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Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Australia's Tupaia

In 1769, the great priest-navigator, Tupaia, sailed with Captain James Cook, guiding the Endeavour through the Tahitian Islands, and sharing his privileged knowledge of the Pacific on the rough voyage to New Zealand.  There, he mediated between the warlike Maori, who recognized him as a great savant, and the Europeans, saving the officers, scientific complement, and the crew of the ship from the consequences of cultural blunders.

Now, it seems that Australian history might hold an equally impressive figure.

From the BBC

There was much excitement when the remains of Captain Matthew Flinders were discovered beneath London's Euston Station this week.
It was another chance to tell the tale of the brave English sailor who completed the first circumnavigation of Australia in HMS Investigator in the first years of the 19th Century.
Of course, his feat is well-remembered in the country where he made his name. His name is on everything from universities and islands, to streets and an entire mountain range.
Less well-remembered is another man who sailed alongside Flinders on the Investigator: Bungaree, the first Australian to circumnavigate the continent he was born on, without whom the success of the adventure would have been far from assured.


Bungaree was born in the area now known as Broken Bay, just north of modern day Sydney, in about 1775.
The Royal Naval captain and explorer James Cook had landed near Sydney five years earlier and claimed the eastern portion of the continent for the British crown.
By the time Bungaree was in his early 20s, huge swathes of the indigenous people who had lived in Australia for tens of thousands of years had been wiped out.
At some point in the 1790s, Bungaree made the decision to move south to the burgeoning city of Sydney. It was here where he began establishing himself as a central figure in the new colony - able to move between his own people and the newcomers.
In 1798, he joined the crew of the Reliance, which was undertaking a trip to Norfolk Island, almost 900 miles off the coast of Australia.
The voyage clearly left an impression on the young man, as it was the first of many he was to undertake. It was also the place he would meet - and impress - Capt Flinders.
Painting of Captain Matthew FlindersImage copyrightART GALLERY OF SOUTH AUSTRALIA
Image captionCaptain Matthew Flinders is credited with naming Australia
It was Capt Flinders who recruited Bungaree for the Investigator's trip around the continent in May 1802. Flinders later wrote it was the Aboriginal man's "good disposition and open and manly conduct" which impressed him.
Bungaree's kindness to the ship's cat Trim would also warrant a mention in the sailor's memoirs.
However, it was more than his disposition that made him invaluable to his crewmates during the 13-month expedition.
Bungaree was the only person born in Australia on the ship - even Trim had been born at sea - and as such, played a vital diplomatic role as they made their way around the coast, overcoming not inconsiderable language barriers in places.

"He chose the role of a go-between," historian Keith Vincent Smith told ABC Sydney's breakfast show last year. "He often, by taking off his clothes and speaking to people in the very top end of Australia, could mollify the indigenous people who were about to attack the sailors."

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Weird ship lies buried under Toronto

The lord alone knows how terrible it would have been to voyage in this thing.  Steaming right into, or away from, a long crested sea, its heave behavior would be inherently pretty bad, in fact, at some speeds it would move up and down exactly the same distance as the wave height.  One turns a faint green at the very thought of it.  A visionary by the name of Knapp, however, went ahead and built it.

And this is the story the way Andrew King, of Ottawa Rewind, tells it.

