Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Otago Wrecks and Hulks - the Floating Dock "Alpha"

At Isbisters Bay, just past Careys Bay, the remains of three - possibly four - wooden vessels can be seen at low tide.  By far the largest one was the floating dock "Alpha," built on the Port Chalmers foreshore and broken up where the remains now lie.

LAUNCH OF THE FLOATING DOCK AT PORT CHALMERS.
The Floating Dock, built at Port Chalmers, by Messrs W. Murray and Co., under a guarantee from the Provincial Government, was most successfully launched on Tuesday afternoon, in the presence of a large number of spectators. This is the first Floating Dock in New Zealand; and we believe that so great a mass of timber and iron has not before been put together and launched in any of the Australasian Colonies. The dock has been fitly named the Alpha. There is nothing of beauty of contour about her — she is essentially a great wooden box of more than 2000 tons burden; but there is certainly much of the useful in her design ; and as a means of dealing readily, for purposes of repair or cleaning, with anything like coasting vessels, or with the Inter-Provincial steamers which frequent the port, the Alpha will be of great value as a precursor of the Graving Dock, and even after that much more important work has been completed. 
It has now been made well known in American ports, that Otago is a fine harbor for whales; but, probably, it would have been of little effect in bringing whalers hither for a refit, to announce, "Whaling vessels, no matter whence they come, are free of port charges," unless the masters could also be told, or could learn, that there existed means of docking their ships. The Floating Dock will, we are told, be there existed means of docking their ships. The Floating Dock will, we are told, be fully capable of receiving any "whaler that has yet been heard of in the Southern Seas: be that, with the knowledge of this fact, and of the other facts that provisions can be cheaply obtained, and oil or bone regularly shipped for the United States, in American bottoms, there is reason for the belief that Otago will become a rendezvous for whalers, so soon as the knowledge, of the freedom of the port, and the advantages offered, can be made known amongst the class of owners and captains who are interested. 
The proposal to build a Floating Dock was first made, in a practical form, by Mr W. Murray. He offered to the Government to construct a dock 150 ft long by 40ft wide, and 15ft deep, if the Government would give a guarantee of 8 per cent, for five years, on her cost, and would take her over at the end of that term, at cost price; any moneys received during the five years to be retained by the contractors, towards the amount of the cost. These conditions were not accepted; but, after a while, it was suggested that an agreement might be come to, if the taking over by the Government at the end of the five years, could be at a then valuation of the dock. This was declined by Mr Murray, on behalf of the proposed contractors; and the scheme seemed to be, or was feared to have been, dropped. Not in fact, however; for Mr Murray offered to build a dock, and to take all the responsibility, if the Government would guarantee 10 per cent, for five years, on a sum not to exceed L3800. Those are the conditions under which the first Floating Dock in the Colony has been built and launched. 
The Alpha is larger than the dock first proposed. Instead of being 150 ft long, 40ft wide, and 15ft deep, she is 170 ft long, 42ft wide, and l6ft deep. She has five keels, 12in by 12in the middle one composed of three logs, bolted together, and the others of two logs each. Upon the keels, are floors, 12in by 12in laid 3in apart; and her side timbers are lOin by llin, placed 18in apart. The knees are very massive; and there are five kelsons, again 12in by 12in, made like the keels. The planking of the bottom and half-way up the sides and ends, is of 4in red pine, from Waikawa, and the upper planks are 3in thick, and were got in the neighborhood of Sawyers' Bay, Port Chalmers. The keels are made up of long lengths of Oregon timber, brought here by the Parisian; the floors and knees came from the bush in Sawyers' Bay or its neighbourhood; and the planking was cut at Mr McDermid's mill, Sawyers' Bay. Altogether, 200,000 ft superficial of timber have been used; the deadweight of the dock is roughly estimated at over 500 tons; and her displacement exceeds 3200 tons. She is coated with zinc over the bottom, and to a height of 3ft; the zinc having been specially imported from Britain.
The Alpha will be able to take in vessels up to a draft of 13ft. What is called her stern, consists really of a huge flap, working on hinges, in line with the upper edge of the zinc. This flap being let down, water will be allowed to flow into the dock, so as to sink her to the required depth, and the vessel to be dealt with will then be hauled in, and the flap will be raised. To get the water out of the dock, and so to allow her and the enclosed vessel to rise, there will be a 10-horse power (nominal) engine, on a small deck, fixed in the starboard angle of the so-called bow; and the engine will work a centrifugal pump, guaranteed to eject 2500 gallons, or 10 tons, of water per minute. But the machinery will be capable of working up to 12 or 15 tons per minute. The pump is by Mr W. Wright, of Melbourne; and the ironwork generally has been supplied by Messrs Morgan and McGregor, blacksmiths, Port Chalmers. 
The laying of the blocks was commenced on the 14th August last; but it was not until September that the laying of the first of the keels was begun. The work has thus been completed in about eleven months, despite some unavoidable delays for want of timber. The engine and pump will be fixed at once; and in ten days or a fortnight the Alpha Floating Deck will be ready for work. But before she is used, experiments will be made in sinking and raising her, so as thoroughly to test all the apparatus. 
The dock is likely to be soon in practical work. We stated on Monday, that it would probably be sought to obtain her, and to put the Keera into her, for the purpose of lengthening that iron steamer 30ft — a work for which Messrs Kincaid, McQueen, and Co, of the Vulcan Foundry, have contracted. But, as we hear, that firm desired to have the dock brought up to Dunedin and grounded alongside the Stuart street jetty; and Messrs Murray and Co. (or the Floating Dock Company) did not feel themselves at liberty so to deal with the Alpha. But the Taiaroa, screw-steamer, which was built by Mr Murray, has been running on the coast more than two years, and has had no more inspection than Capt Tall has been able to give her, when she has been grounded in Catlin's River, or elsewhere. Her owners now desire that she shall be thoroughly overhauled, and she will probably be the first vessel put into the dock. Other work has been offered, or is likely to be offered before the dock is at liberty for it; so that the Company will start well. 
