WRECK OF THE SS TAUPO
TUESDAY 18 FEBRUARY 1879
Bay of Plenty Times 20 February 1879 p3
WRECK OF THE TAUPO.
The wreck of the Union Company's SS. Taupo coming so soon after the Taranaki (see Wreck of SS Taranaki 29 November 1878)catastrophe has naturally created a tremendous sensation throughout the length and breadth of New Zealand. From an early hour yesterday morning we were inundated with urgent telegrams demanding particulars, and the single wire which connects Tauranga with the outer world was positively blocked. The general impression in town seems to be that the accident resulted from carelessness, but whose the fault was has not as yet transpired. We have formed a very definite opinion ourselves; but shall say nothing till after the official inquiry. Both Captain and Mate were on the bridge; and seem to have shown considerable presence of mind when the ship struck. The passengers were also calm and well behaved, no attempt whatever being made to rush to the boats.
The Taupo left Auckland at about 5, o'clock on Monday, with a cargo amounting to 100 tons, and a quantity of coal. The following is the passenger list :
|CHAPMAN||Mr & Mrs|
|GIBSON||Mr & Mrs|
|McDOUGALL||Mr & Mrs|
|ESPIE||Mr & Mrs|
|HAWORTH||Mrs & 2 boys|
|COLLINGS||Mr & Mrs|
|AUCKAU (AUCKAN)||Mrs & 3 children|
|DANKS||Mr & Mrs|
|GRAHAM||Mr & Mrs & 2 children & servant|
|KING||Mr & Mrs & son|
|FOR PORT CHALMERS|
All went well till she arrived off the Tauranga bar on Tuesday morning about 7 o'clock. At this time many of the ladies were still in bed, though the gentlemen had mostly come on deck. Captain (William) CROMARTY and his Chief Officer (Mr GARRARD) were both on duty, and two men at the wheel. The usual course was steered, and all went well till the vessel appeared within a stone's throw of the Mount, when she struck heavily on a sunken rock. Opinions differ as to the severity of the shock. Some say it seemed extremely sharp, but one or two persons were not even wakened by the noise, so it cannot have been very severe. The Captain immediately gave orders to reverse the engines, and for a few minutes this was done, but the engine room commencing to fill with water, they were stopped. The Mate now called all hands on deck, and in a very short time the boats were lowered, and the ladies rowed to the Mount. The gentlemen and luggage followed. Hardly twenty minutes elapsed before all were safely ashore. Immediately after the accident a cannon was fired, and the whistle kept going till the steam gave way.
A PASSENGER'S ACCOUNT.
Mr Walter BISHOP, representative of the New Zealand Sun favours us with the following resume of the catastrophe: — The Taupo left Auckland shortly before 5 o'clock on Monday afternoon, and had a good run down the coast, with fine weather. She entered Tauranga Heads about a quarter to 7 o'clock on Tuesday morning against a strong ebb tide. When passing Mount Maunganui, and within 100 yards of Stoney Point Reef, the vessel struck heavily, and remained hard and fast. The engines were at once stopped, and in a few, minutes the fires were extinguished in the engine-room by the influx of water. Anticipating serious injury to the vessels bottom, immediate preparations were made to land passengers and mails. The boats were quickly lowered, and within 20 minutes all the passengers, mails, and a quantity of luggage had been safely placed ashore, whence they were conveyed to Tauranga by the Katikati. A subsequent examination showed that the vessel had apparently struck the ground immediately under the engine-room, which, with the middle compartments, are flooded to the floors. The fore and aft compartments are dry. Soundings indicated two fathoms all round the vessel at low tide. She is evidently hanging amidships on a shallow patch composed of big round boulders. The officers and crew were most energetic in their efforts to rescue the vessel from her unfortunate position, and great praise in particular is due to Mr GARRARD, the Chief Officer, for his prompt and unremitting exertions while superintending the lowering of boats and landing of passengers, which was accomplished without any confusion.
The accident is attributed to the vessel's head suddenly canting to shore when steering through the strong tidal rip at the most critical point in the channel. General sympathy is expressed for Captain CROMARTY under circumstances which are considered purely accidental and unavoidable.
A passenger describes the accident as follows "I was standing on the forecastle with another gentlemen as we entered the Heads. The vessel seemed to be going rather near the land, which we remarked to one another, and also that the rip appeared veiy strong. Suddenly the steamer struck violently against a rock and appeared to lift under our feet. There was then a general lurch, and as I looked towards the helm, which was forward also, I saw that the two helmsmen had let go the Wheel. Both Captain and Mate were on deck. One of them shouted "back her" but upon its becoming obvious that going astern would endanger our lives, cried "stop her". The engine room now began to fill with water, and the Mate, who was throughout conspicuous for readiness and precision, ordered all hands on deck. In an instant his words were obeyed, and the boats rapidly let down. Save for a little excitement amongst the women, the greatest selfcontrol was exhibited by all who were on deck. The others, who were summoned from their cabins, seemed rather alarmed. Some of the ladies had hardly time to dress, and were compelled to go ashore en deshabille. After the women had been carefully landed, the men, some with luggage, and some without, followed. The principal danger at this time (owing to the falling tide) was the ship canting over. We remained on the Mount about two hours.
THE ALARM IN TAURANGA.
The alarm was given in Tauranga about a quarter past 7, by Mr McKELLAR, who observed the Taupo letting off steam, and apparently aground. He immediately communicated with Mr COMMONS, and in a few minutes the S.S. Katikati had got steam up, and proceeded to the wreck. As she neared the Mount those on board could see that the passengers were ashore, and that an accident had eventuated. The launch took aboard and conveyed to Tauranga a number of people, the mails, and a quantity of luggage, arriving about 9.30 a.m.
AFTER THE ACCIDENT.
During the early part of Tuesday the Katikati was occupied bringing luggage, etc, from the wreck, and later the crew of the Taupo Bbgan discharging cargo into cutters. This took until Wednesday morning. The Coal was then transhipped into the Sovereign of the Seas.
ARRANGEMENTS ON BEHALF OF PASSENGERS.
The S.S. Hawea, from the South, is due here this morning at 6.30 a.m., and will be despatched for Auckland at once. She leaves again the same night, and will reach Tauranga on the following morning to take up the Taupo's passengers for the south. This expedition reflects great credit on the Company, who are evidently not easily posed.
FROM NEW ZEALAND SHIPWRECKS 1795-1975 by C W N INGRAM (Fifth edition 1977 A H & A W REED LTD)
Over two years elapsed before attempts to refloat the Taupo were successful, and on April 29, 1881, she left Tauranga for Auckland in town of the steamer Staffa. At 5.15pm when both vessels were off Karewa,(Karewa Island - a small island 1/8th of a mile in circumference, and 350 feet high, situated between Tauranga and Katikati) the steamer Wellington took the Taupo in town; but it was soon discovered that the Taupo had sprung a leak with which the pumps were unable to cope, and at 8.20pm, she was abandoned. The vessel commenced to settle down stern first until was almost end on, with 40 feet of her length above water, the keel being plainly visible. When bolt upright, the Taupo remained stationary for a moment, rose then at 9.40pm sank in 48 fathoms of water, near Mayor Island.
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