Concealed beneath Canada’s largest city lies an iron apparatus designed in Prescott, Ontario from the Victorian Age that resembles an invention from the pages of a Jules Verne novel. A perfect example of the steam punk aesthetic, this 110ft. ironclad cylindrical vessel remains buried under the Gardiner Expressway, quietly resting below the traffic of thousands of commuters. Its remarkable story is one of innovation, passion and ill-fated decisions.  Join me now as we uncover the whereabouts of this lost tubular dream…
Prescott in the late 1800’s was bustling industrial town.
The small town of Prescott sits 45 minutes south of Ottawa and during the late 19th century it was a booming community of industry and innovation, a town that was the inception for J.P. Wiser’s Whisky, Ottawa’s first railway, the Prescott & Bytown Railway, and it even had Bell telephone service far sooner than any other town. The terminus for the Great Lakes Shipping industry, it also was home to a Labatt’s Brewery. It comes as no surprise that from its dusty streets would appear another creative force, an ironclad machine so imaginative, so unique and so bold that it would garner the attention of the world stage in 1897. 
At the time Queen Victoria was the reigning monarch, but she never visited her colonies since she hated traveling by sea, as it made her sea-sick. In 1860 she sent her son, Albert Edward to Ottawa and on a North American tour in her place. This led one Prescott resident to design a ship impervious to the travel and motions that caused sea-sickness on the open sea. His name was Frederick Augustus Knapp, a lawyer turned inventor, and he designed what was probably the most bizarre, ambitious and unbelievable ship ever to be made. 
Ripley’s cartoon depicting a strange and unique vessel that began my quest to find it.
I became fascinated with this iron clad marvel when I saw an old Ripley’s Believe-It-Or-Not illustration featuring Knapp’s craft, and always wondered what happened to it. I researched its history and it turns out the Iron Tubeship was designed and operated in Prescott, just a short drive from my home. As I dug deeper into its voyages through time I learned it now lies most likely buried under the Gardiner Expressway in downtown Toronto. But before we get to that point, how did such a ship get there in the first place, and why? 
Fred Knapp had a vision for a giant tube ship 800 feet long that would glide over ocean waves at 60mph, undisturbed by the rolling sea. His idea was soon put to paper as he drew out plans for a scaled down version of his iron dream, imagined on his many trips across the Atlantic aboard steamship liners of the day. In an interview with the Prescott Telegraph in 1897, Knapp revealed he spent most of those voyages within the engine rooms of the ships he was aboard, studying the mechanics of how to overcome the resistance of water and waves. He realized that a ship must not fight them, but join them, and ROLL over the waves. Working at a law firm in Montreal, Knapp soon moved back to his hometown of Prescott where he set up a law practice and purchased a home in a stone triplex on Dibble Street.
Soon after drawing up plans for his mighty steam tube, Knapp presented the concept to Polson Iron Works in Toronto, and had built a working scale model 9 feet in length. The original drawings for the Roller Tube Ship are stored in the since closed Maritime Museum of the Great Lakes in Kingston, Ont., of which I unfortunately can not get access to at this time. 
Knapp soon organized a joint stock company called “The Knapp Ocean Navigation Company” and raised funds from investors in Montreal, Quebec City, the UK and Toronto. His proposal to Polson Iron Works in Toronto was accepted and they were contracted to build the vessel as a working steam powered prototype at a cost of $125,000 (in 1890s dollars). 
screen shot 2015-04-21 at 2.34.02 pm
Knapp’s tube ship gained the attention of Scientific American magazine in 1898 with his unique design.
After some trials and tests, a full scale, 110-foot prototype was ready for launch in Toronto’s harbour in June of 1899. With Knapp aboard manning the helm, the innovative new ship was to travel from Toronto to Prescott on its maiden voyage.
Photo of the Roller Boat underway in 1898.
Perhaps because it was never officially christened or named, the poor ship was to be doomed. On June 9th it ran aground in Bowmanville, and it took a month for a tugboat to arrive and tow it all the way to Prescott where it was holed up and underwent modifications until the ship was ready for another sea trial in 1901. 
Knapp’s Roller Boat steaming along, his portrait above.
 Seeming to be a glutton for punishment, Knapp decided to test his newly modified ship on a cold February day, with a strong north wind that hampered its planned voyage across the St. Lawrence to Ogdensburg, NY.
Prescott citizens slide over the ice to board Knapp’s latest modded ship. (Image: Morris History Of Prescott)
Dressed for the February cold, the passengers await Knapp to take them across the St. Lawrence River to Ogdensburg, NY (Image: Morris History Of Prescott)
The strong winds were no match for the very hard-to-steer giant tube ship, and Knapp and his ship ran aground on a shoal of mud off Ogdensburg, where it soon became trapped in ice and snow. A rescue team was sent out in rowboats to retrieve the passengers and Knapp, who were suffering from exposure to the cold. The iron tube was towed back to Prescott where it remained for the winter. 
Knapp decided to now modify the shape of his shape into that of a giant cigar, with conical ends, and a new engine, but it had to towed to Montreal for that work. After an arduous tow and retrofit in Montreal going through the myriad of canal locks, the roller boat was then towed back to Toronto across Lake Ontario, around Prince Edward County and into the docks of Polson Iron Works once again. There the ship sat, Knapp now out of money and investor interest, its forlorn hull left to languish in the waters off Toronto. The orphaned vessel that no one wanted broke free of its moorings and hit another ship causing damage to both ships. The now rusting hulk was sold for scrap metal to pay for the damages. As World War One began, it was said the tubular disaster was scavenged for its metal for the war effort, picked apart like a carcass under the beaks of vultures. 
Showing its new cigar shape, but badly deteriorating due to salvaging its parts, the un-named Roller Ship lies in the waters off Toronto.
Left deteriorating in the shallow waters, legend says the ill-fated ship was buried under landfill when in 1927 the Toronto shoreline was expanded, its whereabouts unknown.
Read the rest to learn how Andrew King discovered its current location ... or thereabouts.

