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On An Island Somewhere

Found 1 April 1899, Stanwell Park, New South Wales, Australia.

In a bottle:

Oct. 26 1898. – Schooner Warfa, Capt. Johnson, from Dunedin, N.Z., wrecked in about latitude 32, longitude 47. All hands lost but one. Am on an island somewhere off the coast of New South Wales.

The Warfa left Dunedin in September 1898 on an “inter-island trading expedition” with a crew of nineteen. Nothing was heard of the vessel until this message was found six month later. The sender and sole survivor did not sign his name, and it was reported that “all who had friends on board have joined in sending an expedition to search for him.”

[Indianapolis Journal, 21 May 1899]


Living on Raw Penguins

Found 24 November 1878, Wellington, New Zealand.

In a sealed bottle:

H.M. screw corvette Firefly, Captain Harmer Jones, wrecked November 2, 1878, on the Auckland Isles. All lives saved except three A.B.’s and second engineer. Signed, H. Jones, commander, H. Leslie, first-lieutenant. Send relief at once. Provisions all exhausted. Living on raw penguins. The lord help us.

Found on a beach behind the New Zealander Hotel by the son of the hotel owner Frank Mountain, this curiously detailed message was regarded as a “silly hoax”.

[New Zealand Press, 26 November 1878]

Dying Blessing

Found 26 December 1889, Whanganui, New Zealand.

In a corked bottle, written in pencil:

Ship County of Carnarvon, September 3, 1889.
Anyone who should find this bottle will earn the dying blessing of three men, who do not expect to live an hour, by letting our friends and relations know our fate. We are sinking fast. All hands but us three were washed overboard last night. We were dismasted, and the binnacles and everything washed away by one sea. Every sea washes over the deck fore and aft. I don’t know where we are, but by the skipper’s reckoning at midday yesterday we were about 1000 miles from New Zealand. We have been sinking fast ever since the squall struck us. May God help us, for we may sink at any minute – George Wright. The other men with me are Vincent Wallace and James King.

The County of Carnarvon, of Liverpool, left Newcastle, New South Wales, for Valparaiso, Chile, on 5 June 1889 with a crew of more than 20. In September, a battered boat bearing the ship’s name was found on the beach at Taku, New Zealand. Locals said the boat had come ashore during a heavy storm. The colonial government despatched the steamship Hinemo to search for survivors, but none were found.

[Newcastle Morning Herald, 7 January 1890]

Sixteen Days Without Water

Found March 1896, Waipu Cove Beach, Bream Bay, New Zealand.

In a bottle, written in pencil:

A lost and starving man’s request. – Should any person happen to find this bottle, will he be kind enough to make it known at some newspaper office that will report of what my fate has been. – i.e., lost at sea in an open boat off the coast of Australia. I am nearly exhausted for want of fresh water, and don’t know where I am. Sixteen days without water is awful. God forgive me. – ANTONY W. SHORT.

Bream Bay is in the Northland Region of New Zealand’s North Island, more than 1,200 miles from the coast of Australia.

[New Zealand Herald, 20 March 1896]