Shipwrecks and Disasters page one.


See also Nautical Tales, Yarns and Biographies

  • Puriri Disaster
  • Island of the Lost
  • 120 Days at Astrolobe
  • Sailing to the Far Horizon
  • The Orpheus Disaster
  • The Wahine Disaster
  • The Remains of The Boyd DVD
  • The White Swan Incident
  • Wake of the Invercauld
  • The General Grant's Gold
  • The Wreck of the Penguin
  • Deep Water Gold

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    By Ben Gibbs. Paperback, 0.07kgs, 155mm x 215mm, 50 pages, black and white, colour photographs. Published 2015
    At the outbreak of the war the Royal Navy (NZ Division) was in dire need of auxiliary vessels and experienced seamen to operate them. Small merchant ships and their crews were often requisitioned for Military purposes. Puriri was one of these, requisitioned by the Navy in November 1940 and fitted out as a minesweeper, she was commisioned as HMS Puriri in April 1941 and assigned to a flotilla sweeping mines in the approaches to Auckland Harbour..

    On 14th May 1941, 25 days later the HMS Puriri struck a mine eight miles off Bream Head. She sank very quickly with the loss of five crew.

    This is her story.

    NZ$20.00 + delivery.

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    By Joan Druett. Paperback, 0.32kgs, 140mm x 210mm, 284 pages, black and white photographs. First Published 2007
    Hundreds of miles from civilisation, two ships wreck on opposite ends of the same bleak deserted island in a true story of human nature at its best - and at its worst.

    In January 1864, five seamen from the wrecked schooner Grafton are stranded on an isolated speck of land some 300 miles south of New Zealand. Battling ferocious winds, relentless freezing rain and an impenetrable coastal forest, their chances of survival are slim. But under the leadership of Captain Thomas Musgrave, they miraculously cling to life for nearly two years before building a vessel and setting off on one of the most courageous sea voyages ever.

    Meanwhile, in May 1864, on the same island but twenty miles of impassable cliffs and chasms away, another ship is wrecked and nineteen men struggle ashore. This crew, however, succumbs to utter anarchy and only three remain to be rescued a year later.

    Using the survivors' journals, Joan Druett tells a gripping tale about leadership, endurance, and the fine line between order and chaos.

    NZ$40.00 + delivery.

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    The Rena, The Reef & The Go Canopus. By Captain Kevin Judkins. Softback, 1.16kgs, 298mm x 210mm, 237 pages, Colour photographs. Published September 2016
    A unique perspective on New Zealand's worst environmental shipping disaster on October 5th 2011.

    This first-hand, and self-published record is a narrative of events that took place on and around Astrolabe Reef, as the Rena broke up and the salvage turned into a wreck removal. Motivated by feelings of frustration about the lack of details being communicated by officials in charge of the salvage and the clampdown of information, the narrative is taken from transcripts of the personal log of Captain Kevin Judkins (of the Go Canopus), who was there. It has been liberally interlaced with previously unpublished sequential photographs ( a selection from the approx 20,000 taken) to enhance appreciation of the events described. Furthermore, the insider's perspective he provides on shipboard life is captivating, as is his ability to describe complicated salvage procedures in terms that can be grasped by Laymen and seafarer's alike.

    "The New Zealand Government agency responsible for dealing with the Rena was not prepared for an incident of this scale and acted indecisively during the days that followed the stranding. Salvage men act quickly however and within 72 hours of the event the Australasian Regional Manager and Salvage Master (the same man) of a leading firm with Global reach, accompanied by a Public relations and Reputation Management Specialist had travelled from Sydney to Tauranga and boarded the casuality before assuming responsiblity for the Rena and for the subsequent salvage attempt..".

    Kevin Judkins joined Union Steam Ship Company in 1977, as a 17 year old apprentice deck officer. He obtained his Second Mates Foreign Going Certificate in 1980 while studying at the Auckland Maritime College, scoring the highest marks in New Zealand for that year. Working predominantly in the Asia Pacific region, he gained his Masters Foreign Going Certificate in 1989 and became a qualified Dynamic Positioning Operator in 1995. The Rena project was his first involvement in salvage operations.

    NZ$95.00 + delivery.

