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The “OCEAN CHIEF” 1862, Ship

The ship sailed from Melbourne on January 2, 1862, for Bluff Harbour, with 4000 sheep, arriving on the evening of January 13. With a pilot in charge, the vessel entered port against an adverse wind and ebb tide, and was driven ashore close to Tiwai Point, the wind blowing very hard from the westward at the time. At 11 a.m, the next day the Ocean Chief was refloated, having sustained considerable damage. At about midnight on January 22, the ship was set on fire by some members of the crew, and burned to the waters edge. Her moorings were slipped and she was scuttled in order to save the wharf. To make her destruction certain, it was alleged, the recalcitrant members of her crew had bored holes in the pumps. and cut the hoses to render them useless, it is said that they wanted to desert and head off to the goldfields. A Two Hundred Pound, Sterling reward was offered by Captain Brown, for evidence leading to a prosecution but no-one came forward. The Ocean Chief, No. 25,971, was a Black Ball clipper ship of 1,026 tons register, and was under the command of Captain T. Brown

The "ocean Chief", official number 25971, was a Black ball Line clipper ship of 1,026 tons. Under the command of Captain T. Brown she sailed from Melbourne on 2 January 1862 for Bluff, New Zealand, with a cargo of 4,000 sheep. She arrived on 13 January and while entering port was struck by a westerly agle and driven ashore on Tiwai Point. Refloated at 1100 the next day she was berthed at Bluff Wharf. There, around midnight on 22 January, some of her crew set fire to her. Lured by the promise of easy wealth in the nearby goldfields they damaged the pumps and destroyed hoses to ensure the ship would never sail again. To save the wooden wharf the "Ocean Chief" was towed away and scuttled in shallow water. There she 'burnt to the copper' while her Master painted her last moments, which suggests he possessed considerably more equanimity than most. His painting formed the cover illustration of the book "Bluff Harbour" published in 1976. (see above)

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