William Robert Kennedy.

Sporting adventures in the Pacific, whilst in command of the Reindeer. online

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DUEING the cruise of the " Reindeer" in the
Pacific, I occasionally contributed a sporting
yarn to the South Pacific Times, and the
Panama Star and Herald. One or two a]so
appeared in the Field and Land and Water.

Since my return to England I have strung
these yarns together in the form of a narrative,
in hopes that it may serve to amuse some of
my old shipmates, and perhaps be of passing
interest to the general reader.

The Illustrations are from sketches made by
myself at the time.

W. B, K.



H.M.S. "Reindeer" outward bound . ; . .2
Crossing the Line v * . . . . . .3

Cape Froward, Straits of Magellan, the Southernmost

point of South America . . . .23
A Glacier in Smyth's Channel . , . A .26

Amongst the Ice in Eyre Sound . >*' 28

Duck-shooting near Huacho, Peru . ... .60

The Colonel's Hut ... . . . .' . .91

Charge of the Black Bull . . . . . .99

The Cotton Factory of Jauqa, near Tepic . . .125
The English Consulate after the Earthquake of San

Salvador . . . . . -...-. 161

The Cathedral, San Salvador, after the Earthquake . 163
The Ohispo Station on the Panama Railway . . 2l6
Great Fire at Panama: H.M.S. "Repulse" and

" Reindeer " at anchor in th Bay . . . 227
The Grand Hotel, Panama, after the Fire . . . 229
Duck-shooting among the Alligators . , . ." . 237



ON the 26th of August, 1871, her Majesty's
steam sloop " Reindeer " sailed from Plymouth
Sound, bound for the Pacific station. No par-
ticular incident occurred on the passage to
Madeira, where we arrived on the eighth day
after leaving England.

j During our stay at this lovely island some of
us made an expedition to the Raba9al, a pic-
turesque spot amongst the mountains, in search
of sport and scenery.

Starting at night by boat, we had made
fifteen miles by daylight, when we landed and



commenced the ascent of the mountains, which
at this part of the island are 5000 feet high :
some of the party preferred being carried up in
hammocks, whilst others walked. The scenery
throughout is very fine, but sport there is none,


and all we could show after toiling many hours
was a few couple of half-starved rabbits and a


Descending by the way we came up, we
rejoined the ship, very well pleased with our


excursion, but mentally resolving never again
to seek for sport in Madeira.

A German corvette, the " Nyrnpke," was
lying at anchor in the roads with us ; she was
also bound to Rio de Janeiro, and was to sail
three days before us. The " Nymphe " was
as nearly as possible the same size as the
" Reindeer," and was reported to sail well; so
we looked forward to a trial of speed with her,
and we asked them to report our coming, in
case they were in first.

Sailing from Madeira on the 9th of September,
we passed to the eastward of the Cape de Verde
Islands, and crossed the equator a few days
afterwards. The ceremony usually performed
on board ship when crossing the line has too
often been described to need repetition here ; the
scene represents Father Neptune surrounded
by his staff on the forecastle of the " Reindeer."
A wretched victim is undergoing his examination
before the board previous to being tilted back-
wards into the sail, where he will meet
with a warm reception from the "bears,"

B 2


who may be seen disporting themselves in the

This custom is not always carried out in a
man-of-war, as some captains consider that it
interferes with the discipline of the ship. In
reality it does not do so, and the ceremony, if
carried out in a good-tempered way, adds much
to the mirth and joviality of all- on board. On
the 6th of October we anchored in the beautiful
harbour of Rio de Janeiro ; the " Nymphe " had
not arrived, nor did she appear for eight days
afterwards, so that we beat her by eleven days.

On comparing our logs, this discrepancy was
partly accounted for by the different routes
taken by the two ships ; the "Nymphe" went
to the westward of the Cape de Yerdes, and
encountered a hurricane which delayed her three
days ; she also crossed the line farther to the
eastward than we did. There can be no doubt
that by crossing the line well to the westward
a narrower belt of calms is met with, and the
S.B. trade picked up sooner than by adopting a
more easterly route.


