the same time he called the inlet Queen Charlotte's Sound, and took formal possession of this land and the adjacent country in the name and for the use of His Majesty, Kino- George 111. Motuara, lying as it does oft Ship Cove, forms a break to the sea which would otherwise sweep right into the Cove when an east wind blows. Beyond the Island, on the north side of Ship Cove, is Cannibal Cove, named by Cook, because he first saw in this bay signs that the Maoris ate human flesh. The land surrounding the bay has been cleared of the forest, and is now occupied by a sheep farmer, who, it is understood, objects to the name given by Cook. Passing Long Island, a course was steered for Resolution Bay (named after Cook's ship on the second and third voyage)., and situated close to and on the south side of Ship Cove. At the head of the bay, Mr. Ewing has erected a homestead on the only flat land. So scarce was this commodity that the visitors were unable to find a place clear of bush large enouo-h to accommodate their three tents. Tt is proposed to erect a sawmill in this
bay to convert the birch timber into railway sleepers. The food supplies, which included preserved milk, were here replenished by a can of fresh milk, kindly supplied by the settler, who did all he could to find a suitable camping around, and seemed as much disappointed as the crew when it was decided to look for another place. From appearances, the nearest likely spot was about five miles distant, and as the calm prevailing meant more pulling in the sweltering heat, the crew, already burnt up by the scorching rays, did not relish the outlook. Fortune, however, favoured them, and as soon as the cutter cleared the land, a light breeze was met with, and this carried the boat to PickiTSgill Island, named after one of Cook's Lieutenants. It is situated opposite Resolution, and near the eastern shore of the Sound. There is a cosy inlet on the south side of the island, into which the craft was steered, and which is remarkable for the irivat depth of water close in shore, but here another disappointment was in store — there was no fresh water. Leaving what the men re-named "' Thirsty Island,' 1 the boat entered a Hue cove on Arapawa Island. This iDay, now -known as Whareunga, is believed to be identical with the Grass Cove, in which a boat's crew from the ship " Adventure " was massacred on December 17th 1773. Tim " Adventure" was the consort of Cook's vessel on his second voyage. The land surrounding the Cove has remained undisturbed until within a few months ago, forty acres on the north side being now felled and awaiting to be burnt. It is to be reo-retted that such a picturesque and historic spot has not been conserved for the public use. The boat grounded on a soft beach, and as the bow-man jumped out to take the painter ashore, he landed a fine fish, which he scooped out of the water with his hand.
Mr. Radclift'e, owner of the land, was camped with his wife and family close to the landing. He explained that he was awaiting- a burn before erecting his house. Like all the other settlers met with, he extended a hearty welcome to the party, and entertained them royally. More fishing was here indulged in, one man catching nothing but sharks. They were of the "roundshark species, and apparently did not frighten away other fish, which is generally the case, as a good supply of cod was also landed. in the account of (.look's visit to Ship Cove, he says : " In the morning we were awakened by the singing of birds. The number of the songsters was incredible, and they seemed to strain their throats in emulation of each other. This wild melody was infinitely superior to any that we had heard of the same kind before. It was like the sound of small bells most exquisitely tuned. Upon enquiry we were informed that the birds here always begin to sing about two hours" after midnight." When the Petones visited Ship Cove they listened in vain for the singing of birds. For some unaccountable reason there are now very few birds in that bush. It was, therefore, a delightful surprise to find that in Whareunga the visitor can hear to-day a similar " wild melody " to that so well described by the early navigator. About three a.m., some of the sleepers were awakened by the songs of countless birds, clear above all being the notes of the bell-bird. When the bush is burnt o'-t this land, it is hoped that the birds will return to Ship Cove, to further enhance its attractions. Camp was struck next morning, and a fine breeze from the northeast carried the explorers well out in the channel towards " Endeavour Tnlet," which takes its name from Cook's shin on his first voyage. From the entrance it was necessary to beat to windward for a distance
of six miles, and during- this time the crew had its first experience of the treacherous breezes for which the Sound is noted. At no time were the sheets made fast, and the necessity for this prudence was observed when sudden squalls struck the boat. Very little water was shipped, and after some hours work, the cutter, which had behaved splendidly, was moored at the jetty. During- the beat up, the " lorangi" overhauled and easily passed her smaller friend. Endeavour Inlet has been brought into prominence by the existence of an antimony mine in the mountains adjacent. Although there is plenty of the mineral available, it has not paid to work it owing- to the low market price, and notwithstanding that a large sum of money has been spent, the workings are now in a state of ruin. The crew were fortunate in findingMr. Seag-ar, the present proprietor, residing- in the, lnlet, having- brought his family from Wellington to spend a few weeks holiday. On being interviewed by the officers, he courteously placed two empty cottages at their disposal, and instructed that a horse should be sent down to take the stores and gear along- his tramway. The party, therefore, dispensed with the erection of tents, and were saved the exertion of swagg-ing-, the supplies some considerable distance. All hands, accompanied by Master Seagar, who had an intelligent knowledge of the works, were taken over the mine, and great regret was expressed at the ruin and neg-lect apparent everywhere. Two or three, more enthusiastic than the others, succeeded in gaining the summit, and were rewarded by a magnificent view across Port Gore and Cook Strait. Mr. Murray, from Mr. Seagar's foundry in "Wellington, had been residing- in the Jnlet for some time and acting as mine manager, and his family very kindly entertained the men. After tea, whilst the officers were
