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October 1983 Index Bulletins Index

Caithness Field Club

CAITHNESS FIELD CLUB BULLETIN

vol. 3 No. 5 October 1983

WRECKS OF THE PENTLAND FIRTH 1890 TO 1917

W. Bremner and D. G. Sinclair

A series of a chronological list of wrecks and mishaps to vessels in the Pentland Firth is being continued in this issue. The list was compiled by W. Bremner of Stroma and added to by David Sinclair, Secretary of the Scrabster Lifeboat.  

      1891  "GLADIOLUS", with a cargo of iron, ran aground on Beacon Point, Stroma. Part of the cargo was jettisoned and the vessel refloated by Stroma fishermen.

 

1891        "VENETIA" a German liner bound for New York from Hamburg, went ashore at the Hortigeo, Stroma, in a fog. Some of her cargo was jettisoned and the vessel was refloated. The passengers stayed aboard and she proceeded on her voyage.

 

29.10.1894 Schooner "ISABELLA STUART" of Greenock showed distress signals in Thurso Bay during severe NNE gale, crew of 4 rescued by Thurso lifeboat CO-OPERATOR No. 3.

 

1895  "GERALDO", British steamer ran ashore at Freswick. Part of her cargo was jettisoned by local fishermen and the vessel was refloated.

 

1895  "WELLPARK", a Greenock steamer, ran aground on Swilkie point. Stroma, but was refloated at flood-tide without damage or accident.

 

1896  "SPERO", a Newcastle steamer, bound west with a load of coal, went ashore on Beacon Point, Stroma. She was refloated after part of her cargo had been landed by Stroma fishermen.

 

1896  "NORTH SEA", a Glasgow steamer with a cargo of coal, ran aground at Broad Geo, Stroma and became a total wreck. No lives were lost. The wreck was bought by Stroma fishermen.

 

1896  "HERCULES", a Grimsby trawler, homeward bound, became a total wreck on Langaton Point, Stroma. The crew were saved by local boats.

 

1897  "VICTORIA" in distress off Scarfskerry. The Longhope lifeboat took the crew off before she stranded at Rattar. Her cargo was high explosives and part of it exploded when she struck the rocks.

 

1897  "CLARENCE G. SINCLAIR", a Thurso schooner, bound east with a cargo of flagstones, went ashore on Mill Head, Stroma. She was badly holed and sank. No lives were lost.

 

1897  "ANALES", a Grimsby trawler, homeward bound from the Faroes, struck Langaton Point, Stroma; heavy seas swept her off the rocks and she drifted east on the flood tide and sank off Freswick. Crew saved.

 

1898  "MANCHESTER CITY". a large Liverpool steamer, bound west on her maiden voyage, lost her rudder 4 miles west of Stroma in a westerly gale. Longhope lifeboat went to her rescue in mountainous seas and by expert seamanship got Second Coxswain Bill Mowat on board. She was then manoeuvred with engines going ahead and astern until she got well clear of Stroma and east of Dunnet Head. The Thurso lifeboat was also in attendance. She was picked up by tugs and towed to Aberdeen.

 

1898  "OHIO", a British steamer, ran aground at Freswick. Aukengill fishermen jettisoned part of her general cargo and she was refloated but, because of her damaged condition, it was necessary to beach her at Reiss Sands. After temporary repair she was refloated and made the passage to Aberdeen.

 

1899  "ARDMORE", British steamer west bound with a cargo of wood, stranded on the Ness of Duncansby and became a total wreck. (Also reported in 1901! Ed.)

 

1899  "HARLAW" of Aberdeen, east bound, stranded at Quoys Ness. Local fishermen stood by until she was refloated.

 

1899  "MINNA"of Chester ran ashore at Quoys Ness. The crew were saved but the vessel became a total wreck.

 

1899  "ANDREW LONGMORE" of Banff, east bound with a cargo of salt, struck the rocks at Hill Head, Stroma. She was swept off by the strong tide and turned turtle, breaking all her masts and yards. The crew landed safely in their own boat but the wreck drifted out to sea, a derelict.

 

1899  "AGNES", a brig of Poragrund, got into difficulties in Stroma Sound, lost both her anchors with the strain of the tide and drifted in towards Mell Head. Local boats towed her into the shelter of Beacon Point and she was moored there until the tide turned. She then picked up an extra crew of Stroma men and set sail for Wick. A strong northerly gale sprang up and later backed to the west. The vessel became unmanageable and turned over on her beam ends. Part of the cargo of wood was jettisoned in an effort to right her. Distress signals were fired and ultimately she was picked up by the Duke of Sutherland's steam yacht "Catania" and towed to Invergordon.

 

1. 5.1900   Swedish barque "HANS" in difficulty 5 miles ENE of Dunnet Head. She eventually got out of trouble unaided.