During our stay at Rio I accepted the offer of

Dr. G to visit his bungalow, accompanied

by some of the officers of the ship. The house
was situated several leagues by rail from the
city. The scenery alon^ the line is magnificent,
as the train winds among the mountains, ascend-
ing the most wonderful grades, and affording
lovely views at every turn.

Having enjoyed the hospitality of our worthy
host for a couple of days, and inspected his
coffee plantations, of which he was justly proud,
we returned to the ship, prepared for a start;
but our departure was delayed by an unfortunate
collision between some of our marines and two
native boatmen, resulting in the death of the

This affair caused great excitement at the
time, and was not settled for more than a year
afterwards. The rights of the story can never
be known, the darkies not being in a position
to give evidence, whilst the account given by
the marines, whether true or false, was a
plausible one, and no amount of cross-cxami-


nation could shake it. At all events the case
went before the Brazilian Court, on which
occasion I attended, accompanied by an officer
of the ship ; no conclusion could be arrived at,
and as there was no cause for our further
detention we sailed from Rio on the 18th of
October, and were soon bowling off eleven
knots an hour, leaving the beautiful mountains
of Brazil under our lee.

Six days of favourable winds carried us to
the latitude of the Rio de la Plata, off which
we encountered a "pampero :" during the gale
we lost one of our boats, and received some
slight damages. Fine weather succeeded, and
on the 2nd of November we sighted the low
and barren shores of the Falkland Islands.

When rounding Volunteer Point, with the
lighthouse at the entrance to Port Stanley in
view, we met with such a furious gale in our
teeth, accompanied by so heavy a sea, that we
could make no headway against it ; so, bearing
up, we anchored in the snug harbour of Port
Louis, which lay conveniently under our lee.


The same afternoon I landed with one of the
officers for a ramble with our guns, taking with
us my retriever " Niger," and the boats' crew to
carry game. We found great quantities of kelp-
geese, ducks, and penguins along the shore :
these proved to be worthless. The ducks are
called steamer ducks from their habit of flapping
along the water like a paddle-wheel steamer :
they are not fit to eat, though their eggs are

Soon after we landed we came across a flock
of upland geese, some of which we bagged :
these birds are exceedingly handsome, and are
good eating. The male is pure white, and the
female a beautiful mottled brown, with chocolate-
coloured breast, and a bronze green bar on the
wings. Proceeding onwards we presently came
to a small loch, on which many kinds of duck
and geese were disporting themselves ; stalking
these, we opened fire on them from opposite
directions, and for the next few minutes our
guns were actively employed, until the water
was strewed with dead and dying, and the blue-


jackets had as much as they could carry. We
returned on board with twenty-four geese, eight
ducks, and a couple of snipe. The geese
weighed on an average 9J Ibs., and the snipe
exactly J Ib. each.

The next morning we again landed, and shot
thirty-one geese, and five couple of ducks before
noon ; when we went back to the ship, and the
gale having moderated we weighed, and steamed
round to Stanley Harbour, where we anchored
the same afternoon.

A short description of the Falk lands may be

These islands are situated about 300 miles
eastward of the Straits of Magellan ; they
number about 200, the two principal ones
being the East and West Falklands, which
are as large as all the rest put together. The
general appearance of the coast is low and
barren; there are, however, many good har-
bours which afford shelter from the frequent

There is excellent pasturage on the larger


islands, and many hundred head of wild cattle,
horses, sheep, and goats, are to be found thereon,
and wild pigs and rabbits abound on the smaller
ones. Wild fowl of every description are to be
met with in countless thousands, in fact it is a
regular sportsman's paradise ; the great draw-
back to the place is the amount of wind which
always prevails, gales springing up every day
and lasting till sunset. In the immediate
vicinity of Port Stanley game is scarce, from
being continually disturbed, but at a distance
from the settlement no less than four different
sorts of geese are to be found, besides duck of
many kinds, widgeon, teal, snipe, swans, plover,
penguins, and every description of gulls and
sea fowl.

There are also some guanacoes on one part of
the island. A couple were originally introduced
by Captain Packe, and the herd at the time of
our visit numbered some thirty or forty.

