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Peiades 1899

PLEIADES, ship : In order to save the lives of those on board the vessel was run ashore on Akitio Beach, south of Cape Turnagain, on the morning of October 31, 1899, and subsequently became a total loss. The crew, numbering 20, reached the shore in safety, and, with the exception of the master, were taken to Wellington by the steamer Himitangi on November 5. From the account of the mishap given by members of the crew, the Pleiades had a very narrow escape from total destruction before she was run ashore. At daylight on October 31 she was dangerously close to the land, and all efforts to wear her were unavailing. As she was slowly drifting ashore before the heavy ESE. gale the master decided to run her ashore in order to save life. The first mate, from the mizzen rigging, directed the helmsman to a small piece of sandy beach in Akitio Bay, and at 8 a.m. the ship took the ground in an upright position. It was the merest luck that the vessel missed the reef which runs out from Akitio, and on which the sea was breaking with great fury. Had she struck this she must have gone to pieces in a few minutes. When she was beached the crew landed in a lifeboat. The Pleiades sustained very little damage as the result of the stranding, but on March 30, 1900, it was reported that the wreck of the ship was being dismantled, following which she would be abandoned, as she was not worth the expense of trying to refloat her. The Court of Inquiry considered the master was right in beaching the ship and not anchoring, but found him guilty of negligent navigation, and suspended his certificate for six months and ordered him to pay half the costs of the inquiry. The chief officer, Mr. Alfred James Hailey, was held blameable for negligence in not taking and recording cross-bearings where practicable. He was reprimanded and ordered to pay half the costs of the inquiry.

The Pleiades, No. 63,509, was an iron, fullrigged ship of 1,020 tons register, built at Dumbarton in 1869 by A. McMillan and Son, and her dimensions were : length 209.6 ft., beam 33.1 ft., depth 20.6 ft. She was owned by the Shaw, Savill and Albion Company Ltd., and was under the command of Captain Thomas Burton.


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