We have said that the launch yesterday was a very successful one. In fact, it would not be possible for a vessel to glide from land to water more readily, steadily, or prettily than did the Alpha. She was built near the jetty, and she covered the spot whence the dredge New Era was launched. There were ten ways, of long lengths of Oregon, averaging 18in. square, and placed with a fall of 1 in 12, and the travelling ways were substantial and well secured. Most of the blocks had been driven out, before the visitors began to arrive in the afternoon; and the driving out of the remaining ones, and the other preparations, were quickly effected, when the tide was high. The huge vessel was then hanging by a slight dog-shore at each end, helped by ropes lashed round the two sets of ways. Close to the vessel was Miss Fraser, who had consented to perform the christening; and with her were a party of ladies, and Capt. Fraser, the Deputy-Superintendent; Mr B. C. Haggitt, Provincial Solicitor; Messrs J. Hughes and H. McDermid, non-official members of the Executive; the Mayors of Port Chalmers and Dunedin (Messrs T. Tayler and T. Birch); Mr D. Hutcheson, M.P.C.; Mr D. Rolfe, and others. At a signal from Mr Murray, the dog-shores were knocked away; at another, the ropes were cut; and with "Success to the Alpha," from Miss Fraser, the usual smashing of a bottle of No. 2, plenty of cheering, and salutes from guns of the Naval Brigade and the gun of the Bruce steamer, the vessel was running rapidly down the ways. She was hauled alongside the jetty within 20 minutes of the launch. 
Afterwards, the Company entertained at luncheon, at Dodson's Provincial Hotel, about 40 of the guests and visitors. Capt. Fraser was in the chair, and near him were Messrs Haggit, Mansford, Rolfe, Hughes, Birch, and Thomson; Mr Tayler and Mr McDermid were the vice-chairmen; and amongst others present were Messrs Murray, Hutcheson, Bathgate, and Watson, and Messrs lnnes, Miller, Fernie, Hamilton, O'Donoghue, and Dodson, members of the Port Chalmers Town Council. 
After honor had been done to the loyal toast — "His Royal Highness, Prince Alfred," being especially received with enthusiasm, and a cry of, "He should have been here to-day" — 
Mr Hughes proposed "His Honor, the Superintendent." The Chairman, in responding, said he was sure that there was no man in Otago who had the welfare of the Port more at heart, or who had done and would do more for its advancement, than the Superintendent. — (Applause. ) A very short time ago, it was the fashion to scoff at the idea of a Graving Dock in Port Chalmers; and the scheme was really surrounded by so many difficulties, that only the energy of Mr Macandrew could have overcome them. A Floating Dock was now a fact; and he hoped that, ere long, a Graving Dock would be equally a fact. But to make docks really useful and successful, and so to secure all the advantages which the possession of them could be made to confer, he believed that it would be necessary to open a fair-way to shipping generally — (hear, hear) — and to do away with all harbor dues. — (Hear, hear.) When that had been done, there would be but one thing wanted to make Port Chalmers the most perfect harbor in New Zealand, as it naturally was one of the most beautiful harbors. — (Applause.) That one thing was, a railway from Dunedin, with a terminus here, where large ships could be readily discharged and loaded.—(Applause.) 
Mr Tayler proposed, "The Executive Council." He knew that the Executive had worked most energetically with the Superintendent, in promoting both the docks. 
Mr Haggitt acknowledged the toast. Port Chalmers, at any rate, had no reason to complain of neglect by the Executive Government. That there was now a Floating Dock was very much owing to the enterprise of the Company by which she bad been built — (hear, hear); but he was sure that the Company would not grudge the Executive the praise of having taken great interest in promoting the work. — (Hear, hear.) It was entirely owing to the exertions of the Superintendent and Executive that the Graving Dock had been begun. True, the Provincial Council passed the Ordinance constituting the Dock Trust; but he (Mr Haggitt) prepared that Ordinance, as a member of the then Government, at the request of Mr Macandrew, who was, at that time, not connected with the Government, but who represented Port Chalmers in the Council. The Trust was allowed to remain inactive a long while, through difficulties as to finances; but thanks to the exertions of the Superintentendent, aided by the Executive — but by the Provincial Treasurer mainly — a Graving Dock, it was to be hoped, would soon exist. — (Applause.) 
The Chairman said that Miss Macandrew was to have christened the Alpha; and that she had not done so, was entirely due to her suffering from a severe cold. 
"The Members of the Provincial Council," and "The Mayor and Corporation of Port Chalmers.'' were respectively responded to by Mr McDermid and Mr Tayler.
Mr McDermid said that he had often heard it predicted that Murray's Dock would never be got into the water, or that, if got in, it would never float. The perfect success of the day's proceedings was the answer to such predictions. — (Hear, hear.) He had never seen a more beautiful launch. As to the usefulness of the Dock, there could not be a well-founded doubt. The want of such a means of repairing vessels had been grievously felt; and he was glad to know that it was not likely to be long before there would be a vessel m the Dock. The name of Mr Murray was a guarantee that the Dock had been as well built, and would be as well managed, at she had been well launched. The Dock would be richly worth to the Province all she could cost it — which was L380 a-year for five years. He called for a bumper to "The health, of Mr Murray, and success to the Dock Company." 
Mr Murray, in responding, said that the Company would have the Dock completed very shortly ; and then they would want work for her. There had already been applications for the Dock, and he did not doubt that she would soon be in use. It was generally supposed that the risk undertaken by the Company would be a not very lucrative one; but, for himself, he had no doubt of the result. The Company had never anticipated 15 or 20 per cent; they would be perfectly satisfied with 10 per cent. on their outlay. In electioneering phrase, the Company meant to keep at the head of the poll, in respect to their business. —(Hear, hear.) If attention and cheapness of accommodation could make the Dock useful, why, then, useful she would assuredly be. — (Hear, hear.) There should be no ground for complaint as to charges or as to workmanship. He had been eight years in Port Chalmers; he knew what workmen there were in and about the Port; and, take them as they were, he had never seen better shipwrights, even in the old country. Merchants and shipowners, here and elsewhere, might accept the assurance, that they could get shipwrighting done as well and as cheaply in Port Chalmers, as they could get it in this hemisphere. — (Hear, hear.) Whalers had been invited to come here, free of all port charges; and the Floating Dock had room and to spare, for any whaler in these seas. — (Applause.) Several other toasts were proposed, before the Dunedin visitors left to go on. board the Peninsula, for the run home.  -Otago Witness, 8/8/1868.

