NATAL QUEEN WRECK.
COURT OF MARINE INQUIRY.
MATERIAL WITNESSES ABSENT.
A Court of Marine Inquiry, consisting of Mr. W. O. Wise, P.M., and Captains W. McArthur and Blockey as nautical assessors, was held at the City Police Court yesterday, concerning the circum stances surrounding the wreck of the barque Natal Queen, which occurred at Adventure Bay on June 24 last.
Mr. C. S. Page appeared on behalf of the New Zealand Insurance Company.
Captain J. T. Shimmins said he was master of the Natal Queen on the date of the wreck. The vessel was lying at the jetty at Adventure Bay loading hard- wood. At noon, as bad weather was set- ting in, he decided to unmoor and haul out. Soon after he commenced to make the move the wind strengthened, and shifted to the south-east. He kept heav ing away, with the object of bringing the ship's bow to the wind, but without suc- cess. The anchor was then "coming home" all the time. She was gradually working very close into the rocks, and was touching bottom. He slackened right away to the end of the ropes. The sea was making heavily, and the ship rolling considerably. Ultimately both ends of the ropes slipped, and the ship began to strike the bottom heavily, and continued doing so until he eventually succeeded in getting her clear. The second anchor was then put out, but a heavy squall swept the bay, and the ship dragged both an- chors until she commenced to strike bot- tom again. Neither of the anchors would hold, and she went right in among the breakers. He then decided that the best thing he could do was to get the crew ashore and abandon the vessel before it became too dark, being convinced that nothing further could be done. He ac- cordingly got all hands ashore. The Natal Queen was 202 tons register, and was owned by Mr. C. M. Almond, of Ade- laide. Both the ship and cargo were in-
Mr. Wise: Was it safe to move the ves- sel at the time you did?—I thought so.
Could you not have remained at the jetty ?—No. Had I done so, the vessel would have been wrecked and the jetty also.
What depth of water was there at the time?—16ft. 6in., and the ship was draw- ing 13ft. 5in.
Is it usual to lie at an open jetty with one anchor?—I have frequently loaded there with one anchor out.
Captain Blockey: What was the weight of the anchor you had down?— 11cwt.
Would the anchor not hold?—No, there has been so much easterly weather lately that the bottom was all torn up.
Mr. Page: Have you had much experi- ence at sea?—About 42 years.
Have you had any trouble of this sort before?—I had with the Mary Wadley nine or ten years ago.
Did you abandon her also?—Yes, when there was nothing else to be done.
Did you do anything in the way of sal- vage on that occasion?—No; the vessel was taken out of my hands.
In the present case, did Mr. Gray not advise you to get away from the jetty during the weather in the morning?—He said between 11 o'clock and noon that he thought it would be advisable to move, as the weather did not look too good.
Did you do so?—As soon as the men had their dinner we commenced to pre- pare for moving.
Did you advise Mr. Fisher, your Ho- bart agent, as to what might be done after
you abandoned the ship?—Nothing could
Do you know your duty under such cir-
cumstances?—I think so.
What is it?—What I did.
You do not appear to have exercised much despatch in getting away from the jetty after Mr. Gray's warning?—I mov- ed off as soon as I thought was neces
Did you do anything to try and save the ship or her cargo ?—Nothing could be done while the ship was bumping on the rocks, with huge seas breaking over
Were the mate's receipts given for all
the cargo taken on board?
Mr. Wise: It appears Mr. Page, that you are here on a fishing expedition, in the interests of the insurers. That had
nothing to do with the loss of the ves-
Mr. Page (to witness): Was there no- thing you could have done to have saved the vessel or her cargo?—I don't think so. I lost half my effects, and just man- aged to save myself. (Laughter.)
If you had got away when Mr. Gray advised you, do you think you would have saved the vessel?—I am afraid not.
Mr. Wise: Had you been at anchor in the bay when the storm set in, do you think the vessel would have gone through it safely?—Never, your Worship; it blow a regular hurricane that night.
Mr. Page: Did Mr. Gray not advise you to put to sea?—Yes; but he does not
know as much about handling a ship as I do. It is all very well to say "sail to sea" out of a place like that in the face of a gale.
This concluded the captain's evidence, and the names of other members of the crew, whose evidence was required, were called outside the court, but none of them was in attendance.
Mr. Wise (to Captain Shimmins): Have you no witnesses here?—My men have all
Mr. Wise: This is an extraordinary position. You knew your certficate was challenged and was in jeopardy, yet you make no effort to have witnesses to cor- roborate your testimony.
Captain Shimmins: I had no means to keep the men here, and, with the excep- tion of the mate, they have all gone away—goodness knows where.
Mr. Wise: It is not incumbent upon
the court to summons the witnesses.
The inquiry was then adjourned for half an hour, with the object of getting the mate to attend, but his whereabouts could not be ascertained.
Upon resuming, Mr. Wise said the court was of the opinion that the testi- mony of Captain Shimmins should be corroborated, and the inquiry would therefore be further adjourned until 4 p.m. next day, and in the meantime the mate would be subpoenaed.