Cezarewitch Wreck 1876

Cezarewitch Wreck 1876

CEZAREWITCH, barque : Loaded with railway iron, the barque sailed from Bluff on June 8, 1876, making water at the rate of one inch per hour, and two days later the leak had increased to two inches each hour. Fine weather was experienced until June 11, when the wind hauled to the south-west and increased to gale force, with a heavy sea. The vessel laboured and strained, and the leak increased, necessitating the pumps being manned every two hours. Tempestuous weather was encountered continuously to June 20, and in the cross sea running the barque made heavy weather of it. Fortunately, it was found possible to connect the donkey engine to the pump, but even steam power failed to diminish the depth of water, and the crew became dispirited, and protested against any further attempt to sail the vessel to the westward.

Sydney was bearing NW. b N., distant 520 miles, when the master went below to the forepeak, where he heard the water rushing in and noticed all the port bow in motion, leaving the stem at every pitch the barque made. There were fully three feet of water in the hold, and great difficulty was experienced in maintaining steam in the boiler, as the coal was nearly exhausted, and green timber, part of the cargo, was used to supplement it. The pumps frequently choked with gravel, which the barque had shipped on some former occasion, and on June 20 the Cezarewitch bore away for Port Chalmers. Four days later, the engine broke down, and the crew, fatigued and low-spirited, begged the master to make for the nearest port in order to save their lives. The barque was headed for Jackson Bay, on the West Coast, South Island, the pumps meanwhile being kept going by hand in three shifts, and by these means the water was kept under. On June 25, land was sighted at Cascade Point, and next morning the leak increased at a dangerous rate, the water rushing in at the stern as well as forward, the fastenings having come adrift. On the 25th and 26th the barque was becalmed, and drifted southwestward with the current. The crew, in despair, wished to take to the boats, but were persuaded by the master to stay on board the Cezarewitch, and at 2 p.m. on June 26, the vessel reached Big Bay, and came to an anchor. Finding that assistance to work the pumps could not be obtained ashore, the master intended to beach the vessel, but was prevented from doing so as the wind was blowing off shore. Provisions and shelter were landed and the barque was abandoned, there being five feet of water in her hold. At daylight next morning the crew returned to the ship and found the water up to the beams. The cable was slipped and the barque run ashore on the rocks on the north side of the bay in Boat Harbour, Crayfish Port, where she commenced to break up rapidly, very little of her gear being saved. A heavy gale from the south-west on June 30 completed her destruction. The crew were fortunate in being rescued from Crayfish Port by the steamer Maori on July 5, and were conveyed to Greymouth. Very few stores were saved from the wreck and they would have been in sore straits had it not been for the provisions landed from time to time by the Maori for the use of sealers.

The Cezarewitch, No. 64,786, was a wooden, three-masted barque of 427 tons register, and was built at Lubeck, Germany, in 1850. Her dimensions were : length 119 ft., beam 33.5 ft., depth 17.5 ft. She was under the command of Captain L. Webster.

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