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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

New Zealand a big cruise destination this summer


New Zealand is gearing up for a bumper cruise season, with a record number of cruise ships headed for our shores.

Cruise Lines International Association Australasia commercial director Brett Jardine said 33 ships will be cruising local waters between October 1 and April 30, with nine making their inaugural calls.

In the same period last year, New Zealand welcomed 28 ships.

There will be 33 cruise ships visiting New Zealand over the summer.

There will be 33 cruise ships visiting New Zealand over the summer.

The ships will make more than 600 calls to ports around the country, including close to a dozen maiden calls for cruise lines at destinations including Stewart Island, Wellington and Kaikoura.

Among the visitors will be the largest ship to sail to New Zealand, Royal Caribbean's 167,000-tonne Ovation of the Seas, as well as the youngest and most luxurious ship to cruise local waters, the Seabourn Encore, which will arrive in New Zealand just one month after she is officially named in Singapore.

Jardine said the record season reflected New Zealand's growing popularity as a cruise destination, as well as continuing growth in Kiwi passenger numbers.

Figures showed close to 70,000 New Zealanders took a cruise in 2015, a 10 per cent increase on the previous year.

"New Zealand's popularity as one of the world's hottest cruise destinations will be clearly evident this summer," Jardine said.

"Not only will there be more ships visiting than ever before, there will be scores of inaugural calls around the country as cruise lines extend their itineraries to take in a wider range of beautiful ports around the North and South Islands."

SPOTLIGHT ON: OVATION OF THE SEAS

Why it's a game changer: Launched in April 2016, the 4180-passenger Ovation is the latest Quantum-class ship and will be the newest, biggest, most advanced ship to sail in New Zealand waters.

Features: Skydiving and surf simulators, North Star viewing capsule, spectacular Two70 entertainment venue, Seaplex activity space, 21 restaurants and cafes, solo, "virtual balcony" and family cabins.

Essentials: Ovation will arrive in Fiordland on December 21, followed by Dunedin on December 22. See www.royalcaribbean.com.au

SPOTLIGHT ON: SEABOURN ENCORE

Why it's a game changer: Encore will be the youngest, most luxurious ship to grace local waters.

Features: The elegant 604-guest ship is slightly larger than its three Odyssey-class sisters; it will have an extra deck, all-balcony suites, an aft watersports marina and new restaurants.

Essentials: Seabourn Encore's first Australian season includes 15-night cruises to New Zealand and the Pacific. It will debut in Milford Sound on February 9, followed by Oban on February 10. See seabourn.com.

OTHER SHIPS MAKING THEIR MAIDEN CALL TO NZ

Azamara Cruises - Azamara Journey. Arrives in Milford Sound on February 28 and Dunedin on March 1, the first of 10 maiden calls.

Hapag-Lloyd Cruises - Europa 2. Debuts in Auckland on December 20 and will make eight inaugural calls around the country.

Holland America Line - Maasdam. Debuts in Tauranga on November 20.

NCL - Norwegian Star. Debuts in Dunedin on February 13, the first of seven maiden NZ calls.

Oceania Cruises - Sirena. Arrives in Dunedin on April 17 and will make six maiden calls to local ports.

P&O Cruises Australia - Pacific Aria. Arrives in Auckland on November 20.

Princess Cruises - Emerald Princess. Sails into Miford Sound on November 20.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Island of the Lost -- a belated book review

 Good lord -- a newspaper book review, nearly a decade after the original launch.

And it beats most of the 399 reviews on Amazon, and matches many of the over 2,000 reviews on Good Reads.

It appears in the Summit Daily, Colorado.

"Nothing makes for better reading than an adventure on the high seas," it begins. "Throw in a good old shipwreck, and the story ramps up quickly. The icing on the cake, of course, is when the story is true. Joan Druett’s book “Island of the Lost: Shipwrecked at the Edge of the World” covers all those bases, and it’s a captivating read by any account. Druett, a noted maritime historian, pens her book to read like a narrative nonfiction, which brings immediacy to the powerful survival story that unfolds quickly from the first page onward.

