WAITAKI, steamer : When on a passage from Napier to Wellington the steamer went ashore at Black Head, near Cape Palliser, on April 23, 1887, and became a total wreck. The vessel lay in a most singular position, having run inside the sandspit, which was an effectual protection from the southerly seas. The crew left the ship after she stranded, and while a portion sat round a camp fire the remainder went to White Rock Station. When the small steamer Mana arrived at the scene a very heavy southerly sea was running. The Waitaki was abandoned to the underwriters on April 26. When several of the officers reached Wellington they reported that the weather was fine until the night of April 22, when the weather became very hazy, with a wind from the south-east. On consulting the log it was found that the steamer must have passed Cape Palliser, and her course was accordingly altered to the eastward. The weather at this time was very bad. Heavy rain squalls were experienced, and no sign of land could be seen. Very little time had elapsed after the course was altered until the Waitaki went ashore. On striking, she gave a roll, bumped heavily three times and ran up on the beach. The engines were put full speed astern, but without any effect, and in a quarter of an hour the stokehold and engineroom had filled. A large rock had penetrated the port bilge and acted as a pivot, the vessel swinging with the sea. The master said it was a very dark night, and the regular course was maintained until the log gave 68 miles, which should have brought the Waitaki off Cape Palliser. He saw the loom of the land, but kept on four miles further.
The captain attributed the casualty to an alteration in the log and an easterly swell setting the ship inshore, which could not be seen owing to the darkness of the night.
At the inquiry held into the loss of the Waitaki the court held that the wreck was attributable to over-confidence in the log, and running the ship at full speed in thick and foggy weather. The court considered the master blameable for taking no steps to verify his position, and holding him responsible for the loss of the ship, suspended his certificate for three months.
The Waitaki, No 73,836, was an iron, screw steamer of 412 tons gross and 228 tons net register, built at Whiteinch, Scotland, in 1876, and her dimensions were : length 164.8 ft., beam 22 ft., depth 10.2 ft. She originally belonged to the Union Steam Ship Company, but was sold to the Kamo Colliery Company in November, 1883. When wrecked she was under charter to the master, Captain Thomas John Bendall, and the engineer.