The Sandy Bay Boatshed was a lifeline for shipwrecked survivors to row to the main castaway depot on Auckland Island.

The Sandy Bay Boatshed was constructed to enable castaways stranded on Enderby Island to reach the main Port Ross castaway depot at Erebus Cove, on Auckland Island.

It was one of a series of boatsheds built in the subantarctic islands after the 1887 Derry Castle wreck. The Stella Hut supplies had been looted, and survivors were forced to construct a punt out of timbers from the wreck to reach the depot at Erebus Cove.

The boatshed was built in January 1888 by the crew of the Government lighthouse steamer GSS Stella under the command of Captain Fairchild. The shed was stocked with a dinghy, basic provisions, matches, and instructions to castaways.

The boatshed has been modified over the years, and was extensively repaired in the 1970s so it could be used as a temporary shelter by visiting scientists. The history of the boatshed as accommodation for scientists is as long and interesting as its history as a castaway boatshed. It has long been associated with the work of the research team working on New Zealand sea lions.

The dinghy was taken by the crew of a fishing vessel to Stewart Island in the 1960s, but its current location is unknown. The castaway boat from the Adam’s Island boatshed is the only one known to survive. It was removed from the collapsing boatshed by the Department of Lands and Survey in 1973, and restored by Tudor Atkinson. It can be seen in the Auckland Maritime Museum.

Further reading

  • Dingwall P., Jones K. and Egerton, R. (eds.) (2009) In Care of The Southern Ocean - An archaeological and historical survey of the Auckland Islands (New Zealand Archaeological Monograph 27, 2009).  
  • Fraser, C. (1986) Beyond the roaring forties : New Zealand’s Subantarctic Islands (Government Printing Office). 

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