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Mum had carefully stored Dad’s prized logs, and it was in sorting out their things (a process I have not yet completed) that I came across a hand-written hard-cover log simply titled: “Schooner Yatch ‘Wakaya'”. I had been aware of the log for some years, and have had this project – its recording – in mind for a while. I took Dad’s log away with me to Uepi Island, on Marovo Lagoon, in the Solomons where, during the free time between diving and underwater photography, I finally got busy with its transcription and organization to create the story you are about to read. The text is pretty much unabridged. I have made a stab at some names and words I did not recognize and have kept any authentic miss-spellings, witness the “Schooner Yatch”, as this is how the author, Henry Welch, wrote it in 1948.
Down the track, I will endeavour to do at least a photo chronicle of the war years, which Dad did not diarize. But, by this time the War had passed and considering the importance in their lives, it actually receives scant mention in his diary. At the end of the War, Dad was discharged with his overcoat and a New Zealand Rail pass; Dad was always disappointed about how the country treated its returned service personell…and would often comment that the blokes that stayed home made a fortune, and he lost the family business. I guess he was lucky just to get back; many didn’t, including Mum’s fiancee.
At the time of this cruise, Dad was probably working for the Food Control Office in Auckland, as there was still rationing of food, which persisted for some years after the fighting stopped. I gather much of what New Zealand could produce was still sent to England.
In those days of the post-War years, it was back to the business of getting on with normal life, and un-heard of for chaps to leave jobs, home, wives, sweethearts, and kiddies to go a’voyaging. To sail to the Pacific Islands in a private yacht was a rare endeavour. Dad in later years would recount their voyage as the first private sailing voyage from New Zealand to the Cook Islands since the Maori settlement canoes had voyaged to New Zealand centuries before. He was rightfully proud of that achievement. Having seen the “Wakaya” safely to the Cook Islands, he returned to Auckland where he possibly worked as a steward on a Union Line ship, with a Captain Bolton.
In those days, sea-going yachts were robustly built, usually of Kauri timber, sort-of had engines often petrol, no refrigeration, and all systems were manual. They did not have winches, it was block and tackle. You either sailed, or you didn’t go anywhere. These yachties were a self reliant and independent bunch. Few had sufficient resources to have boat built (unlike the “Golden Hind” on Dad’s pre-War cruise), and yachts were home built with the help of mates, and very much on shoe-string budget.
We have scanned in the photos and news clippings of the Schooner Yacht “Wakaya”. They describe the yacht well. There is one image of her on pile moorings near Westhaven, now rigged as a ketch. I last saw her in the 1980s in New Zealand’s beautiful Bay of Islands when I was an Eye Registrar at Auckland Hospital; by that time sadly more of a hulk than a yacht. I had even considered the purchase of the yacht with view to its restoration, but as I was to leave for America that was not to be the case. Earlier at some point in the 1970s we encountered Ted Hay and “Wakaya” on a cruise to Great Barrier Island, in company with a couple with a small child, nice people. I recall discussing yacht design with Ted who reckoned that his dream yacht would be a Jock Muir design–Muir was a famous Australian from Tasmania who designed the “Waltzing Matilda” yachts, all with full keels and generous beam like the “Wakaya”. At that time Ted had completed further voyages, and had built an enclosure around the cockpit for shelter from the elements, as well as changing the rig from schooner to ketch. Ted, I believe, finally “came ashore” reluctantly and spent his last days in a rest home in Whangerai.
The narrative thus begins:
“It was in April-May of 1944 that Ted purchased partly constructed hull in a shed at Panmure. Mr. Hammon had started this prior to going to the war. After 4 years incessant toil the yatch “Wakaya” now commences her maiden ocean voyage.
With Ted (Hay) as owner-skipper and Messres Owen Jackson, Robert Warder; Tom Welch as crew she sets out on what we hope is a happy and harmonious cruise.
(For some reason Ted Hay always called Dad, Tom, his middle name; never knew why. Dad was 34 years old at the time).
Both Owen and Bob have been active in the construction of the little ship; it is now that their dreams and Ted’s are to become a reality. Tom is just along to make up the numbers.
Left work 18th June; left Auckland 21st June. Tuesday 22nd, June, 1948. Mansion House Bay. Coppered. Weather fair–showers, wind s.west; nearly full moon; all being well should be ready for sea tomorrow. Dinghy causing concern will have to be lashed upside down; its a pity as considerable stowage space will be lost. Dinghy is ideal place for vegetables and wet clothes and oilskins at sea. Stove cleaned. Owen managed to get 4 more gallons of Petrol to fill drum; this will make it better for travelling on deck. Tonight is balance up night with the boys and it appears that our financial position is adjusted. It appears that we have plenty of stores. We will top the water up tomorrow and besides the tanks we have 44 gallon tins these we will fill with Kawau water. Slides on the main staysail proved to(o) tight and we will have to fix them before leaving as difficulty was experienced to lowering away last night even though some were not put on the track.
(Mansion House Bay, is a delightful bay near the entrance to Bon Accord Harbour, on Kawau Island north of Auckland, and is very popular with yachtsmen. It is named after the mansion built there by Sir George Grey, Governor of New Zealand. He also introduced exotic plants and animals from overseas; the descendents of the original peacocks still strut their fine plumage, as well as screech around the place. In the 1970s it was a public amenity, and as a visiting yachtie you could get a shower, and for tourists hotel accommodation as well as restaurant dining. Dinghy stowage is significantly overlooked on the yachts of today, in favour of collapsible inflatable boats. I have never met an RIB that gives the same pleasure as a rowing and sailing dinghy. On a schooner rig, the mainsail is the largest sail, and the mainmast is aft. The next sail forward is the main staysail which is hauled up a fixed stay that runs from the head of the main-mast to the base of the fore-mast). In those days they did not have winches, and a technique of “bousting” was used to tighten the line, as well as block and tackle for extra purchase.)
Wednesday, 23rd. The day broke pleasantly and after a morning cup of tea–we all set to work with the intentions of leaving about midday. However, as we were all intent on our jobs we grounded and it was too late to move out; as the tide ebbed we experienced difficulty in keeping “Wakaya” on an even keel. Ropes and blocks were brought into use and soon we had made her secure.
(A technique, still practiced by “DIY” (do it yourself) Kiwi yachtsmen, is to lay the ship alongside piles at high tide, belay her fast, then when the tide goes out, clean and paint the bottom. In this case they were cleaning and painting the bottom, “coppering”)
Good dinner; roast lamb, baked spuds, etc. We had a nice hot shower and shave our last real good clean up till next Port of Call. About 6 pm we started the “Bag of Chains” and cast off on our voyage.
Very light winds and we hoisted all sails but made very little progress. Had tea and listened to request session as Will had mentioned putting over a request; we did not hear it. Before leaving Kawau I sent a note to Bill and one to Anthony thanking him for the radio. It is working well at present and we are now waiting for the 9 pm time signal from 1YH to set the chronometer off. Bob and Owen are washing the tea dishes; we have eaten very well up to now–hope it keeps up. Bought a Herald, with a good photo of us leaving. Well goodnight; its nearly 9 pm and its my watch at 3 am so I’m off to bunk–we are starting with 3 hour watches at night and 4 hour in the day time. Ted–6-9 pm; Owen–9-midnight; Bob 12 midnight to 3; then I take over till 6 am. They are all laughing because they recon I will have to get the breakfast; still they will get their turn too; Bob is filling the Thermos flasks.
Thursday, 24th June, 1948. It seems a pity but here we are at Tryphena. Its blowing strong north east with rain and we are anchored off the Port Hand Wharf near the Post Office. Last night we experienced light and occasional strong winds from the north east quarter; we carried all sail till 3 am–my watch. We then decided to pull in at Barrier as it was a dead slog to make our course and according to weather forecast further strong winds could be expected; as nothing could be gained by continuing on I put about after jib and big fisherman were taken in; sailed a westerly course waiting day to enter Tryphena. We found the value of Thermos flasks and each change of watch was able to enjoy a hot drink. It is 12:30 and Bob is sizzling some rump steak for dinner. Both Ted and Owen are having 40 winks. Its still blowing hard and the sky is overcast. It seems a pity that we have used up so much of our fresh stores on the coast, Bob has put on a nig pot of beetroot and the corn beef is on boiling; this together with a stew in another pot should make cooking at sea more simple (when we leave). Well here’s hoping for a westerly soon. Oh, I forget to mention Owen made the porridge for breakfast (rolled oats). However, the meagre portion he handed out brought a ton of abuse from all quarters so much in fact that he set to and made another pot full; he called it the second course. Last I saw of Owen was cleaning up the bit left in my basin then starting on the saucepan–he’ll be a big boy when he grows up.
Friday 25th June. At approx. 11:45 we cleared Tryphena; a light westerly wind with dark rain clouds in the distance; steady drizzle at present. I woke this morning with a miserable headache; I think it’s lack of air in the for’d bunk and intend to sleep in the cabin. We slipped ashore for a few minutes before leaving. I put a call in to check up where I have left my watch; we filled the 4 gall tins of water giving us 16 gal s in tins. We left Barrier Island behind in a strong s’westerly and moderate following seas; the motion was not altogether comfortable and some members showed signs of mal-de-mer. Owen “broke the duck” and I followed next day; but for myself was soon ok. Heavy rain was experienced but in Ted’s words “…we sizzled along in a b— good offing”. During my watch several heavy squalls were experienced. The first one broke so suddenly in the dark that it struck before I had time to get any one up to shorten sail (we were carrying full sail). We eventually lowered away the jib; dropped the big Fisherman; double reefed the main; this left us with a comfortable spread of canvas and a good speed too.
