Monday, September 01, 2008

Shipwrecked on Disappointment Island

Under the rolling Pacific,
South of New Zealand's strand,
Lies crushed on the cliffs of the Aucklands
The wreckage of General Grant.

She'll never make it to London.
Her cargo of zinc and gold
Strewn out on the floor of the ocean,
Blah blah blah blah blah, cold.

On Disappointment Island,
Where the albatross makes its nest,
Now huddles the fifteen survivors,
One of them a woman.

Only a single match between them,
They manage to keep the fire alive for eighteen months,
Surviving on seal meat, braving the conditions and so forth.
And how did the proud Grant suffer wreckage?

Short version: Lost in the fog suddenly cliffs dead ahead -
The three-masted barque is sucked into a great cave between the rocks &
At high tide the main mast scrapes against the roof of the cave,
Piercing the hull, sinking the ship. Panic ensues.

Can you imagine? Of the maybe 61 passengers and
22 crew aboard the ship in the cave, only fifteen make it
To Disappointment Island.
It is May 1866. The castaways decide at some point

Their only chance of rescue is to sail the ship's boat to New Zealand for help.
They draw lots. The boat is 22 ft long with a beam of 5 ft four inches.
It leaves Disappointment Island on 22 January 1867, with four men on board.
They are never seen or heard of ever again. Bless their souls.

In September another castaway dies after a short illness, leaving
Ten of them left. In October they light signal fires at the sighting of a ship
But it passes them by unseen. Then in November
They launch their remaining boat to intercept the Amherst, a sealer.

Saved after eighteen months! The captain of the Amherst
Offers to take them directly to New Zealand, but they decide instead
To stay six weeks on,
To help with the sealing.

The lost cargo of the Grant, the 2,576 ounces of gold, now assumes
An almost magnetic quality. The first salvage attempt is abandoned
Because of the weather. In 1870 the schooner Daphne attempts salvage
With the survivor David Ashworth as guide.

The attempt is abandoned
When Ashworth and five others
Disappear in the ship's boat
While searching for the cave.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beautiful. I can almost smell rottening algaes. And the line with "blah blah blah" made me burst into tears.

10:26 pm  
Blogger Unknown said...

good stuff

3:40 pm  
Blogger pinhead said...

more evidence of a spoilt mind

2:05 pm  
Blogger Mikkel said...

You loved it, you slut. Admit it.

8:15 pm  

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