SALVAGE

 

 

ATTEMPTS 

 

In January 1868 the survivors arrived in Dunedin, New Zealand. It was only a few months before the first attempt was made to salvage the General Grants gold.

On 16th March 1868 an expedition led by Capt Kirkpatrick set out in SS Southland an 87 ton Paddle Tug to attempt a salvage operation. Aboard as guide was James Teer and divers Putwin & Rowe.

The first week was dominated by high seas and stormy weather and the party were confined to Port Ross. The following week the weather had abated and on Sunday 29th March the expedition set out under the guidance of James Teer to locate the infamous cave.

 

Most accepted Wreck Site - Picture Google Earth 

Capt Kirkpatrick log reads as follows:

11am 29th March

The steamer was abreast of the place indicated by Mr Teer as where the General Grant was wrecked. The lifeboat was got out and Mr Putwain, the diver, and Mr Teer made an attempt to reach the spot, but owing to the heavy seas running and the wind increasing, they did not succeed. The boat was taken aboard, and the steamer put stern on to the shore, and backed slowly and carefully, taking soundings as she approached the shore, the water gradually shoaling from 25 fathoms to 15 fathoms (which was the least obtained.

The steamer being about 40 yards from the rocks and 200 yards from where the vessel sank, and as the rebound of the waves against the rocks began to wash over the stern, it was not deemed prudent to venture any further in.

And that was as close as they got to locating the wreck. Poor weather returned and made it impossible to investigate further by sea.

The expedition did travel overland to try and locate the wreck. Capt Kirkpatrick, James Teer, Putwin and the ships engineer, hiked to the point above the cave by as Capt Kirkpatrick log entry indicates 'No practical good resulted from the journey'.

With continuing bad weather and shortage of fuel, the party returned to Invercargill

 

The next attempt was on 19th May 1870 (four years after the wreck) when the schooner Daphne sailed to the Auckland Islands. The Daphne was a 48 ton top sail schooner owned by Captain Wallace. The first person he approached was David Ashworth, one of the ten survivors of the wreck. Surprisingly he readily agreed to accompany the expedition. One would have thought that cheating death once, and still having his original fortune which had been deposited with the bank before sailing, he hardly needed to take such a risk.  Captain Wallace then recruited a crew consisting of Mate Joe Moss, Carpenter James Cossar who was also a diver and two seamen Frank Leinster and Jim Bailey. also a cook (and ex master mariner) James Cousins, Robert Seeman and a lad named Richard Boyd.  
On arrival at Port Ross on the main Island, the captain left the vessel at anchor in the charge of James Cousins and Richard Boyd, while he set out in a whale-boat with the five remaining members of the crew to find the cave. They rounded the north-west cape of the island and disappeared from sight. After waiting anxiously for some time, the cook and the boy took the ship's dinghy and searched for the missing men along the northern coast. They found an oar and part of a boat washed up on the shore but were not quite certain whether these were the remains of the whale-boat.
After five weeks Cousins and the lad decided to sailing the schooner back to New Zealand, which with great difficulty they managed to do.
Back in New Zealand Captain Paddy Gilroy immediately offered himself and his crew to return in the Daphne with Cousins to carry out a search for the missing crew.
On 11 July they set out for the Aucklands where the they found HMS Blanche carrying out a search for the Matoaka, which had set out with 48 passengers and a cargo of wool bound for London and had not been heard of since. The combined their efforts but without success. And so the Islands claimed yet another of the General Grants compliment - David Ashworth.
 

 

 

 

HMS Blanche - 1867 

 

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UNDER CONSTRUCTION