Grafton (ship)

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The Grafton was a 56 ton schooner sailing out of Sydney during the 1860s. It was wrecked in the north arm of Carnley Harbour, Auckland Island on 3 January 1864.

Last voyage[edit]

François Édouard Raynal

The Grafton was hired by a business consortium of Mr Francois Edouard Raynal, Captain Thomas Musgrave, Charles Sarpy and Musgrave's uncle for a voyage to Campbell Island and the Auckland Islands to investigate mining and sealing opportunities.

Raynal had spent 6 years at sea and then 11 years in the Australian goldfields before a mining collapse had caused him to move to Sydney to recover. He had decided to return to France when he was approached by a friend who had good grounds for believing that a mine of argentiferous tin existed in Campbell Island. The friend, a draper known as Charles Sarpy, and his business partner suggested that Raynal could survey this island and discover the mine. Even if no mine were discovered it was suggested that Raynal could take advantage of the large number of seals and hunt them for skins and oil. Raynal agreed to the proposition but on the understanding that he would not undertake the command of the vessel. Mr Sarpy's partner suggested his nephew for the command and Mr Thomas Musgrave was offered the command of the ship.[1]

The ship left Sydney for the Campbell Islands on 12 November 1863 with a crew of five. The crew were Captain Thomas Musgrave, an American; Mr Francois Edouard Raynal from France acting as mate; Alexander McLaren (known as Alick), a Norwegian seaman who was around 28 years old; George Harris, an Englishman seaman of around 20 years old; and Henry Forgés from Portugal who was 23 and had signed on as cook.

After reaching the Auckland Islands Raynal fell very ill and was unable to complete his survey for the tin. Musgrave carried on with the search but was unable to find any trace of tin. With limited numbers of seals and an unsuccessful search for tin at Campbell Island the crew headed to Auckland Islands to hunt seals.

The Wreck[edit]

The Grafton entered one of the sounds of the Auckland Islands on 31 December 1863. A heavy gale came on 1 January 1864 which continued into midnight of 2 January [2] when the anchor chains parted, and the vessel struck a rocky beach and foundered.

The crew were able to get ashore and managed to salvage food, tools, navigation equipment, Raynal's gun, powder and shot and canvas as well as other material from the wreck. Despite only being provisioned for two months they survived for a year and a half on seal meat, birds, fish and water. They originally made a tent from portions of the spars and sails of the wreck before building a permanent cabin from wreck timber and stone. Raynal had experience in building huts from his time in the goldfields and guided the crew[3] in building a solid cabin with a stone chimney. However it took some time to build as the only available tools were an axe, an adze, a hammer and a gimlet.[4] The men named the cabin "Epigwaitt" which was suggested by Musgrave as an American Indian word meaning "a dwelling by the water".

The men manufactured clothes from sealskin and hunted and fished for food. For entertainment Captain Musgrave started reading classes[5] and Mr Raynal manufactured a chess set, dominoes and a pack of cards. However he found Musgrave to be such a bad loser that he judged it best to destroy the cards.[6]

Captain Musgrave and Raynal had both been hopeful that a ship would be sent by their business partners to investigate what had happened to the Grafton but after 12 months without sighting a single ship the decision was made to use the timbers from the wreck to "make something that will carry us to New Zealand".[7] The crew used the tools they had salvaged from the wreck and Mr Raynal created a pair of blacksmith's bellows from metal from the wreck, wood and sealskin.[8] He used the bellows to forge more tools from metal from the wreck. The castaways had made progress on sections of the proposed vessel but were unable to complete it as Mr Raynal found it impossible to manufacture an auger despite a number of attempts. The seals were less numerous than the previous year and the castaways were facing another winter with a greater threat of starvation. The decision was made to work on the ship's clinker dingy (dinghy). They enlarged the dingy by raising the gunwales, adding a false keel and decking it over. Captain Musgrave made sails from the Grafton '​s sails which had previously been on the roof of the cabin.