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    By Pamela Sisman Bitterman. Paperback, 0.49kgs, 150mm x 228mm, 344 pages, black and white photographs.
    The tall ship Sofia sank off New Zealand's North island in February 1982, stranding it's crew on disabled life rafts for five days. They struggled to survive as any realistic hope of rescue dwindled. Just a few years earlier Pamela Sisman Bitterman was a naive swabbie looking for adventure, signing on with a sailing co-operative taking this sixty-year-old, 123 foot, three-masted gaff-topsail schooner around the globe. The aged baltic trader had been rescued from a wooden boat graveyard in Sweden and reincarnated as a floating commune in the 1960s. By the time Sofia went down, Bitterman had become an able seaman, promoted first to bos'un and then acting first mate, immersing herself in this life of a tall ship salor, world traveler and survivor. She takes us through hurricane Kendra, civil unrest in latin America, the arrest of the crew (twice), dengue fever, a near mutiny and much more.

    NZ$58.00 + delivery.

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    By Thayer Fairburn. Paperback, 1.06kgs, 210mm x 219mm, 244 pages, black and white photographs.
    This book, originally published in 1987, was the first full and true account of New Zealand's greatest sea disaster. The book was the lifelong work of Thayer Fairburn. It is a monumental work in any sense of the term. He carefully and painstakingly researched every aspect of the wreck, following leads around the world through libraries and survivors' records. The journey was long, over sixty years of research and collation, resulting in a book with a wonderful array of maps, charts, illustrations and photographs never before seen in publication. The Orpheus Disaster is a tribute to a sea historian and his relentless search for the total picture that doomed the grand vessel that fateful day in 1863 on a massive sandbank just outside Auckland's Manukau Harbour .

    NZ$60.00 + delivery.

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    By Emmanuel Makarios. Paperback, .28kgs, 210mm x 280mm, 60 pages, black and white photographs. Published 2003
    The Wahine Disaster Ė A Tragedy Remembered, is a study of one of the worst maritime disasters in New Zealand history. Drawing on oral history and archival records it provides a vivid account of the events of 10 April 1968.

    In the early morning two violent storms merged over Wellington, creating a single cyclone that is still the worst recorded in New Zealandís history. In this extraordinary storm the TEV Wahine foundered on Barrett Reef and sank near Steeple Rock at the mouth of Wellington Harbour. Of the 610 passengers and 123 crew on board (plus one stowaway), 53 were killed.

    This book shares some of the stories of the passengers who boarded the ferry on a beautiful calm night in Lyttleton and ended up as participants in New Zealandís worst maritime disaster in living memory. Information from eyewitnesses and rescuers is also drawn upon.

    Drawing on oral history and archival history this book answers all of the most frequently asked questions about the tragedy, providing information about the storm and its impact and how and why the ferry foundered.

    NZ$30.00 + delivery.

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    By New Zealand Underwater Heritage Group. DVD. Duration 35 minutes.
    December 1809, the sailing ship Boyd was attacked and destroyed while at anchor in Whangaroa Harbour, New Zealand. We take a look at what remains of the ship after 200 years under water, and begin the search for other remains outside the area of the wreck site.
    With modern technology it's now possible to search and hopefully locate the ship's anchors and guns that may still lie undiscovered in the harbour's muddy bottom.
    This is the beginning of on-going research to document the history of one of New Zealand's oldest and historically significant shipwrecks.

    NZ$25.00 + delivery.

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    THE WHITE SWAN INCIDENT, The Shipwreck That Could Have Sunk a Government.
    By Mike Warman. Pbk, 170mm x 240mm (A4), 73 pages, monochrome photographs and drawings.
    This is a book about a New Zealand shipwreck. On 29 June 1862 the S.S White Swan was holed by a rock while steaming down the North Island coast between Napier and Wellington. A number of New Zealand's leading politicians and civil servants were among the passengers. A heavy loss of life would have been calamitous for the government and the administration of the colony. Miraculously, Captain Allen Harper managed to find the one safe spot on a notoriously rugged coastline to run the ship ashore on Wairongo Beach, at Uriti Point on the Wairarapa coast. All the passengers and crew managed to scramble ashore without injury.
    The author's fascinating and thoroughly researched book provides the background to the ill fated voyage, with the vessel steaming to take passengers to their places in the first sitting of the New Zealand parliament.
    He describes the likely reason for the shipwreck; how the passengers fared ashore; the irony behind their rescue; the mysterious enquiry in Wellington; and the subsequent histories of a large number of the passengers on board.

    NZ$25.50 + delivery.