Saturday, 26th June. Day broke still blowing hard and sailing under shortened sail; raining. By mid day we were all pretty wet. Before leaving I had cooked up beetroot, corned beef; stew, and a pot of stewed fruit, so as to make it easy meals for the first few days. Very little of this eaten as nobody appeared keen on food; later in the day we hoisted more sail. But in the evening had to lower away as we did not consider it wise to carry a lot of canvas with the crew not feeling too good. By Sunday morning the broken sleep and lack of food was showing its signs of fatigue.
Sunday, 27th June. The day broke with a cheerful smile and the seas had moderated a little. The wind had decided to fall away considerably. Owen was persuaded to come up on deck in the sun and by mid day every one was looking more cheerful and signs of sea sickness disappearing. Ted made some weet-bix and hot milk for breakfast and I produced cold corn beef and beetroot for lunch; this was about the first food the boys had had. Ted would have eaten sooner but as he shuns cooking like the average person would shun a pole-cat he’s got to get pretty hungry himself before anyone reaps any benefit from his culinary efforts. By Sunday night the morale was much higher. We shortened sail again before dark so as the boys would not have to break their sleep to reef down in the night. Wind freshened considerably and we were making good progress. Ran motor for 5 1/2 hours to charge batteries.
Sunday , 27th, again. Crossed the line; its Sunday again. Blowing very hard from north; seas rising. Owen not very interested as it appears that the sea legs have not arrived yet; not eating much. By 2 pm we had the mainsail furled and shortly after carried on under main staysail only. Storm staysail brought out and hoisted. Wind increasing and it was soon obvious that even the storm staysail was too much. Ted thought something might carry away so we lowered the sail and hove to under bare poles. Wind now gale force and seas rising; things began to look a bit grim. Owen and Bob in their scratcher and not feeling too god. Both Ted and myself are showing signs of weakness due to loss of sleep and food. During the night it was obvious that we were “in for it”. Heavy breaking seas, hard rain squalls–these we did not mind as they tended to flatten the seas; glass falling.
(One of the advantages of the schooner rig for short handed sailing is divided packets of sail, as well as the ability carry a full press of sail in lighter winds, especially when sailing with sheets eased–here the fisherman sail comes into its own. Dad and his compatriots were not ones for leaving it to the auto pilot and radar (they did not have these) and stood watches; their watch schedule is described as we go along).
Monday 28th. The glass reads 29.05. It was obvious that something had to be done so I said to Ted: ‘come on the sea-anchor, old chap’. ‘Yeah. I suppose so says Ted’ Well we disturbed Bob in his bunk and got the sea anchor out from aft. Of course the rat holes had to be mended. We cut up some canvass and Ted and I patched the ole thing up. I never thought for one moment it would hold long still it was some attempt to give uws some reasonable safety. By noon the anchor was laid and we retreated below to dry out. I put in a word to the Good Lord to take it easy and at the same time had a mental reflection that it seemed pretty tough to go all year and never think of the Lord then to suddenly make use of him in a case like this. However, I consoled myself later by (the) thought that some people are all the time at him for something or other, praying every blooming night; dammit he must get tired of all these petty requests; mine seemed pretty reasonable in view of this; hang it all I hadn’t bothered him for years(!).
During the storm I would have liked to have written my reactions at the time but apart from the motion of the boat I reflected that it would be a wasted effort if we were all drowned…the diary would get all wet and probably float away. My pen could never describe our feelings nor the terrifying sight of those hugh breaking seas and vast green foam lashed valleys. I defy anyone to say that the scene was not frightening. Of course now its like a dream, a nightmare of course and I have no doubt that in time the resolutions made at the time never to go ocean cruising again will be forgotten (not for mine) but Bob and Owen, they being younger, may at some future date make another trip. I am going to be content with NZ coast, or inner Harbour.
(Many years later Dad would recount the ferocity of the storm; as one breaking crest boiled down upon the doughty “Wakaya” he jumped into the ratlines on the mast, climbed up the mast as the wave broke completely over the boat, and looked down on a sea of foam with the yacht no where to be seen, before she gradually rose to the surface. These impressions lasted a life time and as we sailed around the New Zealand coast important lessons in the strength of yacht construction were instilled in me. Dad wouldn’t look at the lightweight fibreglass boats, as for him, a sea going yacht had to be strongly built, and of moderate displacement so it had an “easy motion” as he called it in a sea. Our “Beyond II” was more than up to these standards and she would still be going when other yachts have fallen to bits, to use his expression. There are a few short sentences in his log, presumably written during the storm):
Boat turned completely around and me thrown across the cabin. Starting of motor. Bending of bob stay.
And, the setting of the sea-anchor:
Drilling holes. Bob so weak, 2 to turn brace; lashing together on deck for (Bru???). Chain off anchor as weight. Warp from aft joined to chain. Ted and I so weak we could not pull warp through eye of sea anchor. Owen rolled over to help. Moving out of forward bunk. Keeping watch for ships at night; last night had masthead light on and stern light what day under motor? How long?
(So with the sea anchor set, and motor going they achieved some control of the path of the vessel as she threatened to surf down the fronts of huge waves. The risk here is of broaching then being rolled, or being pitch-poled end over end as happened to Miles and Beryl Smeeton with John Guzzwell (known to Dad from the “Treasure”–see general yachting gallery) in the “Hzu Sang” in exceptional conditions off the west coast of Chile (on not one, but two, occasions…a stretch of ocean best avoided). The bob stay referred to is a stout, often solid, stay between the bow near the water line and the bowsprit, to counter the upward pull of the head stay. A terrific force, as imparted by the storm was necessary to actually bend it).
Tuesday 29th. Well I guess that the barometer has never been read as often by as many people as many times as it was last night; the slightest movement was heralded with joy a rise of 1 point gave cause for great exhuberance if we had been strong enough to show it, other than a weakly smile we would have. By 8 m it was obvious that the wind though still strong had decreased considerably. We felt that the sea anchor was weakening and we may as well attempted to sail, it being possible. I wonder now how wemiserable people managed to get the sea anchor aboard. I think it was the thankfullness that the gale had abated that buoyed us up with the necessary energy. Owen started the motor and with Bob at the tiller we slowly but surely brought on board what was left of our valiant sea anchor. With warp coiled across dinghy and chain stowed below all in a handy position we sizzled along once more. I hope Ted mends the sea anchor. He’s inclined to procrastinate quite a bit.
Wednesday (30th June) NZ time. Actually we have crossed the date line and it’s Tuesday. The events since my last writing have been rather confused and now that it is all over (we hope) I will endeavor to trace through the various happenings. It is most difficult to write as the motion of the boat is not altogether steady. The day is fine now; its about 1:30 pm and the wind is s.w. and the seas are gradually settling down. They remind me of a huge giant having defeated his opponent after fierce battle lays on his back his great chest heaving from exhaustion.
(By this time Dad had moved out of the forward cabin, and while at sea slept on the floor of the main cabin. He always believed after this experience that sea-going yachts should have their passage bunks abaft the mast, and particularly thought quarter berths were the best for sleeping at sea. The sea-going designs of Alan Buchanan (“Starfire of Kent”–see photos of “Kochab II” in general yachting pics, and Phillip Rhodes (“Carina”) have their sleeping accommodations arranged this way. Many of today’s designs have what I call “Bridal Cabin” arrangements with midline double bunks (heaven knows what for!) in both forward and aft cabins. In the storms we have just encountered it would have been impossible to stay in these bunks, let alone sleep. An aft cabin arrangement seen with the McCurdy-Rhodes designs may involve a double bunk on one side, and a single on the other, but this does take up space).
Thursday, 1st July. Yesterday was a beautiful day and the wind was good; we made good speed under comfortable conditions. Crew have regained bright usual selves and they seem to have discovered their sea legs. As we have been underfed we concentrated on good meals. Ted even cooked eggs and bacon. The dinner last night we had steak and kidney pudding, potatoes, leeks, and carrots; followed by apple pie. Oh Boy! A good night sleep and today we feel absolutely ok; very little wind last night; made very little headway. This morning Owen came to light and cooked porridge for breakfast. I got up later; washed up and gave the galley a general overhaul and things look a bit more homely out there now. I made tomato soup for lunch and coffee with milk. Ted is at present up the mast trying to fit another block for the main topping lift. The wind has shifted more nw so we changed course and we are now heading in a direction which should take us east of Sunday Island. I sincerely hope that this n.wester does not bring us more unpleasant weather. Bob has just called out “Hey, Tom, it’s your watch”; so, I go on from 2 pm till 6 pm.
Dinner over and not too bad; wither its always better when someone else cooks it; Bob did the decent thing tonight and after steak and kid, potatoes, cabbage, carrots we had steamed pudding and custard. Before tea it was quite a fresh norwester so we took the big fisherman off and put the working one on. However, at time of writing its now 7:45 pm the wind seems to have eased considerably. We took at time signal tonight at 7:28 pm 2YA and found the chronometer 31 sec slow which is in keeping with the daily rate of loss we were aware of. The radio is alright for time signals but not the best for musical entertainment; however, later in the tropics it might prove better on short wave.
A flying fish came aboard tonight while I was on watch. It was dark and for’ a moment I wondered what it was that flopped alongside me. All hands popped up to have a look at Tom breakfast. We are now sailing in a northerly direction our course bein north by east. Actually in summing up our progress so far it can be received with little enthusiasm; at our present rate we will take a month to reach Raratonga.
At this stage I might outline our watch. At night the watch is three hours each man day time 4 hours 6pm and 6 am being the hours dividing night and day. Briefly, if a man goes on at 6 pm till 9 pm he will do 9-12 next night then 12-3 and so on; the day watchs move accordingly i.e. 6 am till 10 am next day one does 10 am till 2 pm and so on. This is workable of course with 4 men available all the time. We find it very satisfactory and not monotonous. Three hours is plenty at night expecially if its raining. Up to the present it is pleasing to note that not a man hassed his watch in spite of the bad spin we have had.
