The Margaret Galbraith

Often fondly called the old Maggie, this small 841 ton, Duncan ship made 22 voyages to New Zealand between 1873 and 1900. She brought a very large number of immigrants from London and Glasgow.

On her last voyage to Auckland in 1882, she brought out the Devonport Waterworks, and after discharging her cargo, she sailed for Timaru. About 10 miles off Lyttelton, she encountered a severe gale and her pig iron cargo shifted causing the vessel to be thrown on her beam ends. Luckily, a passing steamer towed her into Lyttelton harbour for repairs.

On the passage home to the British Isles, ships were constantly on the look out for icebergs - who can tell how many ships met a tragic end in iceberg flows. The Margaret Galbraith had a narrow escape in 1893.

After rounding the Horn and north of the Falkland Islands, temperatures grew warmer and it was considered she was well clear of the iceberg flows. After narrowly missing a berg in the night, the crew and passengers awoke to find that they were in a huge iceberg flow and surrounded by bergs of all sizes.

After sailing amongst these bergs all day, a young boy called to look at the "Cliffs of Dover." A long white berg of some 14-16 miles long and about 150-200 ft in height was seen. Another white berg of 1000 ft in height and some 40-50 miles in length was seen from the ship. Later, a berg that looked like Cleopatra's Needle, was seen rocking. Later that day, from the ships stern, it was seen to roll over and disappear.

There was debate as to the size of many of these bergs when this voyage was reported in the Auckland Star. However as many a sailor told the doubters, the sextant gives a very accurate measurement and other ships who saw this ice flow were able to verify the height and lengths mentioned.

The Margaret Galbraith came to grief in 1905 when she sailed from the River Plate for England with a cargo of grain. On leaving port she was stranded and became a total loss.

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