The Longest Ever Clipper Ship Passage

spongebob
27th April 2008, 10:29
LONGEST EVER CLIPPER SHIP PASSAGE


During the late 50’s and early 60’s I worked with Jack Lord, an older man, probably in his sixties then, who had gone to sea from NZ as a young man probably as early as the 1920’s and had spent many years at sea as an AB on square rigged sailing ships.
He served on the Pamir during the time she was in NZ hands during WW2 and his last sailing vessel was the “HUIA” a top sail schooner owned by Nobel Australia and used to carry explosives on the trans Tasman run. He briefly tried working on modern motor ships but his heart was not in it and he came ashore probably in the late 40’s and joined our company as a drawing office records clerk in the mid 50,s

Jack was a quiet, intelligent, well read man, perhaps a bit of an enigma looking back. He had two sons both near my generation, one was a post graduate mathematician domiciled at an American University while the other was the Deputy Principal of a local College.
We encouraged him to tell his stories about his sea going days, and this is yet another occasion when I wish that I had taken a few notes or paid more attention to the pearls that come from these historically rich types of people but one story sticks in my mind.

It was the account of a square rigged sailing ship, a Scandinavian one if my feeble recall is true, and this ship left Europe for Australasia via the Cape Horn route and in doing this passage set a record time for a sailing ship at sea. She had no auxiliary engine and was entirely dependent on wind power but that deserted her in the doldrums for longer periods than usual and at other phases of the passage.

I remember Jack telling us that they took the first becalming in their stride as being normal and it was not until they were again without wind that they realized that conservation of food and water was a prudent move. They apparently picked up some better sailing weather that took them around the Horn and into the mid South Pacific before the wind again died for an uncharacteristic length of time to result in a serious situation. The crew had to constantly hoist on board buckets of sea water to wet the ship’s timbers above the water line as planking was opening up to an extent that any wind arrival that would cause them to heel would see the hull leak and with a danger of foundering. Fresh water supplies became critical and crude sea water evaporating pans were set up with condensers above to sun distill even enough water to provide drink at survival level.
I can’t remember what the position was regarding radio contact but the ship’s lateness was cause for alarm and the worst was imagined by families and authorities ashore.

Their eventual safe arrival in port was international news and Jack had newspaper clippings showing photos of the ship and her emaciated crew including a far younger and very thin Jack.
The paper also gave a long account of the saga.

This recall comes to me from almost 50 years ago and was bought to the fore by a recent photo of the “Huia” so there may be some element of error in my account but the main reason why I am posting this thread is that there may be some sailing ship history buffs among S N members that may of heard of this epic long transit..

I am also encouraged to try and find one of his sons as they must hold a power of good maritime history about their father’s days at sea

Santos
27th April 2008, 20:39
I dont recall that particular voyage, however I do recall reading Sir James Bisset's autobiography " Sail Ho ". In it he describes a voyage he made on the barque County of Pembroke when it ran out of supplies in the South Atlantic, having rounded the Horn on its way back to England.

They too were starving and if it had not been for them sighting the steamer ' Lowlands ' who gave them stores etc they would all have died. As it was it was a close call. This made the press in both America and England.

Chris.

melliget
11th May 2008, 01:57
Bob.

Your recollection piqued my interest and, though I initially thought it might be difficult to identify the ship involved, I think I may have found it.

The six-masted barquentine E. R. Sterling spent 9 months sailing from Australia to England; she left Adelaide on April 16, 1927, and eventually sailed into the Thames late January, 1928. In The Times newspaper, where I found the details, she was described as follows:

The E. R. Sterling, which was built
in 1883 by Messrs. Harlaand and Wolff,
is one of the few remaining sailing ships
afloat. She carries 6,800ft. of canvas,
has a length of 308ft., a beam of 42ft.,
a depth of 25ft., and a tonnage of 2,577
tons.

