# Inquiry into the shipwreck of 'Geffrard'

 Inquiry into the shipwreck of 'Geffrard'  (1875)

Western Australia

Customs House, Fremantle

July 14th 1875

Sir,

Referring to my letter of 26th June last and His Excellency's minute this, I have the honor now to release for the information of His Excellency the Governor the proceedings of the Court of Inquiry regarding the wreck of the Geffrard at the Vasse. I received no covering letter with these Depositions.

I have the honor to be Sir, Your obedient servant

Mossley(illegible text) Clifton

Collector of Customs

The Honorable

The Acting Colonial Secretary

Perth.

Western Australia
To Wit

Proceedings of a Court of inquiry held at the Court House Busselton this 7th day of July 1875 under the procisions of the Local Ordniance 28 Victoria No 2 relating to a casualty that happened to the British Brig 'Geffrard' of Melbourne official number 23262 of 31613100 tons burthen, commanded by J. W. Munday the number of whose Certificate of Competency is 19353 on the evening of the 13th June last, and especially to inquire into the Formal charges made by J. F. Harris Esq Sub-Collector of Customs and J. G. Bussell Esq a Justice of the Peace against the said J. W. Munday the master of the said vessel. Thus.—

1st With neglecting to have a second anchor down, it being the season of the winter gales blowing on this coast.

2nd In not being on board his vessel during threatening weather, and a falling barometer

The Court having appointed Mr. G. A. Forsyth Harbor Master of Fremantle Nautical Assessor proceed in his presence to examine the following witnesses on Oath

George Allen Chief Officer Brig Geffrard

Charles Elg 2nd ditto — ditto —

Finding

Having carefully considered the evidence, we consider the Master of the Geffrard has acted to the best of his judgement but it is the opinion of this court that he would have acted more wisely had he employed the strength of both chains in the manner in practice in Fremantle viz paying out 45 fathoms on one anchor and then letting go the second, then paying out to a full scope, and taking all circumstances connected with the case into consideration, and the faulty nature of the chain, we return Mr J.W. Munday his certificate.

Harris(illegible text)
Sub Collector of Customs

J.G. Bussell
Justice of the Peace

I entirely concur in the above finding

Geo. A. Forsyth

Nautical Assessor

J. W. Munday sworn oath

I took in a load of timber on Saturday and saw it stowed & then went on shore about 6 p.m. to see Mr. Yelverton on business. I seldom leave my ship I now consider that the chain was not so good as it looked & previous to the accident I considered the chain sufficient to hold a larger ship I was told that there was now a heavier sea running where the Geffrard lay than either at ?oe?ville(illegible text) or the Lighthouse. I consider Geographe Bay perfectly safe in the winter months but ships must be extremely well found in ground tackle. I consider the anchorage to be thorough good holding ground. I left no special instructions with the Chief Officer on leaving the ship he knew what my wishes were and acted the same as is I had been there I do not know whether the heavy chain was tested Had the second anchor been on the bottom with 40 fathoms out I consider it would have parted just the same the ship sheered a great deal as much as 4 or 5 points. A very strong current runs in the Bay during blowing weather When I left the ship the Barometer was at 29.90 it falls to 29.60 before any bad weather be apprehended there was no indication of bad weather when I left the ship.

