Wreck of the 'Grafton', Auckland Islands

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Sydney to Auckland Islands 1864

Otago Witness Saturday 29 July 1865 page 11 column 2
Invercargill, Thursday, 4.50 p.m.
Captain Thomas Musgrave, the mate, and Alick, a seaman, of the schooner Grafton, 56 ton schooner, of Sydney, wrecked at the Auckland Islands twenty months since, have arrived. Two of the crew are left on the island.

Remarkable Escape from Shipwreck

Otago Witness August 5 1865 page 7Clubbing seals.
From the Southland News 29th July

Remarkable Escape from Shipwreck
It has seldom fallen to our lot as journalists to record a more remarkable instance of escape from the perils of shipwreck, and subsequent providential deliverance from the privations of a desolate island, after a two years' sojourn, than that we have now to furnish. Captain Musgrave, formerly of the Grafton, brigantine, from Sydney, in November, 1863, has arrived in Invercargill, and has furnished us with the particulars of the wreck of his vessel in one of the inlets of the Auckland Islands on the 3rd January, 1864. He reports that having been unsuccessful in the sealing expedition -the object of his voyage- he left Campbell's Island, with the intention of returning at once to Sydney, but subsequently determined to renew the attempt at the Auckland Islands, and entered into one of the sounds there on the last day of the year 1863, and got to anchorage next morning. A heavy gale came on, which increased in fury until it became a perfect hurricane, continuing to midnight of the 2nd January, 1864, when the anchor chains parted, and the vessel almost immediately struck upon a rocky beach, and within a few minutes was nearly full of water. Providently all hands, four men in addition to the captain, were able to get safe ashore, and to secure from the wreck nearly all the articles likely to prove of service to them. The vessel having been provisioned only for a two months', the supply of provisions was but scanty, and the country on which they were cast was barren and inhospitable. To detail the hardships undergone by the little band suring their two years' seclusion in the desolate spot, their only food being seals' flesh, and their drink water. is a task for which no one who has not passed through a somewhat similar phase of suffering, is at all competent.
With the imperfect shelter afforded by a tent formed of portions of the spars and sails of the wreck, their employment being that of killing seals to sustain their own lives, and the monotony of their existence being only varied by an occasional climbing to the tops of the mountains in hope of discovering a sail, they were buoyed up with the probability of their discovery by some vessel which might be sent in search of them. This hope, however failed them, and at length Captain Musgrave, the mate of the Grafton, and one of the seamen, determined to make an effort to reach some inhabited land in a boat which they constructed for the purpose, by enlarging the ship's dingy (13ft), using the few tools - insufficient for the purpose - which they had been able to save from the wreck. The remaining two seaman preferred to continue on the island, trusting to the probability of assistance being rendered by the safe arrival of the captain and the other two at some port. Had they wished to come away, the cockle shell of a boat in which the venture had to be made was incapable of carrying them, in addition to the three who had already decided on the attempt. The frail craft was so leaky as to require incessant pumping to keep her afloat, and for five days and nights did these brave men unremittingly battle with the winds and waves, sustained by the hope of life and the prospect of deliverance. On the morning of the sixth day (14th Sept. 1865), the little party reached Port Adventure in safety, where they were fortunately immediately seen and received by Captain Cross of the Flying Scud, who hospitably entertained them, and subsequently brought them on to Invercargill in his own vessel. On their arrival here, with the benevolence characteristic of the British merchant, the case of the suffers was taken in hand by John M'Pherson, Esq., and a subscription set on foot for chartering and furnishing a vessel to proceed at once to the Auckland Islands for the delivery of the two seaman still remaining there.

And we would be remiss in our duty if we did not mention that our fellow townsman, Mr Colyer, of the Princess Hotel, on hearing of the circumstances, at once offered a friendly reception and home to the captain and his men, free of any expense.

To the appeal made, we are happy to say the Invercargill public has most liberally responded, and the vessel Flying Scud - well found, proceeds on her way this day, followed by ardent prayers and warmest wishes of this community for a speedy and successful issue to her voyage of benevolence and mercy.

We need scarcely impress on those who kindly promised supplies, or on others who may wish to aid by contributions of flour or other stores, the necessity of forwarding them early. The disposition to help is so general that this hint, we are sure, will be sufficient.