Shirley Smith, an Examined Life

New from Victoria University Press

Shirley Smith: An Examined Life

ISBN: 9781776562176

MAY 2019
Shirley Smith was one of the most remarkable New Zealanders of the 20th century, a woman whose lifelong commitment to social justice, legal reform, gender equality and community service left a profound legacy.

She was born in Wellington in 1916. While her childhood was clouded by loss – her mother died when she was three months old and her beloved father, lawyer and later Supreme Court Judge David Smith, served overseas during the war – she had a privileged upbringing. She studied classics at Oxford University, where she threw herself into social, cultural and political activities. Despite contracting TB and spending months in a Swiss clinic, she graduated with a good Second and an intellectual and moral education that would guide her through the rest of her life.

She returned to New Zealand when war broke out, and taught classics at Victoria and Auckland University Colleges, before marrying eminent economist and public servant Dr W.B. Sutch in 1944, and giving birth to a daughter in 1945. She kept her surname – unusual at the time – and poured her energy into issues of human rights and social causes. She qualified as a lawyer at the age of 40, and in her career of 40 years broke down many barriers, her relationship with the Mongrel Mob epitomising her role as a champion of the marginalised and vulnerable.

In 1974, Bill Sutch was arrested and charged with espionage. After a sensational trial he was acquitted by a jury, but the question of his guilt has never been settled in the court of public opinion. Shirley had reached her own political turning point in 1956, with Khrushchev’s revelations about Stalin and the Hungarian crisis, but she remained loyal to her husband, and the ongoing controversy weighed on her later years.

Shirley Smith: An Examined Life tells the story of a remarkably warm and generous woman, one with a rare gift for frankness, an implacable sense of principle, and a personality of complexity and formidable energy. Her life was shaped by some of the most turbulent currents of the 20th century, and she in turn helped shape her country for the better.

Sarah Gaitanos is the author of The Violinist: Clare Galambos Winter, Holocaust SurvivorNola Millar: A Theatrical Life; and with Alan Bollard, Governor of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, the bestseller Crisis: One Central Bank Governor and the Global Financial Collapse. Sarah is an independent writer, researcher and oral historian.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Cruise ships and seabirds

According to today's newspapers, cruise ships in New Zealand waters are being asked to dim their night lighting to avoid dazzling seabirds, after a flock of Buller's shearwaters flew into the Pacific Jewel.

It must have been quite a sight that confronted the ship's seamen, at change of watch early in the morning.  About 70 birds were prostrate on the decks or flapping around in confusion.  Obviously, it was not something the crew wanted the early joggers to see, so the gulls were hastily stowed into some big boxes, which were labelled to hand over to the Department of Conservation when the ship arrived in Auckland.

Not a good move.  The panicked birds either pecked each other to death or expired of the heat generated by their crammed bodies.  By the time the DOC took over the boxes, over half the complement was dead.

It's not the first time it has happened, apparently.  Birds have been crashing into brightly lit fishing trawlers for years, but now, with the huge popularity of the cruise ship trade, the problem has dramatically increased.  Not only are the ships numerous at this time of the year, attracting adult birds that are foraging, but they are constantly passing breeding capes and islands, where young birds are still learning to fly.

The cruise ship industry is as concerned about the problem as the conservation people, and so they are working together.   According to a news release from the Department of Conservation practical advice is being issued, describing ways to reduce the amount of light shining out to sea from cruise ships and how to manage the dazzled birds that do land on the ships.

New Zealand Cruise Association Chief Executive Kevin O’Sullivan says advice sheets have been distributed to cruise ships sailing into New Zealand ports.
“We’re asking environmental officers on large cruise ships and senior officers on smaller ships to manage the issue of safeguarding the night flying seabirds.” 
“The feedback we’ve had has been very positive. Officers and crew on cruise ships share their workspace, the ocean, with seabirds and have a genuine commitment to keeping them safe.”
“Preventing dazzled seabirds from crash landing on their decks also helps keep their passengers safe,” says Kevin O’Sullivan.
CLIA Managing Director Australasia Joel Katz said the protection of seabirds and other wildlife was an important priority for cruise lines.
“The cruise industry has a strong interest in safeguarding the oceans, wildlife and natural environment that our guests come to enjoy, and the advice of the DOC will be of great assistance to cruise lines as they work to minimise risks for New Zealand’s seabirds,” Mr Katz said.
So, when you arrive in your cabin at the start of your next seaborne adventure, expect to be asked to close your curtains at night, and don't be surprised if you find that the decks are quite dimly lit.