Friday, July 2nd. I came off watch at 6 am;turned on breakfast, stewed apples and tree tomatoes sprinkled with weet bix with bacon and eggs to follow. I cooked the flying fish and we each had a little piece; we are now hoping more land on the deck. Bob helped me wash up. The weather is still looking at us grimly from the nor’west; it might or it might not, we hope–might not; the glass is steady; this is comforting. All being well we should be abeam or to the East of Raoul (Island) about 9 pm tonight, according to Ted. Only Ted, so far, has shaved though hear Owen mumbling something about shaving today (I wonder)??? We had lunch; I cooked fish cakes and the cries for more that came forth led me to cook more. I intend to join a circus after this and do an act cooking flap-jacks on a tight-rope. We took a mid-day sight our fist for some days owing to the weather. The wind has gone more north so we paid off a little and our course is now N.E.; we have made good time since yesterday morning; if it keeps up we may even yet reach Rarotonga in 3 weeks ??? Weather still fine and the ominous clouds show signs of breaking. Glass still steady; all sail on; seas moderate; motion of boat not unpleasant.
Saturday, July 3rd. Last night wa an eventful one; about 8:30 while I was on watch Ted came up to have a look around. We were carrying full sail and making best part of 7 knots. He said, “that water looks strange to me, Tom”; my word, it did too. It looked like tid rips or shallow water; we turned on the flood light and we noticed what looked like shoals of fish; Without more ado Ted had all sail off with exception of main staysail and we squared away pending further investigation. All hands came up to give opinion; we knew from our latitude reckonings that we were in the same latitude as the Star of Bengal Reef where shoals and tide rips exist. Our first longitude sight was taken at mid-day and as Ted had not worked it out we were unable to be sure; so I stayed on watch till Ted completed his sums. Calculations proved that we were miles to East, and sails were hoisted again. This time, double reef main, as the wind had freshened considerably. I turned in at midnight. This morning I woke at 6:30 am; Bob didn’t call me at 6, very good of him; I enjoyed the extra time in bed. By 9 am we were hove to again. Blowing hard; all hands tired out so turned in by 5 pm; wind had eased a little so we set off again and made good time.
Bob not to good; mostly lack of sleep. None of us have had much one would need to be able to sleep on a cak walk to get any rest.
Ted woke me at 8 am and we took in the mainsail. Blowing hard again; Bob’s watch carrying on under stormstaysail and fore staysail. 9 am wind gone s’west; light rain; might be all for the good. Owen started motor to charge batteries. Compass light so weak last night that Owen had to fix temporary 6 volt light which was too strong; very had on the helmsmen. Last night we made excellent time under double-reefed main, storm staysail, and forestaysail; the helmsman getting many a ducking with flying spray as we surged along.. From 5 pm last night to 5 am Ted recons we did 72 miles or more. Owen got breakfast, stewed apples and tree tomatoes with weetbix, very nice. Owen ran motor till 3 pm. It just fitted in nicely as the wind dropped and we would have only wallowed around in choppy seas. At about 5 pm sufficient wind to hoist main and shake out the two reefs. We had difficulty in starting the fire yesterday due to the rolling of the boat; everytime she lurched to leeward it would cause a back eddy and smoke poor Bob out; I went to his rescue and after getting like a smoked herring managed to get a blaze going. Bood cooked tea very nice too; we had the last of the steamed pudding; they didn’t keep much to good; but we cut the mould off and ate the rest with custard sauce. Bob spent a good deal of time drying out the bread; it has gone mouldy so he cuts it off and slices the balance and puts in in the oven on trays to dry. The result is pretty hard but actually quite good to eat.
Monday, 5th. Wind was very light and variable in the early evening last night and Bob got me out of bunk to help him with the sails as he recon’ed the wind had gone north from s’west. We finished up by putting the sails back as they were. My watch at 12 so I made 2 mugs of milo, one for Bob and stayed up. The wind decided to freshen about 1 pm and com in from s.e.–good–this might be the Trade Winds they talk about. Called Ted at 3 am and went to bunk. Ted has some sort of water blister on his foot that appears to give him some concern; he had one on his hand first but it got knocked with a rope; seems to be alright. The day so far is overcast with steady s.e. wind and s.e. swell.
Tuesday 6th, July. Big s.e. swell running. Winds light and Hurrah a fine day! Though not strong sunshine the sun does show through occasionally. Last night was a perfect starry one and I came off watch at 6 pm after enjoying a nice dinner cooked by Bob. Steak and kidney pudd; carrot; swede;baked spuds and kumeras with Rice Pudding to follow. Tuned into the American Station and got a time signal to far from NZ now to get 2YA. Chronometer 58 secs slow. Motion of the boat is much more pleasant though far from perfect. With a following sea on our starboard quarter the ole’ girl give a lift then a surge and with a drunken lurch wallows back into the next trough and so on–still its a dry sail. As we have not been able to get a decent sight we are not chasing her along. Ted thinks we are too far East, so meantime until he gets a decent fix (which we hope to do today if the sun remains visible). We are sailing along about 4 knots under main fore and main staysail. Having furled big jib before night fall last night. Bob took the fisherman down when I came on watch at 3 am this morning when we wanted to knock off the knots early on the trip when dead reckoning was good enough we encountered gales etc. and spent a good deal of time hove to; now, when sailing could be perfect and we could make 6-7 knots in complete comfort we can’t get a position. However, by 1 pm today we should have a position and can give everything in the right direction. I came off watch at 6 am and scratched up a bit of breakfast for the boys; weetbix, poached eggs on toast, coffee, toast, and marmalade. With the stove going Bob took the opportunity to dry out the rest of the bread. Owen and Bob wash up; we busied ourselves with a general cleanup–did I say a nice day; I have just been up on deck to bring in all my blankets its going to rain. The deck looked like an Indian Barnyard, gear hanging everywhere we all thought it would be a great change to air things looks as though we will have to wait another day; though the hour or so sun and wind the gear has had will freshen things up. I have opened the for’d hatch and Oh Boy is it good to get some light and air into my boudoir. Ted has got one sight in the bag; hope its ok at noon or we may be on the coast of S. America soon, who knows??? I have a big pot of water on and intend to scrub the cockpit out right now.
(Apparently with a following sea the “Wakaya” had a corkscrew motion, despite a deep long keel with aft mounted rudder which I once admired when she was on the hard stand at Westhaven. Ted commented to me that he thought he built her too wide and this was the reason. We will never know).
Wednesday, 7th July. After cleaning out the cockpit the dirt and grease that had accumulated was amazing. I had 40 winks; Owen prepared the evening meal very nice too; I went on watch at 6 pm. The day today broke very pleasantly a beautiful sunrise and light southerly wind which I think will back to s.west later. Bob did the decent thing and produced fruit and Weet-bix with bacon, egg, and toast for breakfast. Ted took a sight and went below to work it out. I was therefore a bit late getting off watch. Bob has just put his head into the main cabin and said “What about beans and bacon for lunch?”. Sounds good to me so he’s putting things away in the galley. We cooked the beans and the bacon yesterday so as it would not be too much trouble today. The mumbling Owen was doing a few days ago bore fruit and the shave has eventuated; we wondered who the stranger was for a while; he looks quite boyish now; my, wait til the Rarotongan maidens see him!!! The ocean has now taken on its tropical hue and is as blue as the ink I am using. The temperature is still coolish and on going on watch this morning at 6 am I wore woolen u/clothes and 2 woolen pullovers, pair of longs, plus oil skin and oil skin pants.
Sea birds have followed us all the way. Sea gulls at first then they disappeared to be replaced by the Albatross and the Petrol; they were our close companions in numbers varying from 15 to 25 all the time until about three days ago when they gradually thinned out yesterday morning; I saw one solitary albatross; the petrels seem to have left us altogether some days before. One type of Petrel which we identified as the Kermadec Petrel had white markings on his wings seemed to leave us before the others. During the gale I felt quite sorry for them; I looked out the hatch aft during the height of the blow and saw a small dark shape sheer up from behind a wave and get blown smartly to leeward.
Well the beans and bacon should be ready soon. Owen has turned up that’s a good sign. Ted discovered that he has not got the right almanac to work out his 205 method; therefore, we cannot get an exact longitude so from now on its latitude and dead reconing and a hell of a lot of luck. We double-reefed the mainsail just before tea; lowered the jib; we are now sailing comfortably under forestaysail, main staysail, and double reef main. Although according to our dead reconing we are two to thre days from land its just as well to go carefully in the dark. 1 st quarter of a new moon tonight so in a few nights time it should be reasonably moonlight. Ted went up the mast with glasses just before nightfall but not sign; my watch tonight 9 pm to midnight visibility about 100 yds and then one could not discern anything unless it was pretty big–a reef, I guess we would feel the bump first.
Thursday, 8. Day broke, very little wind; seas becoming calm; today promises to be the best day we have had. Owen coming off watch at 6 am has produced breakfast, rolled oats, tea, bread and marmalade. Mid-day and all sail on again. Owen started motor to keep batteries 2 hours. Kept us going as winds very light. Ted took noon day sight and has decided now that we are over 300 miles from Rarotonga; so I dare say we will keep all sail up a night for a couple of nights anyway, unless the weather prevents us. Ted and Owen cooked bacon and egg for lunch; I came off watch at 2:20 pm; Bob started the fire while I cooked tea curried veges and mashed potatoes with tree tomatoe and apple pie to follow; we had jam tarts and cup of tea about 4:30. The day is waning and the seas are near enough to perfect (to us anyway). The wind is good and we are bowling along pleasantly about 6 knots; following seas large long ocean swell. I nearly got bowled out yesterday; the wind changed and Ted wanted the sails over on the port side. Ted called out to me to ease the back stay; I bent over and gave it a pull and when I straightened up the boom was over. Bob had let the boom guy to and she gybed herself; in that split second I was bending over attending to the backstay the boom cleared my head. Oh boy, a ticket in Tats for me first Port. Ted said their would have been a burial at sea and I’m sure he’s right.
