HALCIONE, barque : Late on the night of January 8, 1896, the barque, 90 days out from London with a cargo of general merchandise, struck on the rocks in Fitzroy Bay, near Wellington Heads, and quickly became a total loss. The weather was bad at the time, the wind changing to the south and blowing hard, with rain. The Halcione was close to land on the eastern side when she was struck by a squall and ran on to the rocks. A heavy swell was running, and the master ordered the boats to be cut away. One boat was launched with considerable difficulty and manned by the mate and a crew of five. They proceeded to Wellington after an arduous pull in a heavy sea, and requested assistance for the disabled vessel. The small steamer Mana was despatched to the wreck, but was unable to get within two cables’ length of the barque. The vessel was then a hopeÂ¬less wreck, being full of water, and the seas breaking over her. The ship was standing upright, with her sails set, the crew having had no time to furl them. The Halcione came through Cook Strait with a fresh northerly wind, and was standing off two or three miles from, and a little to the eastward of, the entrance to the harbour, when suddenly the wind swept round to the south, blowing hard, and at the same time the weather became thick. The captain wore the ship for the purpose of standing for the harbour, but in some manner the Halcione went into Fitzroy Bay, lying to the eastward of Pencarrow Head, and at 10.30 p.m. she struck on one of the three rocky points at the head of the bay. The ship lay surrounded by rocks. The second boat was afterwards launched successfully, but on nearing the shore was smashed against the rocks. The occupants managed to reach
the shore safely, and then walked about four miles to a small bay on the harbour side of Pencarrow lighthouse, where they were picked up by the Mana and taken to Wellington.
The Halcione had an unusually good passage from London to Tasmania, which she was off on January 2. The first land sighted on the New Zealand coast was D’Urville Island, at 11.30 a.m. on January 8. The master, Captain Herbert Wild Boorman, stated that when the barque arrived off Wellington Heads the weather was so thick that they could see only a few feet ahead. At 10.30 p.m., when the storm was at its height, and when flashes of lightning occurred almost continuously, the discovery was made that the Halcione was in dangerous proximity to the shore, Pencarrow light, which had been obscured for some time, looming right ahead. An effort was made to extricate the ship from her unsafe position, but owing to the gale increasing it was impossible to get her off the land.
The Halcione, No. 60,929, was an iron barque of 878 tons gross and 843 tons net register, built at Greenock in 1869 by R. Steele, and her dimensions were : length 191.7 ft., beam 29.4 ft., depth 18.8 ft. She was owned by the Shaw, Savill and Albion Company.