SURPRISE, schooner: On July 21, 1907, the vessel went ashore about a mile from the northern end of Ohui Beach, Bay of Plenty, and became a total wreck. The master, mate, and two seamen were drowned. The fifth member of the crew, who was badly knocked about, reached the shore and found his way to Ohui. The schooner dragged her anchors right from Slipper Island, and went ashore on the coast early in the morning.
The sole survivor, H. W. Jackson, stated that when off Slipper Island on the night of July 20 the schooner commenced to drag, with three anchors out. The captain ordered the crew to set the staysail, but immediately afterwards the Surprise struck the south end of the Watchman Rocks. The schooner was bumping hard when Jackson and two other members of the crew took to the rigging. The Surprise came stern first off the rocks and capsized. He never saw any of his companions again, but one, who with Jackson, held to the main rigging, after which the scow drifted midway ‘between the Watchman and the coast. Jackson swam ashore, but he never saw the other seaman again. The Surprise, which was in ballast, was buffeted by a heavy north-easterly gale when she dragged her anchors.
The Court of Inquiry found that the cause of the wreck was an error of judgement on the part of the master in anchoring in an exposed position, and in not putting sail on the vessel when she commenced to drag, so as to endeavour to work off shore; or, if he could not do this, to beach the vessel wherever practicable.
The Surprise, No. 102,324, was a schooner-rigged scow of 99 tons gross and 88 tons net register, built at Omaha in 1900 by D. M. Darroch, and her dimensions were: length 96.1 ft., beam 23 ft., depth 4.8 ft. The schooner was under the command of Captain J.â€¢ T. Gallienne. The Surprise was on a passage from Kaipara to Wanganui with a cargo of timber when on the night of August 18, 1904, she was driven ashore two miles south of the Manawatu River. The vessel was blown south by a heavy gale. When the gale was at its height the Surprise was struck by a heavy sea, which carried away her steering gear and washed overboard a passenger named Nixon South, who was not seen again. The scow ultimately struck the beach and was thought to be a total wreck, but was recovered and again made seaworthy. The schooner, which had sailed from Kaipara on August 3, was then owned by the Mitchelson Timber Company, of Auckland.