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4 March 2015

Collision near Beecroft point – ketch founders, crew member lost.

Sunday March 1882 1.30a.m.


An inquiry was commenced on Monday into the circumstances surrounding the collision between the Steamer Kameruka and the ketch Esther Maria, six mile north of Beecroft Point,   and the loss of seaman Charles Greenwood.

A tragic loss of life.

Archibald Dawson,  master of the ketch, stated that the Esther Maria was sunk by the collision and that Charles Edward Greenwood was lost in her ;  the man was below,  and the witness called him,  and told him to come on deck as quickly as possible ;  Greenwood answered, and the witness heard him move as if he were coming on deck  ;  the witness got up on the main-rigging and so got on the steamer,  and he heard a cry in the water which might have come from Greenwood ;

Witness Statements.
When he saw the steamer's light three points to the port bow, he saw that his own red light on the port bow was dim, and he took it out to prick it up;
he was replacing it when he saw the steamer coming into him,  and had no time to get into it's place;

The steersman was known as Dick,  and the witness was keeping a look-out walking about aft,  the vessel going about 5 knots;  he came on deck at 12,  but did not look at the lights;  when he saw the steamer, she was on the lee bow,  and he saw her red light;  he also saw the masthead light which looked dim;  The only way he could account for the collision was that the steamers course must have been altered;  he did not alter his course and then saw all three light coming straight into him,  seven of eight minutes after he had seen the red light and masthead light;

When he took the red light out to trim it,  he took it down below,  but was as quick as possible with it;  the vessel continued it's course until she was struck,  and he was certain the green light was burning,  though he did not see it;  The Kameruka lowered her boats,  and remained near the scene of the wreck for four hours;  he could not account for the missing man Greenwood being lost,  for he had a better chance than for some those that were saved.

Steven Bishop,  master of the Kameruka’ evidence was heard.

The vessel was on a voyage from Eden to Sydney at the time of the collision;  the weather was hazy,  and there was a fresh northerly wind;  The Kameruka was uninjured;  he was on deck at the time of the collision;  steering N. by W. by the bridge compass;  there was a lookout man on the bridge and nothing to obstruct his view;  at 1.a.m he left the deck,  telling the second officer to blow the whistle if he saw anything;  he heard the whistle and ran on deck,  found the engines stopped,  saw the ketch luffing-to on the starboard tack,  and thought it was a vessel on the starboard tack;  his helm now was hard-a-starboard but he saw it was to late to avert the collision;  he afterwards remained on the spot until 6.30 a.m to endeavour to save life; 
When he got on the bridge he saw the ketch close down on the starboard bow,  but he could see no lights, though he looked for them.

James Whatt,  second mate of the Kameruka,  and officer of the watch at the time of the collision,  gave similar evidence.

As to the absence of light on the ketch,   and the efforts of himself and the master of the steamer to avoid the collision;  when he sounded the whistle the little vessel shot into the wind and came towards them,  and he stopped the engines;  after the collision occurred,  and he saw to men clambering up over the bow,  he said,  'Why didn't you have your light burning?"   and one of them answered " They went out sir!"

Andrew Jansen,  lookout man on the Kemeruka at the time of the wreck,   collaborated the second officers evidence.
And added that when he saw the ketch he could not tell which way was she was going.

The second mate said she was running before the wind,  but as they got close to her she tried to cross their bows,  and the collision occurred;  she had no light showing.
William Jackson,  steersman of the Kameruka,  stated.

The course steered at the time was N by W. ;  after the collision he said to the captain of the ketch,  " You had no light out";  he said,  'No one light was out, and I was down trimming the other,  the red light";  He also said when he came on deck with the red light he saw the steamer,  which was to close to allow him to do anything;  he then dropped the light,  pitched his coat off,  ran to to cabin,  called the mate,  and then went forward to call the men;

The witness asked one of the men belonging to the ketch who was at the wheel,  how he was steering and he answered S. by W. ;  the witness said that was impossible ; the man answered,  'When I heard your whistle I saw the steamer,  and left the tiller,  ran to call the mate,  and then to the forecastle to call the men."

Final Judgment
After consultation, the board found that the collision was caused by the wrongful act or default of Archibald Dawson, master of the Ketch Esthter Maria, in having committed a breach of article 6 of the regulations for preventing collisions at sea, by not exhibiting proper lights, 
and to show cause why his certificate should not be suspended of cancelled
His license was subsequently suspended for a period of 3 months.
No blame was appointed to Captain Bishop or his crew for the collision.
Ketch Esther Maria.
Built Hawksbury River 1867. Wooden Vessel.
Owner: W. Grono.
52 tons.
69ft long x 18 ft x 6.6 ft hold.
Two-masted fore-and-aft rigged.
The first mast taller than the aft mast.
Steerage behind the aft mast (The mizzen mast)
Crew of 5 on the trip above.
S.S Kameruka
Built 1880.
Owner: The Illawarra Steam Navigation Company.
Gross tonnage 515 tons –300 tons net.
179ft 6 inches long
24ft at the beam and eight ft hold


S.S. Kameruka finds wreckage of foundered ship near Montague Island. 1880

The S.S. Kameruka  saw an unidentified sunken vessel at 5am on the morning of the 11th, located south west of Montague Island, as it passed on a voyage to Tathra. Captain Walker stopped his vessel and inspected the wreck. At this stage, only twenty feet of the mainmast and the tip of the mizzen mast stood above water. Attached to the mizzen was the remains of the vessel’s ensign, reversed as an indication of distress. After removing the flag and recording the depth as 15 fathoms (28 metres) of water, the Kameruka continued to Tathra and telegrammed Sydney.
Read more.

S.S. Kameruka  - A total wreck. 1897

15 years after the collision as reported above, the Steamer Kameruka was ashore on Pedro Point about two miles from Moruya and became a total wreck.


pic reference
The wreck of SS Kameruka on Pedro Point reef of Moruya Heads in October 1897. The cradle used in the rescue of all crew and passengers is still standing in the heavy-breaking seas. The photograph was taken by “Wood of Bega”.


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