|The Jane Gifford: Memories: Memoirs Of A Scowman
Memoirs Of A Scowman
There are few books around about life on the early scows. The hardy scowmen were not given to literary expression, and most of their stories died with them. However, one first-hand account was tape-recorded and transcribed by Dean Chandler (who used to write for the Auckland Star). The scowman was one Tudor Collins (1896-1969), described by Chandler a "a man who worked among giants in the kauri forests - as a lad with skippers of well known coastal vessels - as an official photographer of visits by notables - as a farmer on Takatu - as a business man, ahead of most in the early days of radio - running a petrol station and supplying light and power to residents and businesses in Warkworth. Tudor Collins was a man of great enterprise, courage and determination.
I left school at fourteen, as soon as I had passed Standard Six, and went to work for Warnock Brothers, the big soap people at Grey Lynn, wrapping up sandsoap. I stuck it out for about four months and then joined my brother Jim at a fellmongery run by Donald Brothers, which meant a rise of 2s 6d a week to 15s. The work was harder than at Warnock's. Then my brother, Reg, came home one day and told me he could get me a job with Harry Kasper in a boat called Tiri.
Next Monday morning my mother had my swag packed and waved me goodbye as I went off to sea, for 15s a week plus my keep. Once aboard and the world seemed to be mine, although I was still in short pants.
After I had been aboard for two or three days the Tiri pulled into Nelson Street wharf. Someone had to be aboard these small vessels when alongside, for there was a lot of thieving going on.
On one occasion we took on a load of timber, enough to build a house, together with match lining and cement. The load was taken up to Puhoi, where the house was erected for the mother of Mr Bob Wech. They lived just up the valley from that Bohemian settlement. We were two days loading the material for this house and it was hard work. Besides what was stowed in the hold there was a huge pile of timber on the deck, higher than I could reach.
When we took off. The wind was in the north-east and the sea on the coast was rough. I knew that an aunt was coming down fro Whangarei about this time on the S.S. Manaia, which appeared seaward. I had been left steering our craft while the skipper was below doing something to the engine. There I was, steering straight for the Manaia, which would have run us down had not the captain come up from below and grabbed the wheel, while giving me a dammed good talking to.
We got into the Whangaparoa passage just by Tiritri Island. It was getting dark and the sea rough when the cargo started to move over to one side. The Kaspers were all wonderful seamen. My boss on this occasion was Harry. (But I had a long career with all the Kaspers in after years). During this Puhoi trip we had to turn tail up into the Wade River at Silverdale where we dropped anchor, boiled the billy and had some bread, butter and jam. It was about nine o'clock at night.
The next morning we had to shift the cargo back into place. This was when I nearly lost my life, on my second day at sea. We were carrying four-by-twos from one side to the other until we got the ship on an even keel. I had the end of a four-by-two against my stomach, with Harry Kasper at the other end, walking me backwards until I got pushed over the side into the swill. I got full of water but managed to touch the rudder, made a grab for it and missed. A fisherman in a small boat nearby saw the incident, hurried over and grabbed me just as I was about to go down for the third time.
From the Wade River we returned to Puhoi, where a big dance was being held at the hall. The dance had been going on all night and Harry Kasper said cherrio to the boys. The Tiri then pushed on into the mouth of a little creek by the hall, which ran towards Tahekeroa where we had to unload, for a big steamer was coming into the Puhoi wharf. In spite of being told that the creek was all right, by the time we tied up we found ourselves sitting on old tree trunks and limbs of trees when the tide went out. This entailed unloading the vessel, lest the weight of the cargo should force the jagged limbs through the bottom. When eventually the ship was unloaded, the skipper said he was going over to Saddle Island to load sand for Auckland, all I had to do was to keep the barrows loaded while he wheeled them. After three hours of backbreaking work there was a tea break, after which I looked down into the hold and was disgusted to find only a small heap of sand, in spite of our three hours of hard graft. It had to be filled, a frightful prospect fort he skipper's mate, especially as darkness had fallen. When we floated off the beach at high tide, I expected a sleep for the night, but instead we set off for Auckland, which we reached at 5 a.m. to start unloading at 8 a.m.
