Since the “Daring” was exposed substantially intact at Muriwai, Auckland last May, it has attracted international attention for what it’s revealing to archaeologists about boatbuilding and anti-fouling techniques of the 1860s, as well as life aboard.

The “Daring” was a 17-metre trading schooner driven ashore by gales in February 1865, just two years after she was built at Mangawhai. Spokesperson for the organisation responsible for saving the vessel Larry Paul, points out that locally-built ships plying the west coast of NZ at the time “had to be built [very strong]” to withstand the battering they were expected to take from the sea.

Built primarily of kauri and pohutukawa, the largely anaerobic conditions of the beach helped preserve the “Daring” until shoreline erosion revealed her once again.

To date nearly $500,000 has been spent on recovery and preservation, and it’s expected more will be required before the vessel can be considered “safe” from further corrosive action.

Scientists and archaeologists found the Muntz metal sheathing the hull was particularly well preserved around the bow. This form of duplex brass contains approx. 60% copper, 40% zinc and a trace of iron, and was used as an anti-fouling sheath for about 60% of the cost of pure copper.

Much of the conservation work was directed by Susanne Grieve Rawson, principal of HPFS Solutions in Taranaki and an objects conservator specialising in maritime materials. Among other work, she has collaborated with specialists on the USS Monitor as well as the Vasa to study the state of sulphur in archaeological wood samples and wood conservation techniques.

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