PROVINCIAL COUNCIL  (excerpt)
Message No. 17, from His Honor the Superintendent, was brought down, and read by the Speaker. The Message referred to a proposition from Mr W. Murray as to the immediate construction of a floating dock, and recommended that, pending the erection or a graving dock, some provision should be made for the examination and repair of vessels of large tonnage. His Honor considered that the proposal by Mr Murray was one which involved little pecuniary outlay on the part of the Government, while it seemed to meet the requirements of the case, and he trusted that the attention of the Council would be given to it, with a view to providing what was, in other ports, receiving more active attention than in this Province.
Mr BURNS gave notice of a resolution, based upon the recommendation contained in the Message.  -Otago Daily Times, 295/1897.

SOCIAL AND DOMESTIC
Some steps are being taken towards the construction of a floating dock at Port Chalmers, as a temporary substitute for the stone graving dock. The Provincial Government guaranteed interest upon the cost of a dock 150 feet long, proposed by Mr Murray, builder, but a deputation has since waited upon the Superintendent, with the object of showing the inutility of constructing a dock so small, and it is hoped that arrangements will shortly be made by which the construction of a dock capable of accommodating the inter-colonial steamers and Home traders of moderate tonnage may be undertaken.   -Otago Daily Times, 20/6/1867.

The Dock Trust has bean awaiting the return of the Superintendent to learn what probability there is of money being raised for a graving dock at Port Chalmers. His Honor has informed the Trustees that their borrowing powers are good, and advises them "to make an effort to do the needful." Slang has long since, thanks especially to Mr J. C. Richmond, found its way into official talk, but this is the first official document in which I have found it so prominent. The Trustees have, however, another knotty point to solve. Granted that their power to borrow is good, and the willingness of others to lend assured, can the work be done for the sum prescribed by the Ordinance. This is highly doubtful, and most of the Trustees are anxious to obtain tenders before doing anything else, whilst others object that unless they are in a position positively to accept a tender no "bona fide" offers will be made. The floating dock, the construction of which was commenced at Port Chalmert some time ago, is at a standstill. I believe the Government has decided that if interest on the outlay is to be guaranteed, the size of this dock must be 240ft. x 60ft., instead of 176ft. x 40ft., as at present laid down, a change which will, I should fancy, involve more than a doubling of the cost.   -North Otago Times, 25/10/1867.