 

2. 5.1900   Fishing vessel "SHAW" of Aberdeen aground outside Wick harbour. Crew of 2 rescued by Thurso lifeboat CO-OPERATOR No. 3, manned by Wick crew. Thurso lifeboat happened to be moored in Wick Harbour.

 

1900  "CHAMPION" of Grimsby, a trawler, struck the Little Skerry and  became a total wreck, being thrown on to the top of the island by the heavy easterly sea. The crew were saved by Stroma fishermen before the Huna lifeboat arrived on  the scene.

 

1900  "KROMA", a British steamer west bound, became a total wreck on the south side of Stroma. Crew safely landed on Swona.

 

1901  "ARDMORE", a Glasgow steamer, went aground in a fog near the Ness of Duncansby. The crew were saved and her cargo of pit-props salvaged.

 

1901  " ------- ", steamer, name unknown, stranded on the Ness of Duncansby in a fog. She was bound for the Continent with a cargo of salt herring. Part of the cargo was jettisoned and she refloated without aid.

 

5. 1.1902   At the height Of a severe WNW storm causing exceptionally heavy seas, distress signals were seen coming from the schooners "EMMA LOUISE" and "ELIZABETH MILLER", both of Wick, at anchor in Thurso Bay. The crews of both vessels, 7 men in all were rescued by Thurso lifeboat CO-OPERATOR No. 3. In the severe gale, the lifeboat's mizzen mast was carried away and her fore-mast sprung.

 

1902  "SYLANION", a Grimsby trawler, stranded near John o' Groats. The crew saved by the Huna lifeboat. She was later refloated by a salvage vessel.

 

1902  "HATHER", a Newcastle steamer bound west light, struck the rocks at Wardie Geo, Stroma, in a fog. Refloated by salvage tugs.

 

1902  "F.T. BARRY", a Keiss herring boat, ran aground on a rock off Duncansby Head. The crew scrambled on to the rock and were saved by local fishermen. The boat sank.

 

1903  "CORINTHIA", of Liverpool, west bound with a cargo of wood, struck the rocks at Wardie Geo, Stroma, in fog. The crew were landed safely by Stroma fishermen. Part of her cargo was salvaged, then the vessel turned turtle and became a total wreck.

 

1904  "PRINCESS MELTON", an Aberdeen trawler homeward bound, went ashore in fog on the west side of Stroma. She was refloated by Stroma fishermen and taken to Wick.

 

1905  "DENNINGTON", a British steamer west bound with a cargo of coal, went ashore on the uninhabited island of Switha in a blinding snowstorm. The vessel slid off and sank. Two of the crew were lost, the remainder being taken off by Longhope boats.

 

1905  "MAGDALENE HUGHES", an east coast fishing boat, stranded on Little Skerry. She was refloated at high tide but sank later. No lives lost.

 

1905  "CRUSADER", a Hull trawler, stranded on the south side of Stroma. Stroma fishermen helped to refloat her.

 

1906  "ST. BERNARD", formerly the Grimsby trawler Silanion (see 1902), grounded on Beacon Point, Stroma, in fog. She was refloated.

 

1906  "PETERSBERG", a Copenhagen steamer loaded with coal for Norway, went ashore at Dunnet Head and became a total wreck. The crew took to their own boat and landed at Wick.

 

1907  "ARDGOWAN", an Aberdeen trawler, stranded near Duncansby Head. The crew were taken off by the Huna lifeboat. The vessel was later refloated and taken to Wick for repair.

 

1908  "KWARA", an Elder Dempster steamer, stranded an Little Skerry and was refloated.

 

1908        "HELEN HAWORTH", a schooner with a cargo of salt;

"CONCORDIA", a Grimsby fishing smack;

"ARUNA", a Grimsby trawler

These three vessels went ashore about the same time at the same place (not specified) and all were refloated without damage.

 

1908  "ROYAL OAK", a Stroma fishing boat, was swamped near Muckle Skerry. Crew of five kept themselves afloat by clinging to wreckage from the boat until another Stroma boat, the "Undaunted", by heroic efforts and expert seamanship. rescued them and landed them on Muckle Skerry. After being provided with hot food and dry clothes they were taken home to Stroma by the "Undaunted". The crew of the "Undaunted" received the R.N.L.I. parchment for their good work.

 

1908  " -------", a John o' Groats fishing boat was run down by the Aberdeen trawler "Ben Aden" returning from the Faroes. Three men of her crew of five were drowned.

 

7. 1.1909   Crew of t.hree from ketch "RUOLUTE" .3 Newcastle rescued by Thurso lifeboat CO-OPERATOR No. 3.

