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Object: Anchor

Title Anchor
Production Unknown (ironsmith), circa 1760, France
Materials wrought iron
Classification anchors
Dimensions Overall: 1445mm (Height) x 2870mm (Length) x 680mm (Width/Depth)
Credit line Gift of Mike Bearsley and Kelly Tarlton, 1974
Registration number NS000047/1

This wrought-iron anchor was made in France by unknown tradesmen around 1760. It is 4.45 metres long, 2.87 metres wide, 68 centimetres thick, and weighs 1400 kilograms. It is one of three that were lost from the French vessel St Jean Baptiste in Doubtless Bay, Northland, in 1769. In 1974 two of the anchors were located by the undersea explorer, Kelly Tarlton, and were donated to the museum. This one is now held at the Far North Regional Museum.

Shipwreck avoided
When the St Jean Baptiste was struck by a storm on 28 December, its anchors began to drag and the ship drifted towards rocks. De Surville was forced to cut the anchor cables to avoid shipwreck and the vessel sailed out of the bay into the north-easterly gale. With his crew sick with scurvy and the voyage of exploration at risk, De Surville set sail for South America three days later.

The 'de Surville anchors'  are almost certainly the oldest authentic European objects found in New Zealand. They also have links with another explorer of note. At the time De Surville was in New Zealand waters sailing up the west coast and around North Cape, James Cook's vessels were sailing up the east coast. On 17 December 1769, the two vessels passed each other off North Cape during another storm, but did not sight each other.

Related information

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