The Eye of the Fish

September 21, 2013

Small ships

Small ships going nowhere on the mantle piece.

While the big black boat in San Francisco is having a hard time of it across the ocean, I’m starting to get a little fed up with it all, and so life must go on. But continuing the boating theme, how does this (soon to be) historic boat fit in with New Zealand’s proud maritime history? I thought I would have a look at the model boats on display in the Auckland Maritime Museum, starting off with Abel Tasman’s boat, the Zeehaen. Tasman sailed from Batavia on 14 August 1642 with 110 men on two ships, the Heemskerck and the Zeehaen. Abel Tasman, whilst discovering Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) and Nieuw Zeelande for the Dutch, approached Aotearoa from the west and on 13 December 1642 the Dutch sighted ‘a large land, uplifted high’ – probably the Southern Alps.

The Museum, which now goes by a funky name that I can’t remember (something like Explore or Endeavour actually, it’s Voyager), has a lovely display of these model ships, no doubt painstakingly crafted by pedantic old men in back sheds over a number of years – but for me, they’re slightly spoiled by being all at different scales, some with scales noted, some not. I think these first few boats wereresented all either 1:50 or 1:60 and so I’ve tried to keep the photos about the same size, so that you get an approximate comparison between the ships. It’s hard to compare a full size model with a minute scale model.

Cook of course made his first voyage in HM Bark Endeavour between 1768-71, and rediscovered New Zealand on Saturday 14th October 1769. These ships are part of the origin story of New Zealand. They didn’t have a scale model of Kupe’s ship, but they did have a full size model or two or three of the pacific waka. Cook noted, when sailing past the east coast on his way down the Wairarapa, that:

“The face of the Country is not nearly so well Cloathed with wood as it is about Hawkes Bay, but for the most part looks like our high Downs in England, and to all appearance well inhabited, for we saw several Villages as we run along shore, not only in the Vallies, but on the Tops and sides of the Hills, and Smokes in other places.”

Anyway, here is Cook’s Endeavour.

The expedition that Dumont d’Urville led in 1826 is considered to be the last important voyage in the story of the European discovery of New Zealand. Jules Sébastien César Dumont d’Urville, on the French vessel Astrolabe, arrived on Feb 3 1827. If the French had been more persistent, perhaps all of NZ (not just Akaroa) would be speaking French. I wonder, if he had hung around more and the French had ruled, what Nouvelle Zeelande would have been like? Would we be more adventurous, more amorous, more talkative, more gesticulative, more betterer cooks?

Who knows?!? Anyway, here is the Astrolabe:

Lastly, here is another model, of a ship called the Parahaki, of which scale is a little less clear. Obviously a tug, and presumably a tug from the past in Auckland, I have a feeling that it is only a little less long than the ships above. Basically, this tug manned by probably only 3-4 men, is almost the same size as the ships that discovered New Zealand, which held over a 100. And, I have a sneaking suspicion that our latest Emirates cat is much the same size – in length at least. I need to do some research, but I think that the mast of the Emirates boat is far higher than those old timers. Am I right?
Correction: Endeavour and the Astrolabe were very similar dimensions – Endeavour was 32m long and Astrolabe just a smidgen shorter, while the AC72 class are 22m long ie approx 2/3 as long. Emirates boat is far wider though, at 14m wide, while Endeavour was only 9m wide and Wikipedia tells me that the Astrolabe was 18.5m wide (which seems unlikely).
A weight comparison is harder – while we know Emirates is under 6 tonnes, it seems that we’re not entirely sure what the old boats weighted – Endeavour displaced about 368 bm, and Astrolabe displaced about 380 tonnes. Mast height is another slightly murky subject – Endeavour is recorded of having a 25m high mast, compared to Emirates mast of 40m; however we are also told that Endeavour had 2777m2 of sail up, whereas Emirates has only 260m2. So, a mast almost twice as high on Emirates, but ten times more sail up on those smaller Endeavour masts ? I suspect that someone has got some numbers wrong somewhere. The crucial bit, of course, is the top speed – Endeavour could do about 8-9 knots on a good day, while we all know that Team New Zealand can do about 5 times that. There will be some horribly complicated calculation somewhere, taking into account length, breadth, weight, sail area, wind speed and tidal flow, necessary for naval architects to learn. Regardless, one thing is for certain: Cook could never have got Endeavour up on the hydrofoils…

The museum does of course also have a selection of more recent boats, including a great collection of recent America’s Cup contenders and winners. I have a feeling that the latest boat, Aotearoa’s Emirate Team New Zealand, is destined to be found here one day. One more day till we find out a winner….

