He Only Ever Went To Sea Pt.3

James was 26 years old and the second youngest Captain with the Union Steamship Company. His Pilotage Exemption Certificates did take some time in achieving though:

1. Oamaru Harbour NZ – 1889

2. Ports of Sydney and Newcastle – 1890

3. Ports of Bluff and Port Lyttleton – 1891

4. Otago Harbour – 1892

5. Auckland Harbour – 1895

6. Wellington Harbour – 1896

7. Devonport, Tasmania – 1899

James, however, did not command a ship until the S.S Poherua in 1895. He spent most of his life at sea travelling with many different cargoes. Here is an extract from a letter to his aunt Helen de Veer in 1892…

I am writing to you from Thursday Island – Torres Straits. The extreme north end of Australia. We are on our way to Java ‘for orders’ with cargo of coal. I expect we will go to Batavia to discharge and then probably we may go to Calcutta…We have come up from Newcastle inside the Barrier Reef, over 1500 miles and a very ticklish bit of navigation it is too, about the worst in the world.

Sometimes Mary and the children went on the trips; my great aunt Molly said that as a baby on one of the trips she had crawled under the ship’s rail when a seaman grabbed her and saved her.

This most likely occurred in 1899 as he wrote in a letter in February 1900…

When I last wrote you I was just going to the East in S.S Rakanoa. I took Mary, little Jimmy and the baby and they were on board for nearly four months and enjoyed it very much. We went to Singapore and from there to New Zealand calling at all the ports. I left them in Auckland to go to Sydney while I set out on a trip around the South Sea Islands.

In July 1900 he captained the new ship of the Union Co. the S.S Whangape. She was a 5000 ton steel cargo steamer built for the company at Cleveland dockyards in Middlesborough. Here is an extract from a newspaper article covering an incident on board…

On her maiden voyage which started at 31st March 1900 she took a cargo of coal to Durban. On the journey to Newcastle a heavy gale was encountered at Wilson’s Promontory. The Captain took shelter at Jervis Bay and on passing through the Heads the main steam pipe burst. If the accident had happened at sea the vessel may have been lost. On arrival at Newcastle she was taken over by Captain Courbarron.

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