Topic: The wreck of the Holmbank, 21st September 1963.

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The Holmbank was a coastal trader owned by the Holm Shipping Company. On 19th September 1963 she left Timaru for Wellington, that night she ran onto Whale Rock at the northern entrance to Piraki Bay on the south coast of Banks Peninsula. On morning of 22nd of September she broke in two and slid off the rock and sank.

The Holmbank was a coastal trader owned by the Holm Shipping Company.

She was built in Norway in 1948 and found her way to New Zealand in 1952 and had several owners and sailed under several names.

On 19th September, 1963 she left Timaru for Wellington loaded with 400 tons of general cargo and a crew of 16 and commanded by Captain Home..

A course was calculated to about 2 miles off the Akaroa light.

When the light would be in range, a new course would be charted clearing Banks Peninsula. In moderate visibility she was caught in an "in draught" which brought her in very close to the ninety mile beach. With no radar and a confusion with identifying light signals, (the Akaroa light was obscured by high ground), the captain proceeded at full speed. At 20.22 hrs that night she ran onto Whale Rock which is just 200 yds off the cliffs at the northern entrance to Piraki Bay on the south coast of Banks Peninsula.

The next morning several boats were in attendance including the Lyttelton, (steam powered tug), from Lyttelton and some Akaroa fishing boats, the Te Rautau and the Sea Rover.

An underwater examination was made and was found that she had been holed in four places and also had a gash along the starboard side. Her back was broken and it was apparent that she was beyond salvage.

Even though the sea was quite calm, the rise and fall of the tide was enough to further accentuate her broken back and she started to founder.

The stern section was first to partly submerge. The bow section seemed to be floating as normal but during the night of the 21st and the morning of 22nd of September she broke in two and slid off the rock and sank.

A sequence of photographs were taken by Jan Shuttleworth who spent the day on Ross Haraway's fishing boat, the Rangi. Others on board were Murray and Rex Davis and West Shuttleworth.

Holmbank, September 20th 1963. Image 1 of 14. Image 1. Morning of Sept 21st 1963. 700 hrs. Conditions calm.
Shows the tug Lyttelton in attendance and Holmbank fast on Whale rock. As it was high tide at this time and from this distance it looks as though she is floating normally.
Holmbank, September 20th 1963. Image 2 of 14. Image 2. Sept 21st 1963. about 830 hrs, conditions calm.
The white water marks the rock where Holmbank rests and signs can now be seen of her broken back. Stern settling a bit and forward section level floating. Note the caravan lashed between booms on forward deck.
Holmbank, September 20th 1963. Image 3 of 14. Image 3. Sept 21st 1963. About 830 hrs, conditions calm.
A closer view where the rock can clearly be seen.
Holmbank, September 20th 1963. Image 4 of 14. Image 4. Sept 21st 1963. About 1000 hrs. conditions calm.
Creases and tears can be seen on bulwarks above waterline.
Holmbank, September 20th 1963. Image 5 of 14. Image 5. Sept 21st 1963. About 1000 hrs, conditions calm.
Closer view of the stricken vessel. Note lines hanging from davits that suspended a life boat.
Holmbank, September 20th 1963. Image 6 of 14. Image 6. Sept 21st 1963. About 1130 hrs, conditions calm. A view of the starboard side showing very definite signs of stress caused by the ebbing tide and the Holmbank pivoting and a very inflexible rock. About this time it was decided that the Holmbank would inevitably sink, so the Lyttelton departed and returned to port leaving Doug Beaumont on the Sea Rover in charge.

 Holmbank, September 20th 1963. Image 7 of 14.

Image 7. Sept 21st 1963. About 1230 Hrs, conditions calm.
Its about this time that Murray Davis, Ross Haraway and Jan Shuttleworth boarded the Holmbank and salvaged various detachable items. Ross was not to let the ships wheel, compass and chronometer go to the bottom and Murray and Jan retrieved all the life buoys from various railings etc. around the ship. From the Rangi, Weston (the woodworker) was suggesting that all the mahogany doors needed to be unscrewed. All this time the Holmbank was creaking, groaning, heaving and swaying so everything was done in haste. The caravan was lashed between the booms and secured with the heavy netting. If we had more time to think we could have slashed the securing ropes and the caravan would have floated when the forward section of the Holmbank was settling into the sea. As it was as shown in Image 14, the caravan was unable to float so was being crushed. There would have been a lot of interest in a fishing boat returning the Akaroa wharf towing a caravan!
Holmbank, September 20th 1963. Image 8 of 14. Image 8. Sept 21st 1963. About 1300 hrs. Conditions calm.
Doug Beaumont was unsure whether we had the right to board the Holmbank so fastened a line between the Sea Rover and the wreck. He thought that this would constitute "salvage rights" and deter others from thinking about boarding. The boat nearest the camera is the Te Rautau and the Sea Rover is just over her bow.
Holmbank, September 20th 1963. Image 9 of 14. Image 9. Sept 21st 1963. About 1400 hrs. Conditions calm.
Someone else thought it was safe to look around and can be spotted climbing the rope ladder hanging over the bulwarks. This maybe Clive Davis who fished the Vestal?
Holmbank, September 20th 1963. Image 10 of 14. Image 10. Sept 21st 1963. About 1500 hrs. Conditions flat.
The tide is rising so the Holmbank is starting to fill up.
Holmbank, September 20th 1963. Image 11 of 14. Image 11. Sept 21st 1963. About 1530 hrs. Conditions flat.
The forces of nature are doing their job and the end is nigh.
Holmbank, September 20th 1963. Image 12 of 14. Image 12. Sept 21st 1963. About 1600 hrs. Conditions flat.
A ships name soon to be but a memory.
Holmbank, September 20th 1963. Image 13 of 14. Image 13. Sept 21st 1963. About 1700 hrs. Conditions flat.
The front half down but the back half sticking with it.
Holmbank, September 20th 1963. Image 14 of 14. Image 14. Sept 21st 1963. About 1700 hrs. Conditions flat.
Someone's caravan holiday going down the gurgler.

For some time following the Holmbank’s sinking the beaches were littered with cargo. Greggs instant coffee, foil packs of Disprin, packets of ginger, coloured pencils, Cadburys Crunchy Bars and of “special” value were 3 wooden casks containing sherry.

Two of the casks were contaminated with sea water but one was perfect. Farmers from that area were well catered for with goods to make a headache and goods to relive or cure the same headache.

Bill Hall from Peraki did quite well with drums of oil that washed up. Customs did the rounds over there and informed beach comers that they were not entitled to any of the cargo. They couldn’t stay there night and day so shades of “Whisky Galore” prevailed.

 

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