Friday, 9th. A beautiful night and a beautiful day; calm, yes, calm in fact B-calm; that;s what we have been B-calmed. After breakfast which Ted prepared we hoisted sail again. The breeze was light; things flapped around. Owen started the bag of chains and it ran for sometime until it got Bob’s goat so we stopped it. Its nice in the sunshine but at the moment we would appreciate a little more wind. Its nearly two pm and my watch. Lunch over I prepared tomatoes on toast; quite nice. Ted made the tea so I’ll go and partake. 15 days at sea today; all being well another week will bring land our longitude calculations are out and at the moment we are relying on dead reckoning and latitudes. We put 14 gal of petrol in the tank today out of the drum on deck. Cleared the chain locker of stores and stowed the chain which had been lying on the floor by the foremast since the sea anchor episode. Re-stowed the (?) meats amidships; for evening meal Bob prepared a concoction; I can’t tell you what he called it; still it was nice with steamed pudding to follow. How the seas have become reasonable; we are all settling down to a reasonable routine. I have started a book, one of Sydney Parkham’s, looks like a mystery.
Saturday, 10th. I came off watch at 6 am wind fitful, progress slow; may have averaged 2-3 knots; got the boys’ breakfast weet bix, spaghetti and veges warmed up. The day promises to be fine though the horizon is clouded and not the best for visibility. Well at least we know our latitude or I hope we will at noon today. Yesterday sight no good. What’s it feel like to be lost at sea. Well so far it’s ok. Our stores are plentiful, water, well we have not used 50 gal tank yet–that’s if they hold 50; Ted’s a bit hazy on this; we still have 2-4 gallon tins an approx. total ; 30 days supply if we economize and possibly longer if we have to ration strictly; so here’s hoping we see land before then or things will become rather serious. Our vegetables have kept reasonably; well a few carrots were dumped yesterday and an odd one or two of other veges have gone the same way. We have a pan of bacon on to be boiled today; this will be big enough to last several days. We are still eating bread; of course it has been trimmed up and dried out; but still eatable (sic). According to Ted his latitude positions are ok, if so we will have to be like the ancient mariners who sailed the seas on latitude calculations only. So by Thursday approx. (in my opinion) we should be in the same latitude as Rarotonga then we ill have to decide whether to sail east or west until the we need not be unduly disturbed at our predicament. Owen has a Gatty Raft Book and is very busy studying it up; it has a method determining longitude. I’ll have a read of my detective thriller while the boys nut things out—–. Owen produced the evening meal. Ted lowered away mainsail during his watch; he thought he saw breakers ahead; nothing happened; continued on during night under two staysails.
Sunday 11th. Monday in Auckland and all you people off to work; well at least you know whee you are going even if you are not particularly keen to go; whereas, we are keen and don’t know where. The day broke during my watch 6-10 am. I hoisted sails again before relieving Bob, and off we went once more. Bob prepared breakfast after which Owen hoisted the big jib; much better able to take full advantage of trade winds. Ted tightened up main shrouds; they seem to have stretched quite a bit. A good steady breeze with a sunny day and easy seas a little spray flying Our noon day sight, if we get one, should show us nearing the latitudes of Rarotonga. Ted went up the mast early and I spent some time up thee about 10:30 am o’clock no sign yet of land. Rarotonga is high over 2,000ft but the outlying islands are very low and we should have to sail in close proximity to see them. I had 40 winks in the afternoon; actually did doze off when I awoke I found the boys had lung a small flying fish over my bunk; it gave me quite a start at first. They thought it a great joke. After tea we shortened sail again so as not to move too fast during the night; 17 days at sea and we should be on latitude of Rara tomorrow.
Monday, 12th, 18 days at sea. I came off watch at midnight last night; no sign of land yet. I woke this morning and went up and hoisted all sails. Owen produced breakfast, stewed apples, weetbix, and garnished with raisins, very good indeed. My watch 10 am; everyone took a turn up the mast as today is zero for land; if not sighted well we can begin to think mid-day sight taken latitude shows we are in same latitude position as Raro but east or west????that’s the point. We have decided to go on till noon tomorrow before altering course. A good lookout has been kept all day, and at dusk we had a final look, but no sign. The horizon is bad, very cloudy, and does not lend itself to our needs. Owen has been doing his best to study the Gatty method of longitude and is very earnest in his endeavours; his figures show us East of Rarotonga; this compares with Ted’s ideas, though I am inclined to think the mileage too great, 18 days at sea and Raro is over 1600 miles in a straight line; even if we averaged 100 miles per day remembering we were hove to 2 days, and becalmed 20 1/2 hours; still that’s only and opinion; is apparently well squashed because latitude shows us far enough north.
(The reader is given the opportunity to decide at this point, should the ship turn back to the west, or continue on to the east to find land? Can Ted’s latitude calculations be trusted? It may be life or death, as we will soon determine. How long could they last on diminishing water supply?)
I inspected tank tops today and have turned on starboard side to test water; tomorrow, if satisfactory will turn off and revert to port tank again until dry–. It’s getting near 6:30 pm and as I go on watch at 12 I think I’ll get some rest. More detail tomorrow in the daylight; the hurricane lamp we have tied on the table is not the best to see with; no drink with tea tonight.
Tuesday, 13th., and hope it’s the lucky 13th too. I took stock of our water position and after conference with Bob discovered that tanks hold at the most 76 galls.; together not 100 as Ted said. I am therefore estimating them at 36 galls each; the port one has been used for some time now; we have no idea what is left; so for the purpose of rationing I intend to ignore this one altogether in the meantime as it may run out today or perhaps even next week. So therefore, we have 36 galls plus 2, 4 gall tins–44 galls of water maximum as we have no way making sure tanks are full. They were supposed to be full when we left Auckland but we managed to get more in at Kawau what our actual ration is going to be is ot yet decided, but it’s got to be tough from the start if I have any say; we are experimenting today and so far have not had drink since yesterday 10:30 am. For tea last night we had steak and Kid, and biscuits followed by tinned pears;I told the boys th syrup was their drink. All food that needs fresh water to cook it is off the menu; we had beans and weet bix this morning and biscuit and marmalade; there was a bit of moisture in this. At 1/2 gal a day thats 1 pt a man we are 88 days away from death’s door not allowing for the period a man can live without water. I think the estimate a bit hopeful 81 days takes us to the end of September–2 months and 19 days. Its taken us 19 days to do approx 16-1700 miles and we have used for estimate purposes say 36 galls water; tonight will reveal amount of water used over 24 hours. I came off watch at 3 am and was never more pleased to do so. Just the usual 3 hours but it seemed ages. Bob had said to me earlier in the evening, “Well, Tom, I never really gave this business much thought till now but by Jove it looks as if we have missed the point”. We managed yesterday and today on 1/2 gal water; it’s not actually tough and yet we feel we could drink a little more; it may get more difficult when we come to eat more dry foods. At a Council of War yesterday we decided to turn west. Both Ted and Owen think we are east of Rarotonga; I am of the opinion we are west but not by much. However, we agreed to run west on our latitude sight and if we are East of Raratonga we should sight land in the next 2-3 days.
(The ship at this point is going to back track, lest they sail past the island of Raratonga; it is still unknown whether they are east or west).
A good look out is being kept through it is difficult to stay up the mast long due to the motion of the boat; its like trying to ride a bucking bronco.. I haven’t tried to ride one myself but it’s what I imagine it would be like. The weather is threatening; the sky being very dark and overcast; visibilit poor; I think we’d need to run up on a beach before we saw land. It was decided last night to lower all sails except the main staysail so that our night’s run would not put us out of range of our present horizon; I guess we will keep this up for a few days or say 200-300 miles to satisfy ourselves that we are actually west of Rarotonga. Ted has commenced to show me how to work out latitude so am quite busy at the moment: watches, this blooming diary, meals, and a bit of general work plus add bits of sleep. Ted is anxious someone has a go at Longitude but in my opinion now that we have decided to run for Friendly Islands, this is not so important; as it is nearly straight west and a good latitude should do the trick; plus a good lookout, anyhow I intend to pursue my determination to check latitude first. For dinner tonight we are having roast potatoes, steak and kid, with mashed carrots, parsnips, and swedes. The vegetables are showing signs of rot and today I am hoping we will have a working bee to sort and re stack with good luck and care they may last another 4 weeks; then we will have to start on tinned veges. Yesterday we had rice and I got a tin 7lb of Golden Syrup out from under the floor; Ted said, “Gee wouldn’t it look funny to see Golden Syrup all over the floor with someone stuck in it in bare feet”. Well, he nearly got his wish as just before dinner Owen opened the cupboard door and Oh Boy! The tin!!!?? Yes, Golden Syrup everywhere and blokes trying to clean it up. You can imagine the job it would be on land in a pantry; well with the boat flat off the wind and a following sea she rolls nearly 60 degrees off c entre each roll. It was funny as H—- watching Bob and Owen trying to hang on and clean up, one hand in the syrup, one to hang on they they’d get mixed up and both hands seemed to be in the syrup. I was on watch so missed the job; they were both pretty stuck up by the time they had finished. Its still not safe to grab a tin out of the cupboard without first having a good look at it.
Wednesday 14th July, 1948. Day broke with my watch, 3 am to 6 am; very grey and dark visibility still very bad and looks like bad weather about; goodness knows we don’t want that wind; wind has dropped; we are luckly if we have made 1 1/2 knots for the hour; since 6 pm last night; it does not look much better today. I got breakfast, bacon, 1 egg, and a few chips, weet bix and jam and 1/2 mug of coffee with milk each; another 1/2 mug left for tonight. We are going to try 2 meals a day. We have hoisted sail again: fore staysail, main staysail and reefed main; very little wind and sky dark and overcast just when we need good visibility. Bob and Owen have started to sort veges so I better away and give a hand. All sorted; bad cut out where necessary. Eyes rubbed off spud–hope this is correct thing to do; details of fresh veges on hand at rear of book if they keep we should have enough for 2 months (spuds anyway). Carrots nd parsnip and beets only about 3 weeks at outside but onion and spuds as I say if the keep, much longer.