The ship carried a crew of 16. Two of the names mentioned, apart from Captain Sterling, are: Chief officer, Mr. Roderick Mackenzie, who died after being badly injured trying to secure the rigging during a hurricane Sept 4, 1927, near the Cape Verde Islands; Mr. M. B. Anderson, the 19 year old Australian wireless operator, on his first voyage. I wonder if it was his last? :)

Here's an article describing the ship's adventures:
http://tinyurl.com/5egmsj

And here's a rather telling before-and-after shot of the ship, as well a couple of the crew (perhaps the same ones that Jack showed you):
http://tinyurl.com/5rurjs

The State Library of Queensland (via Picture Australia) has 3 photos of the E. R. Stirling: click here (http://www.pictureaustralia.org/apps/pictureaustralia?action=PASearch&mode=subject&complete1=true&attribute1=subject&term1=E.+R.+Stirling+%28Ship%29)

A photo of the dismasted E. R. Stirling on the Port Cities site: click here (http://www.portcities.org.uk/london/server/show/conMediaFile.8534/The-E-R-Stirling-(1883)-in-the-West-India-Docks.html)

A quick Google picks up this snippet. In a family history publication "Children Of Their Time: Truths, Myths and Legends of the Winchester Family of Newcastle, New South Wales," (Patricia M. T. Milne, 2004):

"A particular friend was an American, Captain Ray Stirling whose wife, Helen, often
accompanied him on his voyages. He named his vessels after members of
his family."

Apart from the E. R. Stirling, the Helen B. Stirling is also mentioned.

Thanks for relating this interesting story. I wonder what happened to the E. R. Stirling?

regards,
Martin

terrapat
11th May 2008, 02:39
Some of you navigated in the Furness Bridge, or if they have somebody known that you know with regard to this matter
TERRAPAT

spongebob
11th May 2008, 03:37
Martin,
Thanks very much for that research. Your account has the ship sailing the reverse route to mine but as I say my recollections are from 50 years ago and are based on only a partial recall of the facts. The year seems right, Jack was the same era as my father, born around the turn of the 19/20th century so he would have been in his 20's.
Your info has spurred me to contact the College where Jack's son taught in the early sixties in a hope that he may have kept in touch with the school and that they may know of his wereabouts.
I am sure that Jack would of kept a good record of his sea going days and his heirs may be sitting on a mine of golden nautical information.
I will keep you posted

Thanks again

Bob

melliget
11th May 2008, 10:06
You're welcome, Bob. Good luck with tracking his son down. I presume you mean in New Zealand. Yes, please let us know if you find anything.

regards,
Martin

DURANGO
17th July 2008, 18:57
Bob.

Your recollection piqued my interest and, though I initially thought it might be difficult to identify the ship involved, I think I may have found it.

The six-masted barquentine E. R. Sterling spent 9 months sailing from Australia to England; she left Adelaide on April 16, 1927, and eventually sailed into the Thames late January, 1928. In The Times newspaper, where I found the details, she was described as follows:

The E. R. Sterling, which was built
in 1883 by Messrs. Harlaand and Wolff,
is one of the few remaining sailing ships
afloat. She carries 6,800ft. of canvas,
has a length of 308ft., a beam of 42ft.,
a depth of 25ft., and a tonnage of 2,577
tons.

The ship carried a crew of 16. Two of the names mentioned, apart from Captain Sterling, are: Chief officer, Mr. Roderick Mackenzie, who died after being badly injured trying to secure the rigging during a hurricane Sept 4, 1927, near the Cape Verde Islands; Mr. M. B. Anderson, the 19 year old Australian wireless operator, on his first voyage. I wonder if it was his last? :)

Here's an article describing the ship's adventures:
http://tinyurl.com/5egmsj

And here's a rather telling before-and-after shot of the ship, as well a couple of the crew (perhaps the same ones that Jack showed you):
http://tinyurl.com/5rurjs

The State Library of Queensland (via Picture Australia) has 3 photos of the E. R. Stirling: click here (http://www.pictureaustralia.org/apps/pictureaustralia?action=PASearch&mode=subject&complete1=true&attribute1=subject&term1=E.+R.+Stirling+%28Ship%29)

A photo of the dismasted E. R. Stirling on the Port Cities site: click here (http://www.portcities.org.uk/london/server/show/conMediaFile.8534/The-E-R-Stirling-(1883)-in-the-West-India-Docks.html)

A quick Google picks up this snippet. In a family history publication "Children Of Their Time: Truths, Myths and Legends of the Winchester Family of Newcastle, New South Wales," (Patricia M. T. Milne, 2004):

"A particular friend was an American, Captain Ray Stirling whose wife, Helen, often
accompanied him on his voyages. He named his vessels after members of
his family."