The governor, Lieut. -Colon el D'Arcy, having
intimated to me his wish to visit some of the
distant parts of his dominions, the " Reindeer"


was placed at his disposal, and on the 7th of
November, having embarked his Excellency and
two of his friends, we put to sea.

The intricacy of the navigation around these
coasts necessitated our reaching a safe anchor-
age before dark, and the afternoon of our
departure from Port Stanley we anchored in
Mare Harbour. We had observed a herd of
guanaco watching the ship with much curiosity
from the neighbouring hills as we steamed up to
the anchorage ; so as soon as we had anchored
I landed in company with the governor and
Captain Packe,and proceeded in search of them.
We walked inland some distance, shooting a few
brace of geese on our way, till we spied the
herd, numbering from twenty to thirty. It was
apparent that the guanaco had already seen us,
and had no inclination for a closer acquaintance,
as they trotted off across some sand-hills where
we had no chance of following them with any
prospect of getting a shot. There was an arm
of the sea between us and the animals, but the
water was not more than knee-deep ; so sending


two blue-jackets across to head the guanaco, we
went round the arm to intercept them. Pre-
sently we saw the herd trotting towards us, so,
lying down on the side of a hill, we watched the
graceful animals as they approached us, uncon-
scious of danger.

When about 200 yards off they stopped, and
we fired several shots at them, but with no
better result than to scatter them in all direc-
tions. Seizing my gun, while Packe took the
rifle, we gave chase. I followed a small lot of
five or six, but had great difficulty in keeping
them in sight, and still more so in getting any-
where near them, owing to the unfavourable
nature of the ground not a tree or bush was
to be seen, nothing but a succession of low
sand-hills ; however, the inquisitive nature of
the beasts assisted me. Running as fast as
possible, with my body bent almost double, I
must have presented a curious object to these
unsophisticated creatures, whilst my curly-
coated, black retriever running beside me, like
an animated mat, completed the illusion. I


presently found myself within 120 yards of two
guanacoes, which were standing looking at me.
Aiming at the largest I fired, when they both
bolted, "Missed, by Jove !" and I felt the sort
of miserable sensation that one feels after having
missed a stag, when Sandy says nothing, but
takes a long pull at the whisky, and lights his
pipe with resignation. I looked round, not a
soul was within a mile of me, and I felt thankful ;
but, halloa ! why the guanaco, after running
bravely for a few hundred yards, rolls over,
heels in the air ! Bravo, the smooth bore,
and welcome is the sight, for well I know
that brute will never rise again. Hurrying up
I arrived to see the animal breathe his last ; the
ball had gone right through behind the shoulder,
piercing the heart. I stood awhile admiring
the graceful proportions of the guanaco, an
animal I had never seen before, and from the
original wild stock of which the llama is
said to be produced. Its legs, feet, and
neck were like those of a camel, head like a
sheep, its body as big as a full-grown donkey,


and covered with beautiful, soft, reddish wool.
My dog evidently did not know what to make of
him, and seemed to think very little of him.

Finding I could not move the carcase, I went
back and got one of the men, with whose assist-
ance I dragged it down to the beach.

The turkey buzzards now crowded round for
their share of the spoil, and we could not get
rid of them until I had shot one, and spread his
corpse over the guanaco, pour encourager les

Joining Packe, I found that he had wounded
another guanaco, which had crossed the water
and escaped on the other side.

It was now nearly dark, so we made the best
of our way to the ship.

Leaving Mare Harbour the next morning at
daylight, we steamed through the reefs which
surround its entrance, but, like all the rocks
on this coast, they are so clearly marked by
kelp as to be easily seen and avoided, and
anchored off Lively Island for a few hours.
Weighing again, from there we reached


Bleaker Island, where we anchored for the

The ship being secured, a large party of sports-
men went ashore. Attaching myself to the go-
vernor and Captain Packe, we first visited a small
lake close to the beach, where we shot at least a
dozen ducks in half as many minutes ; we then
went in search of wild pigs, as their tracks were
plainly to be seen. Packe and I entered some
long pampas grass, accompanied by our two
dogs, Niger and Turk. The latter soon gave
tongue, and bolted into the thick scrub, whither
we followed as fast as we could, guided only
by the sound, as nothing could be seen at any

Presently I caught sight of a pig, and fired a
snap-shot at it through the rushes. On going
to the spot, I found to my horror, not only the
pig lying dead, but my poor faithful dog Niger
lying near it, killed by the same ball. I never
saw the dog when I fired, and can only suppose
that the poor beast must have jumped up at the
moment, receiving the ball through his head


before it reached the pig. I was much grieved
at this sad accident, for, besides the value of
the dog as a retriever, he was a great pet with
all on board, and a most amusing, intelligent
creature. Thoroughly disgusted with the day's
work I returned on board.

