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The founding of the S.S. Waikare

Dusky Sound, New Zealand, January 1910

She came to grief while carrying out a summer excursion.
While on a tourist excursion the steamer Waikare, under the command of Captain W.J. Newton, foundered in Wet Jacket Arm, Dusky Sound, Fiordland without loss of life. In the Muir & Moodie Real Photo postcard (No. 10), above, ladies are being off loaded from the life rafts onto Stop Island not Resolution Island. This was low tide. Her 141 passengers and crew of 85 were conveyed safely to Stop Island and landed alongside the steamer. The island at high water had no beach, and before a camp could be formed a clearing had to be made on the slopes of the hills and caused much work later on in the removal of stores and luggage to above high-water mark. Provisions, luggage and bedding were landed from the steamer by chains of willing workers well on in the afternoon. The passengers and crew were rescued by the 868 ton screw gun vessel his Majesty ship Pioneer, which was anchored at Bluff and had proceeded at daybreak to the scene of the wreck, with the Prime Minister on board.


On January 4, 1910, the Union Steamship Company steamer Waikare struck an uncharted rock between Indian Island and Passage Islet, Dusky Sound as the she steamed towards the entrance of the Dusky Sound on Tuesday just prior to commencing the return journey to Dunedin. Practically every passenger was on deck enjoying the scenery and the beautiful day. Suddenly the bow of the steamer lifted. There was a sudden jolt, a heave, then a third bump, after which the vessel cleared the obstruction and floated in the water beyond. Water forced up by air pressure, through the escape pipe, was immediately thrown upon the deck. The second officer was informed that there was water in No. 1 ballast tank. The Waikare then took a sudden list to starboard, (the right side of the boat, looking forward.) Boats were immediately lowered. In about ten minutes the majority of the 200 excursionists and crew were in the steamer's boats.

An attempt was made to get her to shallow ground near Anchor Island, but failed when the boilers drowned near Stop Island. If the ship had not been beached she would have sunk in deep water.  After transferring the passengers to the boats, the vessel's engines were set in motion. Water flowed into the engine room very rapidly. Pumps were put into commission. The water was gaining fast, there were 150 lbs. of steam pressure, and a mile or more to be travelled to the only place where the Waikare could be beached. To the last minute the boiler fires were kept going, and when the bow of the steamer had safely grounded the water in the stokehold and engine room was over the waists of those who remained below. The steam left in the boiler was sufficient for only five minutes' travelling, but it carried the ship to temporary 'safety. She became a total wreck parallel with the shore. Union SS Co. Waikare was built 1897 at Dumbarton of 3,071 tons, single screw, valued at 30,000, of which amount 15,000 is retained by the owners. She was used on the 'horseshoe' service, trans-Tasman and to South Island and made some South Pacific voyages.

No. 12 Wreck of SS "Waikare", Dusky Sound, N.Z.
Where passengers slept on Stop Island
Muir and Moodie  Protected 4 April 1910.

Wet Jacket Arm, Dusky Sound, west coast of the lower South Island of New Zealand..
 Picturesque, Wet Jacket Arm, Dusky Sound, Fiordland

An account of the disaster can be found in:
Ships and Sailorsmen by A.A. Kirk (1964)
Shipwrecks by C. Ingram (1972)
In the Wake
by Capt. Gerald S. Doorly (1936) (Melbourne Robertson & Mullens 1944) 311 pages A compilation of yarns:- Columbus's Holy Land; of H.M.S. 'Worcester'; Wind jamming around the Horn; of the wreck of the 'Waikare' in NZ, and of the 'Aparima' tragedy; and the story of Teddy Evans and his voyage to the Antarctic. Captain Gerald Doorly is well described as a versatile mariner and the most entertaining of lecturers.

Otago Witness Jan. 16 1901 pg31 photo
The s.s. Waikare off the Tongue Wharf, Dunedin.

Hawera & Normanby Star, 20 January 1910, Page 5
THE WAIKARE. NO HOPE OF RE-FLOATING.
DUNEDIN, January 20. Mr Mclntyre, repairs superintendent for the Union Company, returned from the scene of the wreck of the Waikare last night. He reports that the Waikare's position has" altered very little, and that she is firmly fixed on the rocks. She has sunk down about four feet since the passengers left, and now only, a small part of the forecastle and upper deck forward of the bridge is visible at high water. There is not the slightest hope of refloating the vessel, which is apparently held fast on the rocks, some of which, it is thought, have pierced her hull. Considerable difficulty was experienced in carrying out salvage work inside the steamer, and operations had to be confined to periods when the tide was low. The property salvaged consists principally of fittings, and a few articles belonging to the passengers. The ship's bell was recovered after a good deal of trouble.

What vessel is that in which no woman objects to embark?
 A court-ship.