The majority of history goes unrecorded – or is considered unimportant enough that the records of it are eventually lost. This is one of the lesser-known events in history; a horrible and tragic shipwreck on the coast of New Zealand in 1884, that of the Clyde.
From the Sydney Morning Herald‘s report:
TERRIBLE SHIPWRECK AND GREAT LOSS OF LIFE.By the steamer Hauroto, which arrived from Wellington(N. Z.) last evening, we have received fuller particu-lars of the wreck of the barque Clyde, and theloss (with tho exception of a lad) of all onboard, at Akaroa Heads. From the WellingtonEvening Post we gather the following particulars, whichwere telegraphed to that journal from Dunedin and Christ-church. The first telegram is dated Dunedin, November 6,and reads : “The barque Clyde, which left here yesterdaymorning for Lyttelton, is ashore at Duvanchelles Bay, nearAkaroa Heads.” A later telegram was received; asfollows:—” The s.s. Akaroa has gone to the assist-ance of the barque Jessie Alice Clyde, which wentashore at Horseshoe Lake last night. Perati, an apprentice,has got ashore, but there are 19 souls aboard There is rathera rough sea on. A volunteer crew with boat accompaniesthe steamer.” Subsequently the following was received :—” Captain Fox this morning received the following telegramfrom Duvanchelle Bay :—’ Clyde is ashore near AkaroaHeads ; only myself saved as yet.—George Gib-son.’ The vessel is a vessel of 682 tons. Sheleft Dunedin yesterday for Lyttelton, with 150tons of sugar (part original cargo from Mauritius) cou-signed to Wood, Shand, and Co., Christchurch. CaptainBulmer had his wife and three children on board. He waswell acquainted with the coast, having for years commandedthe schooner Edith May. The Clyde belonged to thefleet of C. Ellis and Co., of Newcastle, New South Wales.The following were crew on board :—William Currie,mate; H. Ferdinand, second mate; Richard Marney, A.B. ;Herbert Bohle, boy ; Ah Lah, cook ; Ah King, boy ; H.Thompson, David Murray, W. M’ Lean, P. Soderguest, P.Smith, Charles Brown, Andrew Christopherson, A.Bs.”On Thursday, the 7th instant, the Post published thefollowing fuller account of the disaster, dated Christchurch,6th November :—” From accounts to hand, it would seem that the Clydewent ashore about 4.30 a.m. On receipt of the news of thewreck, Kinsey, Ward, and Co., agents, telegraphed ordersto Akaroa for the steamer Akaroa to proceed to HorseshoeBay, and that everything should be done for the comfort ofthe survivors. At 4 p.m. the steamer returned with the sadnews that the barque had broken up, and nothing butwreckage could be seen around the spot where she struck.It thus appears that the captain, his family, and allon board except the lad Gibson—eighteen lives in all—haveperished. One body was recovered, that of a boy about 14,also an apprentice of the ship. It was arranged that thes.s.Hawea should call at Akaroa Heads at 6 p.m. on herway south from Lyttelton in order to see if the ill-fatedbarque could be got off, but need for this no longer remains.The surveyor of the Underwriters’ Association left in theHawea for the scene of the wreck. The lad Gibson is detainedat Akaroa for the inquest on the body picked up. He is alsorather exhausted, and requires rest. Kinsey, Ward, andCo. are advised it is doubtful If anything will be saved fromtho wreck, as the ship is in pieces. Gibson has telegraphedto the agents, asking them to send a message to his motherat Newcastle that he is safe, and they have cabled to herthrough tho owner, J. Ellis, of Newcastle.” Captain Tilhurst, the Underwriters’ Association Sur-veyor, who left in the Hawea, met the steamer Akaroa atAkaroa Heads, and has returned by her to Lyttelton. Thesea was very rough off the Heads when the Akaroa went out,and the top of a mast was all that was visible wherethe vessel sank. Horseshoe Bay is a small andextremely rocky inlet on the coast four miles tothe south of Akaroa Heads.It is difficult ofentry even for a boat. Inspector Pender will despatch twoconstables to meet Sergeant Brooks at tho head of the bay,whence they will proceed on horseback to the coast, and doall that remains to be done. They will watch for bodiesthat may be cast ashore, and see that they are decentlyburied.” From the account of the lad Gibson, it appears thebarque left Dunedin steering N.E. by N. half W. About4 this morning the weather was foggy and the sea ratherheavy. Gibson had turned in a few minutes later, whenthe mate told the off watch to be handy in five minutes.The man on watch called out land on the lee bow, and allhands were called to put the ship about, but she missedstays. The captain tried to wear the vessel, heading off thewind, but she struck amidships. A boat was lowered, andthe captain ordered Gibson and another boy in to bale,and put in his wife and three children, The lee railof the ship was then low down, and the stern of the boatcaught under it and was swamped. The woman andchildren were dragged on board, and Gibson, seeing themainmast falling in, dived and got to the spanker-boom,and on board. He saw the captain bleeding and stunned,floating about the deck, which was under water, with histwo children. Gibson pulled the children out, and they,with the boatswain’s mate and others, got intoanother boat, which was swamped among the wreckage.Gibson again got on the spanker-boom, and saw the cap-tain’s body and a girl of nine years old float by. Gibsonseized the child, but a heavy sea swept over him and helost his hold of her. He then got on a deckhouse driftingby, and was carried into a little bay, from which he man-aged to reach the shore. He walked some miles toMacphaile’s house, near Duvanchelles Bay, whence newswas sent. Gibson afterwards returned to the shore, and wastaken on board the steamer Akaroa.” The Clyde was a wooden barque of 552 tons register.She was built in 1874, at Williams River, New SouthWales, for Mr. James Brown, but is now owned byMr. E. G. Ellis, M.L.A., of Newcastle. CaptainCulmer was fairly well known in Dunedin and at the Port,as he commanded the Edith May when that vessel wastrading here some time ago. The vessel arrived in Dune-din on the 29th ultimo from Mauritius, after havingmade a rather long passage of 40 days. He had visitedthis port on a previous occasion, about seven years ago.The Clyde was consigned to Messrs. W. Scoular, andbrought a full cargo of sugar, 11,714 packages in all,of which 7449 were for Lyttelton. She was re-consigned toMessrs. Wood, Shand, and Co., of Christchurch, and hadon board about 150 tons of sugar—this being the 744 matsmentioned before. It was expected that on leaving Lyttel-ton she would have sailed to Newcastle in ballast. TheClyde was a strongly built and well appointed vessel, havingoriginally cost £13,000. The Sydney office of the N.Z.Insurance Company hold a risk of £1000 on the hull, andthe South British and Union offices also have £500 and£250 respectively on the hull. The remainder of theinsurances on the hull in all probability are with someof the Sydney offices. The cargo is valued at £6000, andis insured in the National Insurance offlce for £4600.Most of this amount, however, is re-insured in theNew Zealand, South British, and Victorian InsuranceOffices. There is a deep and widespread feeling of regretfor the untimely fate of Captain Culmer and his family.While he was in Dunedin he made many friends, and allthose whose business brought them into contact with himspeak highly of his good nature and genial deposition.”