Lost on the Homeward Run

The sea wore its grey face that morning,
the tempest slowly passed.
We steamed down the Waitamata
with Auckland in our wake,
and Bean Rock flicked us a tearful farewell
while Rangitoto dressed herself
in a cloak of clinging rain.
With engines throbbing and faces set
we took the bar,
then crossed the Hauraki Gulf
and searched for those souls lost
when the "Maranui" went down.
Beyond Great Mercury Island,
and a grain-ship homeward bound.
Pray children. Pray!
Pray for your father's gone forever,
wives for a loving husband,
parents for an only son.
Lost to the deep
and the lonely sailors grave,
far at sea on the homeward run.

We found her flotsam drifting east
the final day we searched,
her wooden bridge wing floated free
and merged with oil and spume.
With heavy hearts and silent prayers
we swung the stern around,
and sailed back past "The Barrier",
as the sun was going down.
And all the while we steamed and searched,
though none were ever found,
the solemn prayers and vigils prayed,
in small New Zealand towns.

So raise your glasses high Shipmates
and drink a Sailor's toast
to the Captain and the Seamen
who were lost that stormy night.
Far at sea, on the homeward run,
off the Coromandel coast.

©Mike Subritzky

On the night of my 18th birthday (13 June 1968), the M.V. Maranui, a bulk grain freighter, floundered and sank after its cargo shifted in heavy seas. Six men out of a crew of 15 were saved. The following morning our patrol boat, HMNZS Koura was ordered to sea and went in search of those missing, they were never found.

They were:
Captain David Bruce and Seamen - M.C. O'Flaherty, R.G. Watson, J. Walton, S.C. Henry, R.E. Orr, L.S. Saint-Bruno, J.H. McPherson and J.C. Roberts.

(Saved by the great seamanship of Captain Captain Thorsten Wahlstedt of the M.V. Mirrabooka were: Seamen - R.C. Ingham, C.J. Taylor, E. Hampson, G.B. Monk, F. McHardy and J. E. Cameron).