Speaking for myself, I find any exertion very weakening perhaps our water ration is too tough still I’ll keep it up a while anyway–I notice that the rest of crew are getting a little dull too; maybe its me; I was up at 3 am to go on watch; its now 2 pm and I had very little sleep last night; the motion of the boat being disturbing. We had soup for lunch; I doctored it with Bovo. We opened a tin of malt wafters and had these with jam–no drink–drink tonight 1/2 cup of coffee and milk; that’s all; when I think of those blokes hurrying into the Pub to sink a few…Oh Boy!!!
Thursday, July 15th, 21 days at sea. Last night Ted relieved me from watch 9 pm; said he tought we’d heave-to; I said, “right Boss what ever you say”!; went to bed not waiting to see what happened; over the last two days both Ted and Owen have held a school of navigation; I think they have convinced themselves that we are east of Rara. Hence the idea to heave to. I awoke in the night several times and did not have to look on deck to know we had hove to as the ole girl gets beam on and rolls the inside out of us; I don’t know of a more wearing down tiring motion. I got up about 6:30 am rationed out eh water and Bob said go back to bed, your up too early as it was his morning to cook breakfast–I went. We had stewed apples and weetbix; anything that needs fresh water to cook it is off the menu. I don’t now how he managed the apples; toast and jam followed then 1/2 mug of tea for Ted, Bob, and I. Owen gets his ration in a thermos and drinks it as he likes. I joined the school of navigation this morning and managed to work out a formula but they all reckoned the answer puts us in the middle of S. America so that can’t be right. Owen has a book writted by a bloke named Lund. Well Mr. Lund I can follow your workings perfectly but unfortunately your sums show the sun on a southerly declination and mine is north; that seems to make things a bit more complicated. Funny all these blokes pick an easy one for themselves when they compile these books. Anyhow, I’ve got till end of Sept before we cough out unless of course we hit a reef beforehand.
Ted got lunch, beans on toast left from breakfast; no drink. The day is beautiful; we have decided to sail again on a s. s’west course; Ted and Owen’s theory it is. Hope its right. Good wind and good horizon. I continued with studies; Bob cooked tea. Shortened sail again at night. All this business of heaving too and shorting sail means more food and water consumed over less distance, and is an important factor. However, if land doesn’t loom up soon we will have to try and keep a latitude course and watch out for islands in the Friendly Group. I gave up studies at 8 pm. Had a rest before going on watch 9 to 12; it was a beautiful night; sailing s’s’west with the moon acting like a flood light in our path. Woke Ted at midnight and into bed. Had to get Owen up to fix compass light about 11 pm; it became very weak.
Friday, 22 days at sea. July 16th. Day broke with Owen and breakfast: apples, weetbix and garnished with raisins; we decided to have some tinned milk on them this morning; getting rash with our liquid; however, I don’t think it will matter for once as our water ration is tough especially for tropical weather. The fresh butter we have left approx 2 lbs is now rank but the boys still seem to get it down. I’m waiting for the tinned butter to be opened. We have 24 lbs of this so it should last some time; 9 lbs of fresh has lasted us 22 days; therefore, it is reasonable to assume we have enough for 66days in tins. Apples are a god send though of course we wish we had eating apples instead of cookers. We ate the Sturmers first which after all was natural so we now have Granny Smith; still an odd one helps the thirst. Owen started motor 8:15 or so; I did a terrible thing yesterday afternoon;left the radio on. We tried for a time signal and in the hurly burly to take sights and times I left it on; no wonder the compass light looked sick last night. The day is fine, horizon cloudy and have been up to mast, no land. Very little wind and right aft, so motor will help though its using petrol we want to conserve. Ted reckons he thought he could make out land yesterday, bit it did not eventuate. We saw 2 tropic birds and tried to see which way they went at dusk but it was pretty impossible; no birds today, yet. If Ted and Owens’ theory is good we should sight land by tonight to tomorrow morning. Well I’m off to school till 10 am then on watch till 2 pm. We saw a Bosun Bird today which caused a little happiness; according to Owen’s Raft Book they are seen about 50 to 100 miles from land–yes, but which way?–well we watched and he disappeared aft and as we had just come from that difection he did not give us much help. Our sight at midday showed us 19 degrees–so and so, which is near enough to latitude of Group, and provided we are east of them surely we will sight one of the islands. Our latitude workings are correct. I have swatted this up and am convinced that these calculations are right; longitude is a little more idfficult nd so far have only reached thestage where I know everything including the hour angle, but its out, oh well, I’ll keep trying tomorrow.
(Dad had left some abbreviated notes on navigation, which I have copied below; I think as it stands, it was work in progress. He was learning by doing at that time, latitude from Ted, and longitude from study of books on board which in the end saved their bacon. I have myself studied celestial navigation and have fleshed out these notes so hopefully the reader can gain a basic understand of what is involved).
The sun sight for latitude is always taken at noon, defined when the sun is at its highest point wherever you happen to be. It is the distance measured from midnight to noon measured in time. The sun travels 15 degrees for every hour (total 360 degrees over 24 hour period). One degree of longitude = 4 min difference in time. Latitude is the distance north or south of the equator marked in degrees, minutes, and seconds. For latitude, one mile equates to one minute. Therefore, to measure distance between two points the degrees and minutes on either side of chart is used. to determine latitude do this: sight the sun at noon or rather when the sun is at its height on the ship’s meridian; at the same time someone reads chronometer which gives Greenwich mean time(GMT), usually the Chron has an error and this has to be accounted for. The GMT is essential to take out the sun’s declination. This declination is found by reference to NZ Almanac (current year), look month and date under heading of the sun ile. Monday 12th July, 1948.Chronometer reads, plus error 10 hr: 24 min: 23 sec; seeing we are in west longitude GM time is best therefore we will add 12. the figure is arrived at.
I don’t start watch till 2 pm so should have a fair go from early morning till then there is enough books on navigation about so surely I can fathom one out. Here’ hoping. The day has been beautiful; we actually felt the heat today; as there was little wind; if we had not run the motor till 2:15 pm we would not have made any progress. First day we have had our shirts off and been on deck sunning; I notice bob and Owens’ backs are a little crimson; can fee a slight heat in mine too Bob–Oh you’d laugh had you been able to see him rushing around in the nuddy saying he was going to have a bath. Nobody took much notice of the bath business. I myself have not had a wash. I have purposely avoided salt water washes as they tend to make one so sticky; however, it’s reached the stage now that the sun has brought out a little perspiration; the B.O. is getting a bit much so the salt water stickyness can’t be much worse. Anyhow, I’m on watch and I can hear Bob sluching and swashing away in the stern behind me; saying how good it was and how warm etc.; to cut a long story short he had got a little saucepan and put a stick in the handle and leaned over the stern and caught the hot water coming out of the engine exhaust; potfull by potfull he filled the big basin and here he was, hot salt water bath. We all followed suit; not bad either. Ted had a shave with hair oil and vaseline instead of water; he said it worked. Bob had ago too. Personally it didn’t appeal to me so I’ve still got my beard. Bob got lunch biscuits and cold spaghetti and biscuit and jam etc.–no drink. Owen got tea; I suggested we did not have corrotts boiled anymore, as this absorbed the salt too much. Instead, we should greate them raw over our other veges; the idea took on; Owen produced boiled spuds–onions–grated carrott and tin fish. We are heaving too again, tonight so as not to pass any land at night to prove the theory we are still east of the Group. I turned back on to port water tank today; the water is pretty murky so, may be its near the bottom–we’ll see–soon enough I suppose. I tryed lime juice instead of tea this morning but reverted to tea tonight the tea leaves absorb a certain amount of water and that so much less to drink; that’s my objection. I squeezed mine out tonight. Bob asked me what about a beer for lunch today; it was hard to refuse but sill that bottle may be very precious in the future, so the answer was no; if the weather gets much warmer we will find the ration a little light however once the port tank is dry I will have a more accurate estimate of the position. We saw what we thought was a whale blow today; no set watch tonight Ted said just wake up and look up each man as he may wake in case a ship passes; I doubt if we are in shipping lanes.
Saturday 17th July, 1948. Hove to all night last night; it at least gave us a more or less unbroken night in bunk. Wind north so will be on the nose a bit today.
