Shipping accidents were an unfortunate fact of life during the colonial era, the timber construction making vessels vulnerable to the elements.
During a storm in November 1860, the schooner Prospector was wrecked in Bellambi Harbour, resulting in the loss of two lives, including one of the rescuers.
The vessel had let in so much water she went down at her moorings, and within 30 minutes her first mate, Henry Allen, washed overboard when the sea first struck the vessel.
The master and remaining crew managed to get on board the schooner Colina by means of a line, and waited out the night in turbulent conditions.
The storm had not abated the following day when a party of 10 set out to rescue the stranded crew.
On the third trip, just as the rescue boat was alongside the jetty with the remaining three crew members, a wave rolled her over.
"All scrambled on shore except one poor fellow who was seen to float away on his back, not making the slightest effort to get on shore.
"It is supposed the boat must have struck him on capsizing," the Mercury said.
Seven months earlier, the Mercury reported on a fatal boat accident off Wollongong Harbour.
The Kiama steamer had arrived at Wollongong at dusk, with a number of passengers being landed in a lifeboat, followed by a second boat with the mail and other passengers.
This boat was returning to shore when she was upset by some means, her three crew members perishing in the process.
On June 26, 1877, the Bulli Coal Company suffered a significant setback when its steamer collier Bulli, an iron vessel of 496 tons gross, was wrecked while on passage to Tasmania.
The vessel had left the Illawarra the day before carrying 450 tons of coal.
When she made Kent's Group the following morning, the weather turned "boisterous" and she ran back to Murray's Pass for shelter.
"When off the NE Island a sunken rock was struck, which caused her to make water rapidly … [She later] sank in five fathoms of water," the Mercury reported.
The captain WJ Randell and his crew of 23 made it to shore, from where they were rescued by a passing steamer.
Picture: A sketch of the Steamer Bulli, from the Sydney Mail in 1873. From the collections of the Wollongong City Library and the Illawarra Historical Society.