A few weeks ago, a boiler and machinery for a saw-mill were received at Port Chalmers from Invercargill by the schooner Danzig. Since then, the proprietors, Messrs Bauchop and Co., have had the whole fitted up and put in thorough working order in their timber-yard, George street. The mill was set in motion on Saturday, when a large number of the inhabitants were present, including those interested in ship-building, and the machinery, which drives two circular saws at the rate of 85 revolutions per minute, was found to work most satisfactorily. As an experiment, a log was placed on the saw bench, and was soon cut up into lumber, and afterwards reduced to scantling. The bench, at present, appears rather small for a. press of heavy work, but can be easily enlarged. The timber to be cut will be principally procured from the timber districts of Deborah and Hamilton Bays — Messrs Stumbles and Co. having contracted with the mill proprietors to supply them with logs from these localities as required. A large order for timber from Messrs Murray and Co., the proprietors and builders of the floating dock, has already been received by Messrs Bauchop and Co., who are to be congratulated upon their enterprise in adding to the industries of Port Chalmers one which cannot fail to prove a boon to the place, and which should prove a profitable investment.   -Otago Daily Times, 11/11/1867.

The work of building the floating dock at Port Chalmers is being vigorously proceeded with. All the keels are laid, and a large portion of the floors, as also a number of the side timbers, are fixed. The dock will, when completed, be the largest maritime structure built in the Colonies, her measurement being 3840 tons.   -Otago Daily Times, 13/11/1867.

SHIPPING
A number of hands were yesterday employed in caulking the floating dock. The oakum used is spun from the tow of New Zealand flax, procured from the establishment of Mr Mansford, at the Clutha.   -Otago Daily Times, 30/5/1868.

Arrangements are being made for the driving of the first pile of the coffer dam for the stone graving dock at Port Chalmers, which is expected to be driven on the day His Honor the Superintendent, and other members of the General Assembly, take their departure for Wellington, next week. Messrs Murray and Co., the proprietors of the new floating dock, have commenced preparing ways for her launch.    -Otago Daily Times, 11/7/1868.

THE FLOATING DOCK AT PORT CHALMERS.
The Port Chalmers floating dock — the first ever built in the colony — was launched on the 4th inst., in the presence of an immense concourse of spectators, who gave vent to their enthusiasm in lusty cheers, as the unwieldly mass of wood and iron rolled down the ways and into the water. She is likely, in no slight degree, to influence the future of Otago by attracting vessels which — especially whalers — would otherwise have had to have gone to other less convenient ports to refit and overhaul. The dock, which was christened the Alpha by Miss Fraser, daughter of the Deputy Superintendent, is thus described by the "Otago Daily Times:" — 
"The Alpha is larger than the dock first proposed. Instead of being 150 ft long, 40ft wide, and 15ft deep, she is l70 ft long, 42 ft wide, and 16ft deep. She has five keels, 12in by 12in in the middle — one composed of three logs, bolted together, and the others of two logs each. Upon the keels are floors, 12in by 12in, laid 3in apart; and her side timbers are l0in by llin, placed 18in apart. The knees are very massive; and there are five kelsons, again 12in by 12in, made like the keels. The planking of the bottom and halfway up the sides and ends is of 4in red pine, from Waikawa, and the upper planks are 3in thick, and were got in the neighborhood of Sawyers' Bay, Port Chalmers. The keels are made up of long lengths of Oregon timber, brought here by the Parisian; the floors and knees came from the bush in Sawyer's Bay or its neighborhood; and the planking was cut at Mr McDermid's mill, Sawyers' Bay. Altogether, 200,000 ft superficial of timber have been used; the deadweight of the dock is roughly estimated at over 500 tons; and her displacement exceeds 3200 tons. She is coated with zinc over the bottom, and to a height of three feet; the zinc having been specially imported from Britain. 
"The Alpha will be able to take in vessels up to a draft of 13ft. What is called her stern consists really of a huge flap, working on hinges, in a line with the upper edge of the zinc. This flap being let down, water will be allowed to flow into the dock, so as to sink her to the required depth, and the vessel to be dealt with will then be hauled in, and the flap will be raised. To get the water out of the dock, and so to allow her and the enclosed vessel to rise, there will be a 10-horse power (nominal) engine, on a small deck, fixed in the starboard angle of the so-called bow; and the engine will work a centrifugal pump guaranteed to eject 2500 gallons, or 10 tons, of water per minute; but the machinery will be capable of working up to 12 or 15 tons per minute. The pump is by Mr W. Wright, of Melbourne; and the ironwork generally has been supplied by Messrs Morgan and McGregor, blacksmiths, Port Chalmers. 
"The laying of the blocks was commenced on the 14th August last; but it was not until September that the laying of the first of the keels was begun. The work has thus been completed in about twelve months, despite some unavoidable delays for want of timber. The engine and pump will be fixed at once; and in ten days or a fortnight the Alpha Floating Dock will be ready for work. But before she is uscd, experiments will be made in sinking and raising her, so as thoroughly to test all the apparatus.
"The dock is likely to be soon in practical work. We stated on Monday, that it would probably be sought to retain her, and to put the Keera into her, for the purpose of lengthening that iron steamer 30ft. — a work for which Messrs Kincaid, McQueen, and Co. of the Vulcan Foundry, have contracted. But, as we hear, the firm desired to have the dock brought up to Dunedin, and grounded alongside the Stuart street jetty; and Messrs Murray and Co. (or the Floating Dock Company) did not feel themselves at liberty so to deal with the Alpha. But the Tiararoa screw-steamer, which was built by Mr Murray, has been running on the coast more than two years, and has had no more inspection than Capt. Tall has been able to give her, when she has been grounded in Catlin's River, or elsewhere. Her owners now desire that she shall be thoroughly overhauled, and she will probably be the first vessel put into the dock. Other work has been offered, or is likely to be offered before the dock is at liberty for it; so that the Company will start well." 
The proposal to build a Floating Dock was first made, in a practical form, by Mr W. Murray. He offered to the Government to construct a dock 150 feet long, 40 feet wide, and 15 feet deep, if the Government would give a guarantee of 8 per cent, for five years, on her cost, and would take her over at the end of that term, at cost price; any moneys received during the five years to be retained by the contractors, towards the amount of the cost. These conditions, were not accepted; but, after a while, it was suggested that an agreement might be come to, if the taking over by the Government at the end of the five years, could be at a then valuation of the dock. This was declined by Mr Murray, on behalf of the proposed contractors; and the scheme seemed to be, or was feared to have been, dropped. Not in fact, however; for Mr Murray offered to build a dock, and to take all the responsibility, if the Government would guarantee 10 per cent. for five years, on a sum not to exceed £3800. Those are the conditions under which the first Floating Dock in the Colony has been built and launched.  -West Coast Times, 10/8/1868.