Sd J W Munday

Taken and sworn before us

7 July 1875

Sd. J S Harris
" J G Bussell

George Allen sworn oath

Sd. George Allen
Mate Geffrard

Taken and sworn before us

7 July 1875

Sd. J S Harris
" J G Bussell

Charles Elg sworn saith

I am second mate of the Geffrard I am a (illegible text) by birth I have been 20 years at sea I was on board when the Geffrard came on shore at 7.30 p.m. on 13 June the mate and I were standing forward when the chain parted the mate never left the deck when the mate said the chain had parted I would not believe it The reason the second anchor was not down was we considered the chain of the first was good Had the second anchor been down I do not think it would of helped the ship anything. One of the chains is generally smaller than the other in most ships I believe that ships ride with one anchor better than with two I have seen ships lay with 2 anchors and both parted and another with a single anchor ride safely. We had not time enough to heave in on the first chain I let the second anchor go. At the time the chain parted the ship took a (illegible text) and a sea struck her on the starboard bow which I consider was the cause of the chain parting When we found the chain had parted we at once let go the second anchor I can't say how long after the first chain parted that the second went I can't exactly say the time she struck after the second chain parted; we were busy. Made sail on the ship after the second chain parted She continued drifting till about 11 PM when she struck I do not think the second anchor would have been of any use having so much of the first chain out We did not expect bad weather as the glass was high the weather looked fine The second chain is a ⅞ inch one was pretty well worn The second chain would not have held her The ship surged on the second chain while they were paying it out & it snapped We could have paid out to 90 fathoms had it held The men were prepared before the chain I was washed from the Bows to the main hatch

Sd Charles Elg

Taken and sworn
Before us

7 July 1875

Sd J S Harris
J G Bussell

(illegible text) Clifton (illegible text).

We consider as Landsmen that Capt Munday should have had a second chain down at the this time of year — We consider a second Court of Enquiry before a Nautical Assessor is advisable. We have no Nautical Assessor here

J G Harris

Colonial Secretary

We may (illegible text) to hold a formal inquiry I think the H?? ?? would be a good person? to ?? ?? ?? ?? ??

?? 19/6/75

Collector of Customs

Please ?? with the Harbor Master and ??...

Memo the Harbor Master will proceed to the Vasse on Monday next by mail coach

L Worsley Clifton

Collector

2 July 75

The Honorable (illegible text)

Western Australia

Custom House Fremantle

26th June 1875

No 4/781

Sir

I have the honor to enclose here with the minutes of the Preliminary inquiry regarding the stranding of the 'Geffrard' at the Vasse, for the information of His Excellency The Governor.

On the receipts of these papers I observed that Mr Harris did not state in his report any intention of preparing formal charges under the 1st section of 28 Victoria (illegible text), I therefore thought it advisable to ask the question by wire, and I append his reply.

The Court having decided to prefer specific charges I would request to be informed if His Excellency will authorise a Nautical Assessor being sent to the Vasse to hear the case, as it appears that there is no person there who can act in that capacity; and in the event of His Excellency doing so, I would respectfully suggest that some person of nautical skill be nominated for I feel sure the Court will "appoint" any person named.

I have the honor to be

Sir

(illegible text)

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$\frac{5}{7359}$

26th June 1875

Collector of Customs

(illegible text) Inquiry to Stranding of Ship Geffrard

(illegible text) 57389.

Western Australia

Customs Vasse

22 June 1875

Sir

Herewith I have the honor to forward as requested Minutes of Enquiry related to the loss of the Brig 'Geffrard' on the coast near Quindalup Jetty on the night of the 16th instant. The question as to the second anchor being down at the time appears as a matter of dispute with nautical men at the Vasse, some considering it advisable, and others quite contrary, it is a fact that the first and second mates had ample mooring did they consider it best to drop the second anchor. On speaking to Capt. Davis the owner, he acknowledged it was a matter of opinion, although he thought the second anchor ought to have been down.

A defective link in the heavy chain in the weld is visible which would admit the

Collector of Customs

Fremantle

blade of a penknife and it is the opinion of Mr Bussell and myself that the chain parted through a defective link; and as the mate states the chain appears to be comprised of several pieces purchase at different times I have come to the conclusion that a bad link was the cause of the disaster.

I shall be glad to receive your instructions without delay or by telegram as the officers and crew will be speedily discharged.

I have kept a copy of the enclosed minutes of enquiry.

I have the honor to be Sir your Obedient Servant

J Harris

Sub Collector of Customs

Minutes of preliminary
^
Inquiry taken before J. S. Harris Esq Sub Collector of Customs Port Vasse, & J. G. Bussel Esq J.P. relating to the stranding of the Brig "Geffrard" off Quindalup Beach Station; on Monday this 21 day of June 1875.

          J.G. Bussell