SOUTHMINSTER, ship: On the morning of November 29, 1878, the ship went ashore inside Kelp Reef, between Cape Campbell and Flaxbourne. Steering a NE. b N. course on a voyage from Lyttelton to Wellington, she struck first on Shepherdess Reef, knocked her rudder out, and drifted inside Kelp Reef where she stranded, five miles south of Cape Campbell. Rocks pierced her hull, making four holes through which the water washed in and out with the rise and fall of the tide. In addition to the master, whose wife was a passenger on board, the Southminster carried a crew of 23 hands. The cargo consisted of reapers and binders, and American organs, from New York, in all about 500 tons.
The Court of Inquiry held that the loss of the ship was attributable to the set of the flood tide on a coast of which the master had no knowledge, and regarding which a note on the Admiralty chart stated there was no tide. The court thought that the ship might have been saved if the anchor was let go in 25 fathoms, but with the offing the ship had, and the wind, the master was justified in keeping his course which would have carried him clear but for adverse circumstances. The court considered that all due precautions were taken and diligence exercised by the master, who was on deck the whole time after leaving Lyttelton.
The Southminster was a full-rigged ship of 1,223 tons register, built at Quebec in 1876, and her dimensions were: length 195 ft., beam 38 ft., depth 23 ft. She was owned by Messrs. Berryman and Turnbull, of London, and was commanded by Captain C. McFee.