The Cruise of the Acheron

By: Natusch, Sheila

NZ $60.00

Format: Hard Back

Artybees Stock Number: 11479

ISBN: 0723305501


The ACHERON is one of a select company of famous ships whose names will always remain prominent in New Zealand history. Over a four-year period beginning in 1848 she was sent out from England under orders from the Admiralty to make the first full and accurate survey of the coasts and harbours of New Zealand. This great task she performed to a very high standard in the time allowed her. It was carried out all the better, too, because of her unusual design - she was an early steamship, equipped with both sails and paddle-wheels. This vessel was also most fortunate in her commander, Captain John Lort Stokes, an experienced hydrographer, as well as in her complement of 100 men, which included some very able and distinguished officers and supernumeraries who were also scientists and artists.

The survey expedition was mounted in true naval style and Captain Stokes almost inevitably held in prospect a published account of the voyage. To that end a descriptive shore and shipboard journal was kept in addition to the formal log, but for various reasons the book itself was never written. The manuscript journal became separated into two parts and all the other papers and records of the cruise were filed away in museums and institutions.

Sheila Natusch has now put matters to rights with her own distinctive account of the whole voyage of the ACHERON. In doing so she has thouroughly researched all the available material from the fitting out of the ship at Woolwich to the final disbanding four years later in Wellington. Her main contribution has been in reuniting the two parts of the original manuscript journal - a major research triumph. This lively document, written in the overblown but colourful language of the day, she has used throughout to provide a running commentary on events both ashore and afloat. It has made possible an intimate study of the ACHERON's people not only receiving their many visitors and going about their daily work on the survey but ranging far and wide as explorers and natrualists. It tells us a lot that is new about the different New Zealand settlements in early colonial times, with the Maoris receiving a good share of direct 'observation'.

The ninety-five illustrations follow the course of the voyage out via the Cape and Australia but refer mainly to the New Zealand survey. They have been selected from an amazing amount of surviving material and many items are reproduced here for the first time. Unfortunately they include only a sampling of the famous ACHERON full-scale charts, many of which are still in use today.

- from the inside cover.

Published by Whitcoulls Limited, 1978.
Very good secondhand condition - faint yellowing on the front of the otherwise intact dust-jacket.