Mike Subritzky

LOST ON THE HOMEWARD RUN

MV Maranui
“MV Maranui” ~ Photograph provided and used with
permission of Michael O’Flaherty

IWVPA Double Tap Award for War Poetry: August 30, 2002
Awarded: August 30, 2002
The sea wore its grey face that morning,
the tempest slowly passed.
We steamed down the Waitamata
with Auckland in our wake,
and Bean Rock flicked us a tearful farewell
while Rangitoto dressed herself
in a cloak of clinging rain.
With engines throbbing and faces set
we took the bar,
then crossed the Hauraki Gulf
and searched for those souls lost
when the “Maranui” went down,
Beyond Great Mercury Island,
and a grain-ship homeward bound.

Pray children... Pray!
Pray for your father’s gone forever,
wives for a loving husband,
parents for an only son.
Lost to the deep
and the lonely sailor’s grave,
far at sea on the homeward run.

We found her flotsam drifting east
the final day we searched,
her wooden bridge wing floated free
and merged with oil and spume.
With heavy hearts and silent prayers
we swung the stern around,
and sailed back past “The Barrier”,
as the sun was going down.
And all the while we steamed and searched,
though none were ever found,
the solemn prayers and vigils prayed,
in small New Zealand towns.

So raise your glasses high Shipmates
and drink a Sailor’s toast
to the Captain and the Seamen
who were lost that stormy night.
Far at sea, on the homeward run,
off the Coromandel coast.

Author’s Note: On the night of my 18th birthday (13 June 1968), the M.V. Maranui, a bulk grain freighter, floundered and sank after its cargo shifted in heavy seas. Six men out of a crew of 15 were saved. The following morning our patrol boat, HMNZS Koura was ordered to sea and went in search of those missing, they were never found.

They were: Captain David Bruce and Seamen – M.C. O’Flaherty, R.G. Watson, J. Walton, S.C. Henry, R.E. Orr, L.S. Saint-Bruno, J.H. McPherson and J.C. Roberts.

Saved by the great seamanship of Captain Thorsten Wahlstedt of the M.V. Mirrabooka were: Seamen – R.C. Ingham, C.J. Taylor, E. Hampson, G.B. Monk, F. McHardy and J. E. Cameron.

This photograph emerged only last year and after checking the dates, I found out it was taken on the voyage before the fatal one. You can also see the hatch open on the right. At the inquests, this was one of the causes of the sinking, which makes the photo so special.

Regards,
Michael O’Flaherty
May 14, 2006

Webmaster’s Note: Michael has offered to send a copy of the photograph to the family members of those who were lost when she went down. Please contact me and I'll forward your request to him.

Anthony W. Pahl OAM
Webmaster
May 14, 2006