GAEL, motor vessel: On April 18, 1952, while bound from Motueka to Wellington with a cargo of 1,800 cases of apples, the Gael struck the southÂeastern reef off the Beef Barrel Rocks and became a total wreck. The vessel left Motueka at 4 p.m. and at about 8.40 p.m., in very thick weather, was making for French Pass when she struck the rocks off the south-eastern corner of D’Urville Island. An inspection revealed that the bottom had been holed on the port side. The hold filled rapidly and the vessel settled by the head. At 10.10 p.m. the Gael suddenly listed to port, and as he considered the position to be dangerous, the master ordered all hands into the lifeboat, which had been launched previously. The crew landed in Ohaua Bay, D’Urville Island, and the Nelson HarbourÂmaster advised of the wreck.
Later, when the crew returned to the scene of the mishap, they found that the Gael had been lifted off the rocks by the tide and had drifted across on to Okure Point, directly under the lightÂhouse, on the mainland. The vessel was so low in the water that the port light was dipping under. A few minutes later the lights failed and nothing more could be seen of her. The crew then transÂferred to the Motu, which had answered light signals, and took them to Nelson. When the crew of the coaster Wakanui searched for the wreck on April 21, they found it had disappeared into the sea.
The Gael, No. 118,965, was a motor vessel of 83 tons gross and 46 tons net register, built of wood at Auckland in 1904. Originally a steamer, her dimensions were : length 84.8 ft., beam 17.5 ft., depth 6.6 ft., and her engines were of 96 h.p. Built for the McGregor Steamship Company and launched on May 7, 1904, the Gael carried passengers and cargo on the Auckland coast. Later, she had long service on the West Coast, being then owned by the South Westland Shipping Company. At the time of her loss she was owned by the Southern Cross Shipping Company, a syndicate of World War II servicemen, and was commanded by Captain D. Newey. The Court of Inquiry did not consider the master incompetent and returned his certificate.