Castaway on the Auckland Isles
Chapter IX. — we leave the island and land at port adventure.—arrival at invercargill.—despatch of the 'flying scud' to auckland island
we leave the island and land at port adventure.—arrival at invercargill.—despatch of the 'flying scud' to auckland island.
The morning of the 19th July, 1865, broke ne and promising; at 8 a.m. a light air came from the southward, and at 11 a.m. we set sail from Camp Cove with the first squall of a sou'wester, which winds never blow with any degree of moderation for more than 12 hours, and invariably end in a hard gale; but by taking the very first of it I expected to have got some distance away before the strength of the gale would overtake us. We did not, how ever, get more than 20 miles from the island before we felt the full fury of a south-west gale, which continued until our arrival at Port Adventure, Stewart Island, on the morning of the 24th instant, after a miserable passage of five days and nights, during the whole of which time I stood upon my feet, holding on to a rope with one hand and pumping with the other. The boat was very leaky, and kept the pump almost constantly going. As my anxiety would not permit me to leave the deck, I performed this part of the work while the other two relieved each other at the helm. The wind, although fair, was so strong that we were obliged to lay-to nearly half the time, and the sea was constantly breaking over the little craft; and how she lived through it I scarcely know. I had not eaten an ounce of food from the time of leaving until we arrived, and only drank about half a pint of water; yet I felt no fatigue until the night before we landed, when I suddenly became quite exhausted, and lay down on the deck, over which there was no water washing for the first page 97time since we left the island. We were now close to the land. I lay for about half an hour, and then got up again, feeling that I had just sufficient strength remaining to enable me to hold out till the next day; but had we been out any longer I feel convinced that I should never have put my foot on shore again.
On the following day, however, we landed at Port Adventure, where we were kindly received by Captain Cross, of the 'Flying Scud.' When we landed I could not stand, but was led up to that gentleman's house, where something to eat was immediately prepared for us, of which I partook very sparingly; for I felt very ill and unable to eat, and my companions were almost as much knocked up as myself. After this meal I had a warm bath and went to bed, where I remained till late in the evening, and on the following morning, after a good night's rest, I felt much better. Captain Cross was this day going to Invercargill. I made him a present of our boat, and we went with him in his vessel to Invercargill. I requested him to name our boat the 'Rescue,' and he informed me that early on that morning they had hoisted English colours on board, and given her that name.
On the morning of the 27th July, 1865, I landed in Invercargill, and, in company with Captain Cross, walked up the jetty and entered, I think, the first store we came to—that of Mr. J. Ross. I had not been there more than five minutes when Mr. John Macpherson, of the firm of Macpherson and Co., came in. He heard my tale, and at once, without the slightest hesitation or consideration, offered to assist us by every means in his power, and said that one of his vessels would most likely be in Invercargill in a month or so, and could we not devise some means of getting the other two men up before that time, she should go down for them. He took me at once to Mr. Ellis, Collector of Customs, who was the first person that I should see, and deliver to him my ship's papers, and who, as agent for the general government, was the first person page 98to whom Mr. Macpherson addressed himself on our behalf. It appeared, however, that he could do nothing for us on the part of the government. Mr. Macpherson then waited upon the Deputy-Superintendent, and he, on behalf of the provincial government, could also do nothing for us. Mr. Macpherson then took me to his own house to lunch, after which he most generously got up a subscription for the purpose of giving immediate relief, and chartering a vessel to go down and bring up the two men whom I had left behind; and before 6 p.m. had succeeded so far as to have raised about £40 in subscriptions of £5 each.
In the meantime Mr. Collyer, of the Princess's Hotel, had invited me, Mr. Raynal, and the other man to come and stay at his house free of charge, which kind offer I accepted. Mr. Macpherson also kindly invited me to his house to spend the evening. In the morning of the 28th, at the earliest business hour, Mr. Macpherson recommenced his work of disinterested goodness and charity, and until after dark in the evening trudged round the wet and muddy streets of Invercargill soliciting subscriptions for our aid; and on this evening had raised over £100, besides clothing and blankets for the men on the island. I consider it unquestionably the work of Divine Providence which has guided me safely thus far, and placed me in the hands of such a humane and sympathetic gentleman as Mr. Macpherson, by means of whose untiring endeavours the public of this little town have acted with so much bounty towards us poor castaways. I did not think it just or proper that I should accept of their charitable offerings so far as to clothe myself afresh, and begged of Mr. Macpherson to advance me a sufficient amount for that purpose, and accept a bill for the amount on Sarpy and Musgrave, of Sydney, which he most generously did.
A vessel was this day chartered to go down to the island, which vessel happens to be the 'Flying Scud,' owned and sailed by Captain Cross, who kindly entertained page 99us at Stewart Island, and brought us here in the said 'Flying Scud;' and a sufficient quantity of provisions for the trip was collected, either by way of subscriptions or purchase; and it was considered by those most interested in the affair incumbent on me to accompany Captain Cross, so as, from my knowledge of the place, to be in some measure a guarantee for the safety of the vessel, as she is not insured. To this I did not object, much as my heart yearned to return at once to my deserted family; for my conscience tells me that this little self-denial is justly due to all parties, and I humbly pray that we may have a safe and successful voyage and speedy return, when I may consider that I have fully discharged my duty.
Saturday, July 29, 1865.—This day also was occupied by the indefatigable Mr. Macpherson in running about town, prosecuting his work of despatching the 'Flying Scud.' I took luncheon at his house again to-day, and at about four o'clock in the afternoon he walked down to the vessel with me to see us off; we were also accompanied by his brother, Mr. William Macpherson. A number of the townspeople were assembled on the wharf, from which, at about 5 p.m., we cast loose and sailed, amidst the cheers, and accompanied by the well-wishes, of the assembled crowd. The wind was moderate from west; the weather had been gloomy and showery during the day, but the evening was fine. As the vessel could not go over the bar, we brought up for the night in a snug anchorage, at a place on the west side of the river called Sandy Point, about six miles from town: another small vessel was also anchored there.