I worked with and for Harry Kasper for twelve to eighteen months. Old Harry, like Lord Nelson, had only one eye, but it was a good eye, for he never missed a thing. The Kasper's came from Mahurangi Heads, Harry, Jack and Charlie were all born around there, and were all men of the sea and first-class navigators.
I have always been fond of fishing and it was rather hard getting facilities on the Kasper vessels. I wanted a job on a sailing vessel so that when it was becalmed I could fish. I had this in the back of my mind until I landed a job with Charlie Kasper on a scow called Huia. When Huia was becalmed I could fish, besides which the work was not as constant.
Often we went out from Takatu to beat up to Auckland, a day and a half's trip, which gave us more time at sea and depending on sail we always looked for a fair wind behind us on the quarter. Opportunities for fishing often came and lines could be thrown overboard with fairly good catches. The scow couldn't go out in treacherous weather or the cargo would wash off the decks. The principle cargo was sand and shingle, which was taken to Auckland.
I was with Charlie for quite a while until, in his own words, he "dropped anchor". Then I went with his brother, Fred in a scow called Lady Gladys, Fred Kasper owned this vessel. He was a man highly thought of and I got along with him very happily. My former boss Charlie clipped my ears a few times. The reason for one skirmish was that I went for the first mate. It was a ding-dong go and largely accounted for my signing off the Huia. It was very seldom that any boy left a vessel because of such quarrels, but after all I was the boy, and the boy takes the raps, I had to stand up for my rights.
As a rule there were only three hands on deck, the captain, the first mate and the boy, but a few vessels carried four when handling larger cargoes.
Old Jack Kasper, the father, was bought up the tough way. He'd made his money out of boats and earned every penny of it. I never remember him going to sea. During my time with the Kaspers he just superintended everything and arranged things to the finest detail about whither and whence and what cargoes were to be carried. His sons were Fred and Charlie, the younger of the two, had a very good master's certificate and could take the Niagara around the New Zealand cast. But perhaps Fred was the better seaman and the best worker.
The Lady Gladys was a larger vessel and carried about 20 tons more cargo than Huia, although she still carried a crew of three, who had a good deal more work to do on account of the extra tonnage carried. I had filled out quite a bit by this time and could work harder, with less effort than before.
I stayed with Fred for several years. We used to sail down the Gulf after shingle and sand. We'd go down the Thames River, or up the coast to Whangarei for coal. We used also to come up to Takatu where there was very good shingle on the beach at Waikauri Bay. Little did I think then that I would be the owner of that property one day, in 1946.
It was hard work shovelling in those days, with no machines to do the work. When a southerly had been blowing in for days and the waves had been pounding the beach hard, we took up to six hours to load. We had to wait until the tide had gone out for two and a half hours and then pull the scow broadside to the beach for loading. As soon as the scow hit the beach, all the ropes were pulled tight so that she couldn't move. Then the big main plank was put down to the beach, as well as some smaller ones, so that twenty or thirty barrow loads of shingle could be wheeled aboard. As much shingle as possible was put on the topside to keep the scow from listing. The beach has a natural camber out, and the scow rests very much on her side, which makes it very difficult to wheel the barrow loads along the deck. I used to fill up aft with about 12 yards of shingle, while the captain and first mate filled along the centreboard, about 20 yards on either side. In between I would have to make tea and have the privilege of the middle plank, chiefly because I wasn't an expert wheeler. Nor would I be for many years. Getting all the planks fixed securely was an expert's job and vital to the men's safety, as well as that of the cargo.
We used to travel about a chain along the beach to get shingle. It occurs in pockets and we had to dig a lot of little holes. Whenever deeper deposits were found a white stick was driven into the sand for easier location. When loading was finished a great hole was left in the beach, but the incoming tides would soon fill this in. About four or five tides were needed to fill the hole.