Seamonkey Madness
22 - 09 - 13

By the by, have you read Geoff Cush’s book Son of France?
Didn’t delve nearly deep enough into the Frenchie side of things for my liking, and a bit odd in the end.

22 - 09 - 13

SeaMonkey – beaten by a Cush(ion)! No, i haven’t read the book – sounds like I should! Amazon says:
“With a hint of philosophy, a dash of insanity, and a woman who could make Gauguin’s mouth water, this novel takes the usual ingredients of history and tosses them into the air. Welcome to the beautiful French colony of New Zealand! OK, so it never happened. But it nearly did . . . Welcome to beautiful French New Zealand – a paradise of vineyards, cafes and forest conservation. The year is 1930. Lieutenant Verdier is travelling from Sainte Chapelle in the south to New Lyon in the north to take up a new posting as chauffeur to the Resident Governor. The sun is shining, the war in Morocco is just a distant memory, and although he has doubts about his new employer, at least Verdier can look forward to driving the latest Citroen. The only problem is Wellington, where a few disgruntled English still remain, grumbling that the colony should have been theirs, and charging everyone a fortune for insurance. As soon as Verdier can, he escapes to the glorious scenery and welcoming people of the National Park. Then someone steals his car.”

22 - 09 - 13

“I wonder, if he had hung around more and the French had ruled, what Nouvelle Zeelande would have been like? Would we be more adventurous, more amorous, more talkative, more gesticulative, more betterer cooks?”

We would have had a lot more parallels with Canada.

There was also the stage production of “Le Sud” at the late lamented Downstage Theatre. Not sure if it was based on Son of France.

22 - 09 - 13

We’d be driving a lot more Citroens.

22 - 09 - 13

Somehow, Starkive, I imagine you in one already…
An old DS might be your style?

Although curiously, a web search comes up with this one:
and a bicycle brand…

60 MPa
23 - 09 - 13

And nuclear testing in Waiouru?
No thanks

Keep in mind the fact that these are the same fuckers that are the only terrorists that have struck on NZ soil.

French culture? yes please
French government? tell ya story walking, pal..

23 - 09 - 13

Aaah yes, the old French letter to Polynesia. Thank heavens those days are over – the insistence of the French that they were a super-power, and had to “test” their nuclear weapons in our front yard – and the unbelievable arrogance of sending a secret squad to NZ to destroy the Greenpeace boat.

24 - 09 - 13

The Citroen DS was one of the stars of the remarkable 1974 French movie “Les Valseuses” at the filmsociety on Monday night. Plus Gerard Depardieu, remarkably young and slim in those days.

28 - 09 - 13

Last time I was in Wellington, I was disappointed their Maritime Museum no longer existed. The replacement (new version of the museum) didn’t have the model of the Aratika (what I wanted to see) and was McDonaldsy.

29 - 09 - 13

Well, each to their own Pug, but I’d say that the Wellington Museum of City and Sea hasn’t been awarded the Best Small Museum award (or whatever it was) for nothing. McDonaldsy is an unusual term, and I presume that you mean it is catering for kids and has over-simplified things? We’ve actually got a whole museum dedicated solely to kids, just a bit round the harbour for that…. But I really like the WMoCaS, in that it’s setting is authentic, the holographic rat / cat in the store rooms is fab, and the lighting and quality of displayed objects in the main collection is really good. I’ve got to say – it is much better than the one in Auckland, in terms of the older exhibits – but lacks the modern boats and Americas Cup stuff that Auckland does so well.