The removal of a 153-year-old shipwreck from a beach in West Auckland, New Zealand, took five days and cost more than $1 million, but it was surprisingly hauled almost completely intact.
Gale storm winds drove the 55-foot schooner Daring ashore in March 1865. It was discovered in May 2018 by the shifting sands at Muriwai Beach and removed in mid-December by the “Daring Rescue Team.”
“The shipwreck is a significant find, and provides archaeologists with a rare opportunity to record and gather information toward analysis of colonial ship construction and adaptations. The Daring is a great example of this,” says Heritage New Zealand’s Mid Northern Manager, Bev Parslow.
Volunteers slept on the sand between tides as the ship was being unearthed, according to Larry Paul from the Classic Yacht Charitable Trust.
Paul commented, “It’s a beautiful piece of work.” “The Daring was built in an older age of boat building, and it is likely the only one of its sort left in the world.”
The ship was discovered with a shoe, coins, a cup, clay pipes, and various wine bottle tops from the 19th century.
According to Recon, who was hired by Heritage New Zealand to laser scan the ship, the Daring belonged to David Kirkwood, an Onehunga storekeeper.
It proved to be a steady, dependable “workhorse” over its 18 months of duty, according to Recon. Its final journey was from Taranaki to Manukau, hauling a cargo of grass seed.
Paul claimed that obtaining the proper approvals to remove it took months of paperwork. The evacuation of the Daring from the sand began on December 10th, when artifacts were removed from the vessel.
Two large excavators on each side of the ship managed to wiggle sand from within the ship the next day. The Daring was successfully hoisted from the sand and positioned above the water level mark on day three.
“It was a huge challenge, mainly because we had to get it ready and work with the tide,” Paul said. “We had four hours to work on each day and some of the crew slept on the beach waiting for the tides.”
A large loader truck carried the Daring 25 miles (40 kilometers) over Muriwai Beach.
“It took 45 minutes to move it to hard sand, and another two and half hours more after that using road track maps,” he said in the interview with Stuff.
The events that led to the ship’s more than 100-year resting place were reported by Recon. “Things were going according to plan until the Daring hove off the Manukau’s entrance and a strong south-west breeze drove the ship off course until the crew found themselves off the Kaipara,” Parslow adds.
Captain Phipps, who was at the helm of the Daring, noticed that the ship was being driven onto shore despite their attempts. Because there was no map of the Kaipara on board, Phipps opted to put the ship ashore as safely as possible by releasing the anchor immediately before the ship hit the sand to aid the landing.
Phipps’ decision saved his own life, his crew’s lives, the ship and the ship’s cargo.
“The Daring was undamaged, and the crew was able to escape safely and seek refuge on the beach,” Parslow added. “The next day, Phipps, two passengers, and a seaman set out towards Onehunga to seek assistance.”
When the ship resurfaced in May 2018, it drew a lot of interest from the media. Scavengers destroyed part of the wreck, “one of whom used a chainsaw to cut part of the structure off and take it away,” according to the report. One of the reasons for the intensive removal plan was to keep it safe from further criminal activity.
The Daring was transported to the edge of Muriwai forest and hosed off by the Muriwai Volunteer Fire Brigade after being excavated.