SHIPPING
It is pleasing to think that the proprietors of the new Floating Dock are likely to be rewarded for their venture so far as employment for the Dock is concerned. Lately, no sooner one vessel is out than another requires to go in; and at present, if the Dock was double the size, there would be ample employment for her, and hence more work for carpenters and others. The Collingwood, which is now undergoing repairs in the Dock, consequent on injuries received by driving ashore at the Heads, will probably be followed by the ship Hydra, which struck off Cape Saunders, and is now being rapidly  discharged of her coal cargo. Again, the ship' Maria, which has arrived at the Bluff from Maldon Island, after having met with a casualty in the South Seas, will no doubt come on here and avail herself of the dock's services. The steamer Taiaroa will also be shortly taken in for an overhaul.  -Otago Daily Times, 22/9/1868.

IMPORTANT NOTICE TO SHIP OWNERS, SHIPMASTERS, AND SHIPPING AGENTS. 
THE large and commodious FLOATING DOCK 
lately built and launched at Port Chalmers, Otago, is now ready to receive both steamers and sailing ships for repairs, &c. The Dock Company have successfully docked a large ship of over 400 tons with the greatest ease, and are prepared to undertake much larger repairs with every despatch, and give every satisfaction that the work will be done speedily and well
Apply to FLOATING DOCK COMPANY, Port Chalmers, Otago.   -Wellington Independent, 24/9/1868.

SHIPPING
The floating dock has been fully employed. During the month the barque Collingwood, which suffered injuries by getting ashore on the sandspit at the Heads, has been undocked; and the ship Hydra, 585 tons register, which struck on an unknown rock off Cape Saunders, has been taken in and is being stripped, caulked, and fastened where required, and re-coppered. She will also have a new false keel and a portion of sternpost, which had been found defective removed.  -Otago Daily Times, 5/11/1868.

SHIPPING
The hulk California was towed from her berth yesterday by the Geelong, and taken into the floating dock for repairs. On examination of the California's bottom, after the dock was pumped out, it was found that her forefoot was completely gone, the fore part of the keel, and portion of her garboard streak. The patches thereon showed what the divers had done some time ago under water. The holes were well covered with lead, oakum, and tallow, which rude means has kept her afloat, with heavy cargoes of coal. The starboard bilge showed signs of hard thumping in two or three places, as the copper was rubbed off and the planks indented and chafed. Her false keel had more or less of the copper rubbed off, and amidships a portion of it was entirely gone. Saving what is mentioned, her bottom, which is heematak, appeared as fresh as the day it was put in. Her copper, which is pure metal, had no signs of straining, plainly showing that she must have been a well-built vessel, or else she would not have stood the thumping on Shag Reef some years ago prior to her being made a hulk. As other portions of her hull are good, a comparatively small expenditure would make her seaworthy again.  -Otago Daily Times, 24/11/1868.


The New Zealand Company's steamer Wellington, having completed her overhaul and painting, will be taken out of the Floating Dock to-day (weather permitting). The brig Emma is the next vessel to be docked, and the steamer Phoebe will probably follow.   -Otago Daily Times, 28/12/1868.


Image result for port chalmers floating dock
"American brig "Emma" in Floating Dock Alpha" - National Library photo.
The tug Geelong towed to the Heads the brig Emma, bound to Macao, with Chinese passengers, during the afternoon.   -Otago Daily Times, 14/1/1869.

SHIPPING INTELLIGENCE
We hear that, after her next trip, the steamer Wanganui is also to go to Dunedin, to undergo an overhaul and repairs. It is apparent that the new floating dock at Port Chalmers, and the presence of good iron foundries, are securing for Port Chalmers and Dunedin an amount of trade and employment connected with shipping which will soon give them a pre-eminence among New Zealand ports.   -Colonist, 19/1/1869.