Great for romantic trysts, perhaps, and certainly great for the seabirds.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Seamen's pay in the eighteenth century

Seamen’s pay and officers’ perks in Captain Cook’s time

An interesting question came up on marhst-l, the maritime history discussion group, which is sponsored by the Marine Museum of the Great Lakes, with the assistance of Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada.

Malcolm Lewis mused:

“Having just re-read accounts of Captain Cook’s voyages which took as many as three years before he returned home, I am interested to know how and when officers and men received their pay during these long absences. Especially how their families survived whilst the breadwinners were away. 

“Officers may have had bank accounts but seamen would not have done so. One reads of the Portsmouth “bum-boat ladies” going aboard on pay days to help “relieve” sailors of their pay. When I lived in Hull, I witnessed trawlermen’s wives waiting on the jetty when the trawlers returned from the Arctic waters to make sure they got a share of their husband’s wages to pay the bills before many of the men disappeared to the bright lights of London.”

That is indeed intriguing.  Whalemen’s wives had the same problem of begging money from the ship’s agent, or the owners of the ship, while their husbands were away on voyages that could last five years or more.  More nervewracking still, their husbands might be on “unlucky” ships, where few whales had been sighted, which meant that the final pay would be very small, or nothing at all, as whalemen were paid according to their “lay” which was a share of the profits of the voyage. 

The real question, however, related to pay in the Royal Navy, back in the eighteenth century, and a brilliant answer was provided by Nicholas Blake, who has kindly given me permission to reprint it.

The Georgians lived in an age of credit. It was normal throughout the century for agricultural workers, domestic staff etc to be paid, and pay their bills, once a quarter. Gentlemen paid their bills even less often: Parson Woodforde, who was a Norfolk rector who led a blameless life and left an illuminating diary, was moved to anger when asked to pay a bill by a merchant because to him that meant the merchant thought he might not be able to pay. Even the Navy Board didn't pay its bills on time: it issued numbered tokens that it redeemed in order when it could afford to, which were tradeable at a discount on a specialist market.

Officers' pay end everyone else's were treated differently.
Officers' pay was very complicated. They had sea pay, plus a huge range of allowances and expenses, and compensation for servants. Commissioned officers' pay was part pay and part emolument. They had to apply for it, and could not be paid very often: for most of the period, personal pay was once a year and emoluments only when their accounts had been passed, which could take years. Sometimes it was very complicated: In December 1805, William Sidney Smith is appointed to fly his flag in the Pompee, and applies for his pay in the Tigre and Antelope; the complications caused by his period commanding the Ottoman fleet mean the matter has been referred to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. ADM 1/411, no.427. Actual payment was usually to an agent, who also handled their prize money if any, or to their banker.

Everyone else.

The 1728 Navy Act allowed seamen to assign wages to their families, every six months while the ship was at sea abroad, or when paid in home waters. The money was collected by the assignee from an attorney, or (from 1751) from a clerk at a dockyard, for a varied or fixed commission (1.25%) respectively. Captains and admirals were allowed to send their crews' pay via their agents, especially that of their followers. This generally worked well, since the navy would never default on pay even though it might be delayed, but there was always the problem of fraud: a Royal Marine entered at Stroud, and allowed his mother, Anne Davis of the parish of Bisley, adjacent to the parish of Stroud, a part of his pay; the papers were sent directed to Anne Davis near Stroud, and were delivered to Anne Davis of the parish of Rodborough, who was living in Stroud at the time, and who has received the pay since 16 May 1809. -- letter from John Williams, curate, of Stroud, Gloucestershire, to the Secretary at War, 22 Sep 1810: the son is Daniel Davis, in the Bellerophon

The false Anne Davis had sworn on oath that she was the woman in question and the real Anne Davis had no money for a prosecution. Horse Guards forwards the letter to the Admiralty on 25 Sep, endorsed on 27 Sep 'Report it to Mr Bicknell for his consideration'. ADM 1/4337. Possibly for this reason, only around 5-10% of seamen remitted wages. For those waiting at home who relied on pay, Georgian society had the equivalent of the payday loan: pay buyers bought the wages in advance, for a discount.
Actual pay, when the ship was paid off, was straightforward: a boat arrived with cash and everyone was paid either what they were due or a proportion thereof, according to the rules in force at the time.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Handy Windows Shortcuts

I guess you already know that if you hit CTRL + F you will get a little search box in the top righthand corner of your screen, and that the whole page -- or document -- will be conscientiously searched for the word or phrase you type into it.

There are other handy shortcuts.

