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Historic Poverty Bay and the East Coast, N.I., N.Z.

Ship Blown to Pieces

page 379

Ship Blown to Pieces

A terrible fate befell the master and crew of the American-owned schooner Bertha Dolbeer, en route from San Francisco to Wellington. Off the East Coast, fire broke out among her cargo of 9,000 cases of benzine, and she was blown to pieces. In February, 1918, wreckage began to come ashore between Cape Runaway and Wairoa. A boat bearing her name made the coast at Whakaki; parts of the hull drifted on to the beaches at Te Araroa, Tolaga Bay and Pouawa. Some portions of the cases were found on Kaiti Beach. A hat among the wreckage at Te Araroa contained a pad made from a San Francisco newspaper dated 17/6/1917.

Three fatalities marred the work of salvaging the ketch Huanui, which stranded on Waikanae Beach, opposite Stanley Road, on 11 May, 1921. A boat from the Karoro capsized, and two of its occupants (Captain Martin and a man named Hadfield) were drowned. Captains Anderson, J. Coleman and Crocker, who were on the beach, launched a boat to render assistance, but it also capsized, and Captain Anderson was drowned. Royal Humane Society silver medals were awarded to Captains Coleman and Crocker and the next-of-kin of Captain Anderson.

A bush fire, which was mistaken for the East Cape light, led to the loss of the Port Elliot (formerly the Indrabarah) at midnight in a thick fog near Horoera on 12 January, 1924. Her crew of 70, who had taken to the boats and had remained nearby, were picked up by the g.s. Tutanekai, one of several vessels which answered the S.O.S. call.

When s.s. Northumberland struck a rock off the Gable End Foreland on 25 January, 1927, a hole 15 feet long and 2 feet wide was torn in the bilge of No. 2 hold. She developed a pronounced list, but, with a collision, mat adjusted over the aperture, she came on to Gisborne under her own steam, and, after temporary repairs had been made, she went to Auckland.