FLOATING DOCK.
(To the Editor of the Otago Daily Times.) Sir—lt appears from a paragraph in your issue of to-day, that Captain Thomson, of the barque Prospector, was much chagrined, and makes great complaints against the Floating Dock Company, because his ship was not taken into dock yesterday. 
Now, Sir, in justice to ourselves, we beg to state the following facts which bear upon the case, and which will, we think, satisfy the public, and even Captain Thomson of the Prospector, that those complaints are altogether baseless, at least as far as they effect us :— 
Some time ago, the barque in question put into this port leaky; but not till eight p.m. on Thursday, the 18th, did Captain Thomson make application for dock accommodation for his ship, then requesting to be docked on the following evening; but, as the agents for the s.s. Wanganui had engaged for that steamer to be docked on the 20th, we could not comply with Captain Thomson's request. He urges a prior claim on the ground of his ship being leaky. That claim we cannot acknowledge. Had his ship been in distress, there might have been some reasonable force in the plea, but we would remind Captain Thomson that there is a difference between a ship in distress and a ship leaky. That the former term does not apply to the Prospector in the present case, may be inferred from the fact that she was some ten days in port before the master decided on putting her into dock. 
In reply to his remarks about rules for the working of the dock, we have to inform him that there are rules drawn out, and appointed and sanctioned by the Provincial Government, which rules he might have seen at any time had he applied for them. By inserting the above you will much oblige yours, etc, William Murray & Co. Port Chalmers, February 20.  -Otago Daily Times, 22/2/1869.

FLOATING DOCK.
To The Editor of the Otago Daily Times.
Sir— I wish to correct a few remarks of Messrs Murray and Co., of the Floating Dock, which appeared in your yesterday's issue. In the first place, on my arrival in this port from Newcastle, I asked Mr Murray, if there were any vessels engaged for the Floating Dock. He said there were none; I then told him that the Prospector would go into the Dock if I could not find the leak after I had lightened her. Mr Murray's answer was, "I will be most happy to take the Prospector into the Dock, as there is no other vessel before her." I ask Mr Murray if he would have taken the Prospector in with a full cargo of coal. In the third place, I ask him if a vessel making six feet of water in twenty-four hours in fine weather, is not a vessel in distress in the open ocean. It would be a very poor recommendation for the Port of Otago if a vessel was in distress, after she had been towed in and anchored in safety, not to have the accommodation of the Dock when ready. I came into this port for help, and applied for it before the s.s. Wanganui was within hundreds of miles of this port. Whatever rules Mr Murray has for working the Dock I cannot say, but this I know, that I went to Captain Thomson, Harbour Master, and asked if there were any rules for working the Floating Dock. He told me he did not know of any, but the rules for the charges, which had been sanctioned by the Government; but to be certain, the Harbour Master and myself went off to the Dock, and saw Mr Murray, who told us that there were none, only the rules for the charges. Mr Murray need not say the rules were never asked for. Whatever Mr Murray's rules may be for working the Dock, I may say that there is very little encouragement in this case to any one coming here in distress. It is understood all over Great Britain that a vessel putting into a port in a leaky state, a vessel off the "Strand," claims the Dock or Patent Slip as soon as she is ready to go in, and does not lie waiting her turn for a vessel that had not yet entered the Port for the purpose of scraping and painting.—I am, &c,
Alexander Thomson, Master of barque Prospector.  -Otago Daily Times, 23/2/1869.

FLOATING DOCK.
To The Editor of the Otago Daily Times. Sir In a letter purporting to be from the pen of Captain Thomson of the barque Prospector, which appeared in your issue of today, there are some vague remarks concerning the treatment he had received at the hands of the Floating Dock Company. As our former letter was quite sufficient to satisfy any reasonable person, we would have deemed further communication from us unnecessary, but as some of his statements are false, they demand a reply. For instance, Captain Thomson asserts that he and the Harbour Master came off to the Dock with a view to procure the rules, and that Mr Murray told them that there were none — only the rules for the charges. Now, Sir, that statement is simply untrue; neither he nor the Harbour Master asked for the rules. To this truth the latter gentleman bears testimony. Should the above not prove sufficient for Captain Thomson, we suggest that it might be to his interest to see the floating Dock Company or their representative personally, as we must decline further controversy through the medium of the press. —We are, &c William Murray and Co. Port Chalmers, Feb, 23rd.  -Otago Daily Times, 24/2/1869.

FLOATING DOCK
To the Editor of the Otago Daily Times.
Sir— It was not until a late hour last night that I saw Mr Murray, and I asked him again for the rules of the »Dock, when he distinctly told me at last that there were no printed rules, but that he had some written ones. I asked him for a copy of them, which he blankly refused to give, but told me I could walk to the house and write a copy for myself, which I declined to do. I likewise saw Captain Thomson, Harbour Master, and he told me he quite disapproved of the treatment I have received from the Dock Company, and that he could not bear testimony that the rules were not asked for. 
Alexander Thomson, Master, barque Prospector.  -Otago Daily Times, 26/2/1869.

