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7 corrections, most recently by Borough2007 - Show corrections


{From the Gladstone Observer, 26th August.)

POLMAISE REEF, or as it is more frequently called Masthead Reef, has been the scene of   another shipping disaster. On Wednesday morning last, at half past 3, the brigantine   Water Witch, of 260 tons burden bound from Newcastle to Mackay, was stranded. Her crew   consisted of six, exclusive of her master, Cap tain Greenlees, who has been trading on the   coast for many years, during the whole of   which time he never before met with a single accident. He reports that he left Newcastle on the 9th instant with a westerly wind, and ex

perienced fine weather all the way till the time the vessel struck the reef on Tuesday   night last, at 9 o'clock, he was about six   miles off Bustard Head, the light of which was bearing south, and the vessel was being steered north west, whilst the wind was WSW. At 12 midnight Bustard Head light bore S by E ½ E, the vessel still steering a northwest course, at which hour he went below, and the mate took charge of the vessel, with instructions         to keep steering north west. At half-past 3 the       following morning (20th instant) he was awakened by the vessel striking on the reef, the tide at the time being at its lowest, and the vessel sailing about three knots. When he came on deck he could see the surf breaking on the leeward side about 300 yards distant, but there were no breakers around the vessel. It was impossible to get an anchor out owing to the strong roll of the sea, in consequence of which it was deemed

advisable to abandon her in order to save the lives of the crew. The captain wished to remain by the ship till daylight, but the mate thought it better to leave her before the sea got up, as the tide and sea were în creasing and the vessel was bumping heavily on the reef. A start was then made for Masthead   Island, with the boats, about three and a half   miles distant. After wading in water, waist deep, and carrying the boat over several shallow     places, they reached the island at 7 a.m. Here   they remained all Wednesday and the following   night, and at 10 a.m. on Thursday they launched   a boat, which in the meantime had been   pulled up on the beach above high water mark, and again put off to the Water Witch for fresh provisions and water, as none were to be ob tained on the island. The only water to be found on Masthead Island was a little in an iron case, evidently left there after the late casualty to the Deutchland. At this time the weather had moderated, and they reached the vessel between 12 and 1 o'clock midday. On sounding the pump it was found that there was 5ft of water in the hold, and the fresh water was difficult to obtain. While in the act of getting out more provisions the ketch Whaup     hove in sight. The mate and one of the crew of the Water Witch manned a boat and pulled out to her, and Captain Brown readily con sented to take them on to Maryborough, whither he was bound. Under the circum stances, and there was no chance of getting the vessel off the reef, it was decided to take advantage of the offer made by Captain Brown, but owing to the strong head wind blowing, preventing the Whaup proceeding on her voyage, Captam Brown bore up for Gladstone and landed the crew of the Water Witch on Friday evening last. In then hurry to get on board the Whaup the log book and charts were   left behind. The only property that was brought away was the ship's compass, two boats, and some papers, which the receiver of wrecks here has taken charge of. Captain Greenlees is not aware whether the Water Witch is insured. He wishes to publicly return thanks to Captain Brown, of the Whaup, for  

the very kind attention shown to himself and crew. The cargo consisted of 215 tons of coal and 6000 Hobart palings. Her owner is Mr. Philips, of Bathurst-street, Sydney. An inquiry into the circumstances was held at the Custom-house on Saturday, conducted by the sub-collector of customs, Captain Ilbery, and Pilot Whitfield. In addition to Captain Green lees, the mate and two seamen were called

upon to give evidence, which corroborated the