"The action opens on the docks in Sydney, Australia, in 1863, at the height of the windjammer era of naval exploration. A pair of adventurers, Captain Thomas Musgrave and first mate, François Raynal, were in search of a ship, one that was sturdy enough to sail 1,500 miles in rough waters but small enough to be managed by a crew of five. The goal was the remote Campbell Island in the Southern Ocean, where the men hoped to make a killing mining the volcanic island’s rumored veins of silver-bearing tin.

"The many islands scattered south of New Zealand are notorious for their jagged and dangerous shores, so the men planned their ship’s sandstone ballast carefully, knowing such a small crew would require all hands in synchronicity if any problems arose. Barely out of port, the men encountered treacherous waters, and storm after storm threatened to break their vessel, The Grafton, apart. Their hopes for Campbell Island proved to be a bust, as the island was a veritable wasteland, so the decision was made to try for a moneymaking load of sealskins from the nearby Auckland Islands before they set their sails for home.

"As they neared the rocky coastline, another storm began to build, and Captain Musgrave struggled to find safe harbor among the unfamiliar rocks with an anchor chain that was too short. Darkness arrived, and still the ship was not securely moored, given the intensity of the gale, which raged all night. Prophetically, at midnight, the ship broke free and foundered, sending the men into a lifeboat with minimal provisions to make a dash for land.

"Druett capably evokes the mood that the men must have felt, which is that, for all intents and purposes, they had fallen off the bottom of the world. No one knew where they were, as the Auckland Islands had not been their initial destination. Before sailing, they had alerted their loved ones that a search was to be commenced if they did not return in four months, but their ship had wrecked only weeks into their journey.


"Druett makes what could have been a dreary and monotonous read — akin to watching paint dry — into an exciting documentation of the day-to-day fight for survival that the men underwent from the moments their sodden feet made land. With winter fast approaching, finding shelter and enough food to sustain life and limb became the daily struggle, as the island was poorly supplied with native flora and fauna, save the seals they had hoped to pack home as riches. Even the seals began to desert them, quickly growing wise to their intentions.

"The men spent their days trying to sustain life and hope, keeping their minds fixed on the unlikely possibility of rescue, and Druett uses many primary sourced references from the men’s journals and letters to build the narrative, documenting what lengths they had to go to finding food. Seal meat became a staple, but the men knew that to prevent scurvy — the scourge of every sailor — plants would have to be a part of their diet. The islands were windblown and barren, so the struggle to find nutrients became an epic challenge. 

"What the men did not know was that only months after their ship wrecked on the southern side of the island, another ship suffered a similar fate just off the northern shore, resulting in 19 men struggling to shore with only the clothes on their backs. 

"This is where the book’s pace intensifies, for the author tells the fates of the two groups of men in parallel, which makes for an intriguing study of human nature and the varying effects of deprivation on the human body and spirit. Unlike the smaller initial five survivors, who quickly selected a leader and established a daily routine for survival, the larger, less-cohesive group to the north floundered in disarray and animosity, with fear and suspicion cloaking their efforts from their first moments on shore. 

"Like a real-life “Lord of the Flies,” the second group of men became quickly fractured and prone to violence, and cannibalism became a very real concern. Thankfully for the initial five, the two groups never encountered each other, but the contrast of the survival rates between the two groups makes for fascinating reading. “The Island of the Lost” takes its rightful place among some of the most riveting true-life accounts of survival. Written with clarity and with a scholarly voice, Druett delivers a masterful adventure story that will have the reader cheering when rescue finally arrives."


Karina Wetherbee wrote the review, as a Special to the Daily. 

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Heroic archivists

We were all horrified at the sacking of the libraries and museums of Baghdad, the cannoning of the great Buddhas in Afghanistan, and the destruction of Palmyra in Syria, but a surprising amount has been saved -- because of the heroism of archivists.

A wonderful article in the latest New York Review of Books -- of which this is a very short extract:

In almost every major modern conflict in which efforts to save art and historical monuments have had substantial success, they have depended on the actions of local curators, art historians, and activists rather than international laws or foreign interventions.