With loading completed and the tide coming in, we would pull all the planks aboard and lay them on top of the shingle, so that we could walk on them while preparing the sails. We were wholly dependent on the winds as well as the tides.
When we reached Auckland long rods were plunged into the shingle in about ten places to check the load and to measure the number of yards. An average load was 50 to 56 yards. Our owners were paid 5s 9d a yard, less 1s royalty for the owner of the shingle on the beach. That left 4s 9d a yard. A further 3d was charged by the Auckland Harbour Board for wharfage plus light dues. By the time the crew was paid and the food supplied, there really wasn't much in it for the ship's owner.
On these trips we'd have a cup of tea when the boat was half loaded, and not another before heading for home. With the planks aboard and the sea about half an hour off high water, some movement would be felt in the vessel. As the waves rolled in further the boat began to move up and down the beach. As the movement became more pronounced we'd get onto the anchor, which had been let out on 75 fathoms of chain. Others would leave out only 50 fathoms, but the Kasper's were very particular about the 75 fathoms. If the anchor was well out and the wind changed to the beach, the further the anchor was out the bigger the haul we could get without the anchor dragging. If the anchor dragged, we'd had it!
We would be well off the beach; having pulled in about thirty to thirty-five fathoms of chain by the time the tide was in. Then we would hoist all sails, set the topsails and the rest of the rigging and turn head into the wind. The boat was so heavily laden that the water began to lap over the deck. The centreboard would then be let down until it touched the bottom and then raised about eighteen inches. Then we would wait for the wind to be blowing on the tack we wanted before lifting the anchor. Once out of the bay, the captain would let the centreboard down to its full sailing depth of six to eight feet, we used to work all night and not until four o'clock in the morning would we come off duty. Sometimes it was two o'clock depending on favourable winds.
We had what were called "hallelujah lamps" or flare-ups, which had to be placed on boxes so as not to dazzle our eyes. Later I used a carbide amp from my bicycle, it was much more efficient. It was the boy's job to see that the port and starboard lights were ready for burning. During the day they were filled with oil and prepared for lighting at dusk or a little before. Though strong they were fitted with magnifying glasses to improve the light and could be seen from as far as four or five miles. "Green to green and red to red, perfect safety, go ahead" that was the road rule, and still is.
I would take the wheel from six to eight at night and from four to six in the morning, the 'dog watch'. The journey from Takatu to town would sometimes take from twelve to fourteen hours and even twenty on occasion. With a good fair wind however, the voyage might only take eight hours. If we got away to a westerly wind we would head towards Whangaparoa and sneak through on the tide, running through Tiri Passage and on to wards the Rangitoto beacon. The tide would then be running in again and this was what we liked. In the event of adverse winds we would get up to the Tiri Passage with the high water running out and would go into Whangaparoa and drop the anchor until low tide. If possible the sails would be left up. One man could set all those big sails unassisted.
In 1946 Tudor Collins bought over 200 hectares on Takatu Peninsula, the northern end of Kawau Bay. This included the shingle beach of Waikauri Bay, which he had once worked with a wheelbarrow. While developing the farm he made some ready cash from the shingle, loading it by machine into a sea-bin for easy pick-up by the scows.
A big bin was built in the sea, which would hold about 150 yards of shingle; the shingle beach was about 600 yards long and about 1150 yards wide, which had washed out of the paddock. The shingle deposit was also about 20 feet deep. Mr Bob Quintal entered into an agreement with me paying so much a yard royalty. He worked there for eight or ten years and took away many thousands of yards. Scows also came from Auckland and they would drop their grab into the bin and be away with a load within an hour, putting 80 to 100 yards on board. The bin is still there. Mr J. H. Goodfellow has the farm now and he isn't very keen about selling the shingle, partly due to the taxes on it, which amount to almost as much as he could make out of it.
In this part Tudor Collins returns to a life as a scowman. His apprenticeship on the Kasper scow came to an end.