SHIPPING
The s.s. Wanganui, having completed her overhaul, will be taken out of the Floating Dock this morning's tide, and the barque Prospector will be taken in immediately afterwards.   -Otago Daily Times, 1/3/1869.

SHIPPING
A survey having been held on the barque Prospector, now in the Floating Dock, it has been determined to strip, caulk, and recopper her. An advertisement for the work appears in another column.    -Otago Daily Times, 4/3/1869.

The barque Prospector, which lately put into this port leaky, from Newcastle, bound to Valparaiso, has been thoroughly overhauled, stripped, caulked, and re-coppered in the Floating Dock. She will be undocked to-day, and after receiving a few more tons of ballast, will sail for Valparaiso, with passengers.   -Otago Daily Times, 12/3/1869.

BY ELECTRIC TELEGRAPH.
(from our own correspondents.)
Port Chalmers, Saturday.
The Maori boats crews arrived from Waikouaiti this morning, and chartered the Geelong to proceed hence to tow up a whale which they had captured to port. They report it to be a cow whale, and its length is estimated to be seventy feet. Geelong is expected to arrive this evening, and the whale will be exhibited in the floating dock.  -Evening Star, 26/6/1869.

SHIPPING
EXCURSION TRIPS. 
TO-MORROW, TUESDAY, JUNE 29. 
The golden age will take visitors to Port Chalmers to view the Whale, as it now lies in the Floating Dock, leaving Dunedin at 11 a.m, and 2 p.m. 
Return Tickets, including admission to the Dock, 3s 6d. each. Offices —Harbor Chambers.   -Evening Star, 28/6/1869.

SHIPPING
The vessel lately built by Messrs Murray and Co., of Port Chalmers, was successfully launched this morning at 10 a.m. from off their stocks, close to the Floating Dock. The ceremony of christening was performed by Mrs Falconer. At the given signal, the wedges, etc., were knocked away, when she glided gracefully into the water, her name being called Mary. Immediately after she was launched, she was shifted alongside the Floating Dock, it being the intention of the owners to put her in dock for the purpose of having her coppered and finished ready for sea. The Mary is, we can safely say, the prettiest vessel that has been launched at Port Chalmers, and reflects great credit on her builders. She is to be rigged as a fore-and-after, and placed on the coasting trade.   -Evening Star, 5/2/1873.

SHIPPING
GROUNDING OF THE S.S. SHAG.
The s.s. Shag arrived at Port Chalmers at 6.30 p.m. on Saturday, passed up the harbour to Dunedin, and reached the Rattray street Wharf at 9 a.m., at once hauling into the Floating Dock, in order to ascertain the amount of damage she had sustained by striking the rocks at the entrance of Shag Point. As far as can be ascertained at present, nine plates on the port side and seven plates on the starboard are all more or less damaged, while one blade has been stripped off the propeller. Indeed, it is a great wonder, considering the dangerous entrance there is to Shag Point, that she escaped at all, and that she did so is due to the skill and determination of Captain Wing,  who left nothing undone in order to save his smart little vessel. He reports loading a full cargo of coal at Shag Point, and starting on the return trip to Dunedin at 9 a.m. on the 4th inst. At that time a heavy S.W. gale was blowing, and there was a very high sea. Shortly afterwards she was felt to strike something with her propeller. Her way was consequently deadened, and she struck upon a reef of rocks. Procuring assistance, Captain Wing got a line from the shore and hove the vessel off, but as both wind and sea increased the line parted, and as the sea was too high to get another line on board she drifted on to a reef again and bumped heavily. As soon as the tide fell Captain Wing procured assistance from the shore, and after three hours' hard work her cargo was put out, and two heavy lines were run out, a good purchase was got on to the winch, and with the men both pumping and baling, she was eventually got on to a small landing-place, where she was pumped dry. At 5 pm. on the same day, the wind and sea having moderated, Captain Wing, with the assistance of warps and steam, got the vessel clear of the Point, and by aid of constant baling and pumping, was enabled to pursue the passage; but owing to the disabled condition of the vessel she was only able to make Otago Heads at 1 a.m. on Saturday, passing through at 1.30 a.m., and, being unable to stem the tide, she was put on the bank below the lightship until slack water, when she proceeded up to Dunedin.  -Otago Witness, 12/2/1881.

The floating dock, which for some time past has been lying at the end of the Rattray street Wharf, has been removed by the Harbour Board to the jetty at the end of Stuart street, where it now lies idle. This is to be regretted, as several vessels at present at the wharves require docking, and will in all probability have to go elsewhere to complete their repairs. The engine has undergone a thorough overhaul, and as the other repairs are nearly completed, it is to be hoped the Harbour Board will have the dock at once placed in position for ordinary work.   -Otago Daily Times, 9/11/1891.