Sunday, 18th July, 1948. Have neglected “Dear Diary” a bit but the school of navigation has been in full swing, and watch etc. I just counted out hours of sleep and no wonder a bloke doesn’t feel to energetic. Wednesday on watch at 3 am to six; cook breakfast clean up the spuds and other vegetable sorting; on watch till 9 pm that’s 18 hours up of watch at 9, well is usually 10 before one gets to sleep; then watch again 6 am in the morning. That say 7 hours in bed though of course sleep for the full period is not possible; off watch at 10 am; next watch at 9 pm to 12 midnight; there’s another 18 hours up next routine is watch at 10 am; next day till 2 pm; so, actually, it difficult to get a straight sleep. It’s now Sunday 18th and we have been messing around these waters–moving slowly, very slowly though westward for 6 days probably run about say 150 miles west from our first position; still it’s a decision we have to make. We feel confident there is land handy because of the bosun bird; this morning Ted and Owen saw another type which they could not identify. I have been very hard at study last two days. Owen has a little book and Ted has Nicholls Concise Guide Vol 1 and Bob has a Nicholls, a very early edition and between these and Norries Tables I have surrounded myself with sines,cosines, secants, xyz’s; and goodness knows what; still I seem to be slowly unfolding something. Yesterday afternoon I got Ted to take a sight so as Greenwich time would be am on the next day and I tried my formula and well I arrived at a longitude and we took it as right and intend setting course accordingly; we will soon prove it. Every day we stay in these parts is another 1/2 gal less water; by the way the water in port tank is pretty murky, ugh! Food is being used so we can’t play around forever; I might say at this stage that the crews’ main worry up to now has been what the people back home are thinking or will be thinking if we don’t show up soon. Our personal fears have no real grounds yet though I admit the outlook is not exactly cheerful. Bob has his days as Dismal Desmond and then he cheers up and everything is rosy for a day; he looks a bit played out. I told him he’d have to get the whip out and hurry himself along; its mainly because of him that I stressed the probably in accuracy of my longitude; and that when I see land I’ll believe it’s right and impressed on all hands the necessity of frequent visits to the mast head and steering correct courses. Last night the wind went s.west just where we want to go; gee whiz isn’t anything going to go right!!! So, we just had to shorten down to forestaysail and d/reefed main which made her most uncomfortable in the short steep broken seas. Dull and cloudy all night. Visibility rotten. Day broke and I came off watch at 6 am; wind still on the nose so we are sailing w x s’west and slow as its no use over running land (if its there). Atiu Island is near and to windward (we hope) so its go slow again today–more water–more food–less distance–after noonday sight latitude I guess we will all have another council of war. I cooked breakfast chips and fried bread, bacon, and egg 1/2 mug tea. The confounded milk went sour when I poured the tea onto it; still we had to drink it just the same; it didn’t taste too good. Washed up; had my daily toilet which consists each day of cleaning my teeth and combing my hair. I’ll soon be able to comb my beard; this hairoil and vaseline lotion for shaving doesn’t appeal to me. I’ll wait. After my studious day yesterday I was unable to sleep ; the motion was not the best so I brought my mattress out into the main cabin and I think it was around 2 am when I eventually got my mind clear of haversines and angles. Thought it was my turn for breakfast; I came of watch at 6 am and lay down and thank goodness slept till 8 am so breakfast was a little late; still nobody minded. The carrots are due to go over the side today. Bad luck. Ted and Owen got the tea last night; I suggested the menu mashed spuds, with raw onion chopped up in them, boiled pumpkin and cold corn beef–a la Bully; Bob was complaining–well not actually complaining but mentioned about being thirsty; so we had a tin of plums for lunch yesterday, the juice helped a bit. Last night we all had a nip of gin with squash–no water of course–I wish now I had had the time and transport to get the soft drinks I wanted to. Off watch at 9 pm another 18 hour day. I might record here that the constant swat and these hours are telling on the ole body; today apart from trying to learn this navigation business. I got breakfast, washed up, Bob dryed. Started to get lunch when I noticed no one else made a move. I eventually asked Bob to carry on while I worked out the latitude sight; then eventually had to get the tea ready and go on watch at 6 pm. Too rough to sleep in for’d bunk tonight, so sleeping in main cabin again. This afternoon my calculations show us north of the group in Latitude 19 deg 3 min 5 sec south and Longitude 156 deg 56 min 45 sec west which means the larger island Atiu lies about sw and the wind, yes, that’s right sw. I don’t know surely something will go right soon; after all this for my calculations to be wrong will be the crowning blow. Another council of war.
Is it worth a 3 day slog to get to an island which according to me is 60-70 miles away just to prove my workings and go west in the hopes of seeing land, water and food to be considered; 6 days have already elapsed since we decided to run west; that’ 3 gals water now to prospect of a further 3-4 days will the boy agreed to give it a pop; so we went about on a s’s’east course; the seas most uncomfortable and this on the wind sailing is hard on the gear. I have nosed about and find that we are very badly off for running gear, we have only 1 set of sails; the forstaysail is opening up at the seams in places. By the time I came off watch at 9 pm the course was more s’east with the seas pushing us sideways, not sufficient wind to prevent this. Someone had changed my bunk over to the leeside and I was grateful; I just lay down and was asleep almost immediately; on watch at 6 am again.
Monday, 19th July, 1948. 25 days at sea. The water in the port tank unpleasant to drink. However will draw off daily issue’d into jug and allow to settle and see if drinkable then before allowoing starboard tank to be broached. On watch 6 am; course more s.e. than anything and guess when sights are taken we will find ourselves well east. If we go about on other leg; goes wind goes around to s’east which it is supposed to do in these parts will have to slog back again; so we may as well keep on for a while yet. Two light showers experienced not enough to warrant an attempt to catch water; it felt lovely on my face. Bob prepared breakfast: poached eggs on toast, and toast and jam, 1/2 mug of tea which tasted B-awful; off watch at 10 am; saw another kind of bird this morning which I cannot identiify and the most beautiful rainbow I have ever witnessed. I am afraid the tropic beauties–sunsets and sunrises etc. are not being fully appreciated.
Eureka! I’ve done it. Land straight ahead 4:30 pm ship’s time. I don’t know what to write at present but Bobs up the mast yelling like Hell; Owen and Ted are performing. I’m not going to look; their word is good enough for me.
(I have taken a map of the Pacific, NZ to Cook Islands, and plotted their estimated course. As events unfold Ted was right; but I think there must have been an east flowing current factor, or perhaps some effect of the storm, in there somehow to account for the amount of easting achieved, and in this regard I think that Dad was right too, that they could not have sailed that far as they did not have enough boat speed. Obviously, Dad came to light with his self taught navigation that gave them a longitude which with Ted’s noon latitude confirmed their position. They were fortunate to not to have to put to the test Dad’s theory that they should sail further east…they may still be out there! These days a 25 day passage could be considered an eternity even with modern nav instruments, auto pilot, diesel fuel, and importantly a water maker).
It’s nearly midnight and my watch is nearly over. Ted’s next. It’s a beautiful moonlight night and I am sitting on deck writing this. We are hove to on the nw side–lee–of the island; there is a fair swell but not uncomfortable. After sighting land we opened a bottle of beer and had a glass each (we are not great consumers of liquor); then Bob produced a vegetarian tea; Ted made a cup of tea out of good water. I turned the tanks over. There is a light like a fire ashore just lit; no doubt the new that a schooner is offshore will spread light lightening. I can still see the light as I look ashore now. 12 o’clock. There is quite a debate; it’s morning now. The ink ran out in my pen so had to wait till day light to find a pencil.
(The log continues from this point in pencil, and it parts it has faded and is hard to decipher. For the readers’ interest this segment of the log is being transcribed at the Island of Uepi, in the far north of the Western Provinces of the Solomon Islands; it is a clear, very hot day so that despite the fan going the computer is heating up and I will soon shut down, and go outside to marvel at the view over the turquoise and indigo waters of the Marovo Lagoon)
To continue there is quite a debate as to which island it may be, Ma’uke, Mitiaro, or Atiu according to my reconing it should be Mauke still morning will show. Owen is busy getting breakfast now, rolled oats and milk; gee it will be a change; Bob on watch giving us some vocal entertainment. Ted is in bunk; he says it’s the best sleep he has had for ages. Last night we hove to under double reefed main and lashed boom in tight; it worked fairly well. At about 5 am I helped Owen to set sail as we had drifted some considerable distance from the island. Its a beat back. Here’s to the cook; its just 7 am so I’ll have my rolled oats. They look good. We are hoping there will be fresh water available and some radio communication so we can send messages home. After tea last night first thing I did was to boil up some water to wash my hair then have a light sponge over. Gee! it felt good. The moon was a wonderful help last night.
(The Southern Cook Islands comprise Nga-pu-Toru, the three Roots, or eastern islands; Atiu, Ma’uke, Mitiaro, and Takutea. Atiu is also known as the Island of Birds. The name Cook Islands first appeared on a Russian naval chart published in the 1820s, but Captain James Cook arrived in 1773 and 1777 and named the islands the “Hervey Islands”.)
Tuesday, 20th. Day broke and I am of the opinion the island is Ma’uke. I have been up the cross trees with glasses but the movement does not allow efficient use of these; chart shows landing placed and we are on the northly side in the lee of s’westerly wind. To the western end of the part facing us we notice a truck and an apparent landing place just off here there is what appears to be natives in outrigger canoes fishing; we are too far off yet to be sure. The coastline is most uninviting. Within 3/4 hour we had dropped a grapnel close in shore where the natives pointed. Several canoes surrounded us but not much English spoken; several coconuts came aboard and were soon disposed of; the truck disappeared and later returned and a more important looking chap was brought out through the surf. We held conference and it was decided that Bob and I go ashore; it must have been about 9 am. It was great how the natives managed the old flat bottomed craft through the surf and through the narrow gap in the reef. We explained our needs of water and after a short trip in the truck we arrived at the DA office. Mr. Scott. After introductions Mr. Scott very kindly arranged for our water and extended an invitation to his home for a cup of tea; after a month rolling around both Bob and I had difficulty in walking straight. Mr. Scott introduced us to his wife, a charming woman and apparently well suited to a man who has decided to make a job of “Distant Agent”; after sandwiches, scones, etc. and tea out of a lovely china cup; everything still no need to hang on we were driven back to the landing place. Water plus bananas (bunches of them) , coconuts, bags of dried bananas, eggs, yam, spinach, with instructions how to cook various kinds of bananas. Owen and Ted had a crowd aboard and they were playing my ukelele and singing. I told Ted about the kindness of Mr. Scott and his wish that we all go ashore; and have dinner with them. The weather seemed settled and only a slight swell was apparent so after a shave and clean up we all piled ashore and on the truck; a very enjoyable day was spent. The King Samuela Ariki Ma’uke accompanied us. The hula girls got together and gave us various items in the costumes they made for the Gov. General’s visit; we took some movies. Met Mr. Cameron, Head School Teacher. After cool drinks we dined for the first time at a still table; it was wonderful. The Scotts invited us to stay ashore but in view of the anchorage it was not permissible so we all piled aboard the truck and back to the ship, after a very enjoyable day thanks to the kindness and organizations of Mr. Scott and the people of Ma’uke. –Dashwood, manage of A.B. Donalds Store. Woodwork very good inlays etc. collector of shells. –3 stores, Donalds, Cook I.T.C, and another small one.