Want to hurry up the YouTube video you are watching?  Or pause it?  Use the numbers on your keyboard.  Pressing 5 will take you halfway, and 9 will take you to the end.  To get to the start, press 0.  Pressing j and l will send it back and forth in ten-second bits. The "seagull" arrows (< and >) will shift it frame by frame.  

Want to lock your computer while you head off for coffee or a comfort stop?  Press the Windows key + L   This prevents malicious use of your computer while you are away, as your password is needed to get it going again.

Are you one of those people who like to liven up everything with emojis?  Pressing Windows + fullstop will bring up the emoji screen.

Want to minimize all screens at once?  Windows + M will shrink most of them.

Doing some large-scale internet browsing?  CTRL + T will bring up a new tab without the bother of moving your mouse.

A quick way to rename a file is to press F2 after clicking on the file.  Again, it saves you shifting the mouse, and is easier on the wrist.

And this is a beauty.  The print screen function can often save part of the screen that you don't want to keep.  In the past, I used to copy it to powerpoint and crop the unwanted bits.  An easier way is to press Windows + shift + S.  This creates a rectangle, which allows you take a screen shot of just the desired area.

To delete whole words, press CTRL + Backspace.

To add the date to a manuscript, press Shift + Alt + D

To add the time, press Shift + Alt + T 

Friday, January 18, 2019

Cruising on the SCARLET LADY

From Forbes Magazine

At each trumpeted reveal of Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Voyagesship — Scarlet Lady, set for a splashy 2020 launch in Miami — buzz builds and thrills. From the start, blueprints for this adults-only, 2,700-passenger brainstorm-at-sea have navigated a stylish vision toward playful vibes and youthful edginess. Today's announcement delivers much-anticipated news about what some of the staterooms will look like. And, at least for the roomiest suites, the word rockstar is involved.
The RockStar Suites are located top of ship.© VIRGIN VOYAGES
Says Branson, founder of the Virgin Group: "Virgin has always avoided stuffy formalities and brought a lot of excitement and a bit of rebelliousness to our customer experiences."

Among the 78 suites total, 15 are categorized as MegaRockStar (further differentiated into Massive Suite, Fab Suite, Posh Suite and Gorgeous Suite) and the remaining 63 expansive spaces are RockStar level (again divided into Brilliant Suite, Cheeky Corner Suite, Seriously Suite and Sweet Aft Suite). Master-minded by Tom Dixon’s Design Research Studio in London, the decor embraces a retro-futurism look with Dixon's iconic architectural accents, such as iridescent dichroic glass.

A picture worth a thousand words? Check out these images:

The 570-square-foot Gorgeous Suite.© VIRGIN VOYAGES

RockStar Suites spotlight a full bar and cocktail kit — with round one complimentary. There's a vinyl turntable and premium bed linens. Plus, mood lighting, because...of course.

The suite deals feature VIP RockStar perks: a personal assistant called a RockStar Coordinator; a wardrobe team to help passengers pack and unpack; complimentary clothes pressing and nightly swimsuit-drying service; and early access to onboard entertainment and restaurants. 

The Massive Suite heralds its own music room, stocked with guitars and amplifier.© VIRGIN VOYAGES
Head even higher to the drumroll-wannabe spot: Richard’s Rooftop – a secluded, members-only club for RockStar Suites passengers.
The Massive Suite's terrace.© VIRGIN VOYAGES

The party continues al fresco on the terrace with an outdoor shower, hot tub, hammocks, circular conversation pit and step-up table in case passengers are inclined to dance atop it. (Something Branson likes to do.)

The 833-square-foot Posh Suite.© VIRGIN VOYAGES
Explains Virgin Voyages' CEO Tom McAlpin about the company's vision: "...Rebellious Luxe, which is at the intersection of luxury and a rebellious attitude that makes everything we do different, indulgent and meaningfully relevant."
The Gorgeous Suite.© VIRGIN VOYAGES

Anticipate a lot of champagne sipping, hammock hanging and dreamscape gazing.

The Cheeky Corner Suite varies in size.© VIRGIN VOYAGES
For many passengers (also known in Virgin Voyages' vernacular as sailors), nighttime will be the right time.
The 352-square-foot Seriously Suite.© VIRGIN VOYAGES

All RockStar Suites feature a European-style king bed.

The Massive Suite's marble-lavished bathroom.© VIRGIN VOYAGES
Well, would I ever want to sail on a ship like this?  Dancing on tables does not appeal, I must confess, as I would wonder about food contamination.
But then, if Mike Oldfield or Phil Collins were fellow passengers ....