In 1921 he began a new adventure by joining brother Bert on his kauri contract in the Kaueranga Valley. In 1925 he returned to Warkworth, started a radio and photographic shop, married and 'settled down'. But during that period and probably into the thirties, he also worked with his brother Reg, as well known on the Gulf as Bert was in the bush. Reg owned the Jane Gifford. Davey Darroch built this scow at Big Omaha in 1908 (two years before he built the Lady Gladys. In The Phantom Fleet, Ted Ashby says "The Jane Gifford was owned and run for many years in the stock trade by Reg Collins. He was a good man with stock. A strong man on a wheelbarrow and a very experienced and capable bushman". He sold the Jane Gifford to the Kasper Brothers in 1937; she was finally bought by Bert Subritzky, under whom she was to become the last scow working out of Auckland. She was retired in 1985 after a working life of 77 years, was restored in Waiuku and is currently undergoing a complete restoration in Warkworth.
"Working a cattle scow was a highly specialised job, first the Biddicks, then Reg Collins and Bert Wells, Ron and Karl Kasper and finally Jock McKinnon in the Rahiri did most of the stock-freighting."
This account shows with humour why it was a specialists' job.
When I was on the Jane Gifford with my brother Reg we would leave Warkworth when the tide was favourable, as often as not at 3.30 a.m. Reg would go down to the Collins' home by the Masonic Hall, bang on the door to waken me, then return to the boat and heat up the diesel engine. By the time I arrived the engine would be going, Reg would set the vessel going and when he got to the back of Boot's the dentist's, or as far as the old kilns, he would go down to look at the engine and see everything was all right while I was left at the wheel.
Reg would then go down into the cabin and go straight off to sleep. I would be left there for a good hour at the wheel on an outgoing tide towards the Mahurangi Heads, which we'd reach, by daylight. As soon as we reached Saddle Island we'd be in the open sea and sails would have to be set. I wouldn't call my "noble Reg Collins" until about nine o'clock, by which time we should be at Canoe Rock if the wind was south-east. Reg would say "A dammed sou-wester. Yes you did quite right in steering the way you did."
The jib-topsail was a light sail, carried as an extra. It's on all ships and a good carrier in moderate weather. "Don't put that on," Reg would tell me as we were running on late towards Tiri, I thought, "damn it, we're not going to do it, I'll put up the jib-topsail," Off we went in good style, it really made us go. Reg came up. "You've got that bloody topsail on and I told you not to," he roared. "Where would we be if I hadn't?" I answered. "Oh yes, I suppose you are right." He'd say.
After handling shingle on the beach our hands would be hard and covered in corns, but those sails had to be hauled up. Of course there is a knack in it. The throat is pulled up first, and then the peak. These had to be worked alternately, and while this was going on the ship had to be steered, which entailed running forward and aft all the time. Great care had to be taken not to fall overboard in the rush, for likely, as not a man's mate would be down below asleep. There should really have been three on the boat, but more often we ran with only two hands aboard.
The sails would be hoisted and on the rope would be little worn pieces, which had become as hard as wire and would pierce our hands, the state of our hands made the job torture. The anchor had to be hauled aboard while the boat sailed along. The anchor chain was fixed on the winch, and when the fluke of the anchor was out of the sea it had to be tied on the side of the ship, otherwise it would knock a hole in the bow.
I remember a night, which showed what great seamen the Kaspers were. We were in storm and a big boat Talisman, was slashing through it. But other tactics had to be used on the Lady Gladys with its sand aboard. We were reefed down and exercising great care. It was an equinoxial gale, about three o'clock in the morning and we were trying to get down the harbour around Rangitoto. I was in my bunk and things were getting pretty lively, too lively for me, so I donned my trousers and went up on deck. The captain was at the wheel and the mate alongside him. It was sop dark that although I was standing six feet away I couldn't be seen. "You'd better call the rooster," the skipper told the mate. "You needn't bother," I replied "He's here!"