During the civil war in Beirut (1975–1990), when the National Museum of Beirut was on the front lines of the conflict, it was the museum’s own curator, Emir Maurice Chehab, who saved much of the collection, including Phoenician sarcophagi and monumental statuary, by encasing them in concrete in the basement.

In Afghanistan, the Bamiyan Buddhas were lost, despite huge international outcry; but the National Museum’s Bactrian Hoard—more than 20,000 extraordinary gold, silver, and ivory objects from a Bronze Age burial site—was quietly saved, thanks to the courage and ingenuity of a group of Afghan curators who kept them hidden for years in a vault under the Central Bank in Kabul. And in Timbuktu, when jihadists overran the city in 2012, intent on wiping out the city’s extraordinary medieval Islamic heritage, it was local librarians who spirited away to safety thousands of rare manuscripts—by truck and canoe.



The mosaic museum in Ma’arrat al-Numan, northwestern Syria, following an airstrike by the Syrian government in May 2016; mosaics at left were protected by a wall of sandbags
The DayAfter Heritage Protection Initiative. TDA-HPI. 
The mosaic museum in Ma’arrat al-Numan, northwestern Syria, following an airstrike by the Syrian government in May 2016; mosaics at left were protected by a wall of sandbags
Though little noted, local preservationists have already proven crucial in the Syrian conflict itself.

One of the most striking cases is the Ma’arra Mosaic Museum in a region of Idlib Province in northwestern Syria that has been bitterly fought between various rebel groups and the regime. The museum, which occupies a historic Ottoman Caravansarai, was hit twice by the regime in a barrel-bomb attack in June 2015 and in a second air strike in May of this year. But its collection of large-scale Roman and Byzantine mosaics—including an extraordinary series depicting the life of Hercules—has largely survived because of the efforts of a group of local activists, who had encased the works in protective glue and sheeting, covered by sandbags, a few months before the first attack, and resandbagged before the second one.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

A Promise of Gold Countdown


The A PROMISE OF GOLD trilogy -- Judas Island, Calafia's Kingdom, Dearest Enemy -- is now available as a box set.  A LOT of reading, in just one download, and at a bargain price.

For one week, starting this weekend on Amazon.com and Amazon.uk, it will be available as a countdown deal.

The first day, the price is about one-seventh of the list price. The next day, it jumps a little.  By the eighth day, it is back to its proper price.  So be quick to get the best bargain.

Because of time zones, the promotion starts at different times.  Keep watching.

And, for those who prefer print, the complete trilogy will be out in print by Christmas.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Latest newsletter from McBooks Press


Essay-- Stunning Victory: William Eaton leads United States Marines "to the shores of Tripoli" by Seth Hunter

Interview with Julian Stockwin 


Book Reviews--


* Inferno
by Julian Stockwin
* The Powder of Death by Julian Stockwin * The Notorious Captain Hayes by Joan Druett * and Night Wolf  by James L. Nelson.  

George Jepson reminisces about visiting English novelist Alexander Fullerton.   


Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Life in a lighthouse


"All had a tale to tell, and most were expert embroiderers."

In the early Seventies I worked as a lighthouse keeper on three islands off the west coast of Scotland. I was between art schools and before taking the job I didn’t really think through what a lighthouse keeper actually did. I was attracted by the romantic notion of sitting on a rock, writing haikus and dashing off the occasional watercolour. The light itself didn’t seem important: it might have been some weird coastal decoration, like candles on a Christmas tree, intended to bring cheer to those living in the more remote parts of the country.

I was 19 when I was interviewed for the job of relief keeper by the Commissioners of the Northern Lights in the New Town of Edinburgh. My hair hung well below my shoulders. I had a great set of Captain Beefheart records and I walked about with a permanent grin on my face as I had recently, finally, lost my virginity. I rolled my own cigarettes, was a member of Amnesty International and had just read Kerouac’s Desolation Angels. In short, I was eminently suitable for the job.

