Fanny Kelly 1886

Fanny Kelly 1886

FANNY KELLY, ketch : Totally wrecked on a reef off Kauri Head, Whangarei, on February 3, 1886, with the loss of four lives, those of a woman passenger and her three children. The vessel was bound from Auckland to Wanganui, and the weather being thick and dirty when she was off Tutukaka, the ketch bore away for Whangarei for shelter. On the afternoon of February 3 the Fanny Kelly was hauled to the southward, and her course was then altered to make Whangarei Heads. No sooner was this done when breakers were seen under her lee. The master tried to stay the vessel, but she would not come round, and when he tried to wear her she struck on a rock off Kauri Head. There was a heavy sea running, making a clean breach over her, the first sea to strike her carrying away the foremast. In the hope of saving the passengers they were lashed to the mizzenmast, but, as they were in danger there, they were removed to the companion, aft. There all hands held on until daylight, when two of the children died. Soon afterwards the Fanny Kelly broke in two, and all hands were washed off. The crew managed to secure holds on a part of the com¬panion, the master finding refuge near one of the masts. They were washed on to the rock, and remained there until evening, when they all drifted to the mainland on a piece of wreckage. The ketch first struck the rock with her keel and then slewed broadside on to the sea, falling out seaward. From the first it was seen that there was no hope of saving the vessel, and it was doubtful whether anyone would reach the shore, as the heavy seas picked up the ketch bodily and smashed her against the rocks. The Fanny Kelly broke up rapidly, and all hope of saving life ebbed fast, as the vessel was fully a mile off the mainland. The two youngest children were the first to succumb to the force of the seas, dying in the arms of those holding them. When a heavy sea swept over the ketch it carried all hands with it, and they were separated. The mother and her oldest child were not seen after that. The Court of Inquiry found that the casualty was caused by an error of judgement on the part of the master in over-estimating the speed of his vessel when running off the wind in thick weather on a dark night.

The Fanny Kelly, No. 66,568, was a ketch of 35 tons register, built at Mercury Bay in November,

1873, by James White, and her dimensions were: length 58 ft., beam 16.4 ft., depth 5.4 ft. She was under the command of Captain George Charles Williams, and carried a crew of two other hands. On May 6, 1873, the Fanny Kelly, then commanded by Captain Charles Baker, struck on a sunken rock, alleged not to be on the chart, while sailing through the Hole in the Wall passage, between Mercury Island and the coast. The ketch was thought to be a total wreck, when, on March 28, 1876, in bringing up, she parted her only cable and stranded on the south side of Whangaroa Heads, about halfway through the entrance. She was then commanded by Captain James Black. Again, on January 2, 1881, the Fanny Kelly, commanded by Captain G. C. Williams, sustained slight damage when she stranded on a reef just outside Whangaruru Heads.

Top