 

7. 3.1909   Crew of four from schooner "EMMA LOUISE" of Wick rescued by Thurso lifeboat CO-OPERATOR No. 4.

 

1909 "EARNHOLM", an Aberdeen steamer south bound with a number of women herring workers on board, struck rocks near Duncansby Head and damaged her rudder. She became unmanageable and was picked up in fog by Stroma fishermen and anchored in Gills Bay.   After the fog cleared she was piloted to Wick, with temporary steering gear, by Stroma fishermen.

 

12.11.1909 Schooner "DESDEMONA" of Aberystwyth dragged her anchors in very heavy seas during WNW gale in Thurso Bay. Thurso lifeboat SARAH AUSTIN rescued crew of three.'

 

1910  "ANGCARIUS", a Swedish steamer, wrecked on the Ness of Duncansby. The hull was purchased by local fishermen.

 

1910  "STRATHYRE", a Banff fishing boat east bound, drifted on to Muckle Skerry and became a total loss. The crew were saved by the lighthouse keepers in very difficult conditions.

 

1910  "INDIAN", a Liverpool steamer of the Leyland line, west bound with a cargo of salt, ran aground on the east side of Duncansby Head. She was refloated but was so badly holed she had to be beached in Sinclair Bay, piloted by the Huna lifeboat. One of the crew was lost.

 

1910  "MALIN HEAD", a Belfast steamer bound west with a cargo of pig-iron, grounded on Quoys Ness. Part of the cargo was jettisoned. She was later refloated by the Liverpool Salvage Co., but was so badly damaged she drove ashore in Gills Bay and became a total wreck.

 

1911  "PREMIER", a Grimsby trawler homeward bound, grounded in fog on the Ness of Duncansby. Local fishermen helped to refloat the vessel.

 

1911  "NORMOND", an Aberdeen trawler bound west, grounded near the Stacks of Duncansby and became a total wreck.

 

1911  "WILLESDEN", a London steamer, was stranded in fog on Skirza Head but refloated later.

 

1911  "INDIA", a Grimsby trawler homeward bound, stranded on the west side of Stroma but was refloated with the aid of Stroma fishermen.

 

1911  "BF 1649", a Banff sulu, ran ashore in dense fog in the Bay of Sannick but was refloated without assistance.

 

1911  "-----", a large French trawler, name unknown, ran ashore at Duncansby Head on the same day as the Banff boat. It was refloated without assistance.

 

1912  "GEESTEMUNDE", a tanker of Hamburg bound east, struck Langaton Point, Stroma in fog. After part of her cargo of oil had been pumped overboard she was refloated. Local boats stood by.

 

1912  "DUNA", westward bound steamer with a cargo of wood, ran ashore in fog near the Old Head, South Ronaldsay, and became a total wreck.

 

1912  "DUBSLEMANN", a trawler of Umuiden, stranded in Lother Rock and became a total wreck. Stroma fishermen rescued the crew under very difficult conditions and received a R.N.L.I. parchment in recognition of their work.

 

1912  "DESDEMONA", a Thurso schooner bound west with a cargo of coal, struck on Muckle Skerry and became a total loss. The crew of four lost their lives.

 

1913  "BARBARA", a Thurso schooner bound west with a cargo of coal, had her sails carried away in a northwest gale in the Pentland Firth. In trying to make for shelter in Longhope she missed stays and was driven ashore on Flotta, becoming a total wreck. Her crew were saved.

 

1913  "PRINCE LEO", a Grimsby trawler, stranded in fog on Little Skerry and was refloated with the assistance of Stroma fishermen.

 

1913  "SARPFOS", an Oslo steamer with a cargo of wood, ran aground in fog at Castle Geo, Stroma. Part of her cargo was jettisoned and, with the help of local fishermen, she was refloated.

 

1913  "THYRA", a Tonsberg steamer, ran aground in fog near the Stacks of Duncansby. Her general cargo was salvaged by Danish tugs but the vessel became a total loss. There was no loss of life.

 

1914  "CAULONCA", a Grimsby trawler homeward bound, ran ashore on Little Skerry. She was towed off by another trawler "Aquarmarine" which was piloted by Stroma fishermen. She was badly holed and had to be towed to Stromness for repairs.

 

    1.1916  Two lifeboats of men, survivors of the Norwegian steamer "Bonheur", which sank off the north coast, landed at Armadale. Some of the men were unconscious and one had died during the night.

 

13. 1.1916  "S.S. ASHTREE" of Cardiff signalled for assistance at height of violent NWly gale. Thurso lifeboat SARAH AUSTIN rendered assistance and berthed vessel at Scrabster.

 

1916  "KIRUNNA", a Swedish steamer bound east with coal and contraband, struck the Muckle Skerry in dense fog and became a total wreck. The crew were saved.