Castaway on the Auckland Isles

Castaway on the Auckland Isles

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Originally published 1866, by Lockwood and Co.

Thomas Musgrave's account of the wreck of the Grafton.

On November 12, 1863 the Grafton left Australia. On the 18th they met with foul weather that threw them off course, but nevertheless they arrived at Campbell Island dropping anchor on December 2nd. They found no tin on the island and so Musgrave decided to head for the Auckland Islands to hunt seal. At least they would make a little money off of the expedition. January 1, 1864 found the crew at Auckland. Unfortunately, a storm came up on and the Grafton was wrecked when the anchor chain parted. All five managed to get away thanks in part to the Grafton’s boat.

Amazingly, the Grafton crew survived their ordeal in relative health and comfort, while unbeknown to them another group of survivors, who were wrecked later and rescued earlier, almost all died.

This success at surviving in an environment where it rains for 30 days a month and there is little to eat except mollymawks and an occasional seal was largely down to the remarkable talents of the second mate, François Raynal, for improving their conditions in spite of few resources, and they managed to make soap, tan leather, build a comfortable lodge, and make a forge and iron tools.

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Tags: Biography, Memoir