Apart from the E. R. Stirling, the Helen B. Stirling is also mentioned.

Thanks for relating this interesting story. I wonder what happened to the E. R. Stirling?

regards,
Martin
I recently read an article i just cant remember where a 4 masted barque was supposed to have taken 9 months to get from one of the ports in the gulf of Mexico to Buenos Aries i could be wrong i usualy am

spongebob
18th July 2008, 00:04
Thanks again Martin and Durango, current position is that I Emailed the present Principal of Kaipara College with a copy of my original post and a covering explanation some weeks ago but to date have had no response.
Will chase up and as a second string to my bow I will get a couple of past and present pupils that I know to jog the Heads memory

Regards

Bob

DURANGO
23rd July 2008, 17:43
Thanks again Martin and Durango, current position is that I Emailed the present Principal of Kaipara College with a copy of my original post and a covering explanation some weeks ago but to date have had no response.
Will chase up and as a second string to my bow I will get a couple of past and present pupils that I know to jog the Heads memory

Regards

BobThe British four masted barque Pinmore loaded with lumber took 285 days from Vancouver to Liverpool she too ran out of food and there was cases of scurvey aboard her , in fact some time later the Pinmore met her fate at the hands of the Seeadler the fully rigged ship that was in fact a German raider she was captured on the 19th febuary 1917 but Seeadler never sank her until early march she was used in the intrim to pick up stores in Rio de Janeiro using a crew made up of seamen from the Seeadler Rio being a neutral port Seeadler would not have been able to entered the port without being detected as to her whereabouts .

roymuir
23rd July 2008, 18:32
The longest trip I've heard of was by the 3 masted ship Denbigh Castle and is probably unique in the annals of sail.
The vessel was eight and a half months at sea without entering a port, and actually took over a year after leaving Cardiff to reach Mollendo, her ultimate destination on the West coast of South America.
She sailed from Cardiff on October 9th, 1908 and reached Fremantle the following June. After leaving Fremantle on July 15th she finally anchored off Mollendo on November 21st, 1909.
A 1957 publication called "Kicking Canvas, The Ordeal of the Denbigh Castle" by Cpt. A.A. Bestic, covers the voyage.
Regards, Roy.

McCloggie
27th July 2008, 06:56
I remeber the book Kicking Canvas - I had a "Cadet" edition when I was a kid!

I too remember hearing about these long trips and while the Denbigh Castle episode comes from the above book, Allan Villiers book The WAr with Cape Horn mentions a number of Europe to West coast South America voyages that started off going round Cape Horn but ended up going eastwards via Australia and the pacific.

I also remeber Villiers comment on Radio Officers/radios in general - they needed a power source do not forget and his arguement was that even if anybody heard a distress call from a sailing ship in the Southern Ocean what could be done to provide help anyway?

Diferent days!

McC

RudySunde82
6th March 2010, 22:43
I am replying (somewhat belatedly) to a thread posted by McLoggie re radios in sailing ships. One of the saddest and strangest incidents that I have heard of concerns the famous ship PAMIR. Being without a radio she blithely sailed into Wellington in 1941 under the Finnish flag not knowing that Finland and New Zealand were technically at war as Finland was an ally of Germany. The New Zealand government claimed her as prize and Kiwi sailors manned her until about 1949 when she was returned to Finland. She was sold to German interests and was used as a sail training ship - while still carrying cargo -until she was lost in a severe storm in the Atlantic in 1957. Eighty men were lost with only 6 surviving.
As a side bar to the PAMIR story, while on one of her trips across the Pacific during the war, a Japanese submarine came across her but the sub commander must have been a more cultured and/or aesthetic man than the average sub commander because he was so taken with the majestic sight of this splendid sailing ship that he let her sail on.
Rudy Sunde

TonyAllen
7th March 2010, 12:21
I remember reading about the British Ilse taking a long time around the horn in a book The cape Horn Breed Tony

Andrew Craig-Bennett
8th March 2010, 15:55
I think I remember an account, probably in Alan Villiers' "Posted Missing", which I last read when I was nine, almost fifty years ago, of a ship which, bound for Chile to load nitrates, failed to weather the Horn so her Master put the helm up and went the other way round. She was, if I recall correctly, the only ship ever to be posted "Missing" at Lloyds which subsequently made port.