The island of Ma’uke is most east of Cook Group. It is low, 150 feet high to tops of tree; fringing reef extends at the most 1/4 mile from shore. Anchorage–none. Natives in their flat bottom boats communicate with ships in suitable weather. Western side is clear of danger; we approached within 100 yards of shore. Nukuao is main village; Church is main feature of interest and shows how two fixed differences of opinion have been coped with. One section of the community wanted the interior of the church one way and the rest another way so eventually it was constructed with two separate entrances and one half has its own particular design and paintings; the other has its particular structure; the pulpit is on one side so now on church days if you belong to one particular line of thought you enter by your own door and sit in your own end of the church. Three churches, Catholic, London Mission Society, and Seventh Day Adventist.
Wednesday, July 21st., 1948. After pulling up grapnel last night we sailed under main staysail or at least half-pie hove to off western side; wind had gone around to se; main landing place; this side administration, offices, etc. As promised we waited off to collect the mail; eventually I went ashore in the canoe and had another thrill through the surf; collected and signed for 1 bag of mail; thanked Scott and made the return trip which appeared to me to need more skill than landing. Mr. Scott agreed that it was a big swell and I would not be convivial for his wife or himself to come out to the boat. Our last night’s resolution to clean up the boat did not eventuate; everyone was willing but Ted didn’t seem to want to bother so Owen eventually had to get breakfast–Ted’s turn–we left Ma’uke under full sail at 10 am. Big swell; plenty of wind; sailed all morning off Island in reasonable calm;yet waited till we were at sea to change sails; took of forestaysail and put up jib; Owen and I got a bit wet; Ted said he’s wanted to mend the forestaysail so we took it right off. Bob cooked dinner a vegetarian one Taro, carrot, local spinach, potato, parnips. I came off watch at 6 pm and we were simply streaming along. Strong wind and seas from same direction; broad lead; spray flying, washed up and if we keep up the pace we will be in Rarotonga by 4 am.
Thursday, 22 July, 1948. During the night, 1 am to be exact, we lowered away all sails and wind and seas were strong enough to push us along under bare poles 2 knots; we were afraid we may over run our mark in the dark; most uncomfortable night; no sail to steady her difficult to say in bunk. My watch 3 to 6 am; no land. Woke Ted and we put jib and main staysail on. Had one hour bakc in bunk; got breakfast, weetbix, hot milk, tomatoes and toast (last of the bread). Still some of Bob’s dried bricks left. Land ahead. High rugged mountainous appearance; should make port about 1:30 pm. Clean up morning; all hands sprucing the ship up. Bob’s doing the stove; it was pretty rusty. We would have had all this done yesterday but Ted messed around and of course upset the willing helpers. Dam bananas everywhere. I’ll see they go on deck soon as the anchor goes down. Bob is boiling our duck only he and I partaking; suits us; just do two. We’ll have chicken broth after too! Beautiful day during the night it looked threatening but came to nothing more than a couple of light showers with a bit of wind. I’m going to boil up basin of water later and indulge in a sponge bath before port. DD at Mau’ke Radio Rarotonga that we left and what time so no doubt we will be expected today sometime; my word if we had left all sail on we would have been anchored before they awoke in Raratonga. I cooked a pot of chips and roast onions and pot-roasted the duck; Bob and I sat down to a beautiful feed; it was really beautiful. Sails furled and making into wharf under motor. Crowds on wharf; anchor wouldn’t hold; had several tries; no one seemed to sure of depth of water. Eventually I got in dinghy and towed a line to wharf where Mr. Customs Official told me that a 51ft American yatch tied to wharf stern on..I picked up Customs and Doctor and took them out to ship. We eventually got alongside and after Customs and Medically formalities we had a drink on the strength. Both officials were most courteous and helpful. Postmaster came down and arranged for mail to be collected. He invited us up to his home for dinner but I explained that we were all looking for’d to an early night in bunk so we will go up at a later date. Dr. Davis seems a real good sort and Bob knows him from the tripon the Tahitian; he drove us to his home for a shower and back to the ship. I bought fresh bread Oh Boy! The water was cold but what a great thing, plenty of soap and clean once more. Mrs. Davis turned on afternoon tea. Dr. showed us the outrigger canoe he is building; looks pretty good; he is a very keen sailor that’s obvious; is a keen radio ham. After dinner and clean up we all turned in about 7 pm. I put sheets on bed, pillows slip, and clean pyjamas. Good. Mail for Owen and I; we all sent cables though we know the press had published our arrival thus our safety.
Friday, 23rd July, 1948. A lovely night in bunk; it was real good; no unpleasant motion and I got up at 6:30 and had a yarn to some natives on the wharf. Made the boys a cup of tea; had wash and made bunk. Dr. Davis is getting a chap to come and cut my hair today. Bob produced breakfast: clean china, knives and forks, clean table cloths, and no need to hang on; weet bix, apricots, eggs, bacon, coffee, marmalade, and fresh bread. Rarotonga is surrounded by reef close in; has many breaks in it; on south side reef extends 1/4 mile from shore enclosing a shallow lagoon studded with patches. Volcanic islands, mountains rising to pinnacles and fantastic peaks; vegetation profuse; a Lava ridge extends from Blackrock on nwest coast to Muri on east coast; in the middle it rises to a mountain 2,110 ft called Te Atu Kura.This Mt. and Mt. Ikurangi are exceedingly precipitous. Plenty of water on island; numerous steams run to the sea. Coral sand fringes island; soil good and large areas suitable for cultivation. The centre of the island is uninhabited; Avarua on northside is principle town and seat of administration. A good motor road runs round island near coast; island is divided into districts each administered by hereditary Ariki or native Chief who is responsible to Res. Commissioner who resides at Avarua. Two harbours, Avarua and Avatui on north side and at Nagtangi on eastern side is a small harbour with good landing in westerly winds good boat passage through reef at Arorangi on west coast. The climate of Rarotonga is described as one of the finest tropical ones in the world. Dec to March temp averages 84 deg day and 74 deg night; April to Oct are the cool months and is 8 deg approx. cooler; rainfall about 78 is average; most falls in summer months. Fever is not known. Elephantiasis rare…no mosquitoes as yet though they are about. In 1904 Dec 30 th a tidal wave arose from nw and did considerable damage to west part of island; no lives lost. All villages have telephone connected, copra, lime jice, orange, bananas, exported.; fish is plentiful nearly all edible; wireless telegraph connects all islands; Avarua harbour has evil reputation; no vessel more than 100 tons can enter; beacons plainly mark way in to wharf. London Missionary here and have school for education of missionary; Hospital, two doctors; near Pure Point, Avarua Harbour (? sp). Sheltered from all winds except north.’
Dr. Irwin came down to look over boat; a Mr. Nichol was on board too; he’s holidaying here and staying at Hotel. Dr. drove me to Radio Station where I looked for Terry Hammond’s friend but so far cannot seem to locate him. Dr. took us on to Sanitorium (Mr. Nichol and I); nicely laid out place and has a beautiful sea view on way back he drove around the more inland road where we saw the citrus plantations and tomato gardens. There seems to be good money in the tomato business. The native orange is dying out and nowadays it’s the cultivated tree that produces the orange for export. I understand the govt have a plan where by they plant and finance the native grower for so many years till production is established then out of the initial shipment the native repays the advance if successful this idea is excellent and should produce the maximum quantity of orange and at the same time allow th native to become self supporting and conscious of the value of the land. We called at the ionosphere station; not much to see but very interesting. It has a machine which sends and receives radio beams into the heavens adn the graphs plotted are used to predict frequencies on which radio communication may be best used also I understand it is used by the weather people. Back to town and on board were Bob, had tomato soup and toast ready. After luch went up and paid my respects to Mr. Peagram, Manager of Union Ship Co. He kindly loaned us the hose and made available water fine. He also allowed us to remain alongside the wharf. Such hospitality is very much appreciated by us. Called on Mr. Witta with completed landing forms, customs, etc. He also has been particularly helpful and we have already been invited to use tennis courts, to card party, met Mr. Lester Cook today; his son about 7 has practically lived on board eating lollies. Dr. Irwin and Mr. Cook fixed up a ration of drinks for us; we are certainly being received cordially. Mr. Peagram and a Mr. Bailly who is Commodore of Sailing Club here came on board; we had a drink and exchanged social news; filled tanks. Ted went to hospital for injections of penicillin; he’s to have four; I jacked the Dr. up to fix his festering little sores. Owen and Bob got some people to do our washing. I did not send all mine as one of the Customs chaps is arranging mine tomorrow so can’t very well not have a bit for the person he gets. I cooked tea whitebait fritters and veges, apples to follow; Owen and Ted are ashore and Ted and I are sitting here writing letters and drinking coconut juice.
(Dr. Tom Davis was highly respected in the Cook Islands. Dad had a lot of time for him, and often recounted how Dr. Tom sailed his own small yacht across the Pacific to Boston where he did post-grad study. Of royal lineage he was related (cousins, I think) to Dr. Mary-Lou Herdson, (nee Harvey) married then to the the late Prof. Peter Herdson who was a mate of Dad’s. Peter was the foundation Professor of Pathology in Auckland and has many good deeds to his credit. Old Cook Island hands will recognize some of the names and entities such as the Cook Island Trading Company; I hope I have the names correct, as occasionally Dad’s hand writing is hard to decipher).
