At 8.25 am on the morning of Friday 12 February 1909 the Wimmera, under the command of Captain William Waller, arrived in Wellington from Napier. Less than 10 hours later, at 6 pm she departed for Lyttelton.

‘The weather was so thick that although all lights were going the Wimmera was lost to view in five to ten minutes.’

Marlborough Express, Volume XLIII, Issue 40, 15 February 1909

The Union Steamship Company’s Pateena, under Captain R. Stewart, also departed Wellington shortly afterwards at 6.10 pm bound for Nelson. Both ships passed out of the Heads at the same time.

The Pateena leaving Nelson, N.Z.
‘The Pateena leaving Nelson N.Z.’
Postcard. Author’s Collection.

The Union Company’s 45-year-old steamer Penguin, 824 tons, under command of Captain F. E. Naylor, had arrived in Nelson from Wellington at 2.15 am on the morning of 12 February. She departed Nelson on her return journey at 10 am later that same morning. The Penguin called at Picton at 5.20 pm that evening and after only a brief stay sailed for Wellington at 6.30 pm. She was expected to arrive back in Wellington on the following day Saturday 13 February.

On that night, between 8 and 10 pm, Friday 12 February, the Wimmera, the Pateena and the Penguin were the only three vessels reported to be navigating the Cook Strait towards their respective destinations. Only two of them would reach their next port.

© Ralph L. Sanderson 2004-2021