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SHIPWRECK AT THE AUCKLAND ISLANDS.

Per Press Association. INVERCARGILL, Dec. 1. A sensation was caused hero when tho news spread that the. Hinemoa had returned with castaways from the Auckland Islands. STORY OF THE WRECK.

The following story was obtained from Mr Crosby Smith, .on his arrival at Invercargill on Saturday and was taken from notes written by Mr Smith during the voyage home: On the arrival of the expedition in Port Ross at Auckland Islands early on the morning of Saturday, November 16, great excitement was caused when on sighting the Government depot it was noted that a white flag was flying at half-mast in token of the presence of a shipwrecked crew. The captain lost no time in launching a boat and effecting a landing, and as he approached the depot a cheef went up from at least a dozen men who were congregated there. It was recognised as a true British cheer and was answered with three times three from the Hinemoa. After a very short delay Captain Bollons returned', followed by five of tho stranded crew in the depot boat. From the crew it was learned that tho four-masted barque Dundonald, 2000 tons, left Sydney on February 17, bound for Falmouth, laden with wheat. She carried a crew of twenty-seven all told, in addition to whom was the captain's son, a lad of sixteen, who was not in good health. Contrary winds were met with all the ■way, and a great disturbance of the compass had been noticed half-way between Sydney and the Aucklands." At 12.30 on the morning of March 7 the ship struck on a reef on the west side pf Disappointment Island, an outlying $s]and of the Auckland group. The jiight was thick, with half a gale Mowing. An'effort was made to wear snip, but it was too late, and she was

driven stern, first- right into a crevice in the cliff, which towered up 300 ft high. In a few minutes the fore part of the ship dropped into the sea and caused a huge wave to wash along the deck, sweeping the crew before it, and carrying- away in one sweep eleven jnen, \ylio were never seen again. Amongst these were the captain and his son. The rest of the crew hung to various fixtures, and when the wave had gone by rushed up the rigging. Three men got ashore from the jigger mast, but one of them slipped uack over the cliff and met his death. Captain Bollon supplied the men with-some additional stores, and told them he would call for them on his return from Bounty and Campbell Islands, in ton or twelve days. The men all appeared well, and it was evident that the food they had subsisted on had agreed with them. While the men were on the island two ships passed them, the first in July and the other ■later on, but the castaways could not attract their attention, as the vessels were a considerable distance oif snore. A SURVIVOR'S STORY.

Chas. Eyre, A.8., stated: ""After the vessel sank orders were given to clear the lifeboats, but it was found to be useless as there was a big sea, and rocks all round us. The captain ordered us to put on our life-belts. The steward gave up all hope of saving himself, and said 'Good-bye, boys ] I'm too old to get ashore.' He went into his cabin, shut the door, and soon after the compressed air in the hold blew up the deck. The mate told us to get under the forecastle head, as the ship might be dismasted. We were there two or three minutes when she started shipping seas. We went on the fo'c'sle head, but were not there more than a couple of minutes when water began to come right ever. One tremendous sea washed clean over us, and although we all managed to hang on. the next one washed us all away. I don't know what became of the others, but I was ■whirled, round and round. I caught . hold of the foot of the fo'c'sle, but was instantly torn away by a sea. I then ' caught hold of one of the shrouds and climbed up. As I did so I'heard someone following me, arid looking back saw it was an Irishman named John Judge. We went on to the' foretopgallant yard, as it was canted towards the shore. We thouht it was touching the cliff, bnt found it to be about sixteen feet away. We were going to try to swing ashore on the end of a rope, but found the rope was too short. Unfortunately we had dropped the only knife we had, and could not cut an- ' other rope to lengthen it. Wo spent the night up there, and heard many distressing cries around us.

THE SCRAMBLE ASHORE. "About' an hour before daylight we began to climb down to the foretop, and found about twelve men there,. including the first and second mates. The mate told us to prepare for the worst, as the mast could not stand much longer. He thought wo had better cut a feAV lines, as we might be jable to help one another ashore. 1 had lost my knife so the mate gave me his, and I went up again and cut away some of the running gear. "Suddenly I heard a voice from the shore opposite, and found it to be that of Michael Poole, a Russian Finn. I _ cut one of the top sail lines, threw it to him, and we made fast at both ends. By this means we all managed