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    By Madelene Ferguson Allen. Hardcover, 198mm x 268mm, 256 pages, colour photographs.
    Robert Holding, a young English adventurer, was only 23 when in 1864 he was shipwrecked with 19 others on the windswept, inhospitable Auckland Islands in the sub-Antarctic Ocean south of New Zealand. By the time he was rescued a year later, only two of his shipmates were taken off the island with him, the rest having perished from starvation and exposure. This is the extraordinary story of how the three survived, and why their companions did not.
    It is also a gripping tale of discovery. Holding's great-granddaughter Madelene Ferguson Allen had her relationship to the sailor revealed when she was researching the history of her birth family. Subsequently she learned of the existence of his account of the shipwreck and enforced stay on the Aucklands, and she decided to retrace her forebear's footsteps.
    As the Auckland Islands are one of the world's last great "untouched" wildlife sanctuaries, getting permission to visit from New Zealand's Department of Conservation is no easy task. However, eventually the author was granted access and she conducted her research at first-hand on the islands in 1993 and 1995.
    In this wonderfully readable tale of adventure, wildlife encounters and life aboard a sailing ship in the roaring sub-Antarctic seas, Madelene Allen has brought an obscure piece of maritime history to life. Robert Holding's chronicle is interwoven with his great-granddaughter's story, as she visits the original home of the Invercault in Scotland, follows the young sailor's trail from England, through Australia, to the tragic encounter with the bleak Auckland Islands, and finally to his resting place in Canada.

    NZ$52.00 + delivery.

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    By Madelene Ferguson Allen and Ken Scadden. Paperback, 152mm x 235mm, 192 pages. Monochrome photos.
    The wreck in 1866 of the General Grant in the desolate sub-Antarctic Auckland Islands is one of the world's great nautical mysteries, a story that still tantalises and thrills. When the ship was crushed in a cave beneath a sheer cliff face, a few crew members and a handful of passengers managed to escape in a lifeboat. For more than two years they lived a hand-to-mouth existence on a nearby island before they were rescued. This story is extraordinary in itself, but soon compelling legends spread that the ship had sunk with a fabulous hoard of gold from the Victorian goldfields. For almost 140 years, expeditions and bounty hunters have searched for the ship and her elusive cargo. In the relentless seas of the Auckland Islands, it has been a soul-destroying endeavour. Locating the vessel has been difficult enough; finding the gold has proved impossible.
    In this book the authors tell the full story of the voyage, the shipwreck, the plight of the castaways and the search for the gold. At this distance in time, separating the facts from the legends is difficult, but the authors have scrupulously researched the events of the shipwreck and examined every subsequent search for the gold. The story is more remarkable than fiction, a tale of heroes and cads, heartbreak and loss, hope and despair, hunger and greed. As it has betwitched so many in the past, so it will haunt you long after the last page is turned.

    NZ$35.00 + delivery

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    By Bruce E Collins. Softcover, 200mm x 280mm, 128 pages, black & white photographs.
    New Zealanders vividly remember the Wahine wreck, in which 51 people died. An even more tragic shipwreck occurred 60 years earlier, not far from where the Wahine went down. In 1909 the Penguin sank near Wellington with the loss of 72 lives, among them many women and children.

    This is the full story of that calamity. The drama and despair of that wild night in the Cook Strait and the acts of fortitude and tenacity that ensued. One heroine was Ada Hannam, the only female survivor, who overcame dreadful odds but lost her entire family.

    The Penguin has never been found, and mystery surrounds the cause and exact location of the sinking. Was it Thomas Rock or did the ship hit the hulk of the Rio Loge? Was Captain Naylor unfairly blamed for the wreck? Many of the answers are in this book; others lie still in the Cook Strait.

    NZ$35.00 + delivery.

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    By Keith Gordon. Pbk, 150mm x 230mm, 240 pages, full colour and monochrome photographs.
    This is the complete story of RMS Niagara, a famous Pacific liner sunk in 1940 with eight tonnes of gold bullion off the Northland Coast of New Zealand by the German raider Orion. Keith Gordon links past with present in his story of the history of the Niagara, the German raid, the epic gold salvage ventures and exploring the shipwreck in deep water. A famous ship, wartime action, lost treasure and underwater exploration - a true adventure story to hold the interest of all.

    NZ$36.00 + delivery.

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    Shipwrecks and Disasters page one.


    See also Nautical Tales, Yarns and Biographies

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