CYRUS, barque : Totally wrecked during a terrific gale on the night of March 7, 1874, between Lyall Bay and Sinclair Head, with the loss of five lives. The master of the barque stated that after clearing Wellington Heads he commenced working his ship to windward through Cook Strait, but made little headway, and at noon next day the Cyrus was in Cloudy Bay. During the night the weather became very much thicker, but a light, which he thought was Mana Island light, was sighted. However, it proved to be Pencarrow Head light, and the barque was immediately hauled to the wind on the port tack. The wind headed off for a time, but the vessel was too close to clear the land, and she struck between Lyall Bay and Sinclair Head. The boats were ordered to be cleared away, and one lowered immediately she struck, but it was smashed to atoms. The barque carried a crew of ten and three passengers-a woman and her two children, who were crushed to death by the falling of the deckhouse just as the captain was making efforts to get them on to the rocks. He had ordered the second mate and a seaman to reach, a certain rock in order to pass a line to the ship in an attempt to save the passengers. The men made the attempt gallantly, but were washed off the rock and seen no more. The eight remaining ‘members of the crew were rescued by means of ropes, with the assistance of people on shore. They were all badly cut and bruised.
The Court of Inquiry found that the master was careless in the navigation of his vessel in not observing the change in the bearing of the light, having mistaken Pencarrow light for Mana Island light. The actual cause of the wreck was a strong easterly current caused by a north-west gale. The master’s certificate was suspended for 12 months, but as he endeavoured to do his duty, was always at his post, sober and steady, the court granted him a first mate’s certificate during his suspension.
The Cyrus, No. 59,664, was a three-masted barque of 317 tons register, built at Enmore River, Prince Edward Island, in 1868. She was under the command of Captain Powell Andrews, and her dimensions were : length 119 ft., beam 26.8 ft., depth 14.7 ft. The barque, which was in ballast, was valued at Â£2,700, and was insured for Â£2,000.