When they tested the boat they found that it was too unsteady with five men so Musgrave was forced to leave Harris and Forgés behind. Musgrave, Raynal, and McLaren then set sail on 19 July 1865 arriving at Port Adventure, Stewart Island on 24 July after 5 days of bad weather. Captain Cross of the Flying Scud took them into his house for a meal, a warm bath and a good nights sleep and then sailed them to Invercargill the next day. Public fundraising in Invercargill raised enough funds for Captain Musgrove to pay Captain Cross of the Flying Scud to return him to the Auckland Islands to rescue his two remaining crew members. After successfully retrieving Harris and Forgés, Musgrave returned to Invercargill and reunited all the crew. Musgrave also fetched Raynal's bellows back for him. McLaren, Raynal and Forgés returned to Melbourne on the schooner Swordfish. While Musgrave returned on a steamer captained by a friend of his. Harris remained in New Zealand and headed for the gold fields.[9]

Both Captain Musgrave and Mr Raynal wrote books about their experience.[10][11]

Remnants from the Wreck[edit]

Mr Raynal's pair of blacksmith's bellows, a pair of boots made of tanned sealskin, and a needle made of bone from the wing of an albatross are said to be in the collection of Melbourne Museum.

There are also items in the collection of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

Coinciding with the Wreck of the Invercauld[edit]

The wreck of the Grafton occurred four months before the wreck of the Invercauld. Both vessels had survivors on the Auckland Islands at the same time but at different ends of the main island. The two groups of survivors were unaware of each other's existence until the Flying Scud visited to pick up the last two of the Grafton castaways. Smoke from a fire was spotted but not investigated. When the Flying Scud visited Erebus Cove the crew found the body of a man lying beside the ruins of a house. The man had been dead for some time. The house was one of the Enderby Settlement buildings but the identity of the body was a mystery. A roofing slate beside the man had some illegible writing on it. One foot was bound with woollen rags and the implication was that he starved after no longer being able to fend for himself.

The differences in the two castaway groups' survival rates can be put down to the Grafton group, led by Captain Musgrave, being better resourced and organised. They retrieved larger stocks of food, a dinghy with which to travel around the coast, a gun to shoot birds and seals and also had a wreck from which to salvage useful material. The Invercauld group had none of these advantages.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Raynal, Francois Edouard (2003). "Wrecked on a Reef or Twenty Months among the Auckland Isles - A facsimile of the text and illustrations of the 1880 edition published by Thomas Nelson & Sons, London, Edinburgh, and New York, with additional commentaries by Christiane Mortelier". Steele Roberts, New Zealand. Retrieved 27 March 2010. 
  2. ^ "The Wreck of the Grafton". The Sydney Mail. 7 October 1865. Retrieved 25 March 2010. 
  3. ^ Raynal, Francois Edouard (2003). "Wrecked on a Reef or Twenty Months among the Auckland Isles - A facsimile of the text and illustrations of the 1880 edition published by Thomas Nelson & Sons, London, Edinburgh, and New York, with additional commentaries by Christiane Mortelier". Steele Roberts, New Zealand. Retrieved 27 March 2010. 
  4. ^ Musgrave, Thomas (1865). Castaway on the Auckland Isles: a narrative of the wreck of the "Grafton" page 19. H. T. Dwight, Melbourne. Retrieved 25 March 2010. 
  5. ^ Musgrave, Thomas (1865). Castaway on the Auckland Isles: a narrative of the wreck of the "Grafton" page 33. H. T. Dwight, Melbourne. Retrieved 25 March 2010. 
  6. ^ Eden, Allan W. (1955). "The Wreck of the Grafton pg 98". Islands of Despair. Andrew Melrose, London. Retrieved 25 March 2010. 
  7. ^ Musgrave, Thomas (1865). Castaway on the Auckland Isles: a narrative of the wreck of the "Grafton" page 63. H. T. Dwight, Melbourne. Retrieved 25 March 2010. 
  8. ^ Raynal, Francois Edouard (2003). "Wrecked on a Reef or Twenty Months among the Auckland Isles - A facsimile of the text and illustrations of the 1880 edition published by Thomas Nelson & Sons, London, Edinburgh, and New York, with additional commentaries by Christiane Mortelier". Steele Roberts, New Zealand. Retrieved 27 March 2010. 
  9. ^ Raynal, Francois Edouard (2003). "Wrecked on a Reef or Twenty Months among the Auckland Isles - A facsimile of the text and illustrations of the 1880 edition published by Thomas Nelson & Sons, London, Edinburgh, and New York, with additional commentaries by Christiane Mortelier". Steele Roberts, New Zealand. Retrieved 27 March 2010. 
  10. ^ Musgrave, Thomas (1865). Castaway on the Auckland Isles: a narrative of the wreck of the "Grafton" title page. H. T. Dwight, Melbourne. Retrieved 25 March 2010. 
  11. ^ "Catalogue". National Library of Australia. Retrieved 25 March 2010. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]