Today we heard from Shellback member Mike Carter, who recounted the story of his great great grandfather AJH Carter, who was shipwrecked on a voyage from Sydney to San Francisco on April 19, 1888.
Carter had taken passage on the three-masted barque Henry James, a coal carrier, when it ran aground at night on Kingman Reef, about 1040 miles south of Hawaii. Although there was no loss of life the Henry James was lost, and the 41 people aboard were left to their resources on the reef. With the two boats they had used to evacuate the Henry James, they left Kingman Reef and rowed some 36 miles to Palmyra Atoll, a larger landmass where they would be able to subsist. Food consisted of sea cucumber, seabirds (red-footed booby, white booby, and others), coconut crabs, peppergrass, and other native foods.
Seven of the crew decided to take one of the boats to seek help, and headed to Samoa, a 19 day journey in open boat of some 1520 miles as the crow flies, but owing to navigational constraints, somewhat further. They were supplied with 7 lbs of bread, 6 lbs of mutton, 2 bottles of whiskey, 1 pound of cheese, 280 pounds of coconuts, and 10 gallons of water. The expedition did successfully arrive in Samoa, from where a rescue ship was launched.
The remainder of the travellers and crew of the Henry James, including Mike Carter's great great grandfather, were rescued 44 days after the shipwreck, and were taken to Hawaii on the SS Mariposa. AJH Carter eventually made his way to San Francisco, where he was united with Nellie, who eventually became his wife.
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