Figurehead from the ship 'Surat'; 1924/72/1


Figurehead from the ship 'Surat'

About this object

The Surat, carrying 271 passengers and a crew of 37, left England on 28 September 1873 bound for New Zealand. At about 9.50pm on New Year’s Eve, as she travelled along the coast of southern New Zealand, the Surat was shaken by five jolts. Captain Johnson steered for deeper water and it initially appeared that the ship had got off lightly with no signs of water leaking through the hull. Later, however, it became all too clear that she was indeed taking on water and all hands were called to operate the pumps. The passengers eventually persuaded Captain Johnson to steer for Jacks Bay, south of the Catlins River, where many of them disembarked in lifeboats. Captain Johnson then again set out for Port Chalmers but, quickly realising that the ship would not make it, ended up beaching the vessel on a sandy beach north of the Catlins River, now known as Surat Beach.

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