At the time, there was a shortage of lighthouse keepers. This was not because the lights were being automated – that would come later – but because most of the men who would traditionally have entered the service were finding better wages building and manning oil-rigs in the North Sea. I turned 20 around the time I received the letter telling me how to get to my first posting. It read like something out of a Graham Greene novel. I was to purchase a second-class rail ticket and travel to Glasgow, staying overnight at the Seamen’s Mission. From there I was to take the local train to Girvan, a ferry to the island of Arran, and in ever-diminishing steps involving buses, a tractor and a rowing boat, I would eventually come, they promised, to the tiny uninhabited island of Pladda, and there would be initiated by three seasoned keepers into the ancient art of keeping watch.

I was greeted by the three of them on the jetty. One was in his sixties and clutched a black Bible in his potato-like fist. Another was middle-aged and wiry. The third, in his thirties, had a little corgi by his side, and was one of the few bachelors I met during my time on the lights. He often blamed the dog for making it difficult to form a lasting relationship with a woman, but I could never see the connection.

The three of us and the dog hopped onto an old trailer while the principal keeper started up the Massey Ferguson tractor and pulled us up a steep hill to the beacon. To my relief, I found that the tower of the light was surrounded by numerous outhouses in which we would live, eat and sleep. Later, I would hear tales of other lights, such as the legendary Skerryvore where the keeper lived in a tower: the bedroom walls were cylindrical and there was a circular hole in the floor and ceiling to allow the enormous metal weight which turned the reflectors to be winched up and down at 30-minute intervals throughout the night.

Over the coming weeks the keepers would teach me how to shear sheep, build roads, construct a jetty, fish for mackerel and lay lobster creels. They would also teach me the true function of the lighthouse keeper. The principal keeper, an elderly Gaelic speaker and a member of the Wee Free Church, took me aside and encouraged me, in an avuncular way, to stop referring to the four-hour watches we all undertook twice every 24 hours as ‘shifts’. This lapse was a hangover from my previous summer working in the Pig and Whistle bar at Butlin’s in Ayr, just across the water from Pladda.

Being on a lighthouse resembled nothing so much as being in a spaceship. We had comfy armchairs, Tetley tea and coal fires, but we also had the night sky, the aurora borealis, and the luxury of leaning on the rail at three in the morning, a hundred feet above the sea swell, watching satellites track across the Milky Way. It was the summer of 1973 and the Watergate hearings were beamed live by satellite (possibly one of the ones we watched circling overhead) to our island outcrop, yet we lived in many ways an early 19th-century life with our paraffin beacon and steam-driven fog signal. We made our own entertainment. Often we received a week’s newspapers at once, thanks to the generosity of the skipper of a fishing boat. (In return, we gave him the giant conger eels that got caught in our lobster creels which he would then sell to a Chinese restaurant on the mainland.) Supplied with our stack of newspapers we were able to bet among ourselves on Saturday’s horses at Newmarket or Ayr, having painstakingly studied the form and the weather conditions, then immediately check our results in Sunday’s papers.

There are three types of lighthouse. Rock lighthouses come straight out of the sea and, as a keeper, you spend all your time in the tower. Coastal stations skirt the British Isles and are on the mainland, allowing keepers to live with their families. Island lights are situated on uninhabited islands and I worked on three of them. A trainee lighthouse keeper entering the job for life (or until automation) would spend 18 months serving short periods of time on many different lights around Scotland, and would undergo strict psychological tests before gaining employment – something I body-swerved. Thereafter he (there were never any shes) would be posted to a variety of lights for three years at a time. In the space of less than a decade a keeper might find himself on a rock west of the Hebrides, then on mainland Orkney and after that in an inner-city coastal station.

Thus begins a marvelous essay by Peter Hill, in the London Review of Books.

READ THE REST of this entertaining and enlightening yarn, including the bloodcurdling story of the invasion by birds. 

Monday, August 29, 2016

The meaning of "Bully"

A quick scan through the Mighty Oxford reveals some answers to the question people keep on asking me.

