News from 1893 Hawarden Castle rescues Ionic I

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Mark Baber

Jul 4, 2000
Tuapeka Times, Otago, New Zealand, 5 April 1893
Retrieved from the National Library of New Zealand web site

Cape Town newspapers give particulars of the breakdown of the S.S. Ionic.
The accident occurred at 2.35 p.m. on February 8. The vessel was then making
favorable headway, being at the time in latitude 23deg 26min S. and
longitude 8deg 16min E., when the propeller was heard to give two violent
thumps, sending a thrill of horror through the ship. Then the engines
started to race, and the ship began to vibrate ominously, adding to the
alarm occasioned by the first thumps. The engines were immediately stopped,
and it was found, on examination being made, that the tail shaft had parted
in the stern tube, and that the tube had been smashed, and also the gland
which closed the inner end of the tube. The engines were thus rendered
useless, and further progress was impossible. Though there was naturally
some alarm amongst the passengers at the accident, there was no panic, and
the behaviour of the captain and crew removed all fear of any serious
consequences to the lives of those on board. Endeavors were instantly made
to repair the accident, and in order to prevent leakage the bulkhead was
immediately shored up, and all water-tight doors shut. To reassure the
passengers, and as a precautionary measure, the boats were immediately
prepared for instant lowering, and provisions got ready to put in them. At
the same time a boat was lowered, and efforts were made to secure the
propeller, so as to prevent it from moving. There was, however, so much
swell on that it was impossible to do anything at that time. The same night
the captain made another attempt, and succeeded in securing the two sides of
the propeller with steel hawsers, and also placing a chain round it. On 9th
February a drift buoy was set afloat, to which was attached a sealed bottle
containing a paper, asking the finder to at once telegraph to the owners
that the ship had broken down. On 10th February another buoy was sent off
with a similar message. At the time the accident occurred the Ionic was
midway between St. Helena and the Cape (both being about 850 miles distant),
and opposite to Walfish Bay, distant about 315 miles. She was right in the
track of steamers bound to and from the Cape, and Captain Kidley had
calculated that the mail steamer which left Table Bay on 8th February ought
to pass early on the morning of the 11th. He therefore resolved to make no
effort by using sails to proceed, but to allow the vessel to drift until aid
came in the shape of one of the Cape liners. The passengers took the
breakdown very calmly on the whole, their only trouble appearing to be lest
the ship should be floating about for some days, and their friends ashore
should he anxious. Captain Kidley's calculations proved perfectly correct,
and soon after four o'clock on the morning of Saturday, the 11th, a
steamer's lights were sighted, and in answer to the Ionic's signals she came
alongside, and proved to be the Hawarden Castle, on the voyage from the Cape
to England. This vessel took the disabled steamer in tow, and reached Cape
Town with her on the evening of the 15th.-'Argus.'

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