SENSATIONAL EXPERIENCE OF THE TUG.
A TOUGH JOB IN. A TERRIBLE SEA.
HOW THE “STAR OF CANADA” WAS FOUND
BELIEVED AT FIRST TO BE THE MOKOIA.
(Per Press Association.) GISBORNE, June 24.
TRANSCRIPT 16 SEPTEMBER 2017 M R WARD
The little tug Hipi’s experience in approaching the wreck of the Star of Canada last evening was a 'sensational one. Half-past-two saw the little tug lying alongside a lighter with steam up. The captain came aboard a few minutes later, and the reporter explained his business. . . - <
“H’m,” said the captain, ."Yes, I suppose you can -come.”
“What sort of sea is there outside, Captain ?” - "
“Pretty bad, reporter.-”Then, as an afterthought, “You come at your own risk, you know,”
Three resounding hoots on, the miniature vessel’s syren brought half a dozen stalwart lightermen from somewhere Among the sheds. Big men, these, with their oilskins and sou’-westers glistening in the lamp light. The engineers were already aboard toiling in a red and comfortably warm-looking hole.
“Cast off fore and aft,” .a-voice came from the wharf on the other side of the lighter, “Take a passenger, captain?” “ Too risky; no passengers. Cast oft fore and aft,” and with a ding- clang of her engine bells the Hipi put out and steamed down the harbour. Once round the bend, a head sea was met, and the little vessel literally stood up on. her hind legs with her bow pointing skywards. The reaction was sickening: an awful sinking feeling as her head came down again, and then a splash, and a great wave surged over the little vessel. To the mere landsman it was fearful. But to those accustomed to working the Hipi it was nothing.
“She certainly looks close in,” observed the captain and while his own vessel reared up on end meeting the violent surge at the entrance to the river. “Yes,” agreed his _companion, “She’s on the rocks all right.” The little boat stood out, neared the vessel, which by this time was winking her signals from a Morse lamp suspended on her mast. A light was slung over the side of the ship on the rocks, and this could be seen intermittently as the Hipi topped the rollers, being lost again as she sank into the deep trough of the sea. It could now be seen that the vessel was lying stern on about half a mile from the shore, with her midships quarters well down, but with all her lights going, thus indicating that there was nothing the matter with the engine- room.; The Hipi tried gallantly, but it., was too risky. '.
, “Put about, old chap,” said the captain's companion, and the Hipi swung round obediently as her broadside met the seas. .
•. “What do vou make of her?”- “The Mokoia.”
“That’s not tho Mokoia. It’s the Star.”
Again the captain made the Hipi perform that awful revolution, and again he tried to got close to her, but a reef threatened, and once more he turned for home, the Hipi riding much more easily with her stern to the southerly than with it dead in her eye. She was half-way home again and all hands agreed that the distressed vessel was the Mokoia, when again the distressed one sent up signals, hooting mournfully with her syren..
“It’s no use, boys. I’ll have to go back,” said' the captain, and all hands gallantly assented, while the Hipi once again performed the dangerous turn and steamed for the stranger. To within a cable’s length she went, and then the Hipi’s engines wore reversed, and taking advantage of the vessel’s lee, she went right close under her bows, those on board reading the name "Star of Canada,” and making sure for the first time of the identity of the vessel. The Hipi was carried closer, dancing the while on the gigantic waves. Soon a biscuit could have been tossed from one vessel to the other, and a line of some thirty desolate-looking men could be seen leaning over the stranded vessel’s rail amidships. The gale still kept up its racket and it was difficult to hear.
“We’Il have to oome back in the morning,” bawled the Hipi.
“We want you to take an anchor cut,” yelled the Star .in reply.
“ We’ll come back at daylight,” reiterated the dancing Hipi, hoarsely.
“ All very well for yuu,” came the answer. “But what about us?”
“What’s the matter? You’re not sinking..”
“Water in Nos. 1 2 and 3.”
The seas became worse, the Hipi’s engine bell rang full speed ahead.
“ Let Wellington know,” came the last words from the stranded vessel, and the Hipi came back to Gisborne, leaving the Star of Canada to the one or two hours that remained of the darkness. The Hipi’s captain and crew had done their best, and it was a gallant best to be out in such a Lilliputian craft on such a night.
It was probably this event that lead to the ordering of the Toanui for Gisborne. But she never made it.
Sadly she ran ashore in Papakura Bay near Whangamata on 18 March 1973. They got her barge off, but she didn't make it. RIP.