WHAT DOES THE WORD 'BULLY' MEAN?

1. A term of endearment and familiarity originally applied to either sex e.g. sweetheart. Later to men only, implying friendly admiration: good friend, fine fellow. Often prefixed as a sort of title to the name of the person addressed as in Shakespeare - bully Bottom. Now obsolete.

2. Brother, companion.

3. A blustery 'gallant' or 'swash-buckler', now esp. a tyrannical coward who makes himself a terror to the weak.

4. The protector of a prostitute, one who lives by protecting prostitutes.

With thanks to Elizabeth Caffin

Sunday, August 28, 2016

EMAIL FROM THE UNDERWORLD

Brian Easton the Illustrious Economist provided a hilarious introduction for the launch of The Notorious Captain Hayes at the wonderful Ekor Bookshop and Cafe.

Straightfaced, he claimed he was simply reading out an email from the Underworld.


THE NOTORIOUS CAPTAIN HAYES by Joan Druett


For launch at Ekor Bookshop and Café, Wellington; 25 August 2016.

I have just received the following email. It is from William Henry Hayes. The email address is ‘underworld’. I tried to reply but the lines are clogged by politicians getting advice. It reads

Another buccaneer by the name of Voltaire – I havn’t been able to find him, he seems to live in a different part of the resort – said ‘to the living we owe respect, but to the dead we owe only the truth.’ What he did not say was, how could you respect the truth when all that is left are lies? No one ever gave me a chance to defend myself; they all pretend they are honest and I am not.

Consider the tailor suing me for $US15,000 (in today’s prices) for my clothing, and $US1200 for each member of my crew. Me, spend that amount on my scurvy crew? Don’t be ridiculous. The silly old fraud is grossly exaggerating; no wonder I refused to pay. The chandlers and other suppliers were always overcharging; why should one pay for poor quality over-priced goods?

The courts of the Pacific were all crooked so I avoided them. As for claims I often sailed early to avoid courts and debts; had to – winds and tides wait for no man. I was a good sailor – nobody says I wasn’t – and I could be courageous as some reliable reports tell. Yet one of the stories about me says I learned my seafaring skills in Cleveland, Ohio, where I grew up; for heaven’s sake, it is 400 miles from the sea.

So how can your respect the truth, when all that it left is lies? Joan Druett’s done a good job. She has had to report the falsehoods, but she does so judiciously, and gives the alternate accounts – far fewer but, if I say so myself, truer.

I am not surprised. She is a noted marine historian but I have to add she is quite attracted to me – been chasing me for 15 years. Not bad for a 180 year old, but a gentleman like me attracts the ladies. The stories my critics tell about my liaisons are not fair on the women either.

Take my nickname. ‘Bully’. Nobody ever said it to my face; they wouldn’t dare. It came from an old term for ‘a fine chap’ – as in ‘bully for you’. Not that my detractors would admit that.

The truth was that I was an entrepreneur in the Wild West of the Pacific. Some entrepreneurs have luck, I had less. The lucky get knighthoods, and then defame the unlucky as notorious to hide the fact that they got up to the same shady activities.

In truth I was much the same as other trader-captains of that time and ocean. I’ve been made the scapegoat for their sins. The stories in the book aren’t about me; they are about the Pacific in the mid-nineteenth century. Taken that way the book makes a jolly good read.

So thankyou , Joan, for doing your best to rescue my reputation. You wouldn’t like to visit me in my cabin, would you – as many ladies have done in the past? I’m afraid it is a bit hotter than usual.

And for the rest of you, entrepreneurs move on. I have some stunning high-return bonds in very secure enterprises for sale. If anyone has the cash to invest, just contact me through my email.

Oh, and vote for Donald Trump.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

BLACKBIRDING AND THE BULLY




BLACKBIRDING AND THE BULLY

First, the historical fact should be observed that whenever two cultures have clashed on an economic basis, ethics go out the window. England’s maritime supremacy in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries was owed to great Elizabethan sea captains whose acts would be considered arrant piracy today, and shocking social conditions contributed in no small way to the success of the Industrial Revolution. And the cruel practice of slavery, where African men, women and children who were prisoners of tribal raids and wars were treated as cattle, to be transported to foreign lands to work without pay for conscienceless plantation overseers, was due to economic pressures of the time, as well.

