Spirit of the Dawn (ship)

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Spirit of the Dawn
Owner: J. Bell and Son
Builder: T.R. Oswald and Co
Launched: 1869
Fate: Wrecked 1893
General characteristics
Tonnage: 692 tons
Sail plan: Barque

Spirit of the Dawn was an iron barque of 692 tons that was wrecked in the Antipodes Islands in 1893. She was built at Sunderland in 1869 by T.R. Oswald and Co and was owned by the Messrs J. Bell and Son, Liverpool.[1]

The wreck and rescue[edit]

In 1893 Spirit of the Dawn was en route from Rangoon, India to Talcahuana, Chile with a cargo of rice and under the command of Captain R T Millington. The ship encountered foggy weather in the Southern Ocean and on 4 September 1893 the ship struck rocks 12-mile (0.80 km) from the Antipodes Islands and sank. Eleven of the crew took the boats and made it ashore but five other crew, including the captain, drowned.

The survivors lived on the main Antipodes Island until they were rescued 88 days later on 30 November 1893 by the New Zealand Government Steam Ship Hinemoa under the command of Captain Fairchild. The castaways lived the entire 88 days without a fire and survived eating raw eggs, birds and roots. A castaway depot had been cached on the island but the crew never found it.

The castaways were described as being in a "desperate state" by their rescuers. One crewmember, Felix Hewbert, required hospital treatment for frostbite on his right foot. He lost two toes and the first joint of the other toes from that foot.[1]

The Crew List and Enquiry[edit]

  • Captain R T Millington - drowned
  • R H Horner, Chief officer - survived
  • J Morrissey, second officer - survived
  • Harry Davies, third officer - survived
  • E M Bergthiem, apprentice - survived
  • W Clementson, apprentice - survived
  • Ceto, steward from Copenhagen - drowned
  • J Petersen, carpenter from Sweden - drowned
  • John J Peers, able bodied seaman - survived
  • Thomas E Ballard, able bodied seaman - survived
  • Bernhard V Anderson, able bodied seaman - survived
  • C D Mason, able bodied seaman - survived
  • Frank McLaughlin, able bodied seaman - survived
  • Felix Hewbert, able bodied seaman and described as "a halfcaste lad"[2] from Rangoon - survived
  • Frank Bauttier, able bodied seaman from Jersey, drowned
  • Peter Dawson, cook from Liverpool - drowned

An enquiry was held in Wellington, New Zealand on 11 December 1893 before the Resident Magistrate and Captain Adams. The Court held that there was no evidence to show how the ship came to be in that position and that all hands had done what they could to save life.[3]


  1. ^ a b "Fatal Wreck". The Star (4817). 4 December 1893. p. 3. Retrieved 31 July 2011. 
  2. ^ "The Spirit of the Dawn Cast-Aways". Otago Witness. 14 December 1893. p. 17. Retrieved 31 July 2011. 
  3. ^ "Shipping Enquiry". The Colonist. 13 December 1893. p. 3. Retrieved 31 July 2011.