Vessels that sailed New Zealand Waters with Indentical Names

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It was common in the clipper days to have two or three vessels sailing the oceans with the same name.

Timaru Herald Wednesday 10th Nov. 1875 page 3
If it is difficult to find appropriate names for towns or districts, without repeating those already in use, it must be far more so to find suitable names for ships, the number of which is increasing daily in an enormous ratio. The practice which has lately grown up of christening vessels trading with certain countries after ports in those countries is very inconvenient. Thus we have steamers in New Zealand called the Wellington, the Taranaki, the Nelson, the Lyttelton, the Wanganui, and so forth; names which have caused endless confusion - especially in telegrams - by being mistaken for the names of the places between which steamers ply. Native names are better, such as Tararua, Waikato, Rangitoto, Hawea, Tawera, or Rangitikei; but, though familiar to us, they are troublesome to strangers, who make the most fearful mess of both their pronunciation and orthography. We heard of a case of this the other day where advice was received by a family of their friends sailing in the "Oriana," when in reality the "Orari" was the ship referred to. Native names have another disadvantage too. To those who do not understand their literal meaning, they convey no idea beyond the name of a river a mountain or a lake; but in reality many of them express ideas of the most offensive nature.

Ship names were repeated often, with replacement ships taking the same name as on older retired ship in the same shipping line. Most figureheads on vessels reflected the names of the vessels they adorned.  The figurehead of the Surat, a head of a woman, is at the Otago Settlers Museum.  Ship carvers also practiced their skill on name boards, bows, binnacles, billet heads and transoms (beam across stern-post of ship).

Ships were named after ship builders, ship captains, countries, provinces, towns, ship owners, named after a previous ship belonging to that shipping line, battles, for their beauty, many had whimsical names etc.  Some shipping lines had patterns e.g. City of ..., Loch ..., Queen of ..., Star of ...,. White Star line named its later vessels ending in ...ic.

Sister ships refers to ships of the same size and design - basically built from an identical set of plans. There were usually slight differences, but they were virtually identical. However, they could be built by different builders and could be owned by different companies. A newspaper quote "The Otaki is a sister ship in every respect to the Orari, so recently described in these columns, therefore it is not necessary to give a detailed description of her."

Otago Witness Nov. 17 1898 pg 11
Shipping News
The barque Ben Nevis, an old trader here, has been sold to Glasgow owners for 2550 pounds to go under the Norwegian flag. She was built in 1868 by Messrs Barclay, Curle, and CO., of Glasgow.

Sydney Shipping Gazette Volume 1, Number 13 (15 June, 1844) Fifty favourite names of British merchantmen, which ought to be considered as fairly used up. The figures show the number of vessels bearing each name, from Marryat's signal book: -

Active 11
Adelaide 12
Albion 28
Anne 63
Betsy 20
Britannia 24
Brothers 24
Caledonia 21
Caroline 25
Catherine 23
Courier 16
Diana 13
Eagle 20
Eleanor 23
Eliza 48
Elizabeth 75
Emma 32
Fame 15
Favourite 17
George 19
Harmony 19
Hebe 24
Hero 16
Hope 47
Isabella 43
Jane 50
John 22
Kingston 14
London 13
Louisa 15
Margaret 45
Maria 37
Mary 70
Minerva 23
Nautilus 12
Neptune 20
Ocean 26
Prince Albert 8
Perseverance 18
Queen 10
Rapid 19
Sarah 35
Thetis 15
Triton 16
Union 27
Venus 18
Victoria 26
Wanderer 12
William 40
Zephyr 10

Every now and then we find in the papers, "Wreck of the "Sarah", "Venus, or "Diana," or some such name. Now, as there happens to be so many of one name, how can it be known at once which vessel is the unfortunate one? Not being known at once, it is easily conceivable how many shipowners lie down to rest on thorns- how many wives and mothers are kept in suspense relative to their husbands and sons on board - and how, in short, some hundreds of persons are regularly 'be-devilled" in doubt.

Vessel    Year built or tonnage
Agra 665 & 821 tons
Alexander steamer & barque
Atrato pre 1857 & 1888
Arongi streamers
Ashmore 1854 &1882
Auckland streamer & vessel
Avalanche 1160 & 692 tons
Ben Nevis 1852 & 1053 tons
Ben Venue 1865  1000 1891 2033 tons
Blenheim 1877 - 1899 & 1916
Bombay 1842-1863
British Empire 1499 & 2600 tons
British Queen 569 barque & steamer
Dunedin 1874 1250 1850's 208 tons
Canterbury 1857 & 1874
Carnatic 853- 1855 & 1867
City of Dunedin steamer & ship
Elizabeth brig & barque
Euterpe 1863 &
Gazelle 1877 &
Gladys 1345 & 499 tons
Vessel Year built or tonnage
Hinemoa steamer & barque
Indian Empire 1314 1860 1515 tons 1865
Ironsides 1838 & 1862
Lochnager 379 & 460 tons
Margaret brig & vessel
Melbourne 1857 &1860
Midlothian c 400 & 1084 tons
Moa streamer & brig
Monarch 1850 & 1866 - 1870
Napier 571 & 1000 tons
Opawa vessel & steamer
Otago steamer & 1869 & 1870
Rimutaka 1884, 1900, 1923
Robert Henderson 586 & 368
Star of India 1863 1,197 tons
Sydney 350 & 450 & ship
Victory 1199, 700 & 579 tons 
Waikato steamer & vessel
Westminster 1840-2 & 1855
Weymouth barque & 830 tons
Zealandia 1858 & 1869

  "Sacramento's the land for me - Doodah, Doodah!
Sacramento's the land for me - Doodah, Doodah Day!
Blow, blow, blow,
for Californy, O;
There's plenty of gold in the land I'm told
On the banks of the Sacramento"
There's where the boys are gay and free!
There's where the boys are gay and free! "
......with his pockets full of tin

This brisk sea shanty was usually sung when pumping the bilges daily.