The Disappearance of the Ship - The Disappearance of the Ship
The Disappearance of the Ship "Maile".
The pride of the fleet of ships that Lane and Brown built during the latter years of the 1800s at Totara North was a fast sailing ship named Maile.She was built for the Island trade in 1888, with accommodation for twenty passengers, having a large and airy cabin space. She traded regularly between Auckland, Sydney and the Islands for five years, then it was decided to put a steamer on the run. The captaincy was offered to Solloway Lane, but he preferred to stay with sail, as he did not have any ownership in the steamer. Maile was then brought back to New Zealand, and loaded with kauri at Kohukohu for Sydney. Because of the ship’s extra cabin space, there was not enough room for the timber to be put down in the hold, so it was stacked on the deck up top. This made the boat rather top heavy, and this was what was giving his brother Major Lane (the one who had built the ship) so much concern. "She’s not built for that weight up so high", he said rather worriedly to his wife when he heard. She replied that she supposed that Solloway knew what he was doing, and the matter had to be left at that.
When he got to Sydney, the importers deducted the shrinkage of the timber that had occurred with the timber being stacked outside on the deck. It was beginning to be obvious that although there was plenty of demand for timber from NZ, the Maile was not an economic proposition. So another ship was purpose built for the timber trade but it was unfortunately lost on its maiden voyage, between Melbourne and Clarence River, where Maile had been delivering logs.After that contract was completed,Maile now owned by Sir James Clark and Capt Solloway Lane, sailed from Adelaide to Natal, Africa, through the Indian Ocean, with passengers and cargo, and brought back a full load of cargo. (On the way, the boat was nearly engulfed by a giant waterspout.)
His wife Lucy went with him on this trip. The two oldest children were packed off to their friends, while Lucy and the younger children went on board once more. There were passengers on this trip as well, so it was no problem keeping the children amused. But when the weather was unpleasant and rough, Lucy knew what to do .... the older ones were kept under strict supervision, and the baby well tucked down while the men wrestled with the ship and the elements.
After the trip to Africa (during which Solloway brought back different sub-tropical plants to grow, including the Bird-of-Paradise plant), Lucy found she was pregnant again. She felt more heavy and ungainly than ever this time, and the thought crossed her mind that perhaps there were two babies, not one! So she decided to stay on shore for the remainder of her pregnancy, and the family were re-united again, seeing Solloway when he was back in Auckland between trips.Lucy’s sister Martha who was married to the first mate, and her little daughter Ruby were travelling on board again towards the end of the year, while Lucy was chafing on shore waiting for the birth of the new baby. The Maile was making her way back from Tasmania when she struck a series of bad weather. One of these was what is now known as a tropical cyclone coming down from the Pacific with hurricane force. Whenever the storms hit the New Zealand coast, Lucy would know from experience that the Maile would have weathered them first, but when first one and then the next swirled over the country this time, a little twinge would enter her mind.
However, when Maile was overdue at this time in January, Lucy was not unduly worried at first. She knew her husband was more than capable as a seaman, and she was sure that he would have put in at port to shelter somewhere. But as time went by, it became more apparent that Maile wasn’t going to turn up. Lucy became frantic with worry, and her friends were more than concerned for her well being, as she was far from well with her pregnancy. Now she had the added stress and anxiety of the overdue ship.The news travelled up the coast quickly, and all the brothers and sisters heard it with great concern. Young Solloway (the captain’s nephew) and his brothers would row down to the Whangaroa Heads and strain their eyes over the horizon in the darkening skies after their day’s work to see if there was any sign of theMaile coming in on her way down the coast. But as the days and weeks went by, they had to face the sad fact that she wasn’t going to turn up.Not only was Solloway gone and the beautiful ship Maile, but there was Martha, Lucy’s sister, her little girl and husband who they all respected and knew so well. It was a real blow to the whole district, as the Hare and Skinner families were so many and widely scattered around, so it was a sad time up and down the coast at that time.
The town of Auckland was also aware that one of its residents was missing. Lucy went into labour on the tenth of April, and gave birth to twin daughters the next day. But one child did not survive more than two days, and Lucy lost the will to live. She died on 14th April 1893, and as her funeral cortege moved along the streets, people lined up fulI of sympathy for the sad little family left. Lucy was only 39 and her husband 48.