Some of our sportsmen had been successful,
and had bagged two large sows, which must
have afforded good sport ere they succumbed,
judging by the way their bodies were riddled
with balls.

On the 9th we left Bleaker Island, a fit name
for such a place, and, touching for a short time
at Speedwell Island, where an eccentric indi-
vidual, supposed to be sheep-farming, lived,
we anchored the same evening at Fox Harbour.

The next day several parties landed, with rod
and gun, and another went to haul the seine.
Taking a light fly-rod I fished a small stream
at the head of the harbour, and killed upwards
of three dozen small trout, besides putting as
many back. These fish are somewhat similar
to the common English trout, with the same


pink spots ; they are not so well shaped how-
ever, being long, narrow fish, in poor condition.

Most of the land about Fox Harbour is the
property of Captain Packe, who kindly supplied
us with excellent mutton and beef for the
officers' and ship's company ; there are also
three or four settlers living there, sheep-farm-
ing some on their own account, and some in
Captain Packe's interests.

The shooting here was very indifferent, but
the seining party had fine sport; they spread
the net across the entrance to a creek which
was well stocked with mullet. The creek being
a cut de sac hardly a fish escaped, and the result
of the first haul was about 500 mullet, averaging
from 1 Ib. to 10 Ibs. each, and some as much as
141bs., besides a quantity of small fry.

Leaving Fox Harbour, November llth, we
steamed through Falkland Sound, but a gale
springing up obliged us to seek shelter under
the lee of Swan Island, where we anchored, to
wait the, turn of the tide. There are some
sheep on this island, which were landed by


Mr. Cobb some years ago, and which have since
gone wild ; having a few hours to spare, we
went in search of them.

Starting across country we came to a lake
swarming with duck and teal, and a few geese.
A volley soon scattered them, when the sport
began. There was another small lake not far
off, and the birds kept flying from one to the
other, giving us the most splendid shots. Elton
stood at one place, I at the other. After some
twenty minutes' shooting we gathered up the
slain, amounting to twenty brace of teal, besides
several ducks, and a few geese. We now went
after the sheep, a flock having been spied some
way off; so, joining Cobb and Packe, we pro-
ceeded to stalk them, having first changed our
cartridges to ball. The sheep saw us approach-
ing, and bolted at once, but stopped to feed in
a valley some distance off ; so we made a long
detour to circumvent them. Favoured by the
ground, we had no difficulty in getting to within
200 yards of them, but could not approach
nearer without being seen ; however, by crawl-



ing through the grass we got a trifle closer,
when they either saw or winded us, and went
off at a gallop.

Thinking it likely they would make for the
beach I ran down to cut them off, and posted
myself in view of a pass I expected them to
take. I had hardly reached this when the flock
came in sight, headed by an old ram. They saw
me instantly and stopped, while the old fellow
took stock of me, but I cut short his delibera-
tions by a ball through the head; the rest
bolted, but had not gone far before the second
barrel rolled over another, which I also secured.
The flock meanwhile ran right against Packe,
who killed one and wounded another, which we
afterwards got. We killed altogether five, but
four of them were in such poor condition as to
be not worth taking back. The old ram I had
first killed was tolerably fat, so we took him
on board ; the ball had entered his eye, and
gone out at the back of the head. It was
now getting late, so we retraced our steps
towards the ship, shooting a few rabbits


and some beautiful pink-breasted gulls on our

Leaving Swan Island we reached Port Howard
the same evening. This is one of the most
desolate spots in the West Falklands ; the har-
bour, however, is a good one, being completely
land-locked. We remained there all the next
day, Sunday. There are many wild cattle in the
neighbourhood, and we were promised some
good sport if we remained, but we could not
spare the time.

