Thursday, March 19, 2009

Kaipara Ship Wrecks - 1840 - Aurora Updated

The 500 Ton Barque Aurora met her fate on 27 April 1840 while leaving the Kaipara Harbour for Hokianga with a load of Kauri. Further research has brought to light the contemporary account of her final hours before she was totally lost as reported in the Sydney Gazette & New South Wales Advertiser 11 June 1840:

Total Wreck of the New Zealand Company's ship Aurora

The Aurora laden with timber, got under weigh from the upper part of the Kaipara River on the morning of the 27 April, and proceeded to the entrance of the channels, intending if possible, to go out by the middle one.

At 11 a.m., the wind draing to the S.E., and it being half ebb, came to an anchor between the entrances of the middle and northern channels. At noon the Captain proceeded in a boat for the purpose of sounding the northern channel (having entered that channel about six weeks previous), and found not less than five to six fathoms, so far as he was enabled to proceed, owing to the heavy rollers setting in.

At 4 p.m. the wind still blowing from the S.E and heavy surf on, determined on going out by the norther channel; accordingly weighed anchor, and made sail on the last quarter of the flood.

At 5.30 p.m., soon after entering the channel, the wind died away to a calm, and the vessel became unmanageable; let go the larboard bower and broght the vessel up, in swinging she caught her heel on a bank and continued to strike very heavy for some minutes.

Her masts were immediately cut away in order, if possible, to list her in shore, but unfortunately her starboard bilge being completely out fore and aft, she filled and listed the contrary way.

During the time she was striking the sea was making a complete breach over the vessel, and swept the whole of the her boats off the deck, with the exception of a small punt lying on the quarter deck with her side stove in.

A few minutes after the heavy roller broke the on the larboard quarter, and washed away the two after cabins on that side of the quarter deck, (occupied by the second officer and Mr White, a missionary.) Several attempts were made to get the boat remaining on the quarter-deck over the starboard gunnel, but the surf rolling in heavy, and the vessel lying completely on her beam ends, they were unable to succeed.

At 11.30 p.m., low water, two hands volunteered to take a raft and attempt to gain the shore, taking with them a line from the vessel, but did not proceed far before a heavy roller broke upon them, and they were seen no more; the line was immediately cut from the vessel to allow the raft to drif on shore, hoping they might succeed in reaching it again.

Midnight. Tide making; succeeded in getting the boat over the side, but being much injured and the surf running high, had much difficulty in keeping her afloat, and at 1 a.m., the remainder of the crew succeeded in reaching the beach in safety, where, to their great surprise, the found the two men supposed to have been lost from the raft.

At daylight the beach was strewed with the wreck, cargo and stores. Noon. - patched up the boat and endeavoured to save some provisions and clothing, but could not succeed owing to the heavy surf. Finding all attempts to save anything from the wreck (not a vestage of which could be seen standing), the captain, officers, and crew proceeded overland to the Bay of Island, where they arrived on the 9th ult., without the loss of a single individual.

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