And so it was with the so-called ‘black-birding’ trade of the nineteenth century Pacific.  
‘Blackbirding’ is a pejorative term for the practice of recruiting Pacific Islanders - particularly from the New Hebrides (modern Vanuatu) and the Gilbert and Marshall Islands (modern Kiribati) - and transporting them to Queensland, Samoa and Fiji, where the captains who had carried them earned 'head money' from sugar plantation owners in need of cheap labour.  However, the trade, now considered extremely cruel, had a surprisingly benign origin, and its roots lay in cotton, not sugar.

Blame the American Civil War. With no supplies of cotton from the Southern States, the cotton mills of Bradford, England, were grinding to a stop. In 1863 the hunt was on for replacement plantations, and Queensland, Fiji and Samoa were considered ideal. The problem was that cotton is a labour-intensive crop, and to get the enterprise going, plenty of cheap willing labour was necessary.  And this is where a man by the name of Robert Towns stepped in.

Originally an English sea captain who carried speculative cargoes to Australia, Towns was a hugely successful entrepreneur.  One of his most profitable ventures was in sea slugs — bêche-de-mer — which sold well in the Orient as the main ingredient in a virility-boosting soup.  This had been harvested in Vanuatu, so he knew those islands well.  So, he bought land upriver from Brisbane , and sent out his schooner Don Juan to the islands to recruit natives to weed and harvest the fields.

The vessel arrived back in Brisbane on 15 August 1863.  According to the Queensland Guardian, ‘seventy-three South Sea Islanders for Captain Towns’ cotton plantation’ were on board.  This was not slave-trading, because the natives were on board of their own free will.  Not only did they know Towns from his record in the sea slug lagoons, but often they were keen for adventure and fun, away from the social strictures imposed by the missionaries.  And, what’s more, money was involved, as they had signed a contract: they were to receive ten shillings a month (in an era when a cook on a plantation earned five pounds a year), with abundant food, clothing and shelter provided.  As well as this — and most importantly — Towns had promised to return them to their homes within a year, a commitment he did not fail to meet.

Unfortunately, many men were not as honest as Towns, and it was a system that begged to be abused.  Other plantation owners had no scruples about hiring wicked men to kidnap Islanders with false promises and fake contracts, and in the lawless ocean of the time, there were plenty of conscienceless captains.  One of the worst, ironically, had started off in Towns’ employ, a recruiter by the name of Ross Lewin.

Lewin was deservedly notorious.  He used to pose as a missionary — Bishop John Patteson being a favourite — and abduct the men and women who had come to his ship in search of a sermon or a prayer. He also captured natives out of their canoes by dropping large stones into their craft, and sinking them.  However, the blame for all this was shifted to another man — Bully Hayes, while Lewin was lost to history.  Much later on, in a story published on 14 May 1899, the New York Tribune named Hayes as the man who posed as a bishop and sank canoes with heavy stones, triggering a myth that was retold many times, in particular by the solo circumnavigator Joshua Slocum, who loved to tell a racy yarn about this particular bête noir.

So, did William ‘Bully’ Hayes feature at all in the brutal labour-recruiting trade?   

Not often, it seems, and not very successfully. As so often happened, his own misdeeds caught up with him, with highly unexpected results. 

In December 1868, the British Consul on Tahiti reported to London that ‘about 150 natives of Savage Island’ had been carried into port by Hayes on the brig Rona.  None of them had complained about bad treatment.  And the same kind of report was published in the Westport Times (New Zealand) on 31 August 1869.  But the following year a much more sensational report appeared, first in the Sydney Morning Herald, and then in other papers as the story evolved.  Hayes was under arrest in Samoa for kidnapping a cargo of Islanders — and the brave fellow who had arrested him was a Samoan chief!

