May Queen 1888

May Queen 1888

MAY QUEEN, barque: On January 26, 1888, the barque, inward bound from London, went ashore on the south side of Lyttelton Harbour, near Red Rock, and became a total wreck. The pilot boarded the vessel outside the heads, and beat up against a strong, uncertain breeze. When off Red Rock the vessel missed stays and was carried on to the reef. The tug Lyttelton endeavoured to tow the barque off, but failed. The May Queen went ashore at high water, and as the tide ebbed she held fast, hanging on to the rocks. She was abandoned to the underwriters on January 27. The barque, which carried 1,200 tons of cargo, settled down in the water, the bulwarks being just clear at half tide. The pumps were forced up through the deck, showing that the ship’s back was broken, and rocks penetrated the hull. The greater part of the cargo was discharged, the yards taken off, and the cabin fittings removed. The Court of Inquiry into the loss of the May Queen considered the casualty was caused by an error of judgement on the part of the pilot, who was in charge, in venturing too close to the shore and a squall causing the vessel to strand on the rocks. There was, however, no doubt that had a tug been available the captain of the May Queen would have directed her to be employed, and have avoided the accident. The court recommended that the certificates be returned to all parties.

The May Queen, No. 60,694, was an iron barque of 781 tons gross and 733 tons net register, built at Aberdeen in May, 1869, by A. Hall and Company, and her dimensions were: length 178.6 ft., beam 31.2 ft., depth 19 ft. The barque was owned by Captain J. Leslie, who also owned and commanded the ship Calypso, which was lost in the English Channel in 1882, and was under the command of Captain George Gardner Colville.

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