Hamish Mackintosh
8th March 2010, 17:04
I am replying (somewhat belatedly) to a thread posted by McLoggie re radios in sailing ships. One of the saddest and strangest incidents that I have heard of concerns the famous ship PAMIR. Being without a radio she blithely sailed into Wellington in 1941 under the Finnish flag not knowing that Finland and New Zealand were technically at war as Finland was an ally of Germany. The New Zealand government claimed her as prize and Kiwi sailors manned her until about 1949 when she was returned to Finland. She was sold to German interests and was used as a sail training ship - while still carrying cargo -until she was lost in a severe storm in the Atlantic in 1957. Eighty men were lost with only 6 surviving.
As a side bar to the PAMIR story, while on one of her trips across the Pacific during the war, a Japanese submarine came across her but the sub commander must have been a more cultured and/or aesthetic man than the average sub commander because he was so taken with the majestic sight of this splendid sailing ship that he let her sail on.
Rudy Sunde

I may be wrong but I recall the "Pamir" or could have been the "Passat"lying in Adelaid inner harbour in the early fifties, she finally signed a crew, loaded grain and sailed for the uk, she took so long to get there that the cargo was rotten, then she lay in Tiger Bay Cardiff for years after, until sold to the Norwegians, but as I say I could be wrong it was a long time ago

stein
11th March 2010, 09:15
I might perhaps be allowed to mention that none of the ships mentioned her was ever close to being a clipper ship. I would guess that Spongebob mistakes the meaning of the word clipper for either that of a sailing ship or a square rigger. A clipper was a ship built for a trade where load capacity was of much inferior value to that of speed. So one can speak of tea clippers, passenger clippers, and even wool clippers - but most certainly not of lumber, coal, or grain clippers (even though a few clippers that lasted past their racing days had to carry what was offered).

TonyAllen
11th March 2010, 17:02
I think maybe you are right Stein,I think I made the wrong connection.Regards Tony

McCloggie
11th March 2010, 19:22
Technically Stein is of course right.

We just started off talking about the Cape Horn suare rigged ships and it seemed to go on from there!

I would be interested though in the longest passage a tea clipper, working in the original trade, would be.

McC

Andrew Craig-Bennett
14th March 2010, 01:37
I think I remember an account, probably in Alan Villiers' "Posted Missing", which I last read when I was nine, almost fifty years ago, of a ship which, bound for Chile to load nitrates, failed to weather the Horn so her Master put the helm up and went the other way round. She was, if I recall correctly, the only ship ever to be posted "Missing" at Lloyds which subsequently made port.

I was wrong about this and since I cannot correct my posting |(too late!) all I can do is write another.

The only ship to make port having been posted "Missing" at Lloyds was the square rigged "Red Rock", which spent five months to cover a thousand miles, to windward, in the Coral Sea in 1899.

BanjoBill
28th December 2010, 23:25
Hi
my Grandfather crewed on the ER Stirling and came to NZ on her. I have a painting of the ER Stirling in Wellington Harbour done surposedly by one of my grandfathers (Daniel Mark HYNSON) shipmates.

antjon2
29th December 2010, 10:07
I may be wrong but I recall the "Pamir" or could have been the "Passat"lying in Adelaid inner harbour in the early fifties, she finally signed a crew, loaded grain and sailed for the uk, she took so long to get there that the cargo was rotten, then she lay in Tiger Bay Cardiff for years after, until sold to the Norwegians, but as I say I could be wrong it was a long time agoAntjon2 I remember both the Pamir and the Passat arriving in the Bristol Channel and being laid up in Penarth Dock which is now a marina as part of the Cardiff Bay development, the were after several years moved too Barry Docks for discharge. My father was employed to discharge the bagged cargo, and I remember him saying that the cargo was overrun with rats, so they brought in teams of men with terriers to attempt to clear the ships of the rats.