When Hayes had been hired by a man named Frederick Sievewright to recruit labourers for Fiji, the job looked straightforward, as he was on good terms with the people of Manihiki, having carried them to neighbouring islands on his vessels before.  His device for getting them on board was characteristically devious, involving fake contracts and false promises.  By the same he called for fresh water at the Samoan island of Tutuila, the natives were suspicious enough to make a complaint to Mauga, the local high chief.  With Mauga’s connivance, the natives made their escape, and Hayes, when he pursued them in a towering rage, was apprehended by Mauga’s mighty warriors.  And so Hayes was carried under arrest to Apia, the main settlement of Samoa, where he was confined at large, there being no prison to keep him.

Naturally, he escaped. And that is the end of reported kidnappings.  After that, Hayes turned to blatant robbery, seizing the property of lonely copra and coconut oil traders.  The time for transporting natives was over.  At the islands where he set down his own traders, he mistreated the locals, forcing them to work for his men, but once he had sailed away their lives returned to something like normal, as within months Bully’s traders needed rescuing by the captains of the British and American ironclads, who found them destitute of goods and on the verge of starvation.

So, why were those navy captains hot on his trail?  Because Hayes was charged with blackbirding?  Not necessarily.  When Commander Richard Meade of the US ironclad Narragansett arrested him in Apia in February 1872, it was not for kidnapping natives and transporting them to plantations for head money.  Instead, it was on a charge of violating the Navigation Laws — or so Meade told the British Consul — for Hayes flogged his crew, carried enough arms and men to equip a privateer, had marooned one of his chief mates on a waterless atoll, and was running a protection racket in the islands.

And none of it was proven.  As usual, Bully Hayes talked and charmed his way off the ironclad, and strutted ashore.  Then he sailed off with celebratory bunting flying from his topmast rigging, to carry on with his multi-crime career -- which was of all the above, with the probable exception of blackbirding.

Sources:
The history of blackbirding in the South Seas is a grim and engrossing one, about which much has been written. Useful were: a paper read by E.V. Stevens to the Historical Society of Queensland, 23 March 1950, called ‘Blackbirding, A Brief History of the South Sea Islands Labour Traffic, and the Vessels Engaged in it’, and Doug Hunt, ‘Hunting the Blackbirder: Ross Lewin and the Royal Navy’, in Journal of Pacific History, vol. 42, No. 1, June 2007, 37–53. The letter from Consul Miller at Tahiti to Lord Stanley, 16 December 1868, was quoted in Lubbock's, Bully Hayes, Buccaneer, 147–148. A biography of Robert Towns can be read in the online Australian Dictionary of Biography.

The journal kept by John Chauner Williams, British Consul in Apia, Samoa, was studied at the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand, as part of the Pacific Manuscripts Bureau series (micro-ms-coll-08-0037). The complete collection of handwritten testimonials is held at the New Zealand National Archives, Wellington (as item R19684924, also available as micro S3623). The despatches presented to both Houses of Parliament regarding accusations of kidnapping and slave-trading against Captain W.H. Hayes of the Atlantic were published in the Queensland Government Gazette, 28 August 1875. While the case of Hayes is not mentioned, a very good background discussion is given by Reid Mortensen, as ‘Slaving in Australian Courts: Blackbirding Cases, 1869-1871’, Journal of South Pacific Law, article 7, volume 4, 2000.

Spinoff, activists, and amendment

It has been a strange week.

On Monday, the online magazine Spinoff published a piece that I wrote and that was edited by the inimitable Spinoff books editor, Steve Braunias, and headed THE MONDAY PIRATE.

Within hours, it had been pulled.  Because of something we wrote?  No.  Because of something we did NOT write.  

We had neglected to call William 'Bully' Hayes a slaver.

According to the Oxford dictionary, it is a person who deals in slaves, and a slave is a 'person who is the legal property of another or others and is bound to absolute obedience; a human chattel.'

Bully Hayes was, for a short time in his nefarious career, a 'blackbirder.'  But was a blackbirder the same as a slaver?

Much more on this to come.  Meanwhile, here is the amended version.