How relieved we were to get up to Craigs. We had a terrible night. I went to bed while the captain went home. I heard the siren go and jumped out of my bunk. I thought it was about half-past-seven in the morning, but it was five o'clock in the evening. I had slept through the day. I went down to inspect below for any possible leakages, but this boat would never let water in, a foul smell in the hold was a sure sign that she was right in this respect.
Once we had an old chap aboard, we had come through Tiri with a north-east wind and the old joker let the keel down too far, which only left about a foot of it holding in its case. So we had terribly big leverage and as the boat rolled the planking opened. The boat took a big list and began to take on water. We tried unsuccessfully to work the pump and had to keep shovelling shell from one side to the other. When we ran in to Waiwera, old Fred Kasper was there on Daphne. He had wondered what was wrong with our scow and was considering coming back, although he was in a Northern Company's passenger vessel. He saw us alter course and go from one side to the other and was still wondering what was amiss. The scow was in danger of capsizing. We continued to shovel from side to side and eventually put her on Waiwera Beach. Wit her big load, she squeezed back into position and tightened herself up. All because of the old boy, who although a lovely old man, could never be trusted? His name was Ted Lake and off and on he had been with Reg for a long time. He used to be given a few pounds a month as mainly caretaker on board. He had lived with the Maoris a long time, but was always aboard.
A lot of stuff would get lost from time to time. Once when Reg came down to the wharf there was a dinghy alongside going "bang-bang" on the ships side. Reg got another dinghy and rowed to his vessel "What the hell are you doing with the boat tied alongside?" he shouted, and found himself face to face with Darky White. "What the hell are you doing here? You're getting away with all the stuff!" Darky replied, "No I am just bringing back what my brother took from you." He was actually robbing the ship and had been caught in the act. Everything on the deck had been stolen. So Reg said "You'd better come to the police with me." Reg kept walking around the wharf until he saw a policeman, "I've got a bloke who's been aboard the boat pinching our gear." Reg said, "Bring him round to the steps," said the policeman. So Reg took Darky round to the steps where the old policeman awaited them at the top. When Darky reached the top step he was off for the lick of his life. "You're a bloody beautiful policeman, you are." Said Reg. So Darky got away and went to the Huntly coalmines and wasn't seen for seven months. Then he returned to Auckland on the express, getting in at about seven in the morning, by quarter past they had him. A search of his room in Nelson Street revealed oceans of stuff he had pinched off scows. He had kept his rent paid by that rookery all the time he was in Huntly. Darky got six months.
Loading cattle at Kawau Island was an unforgettable experience. We went over there with Ringi Brown from Leigh in a chartered scow to take off some wild cattle. There were about forty or fifty of them and we took over with us about twenty young steers with the intention of letting them mingle with the wild cattle as decoys.
We went up into School House Bay where a big stockyard had been built, I think Ted Harper was with us, Ringi had a few of of his Pakiri pals with him. Ringy was a real go-getter especially after wild cattle. There was a strong fence from Mansion House to School House Bay and we had about twenty cattle bought in, they were worth about twenty to twenty five pounds a head in Warkworth.
We left them all one night and the next morning went down to load them, the wild cattle wouldn't run with the steers, it was all right for a while then they suddenly turned and, "ping, ping, ping," over went the fence, the cattle tore away into the bush and over to South Harbour. That was the end of the cattle. It seemed impossible to round them up. Ringi and his mates were still chasing them. About two o'clock the next afternoon they had them up north of Bon Accord Harbour on the southern side. The tide was right out and we had about twenty-five of them down by low water, running around the beach with the dogs after them. On they went, right round the beach as far as School House bay again, then cut across the bay where there was a stockyard but no wharf.
Reg and I were on the scow and had a few of the young steers in the yard. Would you believe it, those cattle went straight into the yard. We put the rail across half-an-hour before Ringi and his men arrived. How fortunate it was that Reg and I were there just doing nothing.
