Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Another facinating glimpse in to Abernyte's past has been unearthed.

In 1875 the Gordon Steam Shipping Company commisioned a three masted sailing barque of 728 tonnes built on the Clyde at Dumbarton by McKellar, McMillan and Company.

The ship was called Abernyte

sailing barque Abernyte





Another item to add to what we know of the SS Abernyte comes from no less a publication than the Shetland Times of 1880. On Saturday 21st February it carried an advertisement for the imminent sailing of the SS Abernyte from the Clyde bound for New Zealand.

Shetland Times 1880  SS Abernyte


SS Abernyte in full sail. Oil on canvas





It was also captured in oils in full sail.




It traded  as a general cargo vessel until it was wrecked in fog off Lizard Point in 1898 carrying a cargo of Nitrate of Soda.


Wreck of SS Abernyte - Lizard Point

The Board of Trade enquiry found:

"On 29th December, 1897, the "Abernyte" left Caleta Buena, Chili, with a cargo of about 1,150 tons of nitrate of soda bound for Falmouth for orders. The freight payable for this cargo was stated to be £1,800, and it was fully covered by insurance. Her mean draught of water was about 17 ft. 6 ins., and she was about 3 ins. by the stern. She had a crew of sixteen hands all told, only three of whom formed part of the original crew which had left the United Kingdom. During an intermediate voyage she had lost two boats, but when she left Caleta Buena she still had one life-boat, one jolly-boat, and a dinghy, more than sufficient to comply with the requirements of the Act in that respect. She had a complete outfit of compasses, viz., a standard compass on the mizen-mast, a steering compass before the wheel aft, a tell-tale in the skylight, and a spare one below, besides five spare cards and a boat compass. Owing to the inconvenient position of the standard compass, the vessel was navigated entirely by the steering compass. These compasses had been overhauled by Messrs. Dobbie, Son, and Hutton, of Fenchurch Street, London, in September, 1895, but there was no evidence to show when they were last adjusted, certainly not for several years. This omission, however, does not appear to have caused any practical inconvenience in the navigation of the ship beyond a certain degree of sluggishness experienced when entering the English Channel, the master stating that the deviations were moderate in amount, and that, with the exception just mentioned, he had no complaint whatever to make regarding them. 

After a tedious but otherwise uneventful passage, the "Abernyte" made the Bishop Lighthouse, Scilly Islands, about 10 a.m. on the 7th May last, and a course was set and steered to pass five or six miles south of the Lizard. Between five o'clock and six o'clock p.m. the "Wolf" was sighted, and when abeam was estimated to be five or six miles distant, but no cast of the lead was taken nor other means used to verify the position of the ship; and it may here be noted that the lead was never used after the Bishop Lighthouse was made on the morning of the 7th May. She still continued on her course towards the Lizard, the weather being fine and clear, with a moderate breeze from the S.W., the ship making about three knots. The Lizard lights were made between eight and nine o'clock, and it is at this point that the master seems to have made the fatal mistake which eventually led to the loss of the ship. For three hours, or until 11.30 p.m., the lights were continually in sight and in line, which, had the master consulted his chart with ordinary intelligence, was a sufficient indication that he had not the offing he was reckoning upon, and that he had passed the "Wolf" much closer than he estimated, and that also if he continued his course he must inevitably strike on the Lizard Point. At 11.30 p.m. the weather became foggy and the lights were obscured and not again seen. The same course was continued until about 1.30 a.m. on the 8th, when it was altered one point towards the land. At midnight sail had been shortened to topsails and foresail. 

Shortly after the course had been altered, the noise of the surf was heard, and directly afterwards breakers were seen on the starboard side. it being evidently impossible to stay the ship owing to the vicinity of the rocks, the master attempted to wear her, calling all hands and making sail. She appears to have reached along the shore for some little distance on the port tack, but owing to the lightness of the wind and a heavy ground swell she had got into, she gradually drifted on the rocks off Rill Head and became a total wreck. The crew, who did not save any of their effects, got into the life-boat and pulled seawards. While in the boat the crew heard the siren on the Lizard, which had not been previously heard. 

About daylight they were picked up by a pilot cutter and ultimately landed at Falmouth. 

No lives were lost.

The Court having carefully inquired into the circum stances attending the above-mentioned shipping casualty, finds for the reasons stated in the Annex hereto, that the casualty was caused by the master, Mr. Edwin Cardwell, neglecting to use the lead and ignoring the fact that he had brought the two lights of the Lizard in a direct line. 

The Court finds the master in default, and suspends his certificate for six months.

The prize will go to who ever can unearth the local connection which caused the ship to be named Abernyte.  None of the other vessels owned by the company were called after Scottish places.