Kakapo

It was a dark and stormy night.

Chapman’s Bay has a grim history of ship wrecks; the most recent being the SS Kakapo (1093 tonnes). The Kakapo was on its maiden voyage without cargo from Southampton to New Zealand when it ran aground on the night of the 25 May 1900. In poor visibility during a north-west winter storm, the captain mistook Chapman’s Peak for Cape Point and turned in-shore at full-speed and ran the ship up onto the beach. The crew did not have to lower the lifeboats. They simply climbed overboard onto the sand and walked away. Attempts to pull her off the sand by the tug T.E.Fuller were unsuccessful and were abandoned when the only hawser available at the time snapped. Reports have it that the captain refused to give any information to the press who were not allowed on board. Fortunately, no lives were lost. The rusting boilers and tiller, all that remain of that fateful night, can still be seen on the beach today. More than half a century later, the wreck with Chapman’s Peak rearing in the background, provided the setting to a few scenes in the well-known film Ryan’s Daughter, set ironically in Ireland.

The Kakapo was not the only ship to come to grief in Chapman’s Bay. In 1842 the St Antonio ran ashore, fortunately with no loss of life. And, in. 1847 the schooner Montagu on a voyage from Cape Town to Cowie was capsized at sea and washed up on the beach with the loss of all hands. The SS Maori was wrecked off Karbonkelberg on the 4th August 1909 with the loss of five lives.

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