The story in brief. The ship General grant left Melbourne on the 14th may 1866 under the command of Captain Loughlin bound for London.
She was carrying wool, general produce and gold on consignment, and gold carried by the passengers returning from the gold fields.
On the 13th of may the General Grant attempted to steer between disappointment Island and the main Island of the group. Hoverer the General Grant sailed into a massive sea cave. the ship floundered in a cave leaving 15 survivors, fourteen men and one women.In all 68 passengers and crew perished,
They spent many months shipwrecked in the wet, cold windswept islands of the Auckland islands. 4 of the men made a make shift boat and sailed away to get help,they were never seen again.
Another survivor died David Mclellan became ill and died. The remaining survivors were eventually rescued. they had spent 18 months in miserable conditions on the island.
The general public had a collection for the survivor because in affect the survivor were left destitute as they had lost everything they own.
But the lure of retrieving the gold from the general grant was even too enticing for some of the survivors. In 1868 James Tear on a Paddle tug Southland serached for the cave but was unsucessful.
1870 the schooner Daphne sailed to Auckland Islands. 5 of men perished while searching for the sea cave along the rugged west coast of the Island. the cook and cabin boy had to sail back to New Zealand to get help. No trace of the men were ever found.
In 1877 an expedition on a vessel called the Gazelle with assistance of one of the survivors Cornelius Drew. They found the cave but not the wreck.
In 1911 Captain Sorenson made an attempt but the expedition fell short because of the lack of funds.
The next attempt was in 1915 by a captain Catlin. He was more lucky than some he manged to find the cave but discovered very little wreckage of the general grant. After several weeks of appalling weather they were forced to give up.
The roof of the cave was about 60 ft high than ran into the Cliff for about 600 feet, the floor of the cave was about 21 ft deep at the innermost end.
Many thought Catlin had searched the wrong cave. In 1934 a Mr sheady obtained the rights to search but his health failed in 1952.
Bill havens an Australian bought the salvage rights in 1959 and did some very good research on the history of the wreck and had learned that there was about 2577 ounces of gold, plus what ever was being carried by the passengers. There was also some notes written by William Sanguilly, one of the survivors of the shipwreck. Sanguilly was a crew member in charge of the cargo. he stated much more gold was on the cargo manifest labeled as spelter.
Bill Havan charted a vessel from England for the expedition call " Absit Omen" Which means " Let No evil befall" This ship struck a rock in the Red sea on the way to New Zealand and sank. Leaving Bill Havens expedition as a disaster before it really started.
Other searches have been made in 60's and late 70's however eventually the New Zealand government banned all furthers searches because of the dangerous location.
To this day it is not known if the expeditions found the right cave or the vessel broke up into millions of pieces and the tide scattered the wreckage scattered gold across the wastes of the great southern Ocean.
One cold dangerous scary location to search for the almost imposable task.
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nla.pic pORTRAIT OF MARY ANN AND jOSEPH jEWELL GENERAL GRANT.jpg
nla.picGENERAL GRANT IN THE CAVE.jpg