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An official enquiry into the wreck of the brig Robin Hood on the sunken rock to the east ,of Hammock Island and Furneaux Island, on the 27th December, 1884, was held on Wednesday afternoon at the Police Court, before Mr H. T. A. Murray, Police Magistrate. Captain George F. Parsons acted as nautical assessor, Mr Campbell, Collector of Customs, also occupied a seat on the Bench.

Colin McDonald deposed he was master of the brig Robin Hood, of Auckland, New Zealand, 284 tons register. Her official number was 54,797. She was owned by William Swainton Laurie, of Auckland, and was built in 1867. At the time of the accident they were on the voyage' from Kaipara to Adelaide. Left Kaipara on November 29 last at 10 a.m., with a cargo of 255,000ft of Kauri timber. The ship was in good condition, and well found. They had foul weather, chiefly head winds against them, with the exception of a few days, until they entered the Straits. Went into Bass' Straits south of Kent's Group. At Kent's Group bad weather was experienced, with head winds, and to seek shelter they ran to the south. They ran under the lee of Hummock Island, near Flinders, - on the eastern side. Produced chart. He was guided by that and another chart and a book of directions, viz, ' Australian Directory'. The wind increased from the west and W.S.W., and they went between the south end of Hummock and the Low Islands.

After they had got through they shortened sail of topsail and jib. After running about two miles north-east along the coast they struck on a rock. The sails Were tacked to try and get her off, without success. They then got a chain anchor, lowered a boat and put a stern anchor out to try to haul her off, but it was of no use. The deck load was then shifted to one side to give the vessel a lift in the hope of getting her off the next tide. She did not get off the next tide. The rocks she struck on are called Koh-i-noor Rocks. When the tide left her the next day the vessel broke her back, and they started then to get the stores, gear, and sails off. The next day they dismantled the vessel and took everything on shore. They did not come into the passage on the north side of the island, because it looked more dangerous on the chart, and the ebb tide would not let them. Were discharging timber until the Saturday, when they got the deck load off, and part of that between decks. On Saturday afternoon witness left the vessel for Launceston, and arrived on Tuesday. On Monday evening he wired to the owners, and reported himself to the Collector of Customs. Had instructions from the owners to sell the vessel and cargo. She, was sold on the Wednesday after he left the island. Went into the Straits on December 25 last, and was wrecked on the same day, and arrived in Launceston on the following Saturday. He did not think he was running too near the land when running up from the south of Hummock Island. He was guided by the Admiralty chart, but looked at both of them. When he gave his evidence to the Collector of Customs, he did not think that the rock which the brig was wrecked upon was laid down on the chart, having mistaken a group of rocks above water for the Koh-i-noor Rocks. The weather was clear. They were a quarter of a mile to the east of the small island when she struck.

There was deep water between where the vessel struck and the island. The island was about a quarter of a mile from the shore at Hummock Island. He took the bearings as he was approaching the Hummocks. At low water there were no rocks visible in between them and the shore. Saw no other rocks. Struck between 6 and 7 p.m were steering to go outside all. The tide left them 6ft or 7ft forward. The vessel settled down aft. Her back was not broken until the second tide. Did not take cross-bearings after she went ashore. The point they aimed at was the I place marked on the chart with an anchor. He was certain that between the rock on which they struck, to the shore of the islet, there was clear water for two or three cables. Two and a half fathoms was the least we found at low water. The reef went off gradually for about a cable's length from the little island. There were five fathoms outside a boat's length from the ship.

Murdoch M'Donald, first officer of the brig Robin Hood, deposed — When the vessel struck she was under the upper topsail and gib. The anchors were all ready to let go. After she struck they tried to back her off, and ran out a wedge anchor off the starboard quarter. She did not move once. There were four fathoms of water aft of the vessel, and three forward. They sounded outside of the rock, between the rock and the ship at low water, and found from 10 to 12ft. That extended halfway between the ship and the island. Sounded outside of her for about a ship's length, and found between two and three fathoms. There were two or three small rocks at the islet at high water. The islet consisted of two or three rocks at high water, which were united at low water.

Charles Richards, second officer, corroborated in a great measure the captain's evidence. He deposed he was not certificated. He saw some rocks near Hummock Island above water. They were to the south-east of them. When the vessel struck they were half a mile from the islands. They landed the timber on the beach about west of the island. There were no rocks there. He had nothing to do with the sounding. A man named Blackham sounded the land half an hour before the brig struck, and he got no bottom. The soundings were taken round the ship, but he knew nothing about them.

The decision was reserved until 3pm yesterday, when Mr Murray announced it as follows : — 1st. " That the brig Robin Hood was wrecked at Hummock Island, in the Furneaux Group, in Tasmania, on the 27th day of December, 1884". 2nd. "That Colin McDonald, master of the said brig, was driven by stress of weather to take shelter under Hummock Island, and while making for the usual anchorage (using the lead, taking cross-bearings, and under reduced, sail) struck; either on the edge of the Ko-i-noor Rocks or on some rock outside that cluster not laid down in the chart." 3rd. " That there is no evidence to show that any blame attaches to the officers of the brig aforesaid."

In this decision the Nautical Assessor had concurred, and Mr Murray stated he had much pleasure in handing the officers their certificates, much more so than if he had had to withhold them.




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