Mick Spear
29th December 2010, 15:09
Antjon2 I remember both the Pamir and the Passat arriving in the Bristol Channel and being laid up in Penarth Dock which is now a marina as part of the Cardiff Bay development, the were after several years moved too Barry Docks for discharge. My father was employed to discharge the bagged cargo, and I remember him saying that the cargo was overrun with rats, so they brought in teams of men with terriers to attempt to clear the ships of the rats.
Great thread. There is a pic of both these ships alongside at Penarth (my town of birth) on this site. Wish my father were around nowadays as he would be able to answer a few questions on them. They look pretty big sailing ships too.
Mick S(Thumb)

GALTRA
29th December 2010, 15:46
Not a clipper or square rigger but none the less a sail voyage. Thought it might be of interest == http://www.wavetrain.net/news-a-views/70-reid-stowe-longest-voyage-in-history-undisputed

Billieboy
29th December 2010, 16:26
Before being laid up in Penarth, Pamir and Passat docked in Barry with, "The last cargo of Grain brought in under Sail", they were berthed at Rank's Mill in Nr. 2 Dock. The cargoes were condemned and the ships fumigated.

I was eight or Nine years old and watched them come up channel, under full sail, on sunny, still, summer afternoon.

Hugh Ferguson
29th December 2010, 21:11
Ref. #1
Why should any master wish to go to Australia around Cape Horn?!
Bligh in the Bounty, after weeks of failing to weather Cape Horn, gave up and eventually was compelled to run his Easting down on passage to Tahiti.
That was understandable, to round Cape Horn en route to a Pacific Is., but to Australia???

vic pitcher
30th December 2010, 11:41
I remember reading about the British Ilse taking a long time around the horn in a book The cape Horn Breed Tony

The Cape Horn Breed was written by Captain W H S Jones who was an Apprentice in British Isles at the time of her 72 day struggle to weather Cape Horn in 1905.

The Master of British Isles, James P Barker also wrote his memoirs The Log of a Limejuicer, in which his account of the ordeal later suffered much criticism by Villiers in his The War with Cape Horn which was based on his research into Official Log Books; Villiers found much onconsistancy between the O.L entries and Barker's book account.
Barker was later to command the USA 4-masted barque Tusitala.

Regarding Pamir, John Manners Superintendent Chris Ostenfeld served in her under the N.Z. flag, as did George Gunn of Gisborne who I was able to visit after I paid off Dilmun Shearwater at New Plymouth in 1996.

TonyAllen
30th December 2010, 19:01
[QUOTE=vic pitcher;480386]The Cape Horn Breed was written by Captain W H S Jones who was an Apprentice in British Isles at the time of her 72 day struggle to weather Cape Horn in 1905.

The Master of British Isles, James P Barker also wrote his memoirs The Log of a Limejuicer, in which his account of the ordeal later suffered much criticism by Villiers in his The War with Cape Horn which was based on his research into Official Log Books; Villiers found much onconsistancy between the O.L entries and Barker's book account.

I read both books at the roughly the same time many years ago and
read Jones version first and noticed small differences in both versions
but jones wrote his tale many many years later when he retired
and Barker I suspect embellished his version for effect what do you think Tony

spongebob
30th December 2010, 20:41
It is great to re-read this thread and the contributions made but we still have not pinned down that longest voyage ship.
On one of the Pamir threads I mention one time crew man Ron Alexander who is now in his late 80's, living in Whenuapai Auckland and playing lawn bowls at the local club.
Ron is apparently a mine of information and has old log books and other memorabilia from the Pamir but few have been able to extract a decent account from him including the local press.
I am returning to NZ to live in early February and, according to my oldest mate< i will be compelled to join the bowling club where he is the player coach.
Here's hoping that I can get alongside Ron, tell him about this site and the high level of genuine interest in nautical history and to persuade him to chat about all and sundry.
I have an 88 year old brother in law who knows Ron Alexander well but he has given up bowls as being for older men but continues his weekly golf albeit with a little motor scooter that tows his clubs.
Getting back to my original post on this thread I have not managed to track down Jack Lord's son as the school principal wont even acknowledge my inquiries, privacy issues no doubt, but again being 'on site' may give me a better chance.

Bob

duquesa
30th December 2010, 22:08
It has been my understanding that the "Denbigh Castle" holds the record for the longest passage in terms of time without touching land or replenishing.