The pirate who came in from the cold

On Monday we ran a piece about 19th century sea captain William Hayes by his biographer, Wellington historian Joan Druett. Some readers were appalled it made no reference to his involvement with slavery, or “blackbirding”. The story was pulled.

We have reposted a slightly amended version today – and await a review of Druett’s book by journalist Michael Field, who was among those angered by the original post’s glossing of the more unsavoury elements of his past. 

Captain William “Bully” Hayes was a cheat, a bigamist, a conman and a “blackbirder” – that is, a captain who enticed Pacific Islanders on board his ship, and then carried them off as cheap labour for the plantations of Fiji, Queensland and Samoa. A notorious celebrity in his own lifetime, after his death he became an enduring mythical anti-hero, the so-called “Pirate of the Pacific”.
But was he any kind of pirate? Or was he a man virtually invented as a pirate?

True, he cheated merchants, and once disappeared over the horizon with an unpaid cargo in his holds. Yet these crimes were common enough. They were the acts of a simple crook, not a pirate. Hayes never boarded a ship with a sword in his hand and a knife between his teeth. He never killed a man. He didn’t even drink hard liquor. Yet somehow the newspaper writers turned him into a legendary corsair.

But how, and why? It was mystery that fascinated me, and inspired my biography The Notorious Captain Hayes: The Remarkable True Story of The Pirate of The Pacific.

I discovered that the first to create the myth was a newspaper proprietor in Honolulu. Henry Martyn Whitney was a true American entrepreneur, full of ideas and ambitions and energy. As the publisher of the Pacific Commercial Advertiser his aim in life was to publish breaking news. On September 24, 1859 he published the story that was to trigger the Hayes legend. The headline: THE HISTORY OF A CONSUMMATE SCOUNDREL.

For the first time breathtaking swindles were exposed, along with details of a dissolute life. It was stirring stuff, compulsive reading, reprinted by newspapermen all about the Pacific, without any questions being asked.

In the years that followed there were occasional updates on his exploits – in 1868, the Wanganui Herald mused that Hayes “had a great deal of the pirate in his disposition”, and a Sydney newspaper in 1873 exaggerated him as “the notorious Captain Hayes, freebooter, swindler, pirate and murderer”.
It took until 1876 for the legend to firmly take root, and once again it was courtesy of Henry Martyn Whitney. As the owner and editor of the Hawaiian Gazette, he published an article headlined SKETCH OF THE NOTORIOUS CAPTAIN HAYES.

Hayes met a violent death the following year. Good career move: it turned him into an even more compelling figure. The metamorphosis was spearheaded by the San Francisco paper, Daily Alta California, which summarised his story under the title, The last of the pirates. In May 1899 the New York Tribune published a racy, even more imaginative version.  Not to be bested, the editor of the New York Sun produced his own lurid yarn – BULLY HAYES, PIRATE OF THE PACIFIC, THE THRILLING STORY OF A DOUBLE LIFE.

Writers of trash fiction jumped on the band wagon. Albert Dorrington published Bully Hayes’ yarns in London magazines, depicting him as “half pirate, half hero”. Down at the bottom of the world, colonial readers loved this kind of sensational stuff. In 1903 the editor of the Christchurch Press asked for letters from anyone who remembered meeting Hayes. They were duly rewarded with colourful descriptions. “He was of a courteous and gentlemanly demeanour, a big man and well-proportioned,’ wrote WR Turner. Another reader, Alfred Gee, write that he would never forget meeting Hayes — “a man of splendid physique, fully six feet in height, and proportionately well built”.

Naturally, many books followed this kind of outpouring, some serious, and others not so, with titles like Bully Hayes, South Sea Pirate. The strange result is that Captain William Henry Hayes – a common conman, blessed with a certain charisma – has become enshrined as a flamboyant buccaneer of the Pacific.

The Notorious Captain Hayes: The Remarkable True Story of The Pirate of The Pacific (HarperCollins, $18.99) by Joan Druett features in the latest best-seller chart at Unity Books.