Timaru Herald Wednesday 10th Nov. 1875 page 3
If it is difficult to find appropriate names for towns or districts, without repeating those already in use, it must be far more so to find suitable names for ships, the number of which is increasing daily in an enormous ratio. The practice which has lately grown up of christening vessels trading with certain countries after ports in those countries is very inconvenient. Thus we have steamers in New Zealand called the Wellington, the Taranaki, the Nelson, the Lyttelton, the Wanganui, and so forth; names which have caused endless confusion - especially in telegrams - by being mistaken for the names of the places between which steamers ply. Native names are better, such as Tararua, Waikato, Rangitoto, Hawea, Tawera, or Rangitikei; but, though familiar to us, they are troublesome to strangers, who make the most fearful mess of both their pronunciation and orthography. We heard of a case of this the other day where advice was received by a family of their friends sailing in the "Oriana," when in reality the "Orari" was the ship referred to. Native names have another disadvantage too. To those who do not understand their literal meaning, they convey no idea beyond the name of a river a mountain or a lake; but in reality many of them express ideas of the most offensive nature.
Ship names were repeated often, with replacement ships taking the same name as on older retired ship in the same shipping line. Most figureheads on vessels reflected the names of the vessels they adorned. The figurehead of the Surat, a head of a woman, is at the Otago Settlers Museum. Ship carvers also practiced their skill on name boards, bows, binnacles, billet heads and transoms (beam across stern-post of ship).
Ships were named after ship builders, ship captains, countries, provinces, towns, ship owners, named after a previous ship belonging to that shipping line, battles, for their beauty, many had whimsical names etc. Some shipping lines had patterns e.g. City of ..., Loch ..., Queen of ..., Star of ...,. White Star line named its later vessels ending in ...ic.
Sister ships refers to ships of the same size and design - basically
built from an identical set of plans. There were usually slight differences, but
they were virtually identical. However, they could be built by different
builders and could be owned by different companies. A newspaper quote "The Otaki is a sister ship in every respect to the
Orari, so recently described in these columns, therefore it is not necessary to
give a detailed description of her."
Otago Witness Nov. 17 1898 pg 11
The barque Ben Nevis, an old trader here, has been sold to Glasgow owners for �2550 to go under the Norwegian flag. She was built in 1868 by Messrs Barclay, Curle, and CO., of Glasgow.
Sydney Shipping Gazette Volume 1, Number 13 (15 June, 1844) Fifty favourite names of British merchantmen, which ought to be considered as fairly used up. The figures show the number of vessels bearing each name, from Marryat's signal book: -
Prince Albert 8
Every now and then we find in the papers, "Wreck of the "Sarah", "Venus, or "Diana," or some such name. Now, as there happens to be so many of one name, how can it be known at once which vessel is the unfortunate one? Not being known at once, it is easily conceivable how many shipowners lie down to rest on thorns- how many wives and mothers are kept in suspense relative to their husbands and sons on board - and how, in short, some hundreds of persons are regularly 'be-devilled" in doubt.
"Sacramento's the land for me - Doodah,
Sacramento's the land for me - Doodah, Doodah Day!
Blow, blow, blow,
for Californy, O;
There's plenty of gold in the land I'm told
On the banks of the Sacramento"
There's where the boys are gay and free!
There's where the boys are gay and free! "
......with his pockets full of tin
This brisk sea chanty was usually sung when pumping the bilges daily.