Saturday, July 14th, 1948. 1/2 day here today; market day did not go up to have a look; seen plenty of markets. Owen breakfast and I had a dip first. Morning spent on board and delivering film to Bond to be developed; we have to collect these Monday. Owen and Bob went to football with some chaps in the Police Force (from NZ). and were lucky enough to have a ride around the island. I went to tennis and enjoyed two sets, grass courts, won both games. Afternoon tea most enjoyable–Ted stayed on board and re varnised the topping on the stern. Dinner by Bob I think. Bob and Owen went to pictures; Ted and I strolled over to a gathering of chaps next to the Hotel about 8 o’clock; had a couple; returned to ship 9:30 pm and into bunk. During the morning we met Mr. Pataner, Radio Operator, Mauke whose wife gave us all the presents while we were there.
Sunday. Day broke pleasantly; I had a swim then enjoyed Cornies and Golden Syrup, bacon and eggs, pan pan–prepared by Ted. Couple of the Police Boys called and said good morning; organised a clean up morning and we completely cleaned the interior of the ship; By Jove she looks ok now. Got 3 boys to scrub decks with Old Dutch and things look much better. Mr. Best, Chief of Police, called and had a look over; expecting more chaps this afternoon to look over the ship. Lunch over, beans and toast, fruit salad. Yesterday, some of the police came down and brought a school teacher ? blanc by name; they had afternoon tea; Bob and Owen ashore seeing about washing. I took some of mine over to Hotel; Mr. Stotten, Proprietor, agreed to have it done for me; getting dinner ready roast spuds, pumpkin, steak and kid, boiled spuds, local spinach, plum pie. Norman McKegg, manager of C. I. T. Co. came down to see boat; I met him at gathering last night; I have had three swims today. It has been a pleasant day in all. Ship nice and clean; smells sweet again. Seas very calm outside; started to rig up sailing dinghy today.
Monday, 26th July, 1948. All morning spent letter writing to Mr. Costello, Will, and Bowden etc.
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday (no entry in log as the writer pursues his social life in Raratonga…)
Friday, 30th July. Last week has been spent in seeing the sights, playing tennis, swimming; last night Bob and I went to a Tennis Club Card Evening held at RC’s residence; quite enjoyable; night before there was a sort of dance and items by girls in aid of basket ball so had a look in at that; it finished at 11 o’clock; the weather has been very good; no rain yet; took batteries ashore today to have them charged; when finished we are leaving for Aitu Taki for a few days; visited Cook’s and Boyans for morning and afternoon teas and Boyans for the best dinner since leaving NZ. Ted had done a lot of work on board; air mail arrived last Tuesday and left again last Thursday morning.
Saturday, July 31st. Had swim Sat morning and did shopping; bought primus burner 6/6; Hurricane Lamp glass 3/-; in afternoon had lunch at Judge McCarthy’s place–what a feed–prawns, mayonnoise, chicken, appetiser, beer and gin to top things off with. Saturday afternoon tennis and swim; pictures in the evening; typical back country show one is lucky if half the programme is heard. Cooks for supper.
Sunday, August 1 st. Swim. Bob and I went for a picnic with Resident Commissioner. Mr. Tailby called at 10 am; he and wife Margaret came on board to see our ship; I think were duly impressed; we had a lovely day walked some miles up a valley followed the creek bed; most interesting; saw lots of NZ fern. Some lovely King Ferns. Had lunch and suffered the mosquitos. Ngatipa, home of the RC was visited after picnic; were all shown around and had afternoon tea. Back to boat with load of oranges, limes, grapefruit from RC’s garden; tired out. Monday morning batteries back at 4.0 . Had round table conference about cost of things and who should pay. I paid for batteries meantime we may bring cargo back from Aitutaki to help offset this cost or sell honey or meat we will see. Posted prints to Dad. Sent Bill’s negatives to him. Collected gin etc. see file for details.
(I would think that they left NZ on a bit of a “wing and a prayer” as far as their finances were concerned, none of them having much in the way of “readies”; and Dad, with his book keeping and clerical background, wanting to get the ship’s bourse back on track. They were well served by the generosity of folks on Rarotonga, as they were, in those days, celebrities having accomplished a somewhat unique feat for those times. Money is in pounds, shillings, and pence…the Hurricane Lamp Glass cost all of three shillings, nominally, 30 cents in decimal currency. I am not sure what the inflation adjusted amount would be, but over the ensuing 64 years the amount of inflation has been staggering. A comment, in the present day even with the GFC, the price of food and basics for life in Australia continues to inflate, probably higher than the rate of rise in wages…I think a sign of an economy out of control and some readers will remember the 1970s. Readers may be familiar with the structure of Government in the Cook Islands, which was a New Zealand protectorate, and a Resident Commissioner was the representative of the New Zealand Government; I think this system worked well for the benefit of the locals; NZ administered other Pacific Islands including Niue, W. Samoa, and Tonga whereas PNG was under Australian administration; both “parent” countries poured considerable aid into their protectorates.)
Monday, August 2nd, 1948. Left Rarotonga at 2 pm approx for Atui. Reef is close in about 5 cables from coast at most; no outlying dangers. Island thickly wooded; some good timber rise to 394 feet near the centre. Hills slope gently from summits and valleys as a rule; extend east; west. Centre of island is made up of rounded and flat-topped hills, the latter forming a plateau on which the villages are situated close together. Northern side presents bold rocky cliff coast about 30 ft. intersected by small sandy bays ; on cliff above these bays roads may be seen to cut through the jungle into interior. About 1,000 people live on the island. The Church shows conspicuously on top of the ridge. RA lives here temporary anchorages of small craft can be had.
(There is no entry August 3, 1948; little did Dad know that just 7 years later he would become the father to his first son, Roger!)
August 4th, Wednesday, 1948. Winds very light; becalmed Tuesday so decided to by pas Atiu; wind nor east and onthe nose; altered course to lay Hervey Is. instead wind died last night. This morning it went more nor east so haul’d up all sails; dead reconing shows us approx 36 miles from Hervey; sky’s clouded unable get sights shoudl see land about midday. We have 2 adult Rarotongans with us and 1 boy about 10 years. The boy was sick the first day. But ok now. The other two chaps seem good sailors; they wash up and clean up; one is a friend of Judge Mc Carthy’s; the other some chap who has been in hospital and asked Ted for passage. They have prepared lines for tuna fish if we see Hervey Islands. Wind is better now doing about 6 knots; 9 am; from Hervey Island to Aitutaki its about 45-50 miles.
Thursday, Aug 5 th, 1948. Wednesdays noon sight showed us north Hervey islands Longitude at 2 pm showed us east so we decided it not worth while to beat back into wind to Hervey Island. Altered course to Atiutaki at 3 pm. Estimated dead reckoning we should see Island at 6 am. Lowered all sail except staysail; at 9 pm later carried on with bare poles. I relieved Bob at 6 am Thursday and he pointed out dark patch on starboard beam which we decided was land so up went sails forestaysail, double reef main and main staysail and I put her around good head to western side where we picked up a buoy; on the way Peter and Rimu fished and caught a beauty “para”. Great excitement, Rimu harpooned it before landing. Several canoes cam alongside one with Mr. Harrington aboard another with chap sent by RA Mr. Gladney to give us details of passage through reef. Ted went in outrigger to sound the channel; we decided wind was too great to allow us to navigate the narrow passage safely. We had early lunch fried fish, Bob went ashore. Earlier mail delivered; went ashore about 1:30. Rained like blazes; considerable difficulty experienced in navigating reef lucky to have given two native boys a feed on boat and they assisted us the tide runs very swiftly out the passage and is impossible to row against it. Mr. Harrington met us and drove us to his home and set us all up in dry clothes; cup of tea and beer. We then paid our respect to the RA; I send a cable to NZ. Harrington had us for evening meal, very enjoyable. John Hermann, manage of AB McDonalds made a house available to us as it was very dark and doubtful if we could navigate the reef.Friday, August 6th, 1948. 6:30 I woke to the sound of horns being sounded; I learned later these were the bread sellers; I though at first it was the method of letting the population know it was time to rise. John arranged morning cup of coffee and wash; we then walked along to Harringtons for breakfast, very nice too. We discussed the possibility of bringing the boat in and set out back to ship; we decided against it as the wind is blowing very hard indeed although the tide rip at high tide is practically nil. Peter the native chap we brought with us stayed on the boat all night as watch man. He is a very reliable chap. Friday afternoon, Harrington took us out to their small plantation where we picked bunches of bananas and oranges. Returned to dine with them; we got drenched going ashore in the morning and we were all dressed in John’s clothes. It eventuated that we stayed ashore.
At this point in the story, Dad is on the final leg of his voyage with the times of excitement behind him; he is soon back to Rarotonga and there to board a liner to return to New Zealand. Ted continued the voyage with Bob and Owen, as I gather from letters between Ted and Dad. I have concluded the photograph gallery with an article from the newspaper announcing the safe arrival of the “Wakaya” back in Auckland from her cruise to the Cook Islands.
The characters in this story have long passed on, but I believe the souls of these young men still sail the Pacific Ocean , and will forever continue their quest for daring and adventure on the high seas.
2 Replies to “Schooner Yatch “Wakaya”. A cruise to the Cook Islands, 1948.”
Hi Roger. Was cruising the nett and found your article on Wakaya. My husband and I bought her off Ted in 1984 and still have her. We and our 4 children have had some great (and not so great) holidays on her. After they had all left home we did a trip to the south is and since then 5 to the islands. We are still getting a lot of enjoyment on her and really enjoy reading about her history and have even met some of Ted’s crew from his trips. Thank you for sharing your Dad’s diary.
Regards, Geoff and Chris Wooding, Whangarei
Dear Geoff and Chris, I am delighted to hear from you. She is fine ship, and I have many memories of stories recounted to my by Dad. When I last saw the vessel she was at Opua on moorings, early 1980s, in state of disrepair and Ted was in a nursing home. Can you enlighten me further? I think Ted re rigged her as a cutter; how is she rigged now? Look forward to hearing from you, email@example.com .