One of the cattle got down on the way over and had to be shot, the rest were bought to Warkworth. They were big bullocks and Harry Stubbs, the butcher, was very interested in them; so were the North Auckland Farmers Company. They were unloaded on Sunday morning just above the wharf at high tide, the cattle got into the river and started to go round and round in the water so Reg got a paddle in an effort to break them up, if they had continued in this way they would have drowned. Reg smashed the paddle on their horns and they went up to the wharf behind the Diary Company. A couple broke away and the others followed.
Poor old Bert Stubbs, quite a young man then, was standing there with a cigar in his mouth and his hands in his pockets when up over the bank came the cattle and made a dive for him, he fell over and the cattle got loose in the town that Sunday morning and people were running everywhere, round the back of the Bakers, everywhere. Charlie Snow, the Warkworth policeman, came down and blew the hell out of Reg who said it was not his responsibility, the cattle belonged to Ringi Brown and Stubbs as well as whoever were taking them over. It took three or four days to round them all up. The one shot on board provided me with some undercut steak; it was hoisted up with the derrick and put ashore to be skinned there and then.
Reg was a very kind hearted chap, who used to fall for most of the things put up to him. During a railway strike in Auckland, a Mr. Carran came down with some pigs for Auckland, we were lying at the Warkworth wharf and a gale was blowing from the west. Reg agreed to take them to Auckland and we started to load them. A few got away, another Sunday morning, and ran all round town, under buildings, everywhere imaginable with townsfolk after them. At last we had them rounded up and loaded, once loaded we had to sail straight away in spite of the gale blowing up. It was about eleven o'clock in the morning. We put up some sail, as the engine wasn't sufficient with the wind on the quarter from the west. Out off Whangaparoa the pigs were all in a heap with waves washing over them. I climbed the mast and took some photographs. We berthed at night-time in Auckland and made a kind of sling from a large box, put it against the centreboard and rushed the pigs into it, a shutter was dropped behind them and they were hoisted up in the crate with the winch, this was about two o'clock in the morning. A chap arrived from a neighbouring boarding house as the squealing of the pigs was frightful and this chap was bent on stopping it. He fetched a policeman in the end. The pigs had had nothing to eat or drink and they had to be unloaded and taken to the works. The fellow from the boarding house, on going aboard to tell Reg what he thought of him, fell backwards into the pig muck, about three inches deep on the deck, "you won't see him again for a while," the policeman said. It was a terrible mess but we got the pigs off in the finish. Hellaby's were there with large lorries ready to pick up the pigs; Mr Carran had arranged all that. In all there were about one hundred and fifty pigs on board, we received about ten or twelve pounds for the load.
Reg and I once went down to Motutapu Island to pick up cattle belonging to Mr. Bull of Coromandel. We were not allowed to land at Emu bay, a beautiful bay where the cattle were. They were black poll Angus cattle with calves at foot which were of special interest to Mr. Bull for bringing new blood to the Coromandel. The cattle were put into a yard until the scow was bought alongside on the incoming tide. "Send them aboard!" we shouted, the cattle came down the race at a terrific bat, they got on board the scow and went right round the centreboard and down the other side, then they turned and went back towards the race. The cattle onboard tried to telescope over those coming aboard. On each side of the race there were old iron rails, railway rails rusting from years of salt spray, in the rush some of the cattle got bleeding legs and it all ended up with the cattle getting ashore and up the hill again. We didn't get them loaded on that tide, only about ten were put aboard on the next loading, a gate was clamped down and they were penned, all meek and mild. Eventually all were on board, some standing on top of others, the only way the fallen could be got up was to pour a bucket of water in their ears and rope would be put round their horns in an effort to help them up. A couple had to be shot or they would have been trampled to death.
