The Schooner Phoenix was built in Nelson in 1846. The first records of her being reported in the newspapers of the time, have her lying in port at Nelson in October of 1846. She left Nelson for Wellington on November 21st 1846 and was never seen again. The first sighting was reported in early December of 1846. She was wrecked near D'Urville Island with the loss of seven lives. This was possibly her first and last voyage.
SUPPOSED WRECK of the
PHOENIX ANDLOSS OF ALLHANDS.
It is our painful duty to state that there is every reason to fear the beautiful little, schooner Phoenix, lately built at this port and which sailed hence for Wellington, on her first voyage, on the 21st ult., has been wrecked somewhere between Stephen's Island and the Rangitoto side of D'Urville' Island.
All the information we at present possess relative to this most unfortunate event has been obtained from Mr. James M'Laren, of Croixelles, who arrived here in a boat from Rangitoto on Monday evening last.
Mr. M'Laren left Croixelles in a boat, accompanied by a canoe, on Monday the 23rd of November, and proceeding through the French Pass, reached Rangitoto on the day following. A native lad who had accompanied him having strolled into an adjoining bay, picked up. there a piece of the bulwark of a vessel, and , bringing it back with him, Mr. M'Laren immediately suspected it belonged to the Phoenix, which he had seen in Nelson a short time before she sailed, and that she had been wrecked in the neighbourhood. On the morning of Wednesday, the 25th, he himself . proceeded along the same coast, and picked up several pieces of bulwark, part of the wreck of a boat, one of the main hatches and the false keel of a vessel, and a piece of sawn .limber. When he arrived opposite to Stephen's
Island, Mr. M'Laren remained there till low water to take a survey of the sunken rocks, but discovered nothing further that day.
On the following morning he started again on the same track at daylight, but finding nothing, he crossed the hills to Port Hardy, and ranged the whole of the north-west coast to
, without discovering a particle of the wreck. Cape Stephens
At daybreak, on the 27th, Mr. M'Laren manned his boat and started for the
Admiralty Islands. On the northernmost one he discovered part of a boat, a main-hatch, a forecastle scuttle, a handspike, and several small pieces of bulwark.
Proceeding to the next island, he there picked up part of a bag of flour, one of the companion stanchions, two of the companion doors, and a curtain roller. As it came on to blow heavily, Mr. M'Laren was obliged to discontinue further search.
On his return to Rangitoto, a native brought him a parcel he had picked up containing letters and papers belonging to Mr. Perry, which proved at once that the wreck was that of the
. Another bag with flour, and a cask which had been stoved, supposed to have contained brandy, were also picked up by the natives ; the bags were marked AP. Phoenix
On Monday, the 30th, Mr. M'Laren started for Nelson, but the state of the weather did not permit him to reach here before Monday last. The above is all we know regarding the fate of this unfortunate vessel ; what remains is mere conjecture.
left Nelson on Saturday the 21st November, about , with a fair breeze. There were seven persons on board, namely, Mr. A. Perry, of this place, merchant and owner of the vessel; Cooper, master, formerly mate of the Fifeshire; Manning, mate, from Sydney in the Royal William ; Joseph Hall, a seaman ;' Scott, M'Donald, son of Mr. M'Donald, late of the Wakatu Tavern ; William Rice, shipped as carpenter; and Thomas Lightband, son of Mr. Lightband, leather-dresser. Phoenix
The probability is that the night after she started, she ran in the dark inside Stephen's
Island, supposing she had passed it, and was in the Straits, and striking on one of the sunken rocks there, bilged, or went down at once by the head in deep water.
The finding of Mr. Perry's parcel of private papers on the beach, leads us to think that when the vessel struck, the unfortunate gentleman seized it and rushed on deck, but whether he succeeded or not in getting into the boat, the wreck of which was found, it is impossible for us to say. As no part of the rigging or spars was found, it would seem that the vessel must have gone down bodily.
The weather at the time was very foggy, and the wind strong, without however blowing a gale. The pilot boat started on Tuesday evening, with Mr. Tinline, who had charge of Mr. Perry's affairs in his absence, to endeavour to learn something more of the fate of the vessel and those on board. Whether we view this unfortunate event as a public or private calamity, it is equally distressing. In a small community such as ours, the loss of any single member leaves a hiatus ; to lose at once seven, and among them a man who acted a prominent part in the mercantile affairs of the settlement, is a blow we shall long feel.
Mr. A. Perry was, we believe, the son of Dr. Perry, of
, and emigrated to Glasgow with the first settlers. For the last four years he has carried on business in this place, and was always characterized by his indefatigable industry. No man more willingly assisted struggling enterprise, or exerted himself with greater energy to develop our resources. Wellington
If we could persuade ourselves the thing were possible, we should hope the lives of those who were on board the ill-fated vessel may yet prove safe; but, had they been carried ashore in any of the bays or on the islands in the neighbourhood, they must have been heard of ere now through the natives.
The loss of the vessel to the port is also a serious matter. Strongly built, and fitted up in the most tasteful and complete manner, we looked to her to supply the want we have long laboured under— a regular communication with the neighbouring settlements.
The captain of the
has left a wife and young family, for whom a subscription will be opened at the Custom House. Nel. E. Phoenix
- New Zealand Spectator & Cook’s Strait Guardian 2 January 1847
In February of 1847 it was reported that two masts had been seen on the sand spit, which were possibly the wreck of the Phoenix.
The Elora reports having seen the wreck on the sand spit at the mouth of the bay which we noticed last week. Two masts were distinctly visible, but whether she way a brig or a schooner does not appear, though Captain Turnbull inclines to the latter opinion, as the masts appeared to be slender. We still think it will prove to be the
. A whaleboat started on Tuesday for the spot, and we may therefore expect quickly to have full intelligence. Phoenix
- Nelson Examiner & New Zealand Chronicle
6 February 1847
The last reported possible sighting of the wreck came in July of 1847.
Captain Watson, of the Fisherman, reports having passed a vessel, keel uppermost, off Port Gore. She was apparently about thirty tons, but as it was night when she was seen, no very accurate description of her can be given. We think it not improbable, but this may have been the hull of the
, supposed to have been lost near the spot, and which the late heavy gales may have liberated. Phoenix
- Nelson Examiner & New Zealand Chronicle
17 July 1847