to get ashore. "The cliff was about 300 ft high, but v at the point just above the mast there was an easy slope, which allowed us to climb up with comparative ease. There were sixteen of us out of twenty-eight, which left twelve to be accounted for 'as drowned. They were washed away when the big sea swept the ship. "I now learned that the first man ashore —Walter Low —called 'out to pass a rope, but before this could be done, slipped over the cliff into the pea and was never seen again. We were all very much exhausted when we got ashore, being very hungry and cold. When in the top-gallant, the mate told us there was a depot on the island, and when we got ashore wo went in search of it. The weather was so thick that we conld- not toll where we were' going, so we turned back. Later on we discovered that there was no depot on that island. This was a . great disappointment to the mate, j who, along with the second mate, had been seriously ill from exposure. We never expected tho second mate to recover, but lie gradually got better. The mate, however, after finding he was not on the main Auckland Island, was disheartened. He sank rapidly, and died on the twelfth day after the wreck. He was over 60 years of age. "By this time we had discovered that we were on Disappointment Island. After tho mate's death we shifted over to the eastern side of the island. "We subsisted upon raw -aiollyhawks. The few matches amongst us ■were wet, and it was three days before *** we- could get them dry. When we once got a fire going, we hanked it up and kept it alight for seven months. We only covered ourselves up with canvas we got from the ship before she disappeared, but we began to see that w,o were going to have some cold weather, for snow and nail came on. •Wo then decided to dig holes in the ground, which wo did with our hands Above the holes we built up sticks and put sods on tho top, forming lints about six feet long and four feet wide. We managed to scrape through the winter all right by living on seahawks. mollyhawks and seals. "When we saw the seals first bobbing lip on the 'water, we thought we had got the sea serpent all right. Wf did not know how to kill them at first. We used to whack them on the back with a stick, but one of our fellows happened to hit one of them on the nose ,and it rolled over, so after tha J we had no difficulty iiv despatching them. in the beginning we used to coo! everything by putting it on the flame? but afterwards we made a mud oven and cooked our food on a spit. W< knew a depot was on the other island which was about six miles distant, bir H re.j..di>l,.not • '.knewr haw to get aeros ili'ere;* :- ': -;' . • ' ","!][; was decided to build a canvs bo.ai,' but we had to cut up our clot lit |W sails and blankets, !as we hascarcely any clothes on when we cr, (ishoi-e* from the ship. Three mr built a boat of canvas and sticks. T do this we had to put in pieces of or;. clothes and blankets, and sew them tn gether, and the task was all the hard' ; *. fts tho sailmaster and carpenter w<v both drowned when the ship wi : ashore. - ,

"We did the sowing by means of ; small bone from one of the birds, \yitk a holo bored in it. We vsed a Hi tic

jit oi wire we imu. 1 "On the 31st July a start Aras made in the beat for ilie main island, which i was reached all light, but as the crew could iiui find lite depot, \\iay came back on the Oih August. They had six matches with them, uiui they used j four while over there. ''Then the; second l>ont wax built in September,- and one fine morning a party started for the main island. The boat was smashed by a sea before it> could get away. We'hnilfc a third one in October ,and started agTiin with a party of four; namely, Knudsen, Walters, Gration and myself. We got over^ to the large island, but' as we , reached the shore we struck a rock and the boat was smashed, sending tis all into the water. Wo scrambled ashore, but the miwhav) put out a fire which wo had carried iii die boat on a sod. We had carried fire in order to save matches, of which we had only two. These got wet, and even after drying them for three days we could not gei a light with them.' "On the fourth morning after landing we started in search of the: depot, and after walking across the island, and about 15 miles through the'hush and scrub, we struck right on it. There was a- good boat 'at the depot, but no sails, so we cut' up our clothes to make a sail, so that we could return to Disappointment Island for the rest of the crew. "On the next day wa tried to sail round for them, but; the weather was too bad, and wo had some difficulty in returning to the depot. '•'On tiie^following day we made another start, and got there about three o'clock. Wo had found clothes at the depot, and exchanged them for what we were wearing, and we had also cut each others hair and beards, which, during the seven months we were on the other island, had grown so long i that.'we looked like a lot of 'spring poets.' As we got near our old camp our mates did not know us in our new 'toggery,' and they thought we were sealers. a , "We saw from a piece of paper in the depot that the steamer Tutanekai had been there on the Ist of February, and that! some other New Zealand Government boat would call in about six months, so we were on the look-out /for a boat every day after we got to the depot. STORES PURLOINED. "You can imagine our delight when the Hinemoa put in an appearance on Saturday morning, Nov. 16th, eight months after the day of our shipwreck. When we got to the depot we found only ship's biscuits and tinnecl meat; no tea, butter, sugar, or coffee. We found the door of the depot open, and it was evident that some of the stores had been purloined. We found an old pattern gun in the hut, and after a bit got it to work. We used roots of a plant (Stilbocarpa palaris) for vegetables, and it was not bad when boiled. Wo also made coffee from sea biscuits, by roasting them. We afterwards found a little tea at Enderby Island depot." Mr Crosby Smith states that Charles Eyre, who gave the above statement, acted as cook for the Campbell Island section of the expedition. Mr Smith says he is an intelligent young fellow, 21 years of age, having just completed his term of apprenticeship. He ia genial and full of humour and can look on the comical side of the sitntion, although- deeply impressed with its sad aspect. 1 DISAPPOINTMENT ISLAND. At 5.30 on the morning of the 28th Captain Bollons weighed anchor in Port Ross, and steamed for Disappointment Island, where he had promised to land the members of the expedition for a few hours, if it were at all possible to do so. Tlie trip had a special interest for them, in that no one of scientific standing had been known to land there previously to examine the flora and fauna. ' Apart from this there was the extraordinary interest that it was hero that the x>undonald had been recently wrecked. Here also were to bo seen novel huts and other relics of the shipwrecked crew. There was also an unpleasant task to be performed on this visjt— the removal of the remains of the matte of ihe "Dundonald, who had died there of exposure nearly eight months before, to the little cemetery at' Port Itoss. ■•* i

Disappointment Island is from point to point about- 13| miles long by one mile wide. The coast consists of high rugged cliffs. Wo had a good view of the place where the ship struck, and it was certainly a very difficult and dangerous piece of coast. The' ship was washed stern first into a kind of; tunnel, working round in a semicircular direction, and hence it was that the ship was tossed about so much by the rough seas washing in from each end of the tunnel.

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/AG19071202.2.38

Bibliographic details

SHIPWRECK AT THE AUCKLAND ISLANDS., Ashburton Guardian, Volume XXIX, Issue 7349, 2 December 1907

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2,407

SHIPWRECK AT THE AUCKLAND ISLANDS. Ashburton Guardian, Volume XXIX, Issue 7349, 2 December 1907

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