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Gerfalcon off Kent's Group, and that was the last seen of
her. It is significant that another big ship, the North
American, a transformed Anchor Line steamer, dis-
appeared at the same time, also homeward bound from
Port Phillip.

The Tragedy of the "Loch Ard."

The ill-fated Loch Ard was the largest vessel
owned by Aitken & Lilburn until Barclay, Curie built


those two splendid four-posters, the Lochs Moidart and

Her maiden passage was one of the unluckiest on
record. She lost her masts almost before she had
cleared the land and put back to the Clyde to refit. She
made a second start on 26th January, 1874, and again,
whilst running her easting down, was badly dismasted,
only the mizen lower mast and 15 feet of the mainmast
being left standing. After rolling in the trough of the
sea for four days of the greatest peril her crew managed
to get her under a jury rig, and she took 49 days to cover
the 4500 miles to Hobson's Bay, where she arrived on
24th May, 118 days from the date of her second start.

As I have already related, the year 1874 was a dis-
astrous one for dismastings; and when the Loch Ard
struggled into Melbourne, she found the John Kerr and
Cambridgeshire, both on their maiden voyages, lying
there in a similar plight to her own. Besides these
ships and the Loch Maree, the following were also dis-
masted this year on their maiden passages: Rydal
Hall, Norval, Chrysomene and British Admiral. The
latter was refitted in England, only to be wrecked on
her second attempt, on King's Island, on 23rd May,
1874, with great loss of life.

The Loch Ard on her unfortunate maiden passage had
been commanded by Captain Robertson, who, also,
was skipper of the Loch Earn when she collided with
the Ville du Havre. On her third voyage the Loch Ard
was taken by Captain Gibb, who was a stranger to
Australian waters. He married just before sailing.
The Loch Ard left Gravesend on 2nd March, 1878. She
was spoken by the John Kerr, Captain W. Scobie, on
9th April. But between 5 and 6 on the morning of 1st
June, the day after the John Kerr had arrived in Hob-


son's Bay, the Loch Ard went ashore 27 miles from the
Otway, at Curdies' Inlet, between Port Campbell and
Moonlight Head.

Out of 52 souls on board, only two were saved, an
apprentice and a passenger. About these two a romance
has been woven, which would have done for Clark
Russell. Tom Pearce, the apprentice, displayed such
gallantry and pluck in saving the passenger, Miss
Carmichael, that he became the hero of the hour in
Australia. He was one of those people, however, who
have the name " Jonah " attached to them by sailors,
for a year later he suffered shipwreck again, in the Loch
Sunart, which was piled up on the Skulmartin Rock,
llth January, 1879. The story goes that Tom Pearce
was washed ashore and carried up in a senseless condition
to the nearest house. This happened to be the home of
Miss Carmichael, who fittingly nursed him backto health,
with the proper story book finish that he married her.
Whether this is true or not, Pearce lived to be a Royal
Mail S.P. captain. He finally retired from the sea in
1908 and died on 15th December of that year.

I now commence a series of tables of outward passages
to Australia. These have been compiled with as
much care as possible, but slips will creep into
lists of this kind, and I should be very grateful
if any reader who is able to correct a date from an
original abstract or private journal would write to me,
so that the mistake may be set right in future editions.
I have not always filled in a date, as where there was
any want of proof I have preferred to leave it blank.

Besides the regular traders, I have tried to include
every ship making the outward passage under 80 days,
thus we find some of Smith 's celebrated * * Cities ' ' and
a numbher ^ f the frigate-built Blackwallers figuring in



the lists. As regards outsiders, I have had to omit
several ships for want of sufficient data, but I think
my lists are complete as far as the regular traders are
concerned .










Samuet Plimsoll
Cutty Sark

Plymouth Nov. 10
Channel Dec. 16
Channel Apl. 12

Dec. 11
Jan. 4*74
May 9

Jan. 7 '74
June 8

Jan. 28 '74
Feb. 25 '74
June 24
(passed Ot.

Feb. 1 '74
Mar. 4 '74
June 30












Start May 12

June 6

June 24

July 15


Thoma* Stephens -

Ushant Sept. 3

Sept 24

Oct. IB

Nov. 7

Nov. 8


Rn Cruachan

Tuskar Oct. 7

Nov. 2

Nov. 21

Dec. 13


Loch Toy

Tuskar Sept.

