This account from the Auckland Star, illustrates the passage and procedure of a voyage from the London Victoria Docks to New Zealand in 1894.
Joseph Bell was appointed Chief Engineer to S S Ionic in 1894, and over the subsequent period of five years, 1894-1899, he sailed on S S Ionic for fourteen voyages to New Zealand that took an average 122 days to complete.
“The Shaw, Saville, and Albion Company’s steamer lonic, from London, arrived here at 6.55 a.m. today. She left the Royal Albert Docks, London, on Thursday, March 22nd, at 0.47 p.m., and calling at Plymouth on the 24th and taking passengers and mails on board the lonic proceeded on her way, meeting with fresh S.E. breezes across the Bay of Biscay, from thence strong S.W. to westerly winds until arrival at Tenerife on March 29th. After coaling here she proceeded at 10.32 a.m. the same day for Capetown, experiencing moderate variable breezes to the line, which was crossed on Wednesday, April 4th, at 5 p.m., thence until arrival in Table Bay on Thursday, April 12th, at 10 p.m., moderate to fresh S.E. Trades. The voyage was resumed on April 13th after having embarked a few passengers. Light to moderate variable winds were encountered to long. 50deg E., thence strong breezes to an occasional moderate gale, wind varying from N.N.W. to S. W., to long. lOOdeg E. ; from thence to port, rainy, dull and overcast weather was experienced, high following sea and squalls of wind, being principally from W. to N.W. The Mewstar was passed at 6.38 a.m., and lonic arrived at Hobart Wharf at 1.20 p.m. After landing about 140 tons of general merchandise, and passengers, the lonic left at 6.25 a.m. on 2nd May for Auckland, experiencing on the voyage across S.W. to westerly winds and weather squally and rainy until the coast of New Zealand was sighted. The run down the coast was particularly fine, wind S.S.W. and sea smooth, arriving as above. Capt, Kidley, R.N.R., who is in command, is assisted by the following officers:—Chief officer, W, L. Dangerfield Chapman (Lieut. R.N.R.): second, R. W. James; third, E. Crosby Roberts: Joseph Bell, R.N.R., chief engineer; G. R. McMahon, second engineer; W. Reid, third engineer; Walter S. Inm, purser. Since her last voyage to New Zealand the lonic has undergone extensive alterations at the hands of her builder, Messrs Harland and Wolff. She has been fitted with new quadruple expansion engines of the largest type. Her passenger accommodation has, been entirely re-arranged on the lines of the new twin-screw steamship Gothic belonging to the White Star line, and she has been provided with new refrigerating apparatus—Hall’s system—capable of dealing with 36,000 carcasses and 217 tons dairy produce. The lonic leaves for Wellington probably tomorrow evening.”