The WILD DEER was launched from the Clyde yard of Charles Connell in December of 1863. Graced by a figurehead of the goddess "Diana", she was the first of Charles Connell's composite ships, having a teak bottom, elm planking above the turn of the bilge and iron topsides fastened with yellow metal screw bolts and treenails.
She left the stocks under the command of Captain George Cobb, a well-known racing skipper in the China Tea trade and previously commander of Robin Hood. On her maiden voyage she lost her foremast in the North Atlantic and had to put into Lisbon to refit.
WILD DEER sailed very well in both heavy and moderate seas and made some very good times between Shanghai and London. In 1867 she made a run of 68 days from Anjer in Indonesia to London and in 1868 she beat PETER DENNY and DOUGLAS CASTLE back to Gravesend, making port in 120 days.
In her early years as a tea clipper the WILD DEER carried 10 small guns on gun carriages mounted on her decks. During her voyages to New Zealand these guns were struck down and stowed in the forepeak. The racks over the saloon table, however, still carried 24 muskets with bayonets, cutlasses and pistols.
In 1866, WILD DEER was sold to the Albion Shipping Company (formerly Patrick Henderson & Company) and in 1871 was applied to the New Zealand immigrant trade on which she was to spend the rest of her days. She was popular in this activity and was well known in Port Chalmers as a clean ship aboard which her passengers received a healthy and comfortable passage.
On December 6th 1873 (10 years after her first taste of water) WILD DEER set sail for New Zealand with 240 immigrants bound for Port Chalmers, Otago. Included as guaranteed passengers were Isabella Munro (widow of James Munro) and five of her six daughters. WILD DEER She initially made slow progress, working down the Forth of Clyde against strong WSW winds but finally cleared land on December 18th, dropping the pilot of Scilly.
Proceeding south & west across the Atlantic, she made her way south towards the Cape of Good Hope, crossing the equator on January 10th 1874. During this part of her journey she was "jammed" against the coast of South America in the vicinity of Brazil by the south-east trade winds. This caused some difficulty in navigating around coastal islands and required a constant and vigilant lookout to be kept. On February 4th, WILD DEER passed the meridian of the Cape of Good Hope and turned to commence running her eastings down. It was on this day that a large iceberg was sighted.
Steady moderate winds carried WILD DEER eastward across the Indian Ocean towards Cape Leuwin, Tasmania and her final destination. She passed the Snares below Stewart Island and bore north to make her first sighting of land on March 4th at Cape Saunders on the South East side of the Otago Peninsula. Entering Otago heads on March 5th she reached Port Chalmers under tow of the Geelong on March 9th making a total time for the journey of 84 days.
After January 1882 WILD DEER was given to Captain Kerr and it is here that I quote Basil Lubbock from his book "The Colonial Clippers"........
"He was a very steady man, but no sailor. On 12 January, 1883, when outward bound with emmigrants, he piled the poor old 'Wild Deer' up on North Rock, Cloughy, County Down, and she became a total loss".
Copyright: Denise & Peter 1999 - 2005
Denise & Peter
Wellington, New Zealand
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