the guests of Mr. Seagar, the services of a Petty Officer, experienced in ambulance work, were requisitioned to set a broken linger, the manager having met with an accident whilst returning to his home. The scenery in the Inlet would alone repay a visit, and for a quiet holiday resort it has every attraction. A small steamer calls at it with stores once a week, and another steamer from Wellington visits the place at intervals. On Monday morning, the sky being overcast, the cutter was once more got under way, and after great cheering, a course was set for the return trip. As if to detain the visitors in these waters, the wind, which had been adverse on entering, had now gone round, and was aii'ain blowing right ahead. On the beat out, the steamer " Elsie " was sighted and dipped her ensign, and as the cutter's nag had been stowed away, the jigger was lowered in acknowledgement. Rain now overtook the boat, and the swags had to be overhauled for oilskins. It was proposed to stand in to one of the bays near Picton, so as to be handy in case the wind dropped, as the cutter was due there on Tuesday night, but anticipating that there would be no dry ground on which to pitch a camp, the plans were changed, and it was decided to keep on to Picton. Arriving there, a boat-shed was kindly placed at the visitors' disposal by the Picton Rowing Club, and the crew was soon comfortably settled down. The following morning broke line, with no sign of the previous night's downpour, and all hands were in excellent spirits. As they were in Picton a day earlier than intended, various suggestions were made as to how the time should be spent. It was eventually decided to visit the town of Blenheim, which is situated in the Wairau Valley, and has a population of about 3000. Clothes were brushed, and preparation made
for the journey, eighteen miles by rail, in true Jack-ashore style. The first object of interest en route is a viaduct, fifty feet high, a most precarious-looking structure, which is crossed by the train before it passes the boundary of Picton Borough. The track is an uphill grade., and the commotion raised by the small engine is worthy of a much more difficult undertaking. From the " Elevation " the line runs down-hill, first through a narrow, winding valley, now skirting an extensive swamp, and then open-
iiiL( out a wide plain, dotted with numerous homesteads, all surrounded by fields of waving corn. As the last of the hills was passed, attention was directed to a monument at a place called Tuamarina. This has been erected on a hill-top, in Massacre Hill Cemetery, and is a stone obelisk, on which the names of those killed by Maoris in the Wairau Massacre, which occurred in June, 1843, are recorded. The Blenheim train is not noted for its express rate, but as there are numerous interestino' views along
the route, the time passed very pleasantly. The journey was completed at ten a.m., and the lads in their smart rio- attracted much attention, representatives of His Majesty's Navy beino- rarely seen in this <-|uiet town. The citizens escorted the visitors around the sights, and they were entertained in a hospitable manner. When the hour of departure arrived, they were loth to leave such comfortable quarters. Picton was reached on the return trip at three p.m., when all hands
turned to to clean up the cutter and get her into trim for the regatta, which is an annual fixture at Picton, on New Year's Day. The usual New Year's Eve demonstrations were celebrated, but the crew, tired out, turned in early, and were asleep as soon as the din ceased. Day dawned with perfect weather, there being just enough wind to please the owners of small craft which haunt the bay, and which hoist such a spread of canvas that a mere zeypher will shift them through the water in good style.
At half-past eleven a.m., the cutter was piped away to follow the races, having on board the Hon. C. H. Mills and other distinguished visitors. The smart appearance of the boat and its crew was the subject of much favourable comment from the onlookers, who throng the waterside for this regatta. Twoi large steamers had brought between them 200(1 excursionists from Wellington, and trains poured their loads in from country districts, so that the place presented a very lively appearance. The day's proceedings were fully enjoyed, and the cutter was safely hoisted, for the return journey, on the s.s. " Talune/' which made a start for home at twenty minutes to five p.m. The course as a rule lies through Tory Channel, but in order to give the passengers a view of Queen Charlotte Sound at its entrance, the longer route was taken. As the steamer passed the many places of interest, the cutter's crew might have been seen about different parts of the ship, pointing out to interested spectators places touched at during the cruise.
Cape Koamaru was passed on the starboard side, and then the Brothers Island, on which is situated a powerful ten-second flash-light. The course steered enabled the passengers to hail the lighthouse keeper with signals. Before reaching Cape Terawhiti, around which a noted tide rip runs, the steamer " Takapuna " was met, steering for New Plymouth. Fencarrow Light, standing on a hill 279 feet high, at the entrance to Wellington Harbour was then picked up, and once more the steamer was in smooth water, much to the delight of the majority of the passengers, for the swell running in the Strait Lad not made their journey a very enjoyable one. As soon as the steamer was berthed, the cutter was once more lowered into the water, and when it had been safely housed, the crew were mustered, and the officer in command thanked the men for the way they had worked to make the outing a success. They then dispersed, and so ended a delightful trip which will long be remembered by the lads of the Petone Navals.
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A Cruise in the Historic Water of QUEEN CHARLOTTE SOUND, New Zealand Illustrated Magazine, 1 January 1905
A Cruise in the Historic Water of QUEEN CHARLOTTE SOUND New Zealand Illustrated Magazine, 1 January 1905
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