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The Steam Dredge 'Black Swan.1*
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Having of late seen so much controversy going on in the papers anent the dredge, and different opinions expressed as to itihe value of the work she is doing, I determin ed to go and visit her myself, when I should
marine engineer, but as an actual eyewit ness. The Port paper has strongly con demned the whole work as a useless ex penditure of money, ia humouring the pet hobby of the Commissioner of Works, whom it styles a. ' pretentious amateur.' Arrived at the jetty preparatory to em barking on my adventurous trip across the Swan to see the 'Black Swan,' I certainly could not see that any work had been done whatever, and I should not be earprised if this has been the position taken up by many of the critics of the dredge and its work. The river was tempestuous, but propelled by two sturdy oarsmen we arrived in due course alongside the vessel, as she now lies inher 'dry dock.' As one looked at her she seemed to be almost surrounded by sea weed, which is easily to be understood, even by aa outsider, when it is explained to him that she is at present cutting her way through a large bank of sand and seaweed. Under tiie direction of tbe superintendent we first went ashore to see tike work that has been done there. Hundreds upon hundreds of tons of seaweed and other rub bish have been raised by this useless toy the ' Black Swan,' and deposited on this side of the river, thereby reclaiming a large tract of hitherto useless land besides strength
ocean. Altogether I should estimate an area ef at least ten acres has been reclaimed ip this manner. A temporary wall has been built on the witter side, to be followed eventually by a substantial structure. As we walked along the embankment formed of rubbish taken up by the dredge, we had a boat alongside of us in the channel made in eo doing; to test the depth of water and to show the result of the removal of all this matter. The depth of water varied from 10 to 20 feet, where before there had not been half th« lower depth. ThiB went farther to persuade me that oar ironclad had been doing something, Hi^ri«^ the time she had been the Comnussioners'a pet ' toy.' Walking back it was explained how it was the intention to reclaim a large piece of land on the town side, starting from Willis's Point. Thfe is to be done
I in a most substantial manner, form ing tkc bank of piles backed up with other timber. By this means the channel of the river will be mmh. furrowed, thereby deepening the water if only by confining it in a smaller limits. It is confidently anticipated that when this is done, the scour itself . will keep the channel from silt. Returning to the dredge we found the work actively proceeding. By means of an ingenious kind of an arrangement large quantities of seaweed and refuse are raised every minute or two, and dropped on to a punt, only to be loaded from there into barrows and wheeled away, while others of the party spread it out on the Vank. This, will goon until the dredge has completely cut away the bank of sand and weed facetiously styled by the Pott sheet as the dry dock. On board the dredge, and indeed through out all the works, everything Reamed to go on without a bitch, tbe work proceeding smoothly and rapidly. The -:apfcun has a 'comfortable cabin to himself, and the men bare a large room the
nuuis WWU&1& Ul cue veeeci, Ul VUKU l/ucjr pass their spare time and sleep — altogether 25 of them. It is a carious thing that whilst working amongst the seaweed and using the water for tbe boilers no corrosion or rust takes place, and even if a new chain were im mersed and left for a le*gth of time in the water, when taken ont it would be quite free from rust. The ene o'clock whistle sounded to recommence work before I left, and the men all turned up with commend able promptitude, and things went on as before. Once more embarking on board the boat, I returned to town, very pleased that I had availed myself of the opportunity of actual ly seeing what is being done and what has been accomplished on. a work that all should consider of great usefulness and import ance. Time will show.