Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 38, September 1994

In a detailed report on the launching of the "OHINEMURI", written in the rather florid style of the day, the N Z Herald described the new vessel thus:-

"The "Ohinemuri" is a screw steamer of about 70 tons net register, and the following measurements - 87 feet on keel, 95 feet overall, 18 feet beam, and 6 feet 6 inches depth of hold. She is diagonal built of heart of kauri, copper fastened throughout. The vessel is of a fine contour, albeit her lines were specially designed for light draught. Her beam gives her a full appearance at the bow, but at the water line there is no bluffness; the vessel possesses a fine entrance and clean run aft. She is a big carrier for her size, her hold forward measuring 38 feet by 16 feet, and capable of containing about 60 tons deadweight, for the easy operation of which a hatchway 8 feet by 10 feet, and a powerful steam winch, handily situated, are provided.

For trimming purposes the vessel is supplied with a two-ton tank right forward, and one of similar dimensions aft, which can be utilised for fresh water. The vessel is to be rigged as a ketch, and her foremast and spars are specially strong for lifting and carrying heavy weights, as machinery, etc. Her deck space is roomy and will be provided with plenty of comfortable seats on the quarter deck above the main saloon, upon which the bridge and steering gear will be placed.

Her main cabin and dining saloon is situated amidships, being separated by iron bulkheads from the hold and engine space. It is slightly below the level of the main deck, a handsome teak companion-way leading into it. The apartment is a spacious one for the vessel's size, being 20 feet by 16. It is fitted with a main dining table fore and aft, and around are arranged swing-back berths in a double tier sufficient to accommodate 30 persons. The saloon is well lighted and ventilated by skylight and side ports, and will be finished in light varnish work, while the berths, seats, etc., will be upholstered in crimson utrecht velvet. Abaft of the saloon, under the main deck, is situated the engine space, and above it a handsome little deckhouse, with lounges, tables, etc., for a smoking-room, is to be erected, while the galley is close by.

An open space of deck aft is broken by the companion-way to the ladies' cabin, a cosy room, specially contrived and furnished. It possesses numerous berths, none built too high, and these are cushioned in crimson, and provided with curtains and other tasteful or necessary accessories, while its situation, remote from engines or the chatter of the main saloon, will make to the quiet and comfortable retreat so often desired by lady passengers.

The engines of the "Ohinemuri" are from the atelier of Messrs. G Fraser and Sons, and have been constructed with great care and under supervision of the Board of Trade authorities. They are compound ones of the surface condensing principle, having one high-pressure cylinder, 12 inches, and one low pressure of 24 inches, the length of stroke being 15 inches. Her boiler is a large one, on the tubular principle, and has a working pressure of 100lbs. to the inch."

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The advent of the "Paeroa", although it was covered by the papers of the day, was not reported at such length as given to the "Ohinemuri" of the powerful Northern Company. Launched on 5 September, 1891, the "Paeroa" was cited as being of 60 tons, with dimensions 85 feet on the keel. She was 95 feet overall, by 16 feet beam, and depth of hold 6 feet 6 inches, the hold having a capacity of 70 tons. Her saloon could accommodate 30 to 36 passengers, and was fitted with the usual swing-back berths, upholstered in crimson plush. The paint work was white, picked out with heliotrope mouldings. The ladies' cabin was situated on the after deck, and the ship had the usual appointments of galley, lockers, pantry, lavatories, and so forth. The officers had their accommodation amidships, while the crew bunked forward.

On 18 September, 1891, the "Paeroa" was towed to Thames by the "Ruby" to have her compound engines and her boiler fitted by Prices. A speed of 8½ to 9 knots was hoped for, and the papers declared the ship to be "ahead of her time". The trial trip was run on 19 October, 1891, with 170 passengers on board. The "Paeroa" started out with a race against the steam yacht "Kawau" -which race she delighted her passengers by winning. The trial run took her along the coast of the North Shore as far as the Lake, then she crossed to the Rangitoto Beacon and coasted round past Drunken Bay, Emu Point and Home Bay, before going over to Motuihe, where a stop was made for toasts and speech making including one by Mr Ehrenfried on the changes he had seen in 20 years of travel on the Waihou. Queens Wharf was reached again at about 6.30 pm.

When the two rivals, "Ohinemuri" and "Paeroa", came on the scene towards the end of 1891, the little "Despatch" discreetly withdrew from the fray. A report of 11 September 1891, announced that she had been sold by Prices to Captain Alexander Campbell for coastal and harbour runs. She was described as being of iron construction by Prices of Thames, being built in 1883 with dimensions 67 feet 6 inches by 10 feet by 4 feet 7 inches. Her gross tonnage was 29.12 and her net 19.81. Prices fitted her with what were said to be the first triple expansion engines made in New Zealand. They had a nominal horse power of 16, and an indicated horse power of 35, driving a single screw. She had a speed of 9 knots, and a coal consumption of 50 lbs. per hour. The "Despatch" could carry 20 tons of cargo and could also accommodate 20 passengers in a comfortable little saloon "tastefully fitted with cushions, bunks and other conveniences."

"She doesnot seem to have been much of a success trading out of Auckland, and soon went round to the Kaipara, where she ran for some years under the name of "Ethel I" or "Ethel J" before being partially dismantled in 1909, her hull serving as a ferry on one of the inlets on the Kaipara for a while after that."