CHAMPION OF THE SEAS
Ken F STEWART
The following comes from my unpublished booklet. It wont have the sources, but if you want them let me know on firstname.lastname@example.org
On the 11th October 1854 John Reynolds, a farmer and his wife, Mary, together with Edmund, aged 20, William, aged 10, and Henry A, an adult, sailed from Liverpool to Melbourne on the "Champion of the Seas", paying 30 pounds for the passage.
The "Champion of the Seas" was an American Clipper Ship of massive dimensions. With her 2722 tons she was the biggest vessel to enter Melbourne at that time, and would still be the largest sailing ship ever to enter Port Melbourne. Steam was beginning to replace sail around this year of 1854. The passenger list totalled 780 souls, with 45 in Cabins, and 735 in Intermediate and Steerage.
And she was fast. The "Champion of the Seas" holds the record for the fastest sailing run from England to Australia of 72 days for that voyage, in spite of being damaged early, and during the trip clocked the most distance under sail in a single day, noon to noon from 11th to 12th December, of 465 miles (744 km).
"Under Captain A. Newlands the ship sailed from Liverpool at 5pm on the 11th, in the Bay of Biscay, on the night of the 17th she met with a severe gale of wind, blowing away both jibs, and doing her other damage, during which one of the sailors fell from the mizzen top-sail yard and was not seen to rise again."
She sailed Southwards through calms and baffling winds along the West Africa coast, and rounded the Cape of Good Hope on the 46th day. From here Captain Newlands showed how keen he was to claim the record. He chose to sail South Easterly, and along the very windy but dangerous Great Circle Route through the storm and iceberg riddled Southern Ocean. The further Southwards that he chose, the shorter the voyage, but the more dangerous it would be as the path neared the Southern ice packs with their mists and fog shrouded, massive, floating icebergs.
They arrived off Melbourne on Christmas Eve, 24th December 1854, with all passengers praising the Ship and its captain: "without question the noblest that has anchored in Hobsons Bay. Her model is faultless and the fittings for the accommodation of passengers more elegant, convenient, lofty and airy than those of any other in the Australian line. Of her sailing qualities there can be no question ... her average run during the passage was 199 miles (318 km) during the day. Captain Newlands who has the honour of commanding this exquisite specimen of floating architecture ... we find some 800 passengers from the various classes voluntarily presenting a complimentary testimonial to this gentleman ... sincere thanks to him for his kindness, and a hearty congratulations on the successful termination of the voyage."
The trip unfortunately finished on a sour note as the vessel was quarantined for a week due to smallpox, so the passengers waited aboard ship until eventually disembarking on 30th December 1854. What an anticlimax for the passengers on the biggest and fastest ship.
email: phone: Australia (08) 9344 3859
REF: email to DPS-CHAT by Ken F. STEWARTkjstew@networx.net.au on 22 September 1998