Captain Musgrave intends to return to Invercargill, and to proceed from hence to Sydney, having left a wife and family there. The names of Captain Musgrave's two companions are Mr Raynal, mate, and A. M'Lean, seaman. Henry Brown, cook, and George Harris, seaman, being left behind on the island. 

Musgrave  returned again on a government mission to see if any other shipwrecked mariners were to be found in the islands.

On Captain Musgrave's return to Sydney he promised his wife that he would never go to sea again. 

Wellington Independent Sept. 30, 1865 page 4 column d (From the Southland News 16th July)
It is greatly regretted that the small boat - The Bescue - in which Captain Musgrave and Mr Raynal came to Stewart's Island, after being towed in safety to the New River, was lost in crossing the bar, the wrap having parted. She was a frail craft.

'Castaway on the Auckland Isles' a narrative of the Wreck of the �Grafton� and of the escape of the crew after twenty months� suffering. From the private journal of Captain Musgrave edited by John J. Shillinglaw. Published by H.T. Dwight, Melbourne 1865, London: Lockwood, 1866. 174 pages, folding map, portrait. Captain Thomas Musgrave died November 7, 1891 at Point Lonsdale Lighthouse, Queenscliffe, Victoria, Australia, and was buried November 9, 1891 in the Queenscliffe Cemetery.  Musgrave,

Raynal, F.E. Wrecked on a Reef; or 20 months on Auckland Is., a true story of shipwreck, adventure, and suffering.  T. Nelson and Sons, London 1874, 1880, 1884, 1889, 1892. Translated from the French. There are forty illustrations throughout the text by Alfred de Neuville, pp 350.  Includes a photo of the crew.  Raynal was mate of the `Grafton' and was one of the survivors. It fills in quite a number of gaps in Musgrave's.  Imprint : Wellington : Steele Roberts, 2003.

Otago Witness 15 March 1905 pg80 col.e
Historical New Zealand

"The House That Jack Built"
By Ro. Carrick.
Our Jack is a "John" - Chinaman. He has resided for a quarter of a century at Popitiki, a native settlement in Paterson Inlet (Stewart Island). He follows the craft of the fisherman, with a boat managed all by himself. "Kapai the korero, John" - may your pigtail never grow less. This is his dwelling. The "building" was originally a boat, the brig Flying Scud, as the name engraved on the stern plate still attests. A Sydney seal poacher, the Grafton, got in among the sealeries at Carnley Harbour, Auckland Islands. Meeting with ill success, bad weather, and being equipped with faulty gear she was driven on shore, and became a total wreck. There they remained, castaways on these desolate rocks for a period of 20 months. They built a craft on its novel but distressing career. They voyaged over these stormy, western waters, shaping a course for New Zealand. The wretched cobble was covered over with sealskin, leaving the upper portion of their bodies exposed. The water lashing over was thereby prevented swamping them out. In that way they staggered along, skimming over the waves, but more frequently going under. They supported the inner man on scraps of sealskin. More dead than alive they reached the shelters of Port Adventure, where they fell in with our Flying Scud, which eventually sailed them back to the Aucklands, and rescued the remainder of the crew. It is in the after-part of these transformation scenes that we find "John" as owner of the "Scud," snugly housed in the old deck cabin.


Island of the Lost: Shipwrecked at the Edge of the World by Joan Dreutt. 2007. 304 pages. Review

Table of contents:
1 A Sturdy Vessel
2 Open Sea
3 The Islands
4 Wrecked
5 Shelter
6 Prey
7 The Cabin
8 Democracy
9 Routine
10 Dire Necessity
11 The Jaws of Hell
12 Privation
13 The Hunt
14 Equinox
15 Summer
16 Raynal's Forge
17 Boats
18 Escape
19 Deliverance
20 A Sentiment of Humanity
21 Rescue
22 Reunion
23 Answers

A sailor's adage that goes, "Below the 40th parallel south there is no law; below the 50th there is no God."

Kiwi author seals deal on film rights to novel
Saturday, 1 March 2008
New Zealander Joan Druett has closed a deal with South Pacific Pictures for the film rights to her book Island of the Lost. The studio responsible for producing Whale Rider and Sione's Wedding said it recognised "the great dramatic potential" in Druett's acclaimed true tale of two shipwrecked crews, struggling to survive at opposite ends of the treacherous Auckland Island in 1864, each without knowing the other was there. Druett, a noted author of nautical history, has earned numerous awards for her writing. The New York Times called Island of the Lost "a riveting study of the extremes of human nature". -NZPA