BLUFF HARBOUR BOARD
In connection with that matter, correspondence was read relative to the sale to the Board of a floating dock at Port Chalmers for L350, with engine, anchors, pumps, etc.— Mr Mitchell said that if they got a dock they would not need a slip. He thought the matter was worthy of consideration.— The Chairman said that there was a difficulty about getting a good site for the slipway, The Engineer believed that the best position would be near the baths, but even that was not a first-class place, He moved that the correspondence in reference to the slipway and dock be referred back to the committee for further consideration. If they decided in favour of the dock it would do away with the difficulty about a site.— Mr Waddel did not like the idea of a dock, especially one so old as that under discussion. — Captain Stevens took the same view, and thought a site for a slipway might be secured. They had miles of foreshore —The Chairman said they could get a site if they spent money in its purchase.— Mr Kemp said there was no difficulty about the site before the dock question came up. The dock would never bring in enough to keep her painted. It was a great piece of foolishness to buy a thing that was nearly as old as Noah's Ark.— Mr Mitchell suggested that the motion should be altered to read — that the offer of the dock be referred to the Harbour and Works Committee with power to inspect, and if approved of, to purchase the same— Mr Kemp: The power of purchasing or not should be left in the hands of the Board. —Mr Mitchell agreeing, the motion was altered to read that the Committee inspect the dock and report to the Board.   -Southland Times, 10/8/1887.

The Dunedin Floating Dock, having been sold by Mr Robertson to a Port Chalmers firm, will shortly be towed down the harbour to take up her new moorings.   -Otago Daily Times, 21/4/1888.

AUCTIONS
FLOATING DOCK, WITH PLANT AND GEAR, FOR SALE. 
By Order of the Mortgagee. 
THE PERPETUAL TRUSTEES, ESTATE, AND AGENCY COMPANY OF NEW ZEALAND, LIMITED, 
have received instructions from the Mortgagee to offer for absolute sale by public auction, at their Rooms, corner of Vogel street and Rattray street, Dunedin, as aforesaid, 
The Floating Dock, formerly known as Murray's Floating Dock, as she now lies on the beach at Carey's Point, Port Chalmers, with the Engine, Pumps, Plant, and Gear belonging to and used in connection therewith. 
For further particulars, apply to THE AUCTIONEERS. MONDAY, 19th AUGUST.   -Evening Star, 13/8/1889.
The Signal Station at Careys Bay.  The "Alpha" is the dark shape protruding to its left.  Hocken Library photo.
HARBOR BOARD REPORTS
The following reports will be presented to the ordinary meeting of the Harbor Board to be held to-morrow:
WORKS COMMITTEE. The Works Committee report with regard to Mr Platts’s letter re petition for removal of floating dock and old lighters at Mansard Bay that they have been informed that the dock has been sold and will be broken up.   -Evening Star, 7/5/1890.

Better So. — The floating dock that the Bluff Harbour Board came near purchasing about three years ago has been voted an encumbrance at Port Chalmers and is to be broken up.  -Southland Times, 10/5/1890.

HARBOUR BOARD
OBSTRUCTIONS AT MANSFORD BAY. The board's solicitors (Stout, Moody, and Sim) wrote advising that if neither the owner nor his agent could be found, the board were entitled to proceed with the removal of the old floating dock and hulks at Mansford Bay. It would be better, however, to give notice, and if within the time fixed by the notice no steps were taken by the respective owners, the board might proceed to sell under sub-sections 2 and 3 of section 105 of the act pt 1678.—The secretary intimated that he had taken steps accordingly.  -odt, 16/1/1892.

HARBOUR BOARD
Mr William Isbister wrote stating that he was waiting for tide and money before he removed the old dock from its position at Carey's Bay.—(Laughter.)— Sir Joel said this matter had been standing over long enough, and the board should now take steps to have the dock removed. —After a discussion, the matter was referred to the harbourmaster, to act under the advice of the board's solicitors.   -Otago Daily Times, 9/9/1892.

HARBOUR BOARD
—The solicitor's letter enclosing form of notice to be served on Mr Isbister to remove the floating dock and lighter Annie Bowling had been approved.—  -Evening Star, 29/9/1892.

DOCKS AND SHIPS
As a ship and boat builder, Mr William Isbister built in 1863 the first wooden sternwheel steamer to run on the Clutha River. He also built the first bucket dredge (of wood) to operate in the upper Otago Harbour, and in the early ’sixties hove down the first ship for repairs, in Carey’s Bay, before there was any dock in Otago. It was about 1868 that the first floating dock in Otago Harbour was launched. It was a wooden structure built art Port Chalmers by W. Murray, D. Law, W. Menelaus, and D. G. Stephens, and until the graving dock was opened about the year 1872 the owners received a Government subsidy of £400 a year. This dock was first moored in Carey’s Bay, and afterwards removed to Dunedin, but as coastal and harbour vessels increased in size the utility of the dock decreased, and Mr William Isbister purchased it at a low figure, returning it to its original moorings at Carey’s Bay. The speculation proved unprofitable, however, and he beached the dock, finally removing it to a site adjacent to the second slip he was then operating, to serve as a breakwater and for dismantling. The remains of this pioneer dock are still visible at its last resting place.   -Evening Star, 5/10/1942.
The Alpha at its final resting place, beside Isbister's Patent Slip.

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