On 5 August 1873 the Natal Mercury announced in eulogistic terms the arrival on the 3rd of the Currie Line steamer Elizabeth Martin from East London from which she had sailed on the 2 August under Captain Deacon. She carried a general cargo and only 8 passengers were named, viz:
Mr W Palmer
Mr and Mrs Garbut
Mr N Garbut
Black, Baxter & Co were the agents.
At three o'clock last Sunday afternoon (3rd August) a large steamer was sighted to the westward. She steamed round the Bluff at 3.40 p.m., anchored in the roadstead, and was made out to be the Elizabeth Martin, 906 tons, Captain Deacon (late of the Gothland), of Messrs. Donald Currie & Co's line. The tug went out to her about half past four o'clock, towing a cargo boat. The bar was rough, and the sea outside ran so high that the mails could not be put on board the tug. They were trans-shipped into the lighter, which arrived back in the bay very soon after the tug. There were 33 bags of mails, and our packet of extras, containing the latest European news, to the 25th June.
The Elizabeth Martin is a very fine, handsome, smart, and comfortable steamer. The passengers who have come up in her speak in the highest terms of her steaming capabilities, and of the courtesy and ability of her commander and his officers. She had a head wind all the way up from East London, and yet she made the run in about 24 hours. She was off the Umkomaas about 1 o'clock on Sunday afternoon. We are glad to hear that she is to be kept on the coast until the Florence arrives out, about the end of September.
She has brought up eight passengers, whose names will be found in our shipping column. Amongst them we are glad to welcome back our much-respected fellow-townsman, Mr W Palmer, who has had a pleasant trip through the Transvaal, Diamond Fields, and Cape Colony; whose health, we are glad to say, is thoroughly re-established; and who has many an interesting tale to tell of absent Natalians with whom he met and conversed during his wanderings.
The steamer's mail bags arrived at the post-office in town about six o'clock in the evening, and were delivered about nine o'clock. The steamer has only a small quantity of cargo for Natal, the manifest of which, together with that per Teuton, will be found in our extra. She discharged a great deal of cargo at Algoa Bay and East London. She is to come inside to-day, and all who can should pay her a visit. She is the largest steamer that will have crossed our bar, her gross tonnage being 1260.
Natal Mercury 7 August 1873:
The entrance of the Elizabeth Martin into our inner harbour is an event worthy of special notice in the records of our port. This fine steamer is much the largest vessel that has yet crossed the bar. Her burthen is over 1200 tons, her register shows upwards of 800 tons. She is 250 feet long. Nevertheless she entered the harbour safely and easily at dead neap tides. We congratulate both her commander and our Port Captain upon this interesting fact. Some months ago, when referring to the trade of the River Plate, we pointed out that there was no reason why vessels of large tonnage should not be built so as to come inside, and the present incident is proof of the fact. If a permanent depth of 18 feet could be secured on the bar steamers of 2000 tons might ply direct between England and Natal without the drawback of detention at the outer anchorage. It is of the utmost importance however, that the condition of the inner harbour should be improved, and the present channels, which are ever shifting and shoaling, be permanently straightened and deepened. We are glad to hear that Sir Benjamin Pine intends to visit Durban next week, with the especial purpose of inspecting both the harbour and the works.