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BRIER HOLME DISASTER.

NARRATIVE OF THE SOLE SURVIVOR.

Eighteen lives were lost m the wreak of the baa-quo Brier Holme, off the Tasmanian coast. There M-as only one saurvivor, Oscar Larsen, a Norwegian, and he reached Hobart the other day. His story of the disaster is full of thrilling and pathetic experience.?. A fuller account of it than that telegraphed, taken from the Hobart Mercury, states : —

Immediately following the striking of the. vessel a heavy explosion of dynamite took place, and blew up the after deck. The ship bumped heavily two dr three times subsequently, and the mizzen and mainmasts went overboard. All m the' watch excepting the look-out man, who was forward, together with the captain, who was presumably m his cahiai, met instantaneous death.

When the ship struck, Larsen, four able seamen, and three apprentices were, im the forecastle, and did not think the disaster was so serious as it turned out to be. All, however, bmrriedly dressed themselves, Lan-en even putting on his oilskin and sea boots, and rushed on deck. They found the seas breaking all over the vessel, and it was with the greatest difficulty that they reached the fore rigging. While there the stern of the vessel broke off and swung round. After cling.l'ng there with the greatest anxiety for a couple of hours, the foremast went by the board, and all were precipitated into a heavy sea. When the vessel struck the land was visible, and within a stone's throw, the foremast M'hen it fe-11 very nearly reaching the rocks. When falling into the water Larsen started to swim for the .shore, and saw nothing of his comrades. After struggling very hard he got on to the rocks, around wliich the sea broke, the waves at times going right over him. He qlung on for a quarter of an hour, when a heavy wave broke over him, and carried him out to sea. He was washed backwards and forwards for about two hours, and clinging to two planks, one under each arm, he at last managed to get to a place of safety, and climb out of reach of the sea. His clothes were very much torn upon reaching shore, but other garments were washed up, and he was able to clothe himself fairi}* well.

He went inland some little distance, and stayed until daylight, when he returned to the coast-line. At that time he saw a man .named Muller on the jibboom, and spoke to him. Tlie sea was much quieter, and the weather was fine. Mullei asked if any others had readied the shore, and Larsen replied m the negative. Muller next asked which was the best place to land, and, upon receiving a reply, got liold of two planks and lowered himself into the sea. Largan could give him no assistance, and saw no more of him. He stayed m the vicinity Uintil about dinnier-time, and, after taking observations, made a camp of wreckage, and stayed there- two days, living on tinned herrings and Neaves' Food, which came ashore. Afterwards he went inland, and about two and a-half miles from the coast picked np the Port D.ivey track, which he followed to Port Davey, the journey occupying three da3*s. He carried food m bags made of canvas and pillow-slips which were Avashed ashore. On the way he slept m the bush. The weather was cold and wet.

He got to Port Davey m tlie morning, and, finding no one, decided. to go back for more food tlie same day. On his* reiurn to the wreck he lost his way, and was seven days picking up the track, by which time he had only one tin of herrings left. After .staying there three or four days m the camp which he had mode before, lie started on the track that runs to the north of Port Davey, being provisioned with herrings and Neaves' Food. After following it for 12 days he became frightened to go any further, and so returned to the scene of the wreck, taking seven days. He found plenty of waterto drink. He stayed near the scene of the wreck again for -several days, and then returned to Port Davey, and made a. camp, which is identical with, the one reported by the search party, and tried to build a raft out of limbs cut from the trees by an axe which he found. He got it half built, and then the dry wood ran out. He tried to swim the river, but the tide was too strong, and he had to give up the attempt. Food was getting short, and Larsen made for the .scene of the wreck once more, arriving there m two days, at about noon. He gatliered up some more food washed from the wreck, and attempted to build a boat out of the wreckage. A saw and a plane, together with tins of nails, had come asliore. . He only got five planks together, and, being -unable to get anything like a shape of a. boat, gave up his intention.

j Next day he was delighted to see a i s-t earner (by his description it was tlie Seabird, which had been sent. out by the Government), abreast of the wreck, and only about half a mile- from where he was .standing. He made signals with linoleum fastened to a stick, but was unable j to attract attention, and the-isteamer tunned round and went back. Larsen expressed the opinion that the wreck sliould have been seen if a good look-out liad been kept. He stayed there two more days, when the creek from which he was getting water became very dry, and the water was becoming bad for drinking. He -went on a lull further up, _and .remained a couple of days, afterwards returning to the wreck for more food. He saw a fishing boat passing, bub was too late to hail it. Two days subsequently a simihid* vessel passed during the night. He had no matches to make a ihe. Once mc-re he provisioned himself, and proceeded to Port Davey, which he reached after a journey of four days. On arriving tliere he saw a fishing boat, and subsequently two others. He reached there m tlie afternoon. No one was then about. He remained, there until about 6 o'clock, when fishermen made their appearance, and he was taken aboard. 'From Larsen's statement it would appear that when his camp was found ..at .Port Davey he had returned to the wreck for more food. Three or four days after the steamer -spoken of by Larsen passed, he said he was between two large bush, fires, and was afraid of being caught m them, and returned to the coast.

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/PBH19050306.2.30

Bibliographic details

Poverty Bay Herald, Poverty Bay Herald, Volume XXXII, Issue 10299, 6 March 1905

Word Count
1,124

BRIER HOLME DISASTER. Poverty Bay Herald, Volume XXXII, Issue 10299, 6 March 1905

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