From Port Howard we steamed across to a
small island near the opposite shore, where we
landed and shot twenty couple of rabbits in a
very short time, and from thence proceed-
ing through the northern entrance of the
sound, anchored the following morning at Port

Sport in these islands is not altogether unat-
tended with danger, on account of the bleak
and desolate nature of the country. On two
occasions naval officers have lost their way, and
perished from exposure during the night ; but

c 2


now an Admiralty order forbids parties of less
than three from going out shooting together.

On the 16th of November we sailed from Port
Stanley for Valparaiso, and the following day
touched at Keppel Island, where there is a
mission station for instructing the natives of
Terra del Fuego. The head-quarters of the
mission are established at a wild spot on the
southern shores of Terra del Fuego. This
branch is under the charge of Mr. Bartlett, in
whose hands it seems to do well. Whilst
getting in supplies of potatoes, &c., I took
my gun and started off for a lake some miles
inland, in hopes of getting a shot at a wild
swan ; a Fuegian leading a horse to carry game
accompanied me. On my way to the lake I shot
several brace of geese and some snipe and
rabbits ; no swans were to be seen, and I re-
turned on board, after an absence of four hours,
with twenty geese, fifteen snipe, eight ducks,
and three rabbits. Putting to sea the same night
we steamed clear of the land, which at daylight
the next morning was no longer in sight.


THE passage from the Falklands to the Straits
of Magellan is usually a stormy one ; so we con-
sidered ourselves fortunate when at daylight of
the fourth day, after leaving Keppel Island, we
sighted Cape Virgin at the entrance to the
straits, and by eight o'clock were fairly in the
channel. In the first narrows we found the
current running so swiftly that, although going
eight knots by the log, we were scarcely moving
past the land ; by putting the canvas on we
increased the speed to twelve knots, and pushed
through, and, without stopping at Sandy
Point, anchored in Port Famine the following
morning. The scenery up to this part of the
straits is very tame ; low, sandy shores, desti-


tute of vegetation, are on either side, but west-
ward of Port Famine it alters completely ;
rugged, snow-clad mountains tower up on all
sides, so that it is difficult to make out the
channel without reference to the chart.

Port Famine is not by any means the sort of
place one would expect from such a name ; we
had some capital sport amongst the wild fowl
and snipe, which are to be found in great
numbers a mile or so to the westward of the
anchorage. We killed some very beautiful
geese, of a different sort to any we had seen at
the Falkland Islands. I also bagged a wood-
cock, the only one seen; although, from the
nature of the ground, I have no doubt they
breed there.

Whilst having our luncheon on the banks
of the river we were rudely disturbed by
a 1501b. shell whistling over our heads, and
bursting in the mud on the opposite side. This
was followed by another, upon which we de-
camped. On board the ship they were practising
at a mark with great guns, and we had mean-



tiously approached the very spot where we had
agreed the guns should be pointed.

From Port Famine we pushed on to the
westward, but being unable to round Cape Fro-


ward, owing to the gale in our teeth, we bore
up and anchored for the night in Nicholas Bay :
the next morning we made another attempt, and
succeeded in doubling the Cape, the southern-


most point of South America, and a magnificent

Soon afterwards we had our first introduction
to the inhabitants of these desolate regions ; a
canoe-full of Indians came off from the Fuegian
shore, bringing with them some arrows and
other trash, which they wished to exchange for
rum or tobacco, the only English words which
they seemed to have acquired.

Notwithstanding the extreme cold they were
almost naked, their sole covering being a
guanaco robe about their loins. These wretches
are probably about the lowest in the scale of
humanity, and would seem to supply the missing
link between man and monkey; they subsist
chiefly on seals, whales' blubber, or whatever
garbage they can find along the shore.

Passing through Crooked Reach, we anchored
in a lovely little harbour called Playa Parda
Cove. This small port, though perfectly land-

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Online LibraryWilliam Robert KennedySporting adventures in the Pacific, whilst in command of the Reindeer. → online text (page 1 of 16)