We reached Coromandel wharf at ten o'clock at night and went to find Mr. Marshall who was staying at the Golconda Hotel. He was an old drover who had been expecting us since three in the afternoon, water was short ant the cattle were thirsty so Mr. Marshall told us to let them ashore and he would look after them. We opened the gangway to the wharf, along which ran a causeway about four or five hundred yards long. We had to keep the cattle off the causeway, which we managed to do. There was only a flare torch to light the way so it was pretty murky and we couldn't see the cows very clearly, we could only hear their hooves on the metal causeway. suddenly the noise of feet stopped and two cows charged Reg and me, Reg jumped to one side and I made off with a cow after me, I could almost feel her warm breath on my legs. Barefooted I ran down the wharf with the cow almost on top of me. I jumped over the breakwater into the sea as the cow fell to her knees on the top. The water wasn't very cold and as soon as I climbed up to the gangway again we managed to get the cow into an old quarry above the wharf, the rest were chased and driven up. We told Marshall about this incident but he didn't seem to care, he'd got his cattle and that was all that mattered. We reached the creek coming out of Coromandel to see an unforgettable sight; it was ten o'clock at night. The first thing we saw was a couple of people with candles, there being no power in Coromandel then, they were two people, an old man in a nightgown and an old woman similarly clad. The ravenous cattle were in their vegetable garden and they were trying to get them out.
We roused Marshall out of the Golconda Hotel and told he had better get out of bed and do something. The pictures had just come out and the cattle were going for everyone, it was just terrible, people being chased down the main street and into backyards. Old Marshall confessed he had ordered the cattle off because they were short of water, he took all the blame. Some of the cattle were down in the creek drinking and everything that could be eaten was cleaned up. It was over a week before all the cattle were rounded up. We got about twenty five pounds for the load and earned every penny of it. Those polled Angus weren't really wild, but they were usually driven by men on horseback and unless taken very gently, they would become infuriated and go clean mad. They would stop at nothing, neither fences nor anything else.
That cattle business on Motutapu all happened after I was married, while living in Warkworth, my brother and I were in shares on the boat. I was paid so much for every trip and when I got a bit of a tight deal Reg would tell me I was going to get four, five or six pounds for this particular trip. Reg had to find benzine and everything, but like his brother Bert, was always generous and fair in his dealings. For the shell from Shell Bank he used to get five pounds a load, with two loads a week that meant ten pounds a week, which in those days (1942-1946) was pretty good money.
A final fragment of Tudor Collins experience on a cattle scow comes from memories of Little Barrier.
There was a flat of from ten to twelve acres on the Little Barrier made up of two or three small ravines or streams that flowed from the top of the island and over thousands of years little boulders had been swept down, washed out to sea and driven back ashore. A big pohutakawa stood out on the corner at the end of the spit, a well-known landmark to mariners. It was at this spit that the boulders formed a point between the north-west and the south-east side of the island. On this flat land there was a lot of good feed and few head of cattle grazed there, including house cows supplying milk and butter. After four or five years, the number of cattle on the island had increased and there were calves and steers, which could not be adequately fed. A dealer by the name of Mr. Guy Ashton used to call at the island, particularly when Reg and I were there in our scow.
Loading cattle onto the scow was quite a problem as it could not be beached but had to be anchored off the island in deep water, a long rope was then taken ashore by dinghy, taken up to the stockyard and fastened around the horns of the cattle purchased by Guy Ashton. On these occasions about ten head of cattle were usually taken off the island. The bull didn't mind being taken from the stockyard but when we started to get him onto the beach he dug his toes in, even so it was impossible for him to hold out against the pull of the winch and he was slowly drawn into the water and quietly wound alongside the scow where a kind of cradle made of rope and weighted was dropped under his forelegs. I was in the dinghy alongside the beast as he was slowly hoisted aboard, and then he was lashed to the rigging with the rope around his horns so he couldn't get away. Everything appeared to be going well until the old fellow Ted Lake got the ropes tangled in some way or other and the bull got loose, it charged the gangway, then over the side of the scow and into the dinghy. Ted Lake hung on to its hind legs and its forelegs were in the dinghy, I dropped my camera into the boat and jumped backwards into the sea. In due course the bull was hoisted back aboard and the cattle eventually got away to be sold by Guy Ashton on Great Barrier Island.
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