Thursday, February 11, 2016
Shipwrecks and survivors 17: Luna
At the port of Durban numerous lives were saved by means of the rocket apparatus, fired from the 'rocket house' on shore to vessels in distress. A case in point was that of the Luna, a British brig commanded by Captain Grube which was wrecked on the Back Beach on 2 September 1880. She had sailed from London. Her cables parted during a south east gale - the story of many a ship at this port.
The entire crew survived the wreck, being brought ashore after use of the rocket apparatus.
Another ship whose crew were rescued in this way was the Theresina, a British brigantine wrecked on the Back Beach on 9 April 1878 after a voyage from London. A similar incident occurred on 2 August 1878 when the American barque H.D. Storer parted her cables and ended up on the beach after a voyage from New York.
These unfortunate events were the direct result of ships lying in the roadstead as they were not able to enter the port because conditions over the bar were adverse at the time. Various harbour engineers attempted to solve the problem of the bar.
British harbour experts had to rewrite the text book on tidal scour. Massive breakwaters, exposed to the furies of the sea, had to be constructed. Tidal power is an untiring force of nature. But when there is a never ending stream of sand passing a harbour entrance, tidal action becomes an engineering nightmare. There was only one solution: persistent dredging.