APHRASIA, paddle steamer:
On a passage from Auckland to Newcastle, NSW, the steamer was wrecked in Takou Bay, just north of the Bay of Islands, on the night of 2 November 1864. Under sail, the Aphrasia left Auckland on 3 October and experienced fine weather as far as the Great Barrier, when a strong breeze from the south-west was encountered. When the ship was off Mangonui Harbour, the wind suddenly changed to north-west. The vessel was tacked and steered for shore. It was then discovered she had sprung a leak, and the ship stood in for the bay under Flat Island. It was found she had made a quantity of water, and pumping was continued all night. In the morning, the leak was discovered under the boilers, and as the water still gained, a number of Maori were brought on board to assist the crew. After three hours’ pumping, the steamer was dry. She got under way at 7pm, and the captain attempted to make for Russell, but it was found impossible to keep her free from water. At midnight, the boats were lowered and the crew left the vessel at daybreak. The master and three men went back with the intention of beaching the vessel, but, being unmanageable, she went ashore on the rocks and sank immediately, everything being lost. The crew walked to Russell, then proceeded to Auckland by the steamer Wonga Wonga.
On 2 December the Resident Magistrate at Russell was investigating the charge brought against the crew of the Aphrasia for wilful and malicious injury to the vessel, and the charge of perjury against three of them. The Bench came to the decision that in the absence of the captain there was not sufficient evidence to send the case before a jury, and the men were discharged. One of the crew, after being discharged, was sworn in as evidence by the prosecution, and said that he knew the captain destroyed the log-book after the wreck, and believed the captain threw the screw of the pump overboard.
The Aphrasia, No. 31,610, 131 tons gross and 99 tons net, built at Deptford, County Durham, NSW, in 1841. Length 99.6ft., beam 6ft., depth 8.5ft. Two engines, 40hp. Owned by Captain Robert Dyson of Port Chalmers and Charles Murray. Commanded by Captain Stewart.
Text from New Zealand Shipwrecks, 8th edition (Hodder Moa, 2007). Used with permission of the publisher and authors.