Lastingham 1884

Lastingham 1884

LASTINGHAM, ship: Bound from London to Wellington, the ship was totally wrecked, with the loss of 18 lives, on Cape Jackson, Cook Strait, on the night of September 1, 1884, when she was sailing through the strait in a heavy north-west gale. The vessel struck on the mainland at Cape Jackson, which is the north-western point at the entrance to Queen Charlotte Sound. The Lastingham struck bow on, and immediately broached to, when her side was exposed to the fury of a terrific sea. The deckhouse, boats, and everything about the decks were swept overboard. The seas made clean sweeps over the ship, and in about an hour the decks bulged out. This was the last seen of the vessel, as she then slipped off the rocks and disappeared. The captain, his wife, five passengers, and 11 of the crew were washed away from the wreck and drowned. The remainder of the crew, including the first and second officers, reached the mainland and were later picked up by the ketch Agnes, which was passing through Cook Strait on September 5, and taken to Wellington.

The Lastingham was nearly at the end of a lengthy voyage, and all hands were looking forward to the pleasant prospect of being at their journey’s end before another 24 hours had elapsed. Then weather of a fearful description was encountered, and the ship was driven into a bay on a lee shore. That was the land which should have been so welcome, that was seen in such a position and at such a time that it could only inspire forebodings of fear. As the gale increased the Lastingham could not weather the point, and was gradually driven on to the lee shore. The scene on board was a painful one. The shock came quite soon enough, and those on board, numbering more than 30 all told, gathered together to await their fate.

One party assembled on the forepart of the vessel, and, finding the ship’s head had run on to the rocks, they clambered on to the bowsprit and reached the land in safety. The others, who were aft, were unaware of the good fortune that had befallen their comrades, and remained on the poop until all chance of escape was gone, and perished with the ill-fated ship. Those who had reached the shore called frequently to their comrades on board, but the howling storm drowned their voices, and the ship, drifting off the rock on which she had previously been resting, broke up in deep water, 18 persons perishing with her. The privations endured by those on land were very painful. They were 40 hours without food, and exposed for two nights, with very few garments. Apart from these discomforts, many of them had cut feet and bruised bodies, and their condition when rescued was deporable in the extreme.

The only food which came ashore were 4 lbs. of pickled pork and two packages of oatmeal and cornflour. The weather was fine on September 3, and the men laid their clothes out to dry, while the survivors obtained much-needed rest. Each night they huddled together under the rocks to keep themselves warm. On the morning of September 4 they saw a small vessel passing, and a piece of blanket which had been washed ashore was fixed to a pole. The signal was observed, and the survivors were soon on board the ketch Agnes, bound from Pelorus Sound to Kaiapoi. Captain Jensen, master of the ketch, attended to the wants of the shipwrecked people and conveyed them to Wellington. At the time of their rescue the survivors had almost given up hope of being rescued, as on September 2 and 3 no less than five steamers were seen passing close to the land, and, although signals were made, they passed unnoticed.

The Lastingham, No. 76,927, was an iron ship of 1,217 tons register, built in 1876 at West Hartlepool by W. Gray and Company, and her dimensions were: length 221.6 ft., beam 35.3 ft., depth 20.8 ft. The ship was under the command of Captain Alexander Morrison.

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