Shipwreck Databases Western Australian Museum

Day Dawn (1886/07/14)

Careening Bay

Day Dawn was originally launched in June 1851 in Massachusetts, USA, as the whaling ship Thomas Nye, built of oak, pitch pine and fir, copper fastened. As originally built it had two decks, a square stern, a scroll head, and was sheathed with tarred felt and Muntz metal. It was converted from 3-masted ship to barque rig, probably in 1864. At this time the length appears to have altered by about 0.6 m, a small measurement probably accounted for by either a slight difference in the method of measuring, or an alteration in the shape or style of the stern. The Otago Witness of 1 January 1864 lists the Thomas Nye as having arrived from Boston on 31 December 1863 under the command of Captain Jenkins. In 1867 the barque was registered in Sydney, the then owner being P. Jones. In 1872 the owner was H. Barne, but still registered at Sydney. By 1874 the registry had been changed to Adelaide, with the owner being James Smith. In 1877 it was sold to Hansford Ward of Yatala, South Australia, but maintained the same Port of Adelaide registry. Ward converted the vessel, now known as Day Dawn, to having a single deck but retaining the lower deck beams. The Adelaide Observer described the barque as the ‘best wooden vessel in the colonies…strong, tight and sailed remarkably well’ (McCarthy, 1979: 151).
The barque under the command of John Ward had delivered a cargo of sheep to Geraldton and then sailed to Quindalup, where it arrived on 4 July 1886, to load timber sleepers for Adelaide. About 50 loads of sleepers had been taken on board when, on 12 July, the weather deteriorated.
The bad weather continued for the next few days, and at 9.00 a.m. on Wednesday 14 July an anchor chain cable parted. At 1.30 p.m. despite efforts by the crew another cable parted, and the vessel was driven ashore ‘onto a rocky part of the beach west of Quindalup Jetty, and has since become a total wreck’ (Inquirer, 4 August 1886: 5d). The newspaper also reported that ‘as she is a soft-wood ship and old—thirty-five years—there is not much probability that she will ever be floated’ (Inquirer 21 July 1886: 4f).
The loss caused questions to be asked regarding the safety of Geographe Bay anchorages:
This casualty makes the third of the kind that has occurred in Geographe Bay during the past month, and gives rise to the question whether or not proper ground-tackle is provided (Inquirer: 21 July 1886: 4f).
A strict enquiry ought to be made into the stranding of these vessels [the barques Lake Simcoe, John C. Munro and Day Dawn], otherwise our port may be getting a bad name, without, probably, deserving it (Inquirer, 4 August 1886: 5d).
At a subsequent inquiry into the loss of the Day Dawn the master was found to be free of any blame.
Although initially reported as a total wreck, the Day Dawn ‘lying on her bilge, hogged, with 40 ft of her keel gone and full of water’ (Inquirer, 15 September 1886: 4f) was sold for £140. The hull of the barque, refloated and stripped of gear, was resold for £1 000 for use as a hulk. It was towed to Fremantle in May 1887 by the steamer Rescue, the journey taking 22 hours. It was reported that the sale of the gear alone fetched a greater price than the purchaser had originally paid for the wreck.
In 1976 the wreck of the hulk Day Dawn was located during dredging operations in Careening Bay at Garden Island, and thoroughly investigated by members of the Maritime Archaeological Association of Western Australia on behalf of the Western Australian Museum. Because it was in the way of further dredging at the naval base of HMAS Stirling, the wreck was moved to a safer position.


Ship Built

Owner Hansford Ward of Yatala

Master Captain John Ward

Country Built USA

Port Built Fairhaven, Massachusetts

Port Registered Sydney, 1872; Adelaide (1878)

When Built 1851

Ship Lost

Gouped Region Metro

Sinking Went ashore, hogged at anchor

When Lost 1886/07/14

Where Lost Careening Bay

Latitude -32.241161

Longitude 115.695279

Position Information +GPSDec2003

Port From Quindalup

Port To South Australia

Cargo Timber

Ship Details

Engine N

Length 36.90

Beam 8.60

TONA 355.00

Draft 4.40

Museum Reference

Official Number 64469

Unique Number 89

Sunk Code Burnt

File Number 2009/0101/SG _MA-6/78

Chart Number AUS 117

Protected Protected Federal

Found Y

Inspected Y

Date Inspected 1996/02 0312 Side scan

Confidential NO