Sept. 28

Oct. 22

Nov. 13

Nov. 14



Start Dec.

Dec. 30


Feb. 15'74




Lizard July

July 30

Aug. 19

Sept. 16


Sam Mendel

Tuskar July 20

July 28

Oct. 6


The Ttveed

Lizard Sept.

Sept. 30

Oct. 25

Nov. 18



St. Albans Oct. 17

Oct 17

Dec. 29



Tnakar Aug 30

Sept. 25

Oct. 17

Nov. 9

Nov. 12



Lizard June 29

July 24

Aug. 22

Sept. 14

Sept. 14



Start Aug. 23

Sept. 21

Nov. 7

Nov. 9


City of Hankow

Portland Dec. 8

Jan. I '74

Jan. 21 '74

Feb. 19'74


Loch Lomond

Tuskar June 25

July 23

Aug. 18

&ept. 12

Sept. 13


The homeward runs I have had to put in the Appendix
for want of space, as this part has run to far greater
length than I had contemplated at first.

The races to catch the wool sales will thus be found
in Appendix F, under the heading of * The Wool Fleet. ' '

Notes on Passages to Australia in 1873.

The fine passage of Miltiades and the maiden
passages of Samuel Plimsoll and Ben Cruachan I have
already described. The 66 days of Thomas Stephens
was a very fine performance. She left Gravesend on


30th August, with a very heavy general cargo, which
put her down in the water like a sand barge. She
crossed the equator in 26 55' W. and was then forced
over on to the South American coast near Pernambuco
by very unfavourable S.E. trades. The meridian of
Greenwich was crossed on 12th October in 44 33' S.
Her best week's work running down the easting was
2055 miles, and she would have equalled the run of
Miltiades but for 48 hours of calm in the neighbourhood
of the Otway . She arrived in Melbourne after an absence
of only seven months, including nine weeks in London.

Loch Tay, which left Glasgow on 4th September under
Captain Scott, also lost a day becalmed off the Otway.
She crossed the equator in 29 W. and the meridian of
Greenwich on 18th October in 39 S. Running the
easting down she averaged 276 miles t ^ay for 19 days,
her best day's work being 336 miles.

Of the others nothing special calls for notice. Ther-
mopylae left Gravesend on 2nd December, and had a
light weather passage all the way, though she went as
far as 47 S. in search of wind. Cutty Sark also was
handicapped by very light winds. She ran her easting
down in 40 S. with light winds and calms from the S.E.
trades to Port Jackson.

This was the Tweed's lirst visit to Melbourne. This
magnificent clipper was probably the tallest ship ever
seen in Hobson's Bay. And wherever Captain Stuart
took her she compelled admiration both for her majestic
appearance and wonderful sailing performances.

Devitt & Moore's Crack Passenger Ship
4 * Rodney."

Messrs. Devitt & Moore always considered the
Rodney to be the fastest of their iron ships. She was


also one of the finest specimens of the passenger sailing
ship in its last phase.

The following account from an Australian paper of
November, 1874, will give a good idea of the Rodney's
accommodation for passengers. It is also interesting as
showing what was considered luxury in the seventies
and comparing it with the present day :

To render voyaging as easy and pleasant as possible has long engaged
the attention of shipowners, but it is only of late years that it has
become a special study to make the accommodations for oversea pas-
sengers not merely comfortable but absolutely luxurious.

The change in this respect since the time when only a certain amount
of cabin space was provided is something akin to a transformation.
The worry and bother of attending to the fitting up, as well as the extra
expenditure of time and money, are now avoided, and with very little
need for previous provision or preparation, .the intending voyager
nowadays can step on board ship and find his cabin carpeted and cur-
tained and fitted up with almost all the accessories and appointments of
a bedroom in a hotel.

An inspection of the Rodney will convince the most fastidious that
the entire question of passenger comfort has been thought out fully and
amply. The Rodney is an iron clipper of beautiful model and is what
is termed a 1600-ton ship. She has been constructed specially with a
view to the conveyance of passengers, and there are few sailing ships
coming to the colony which have such a spacious saloon. It measures
80 feet in length and has berthing accommodation for 60 people. No
cost has been spared in the decoration and embellishments, and yet
these have not been promoted at the expense of solid and material

The cabins are 10 feet square, and a number of the sleeping berths
can be drawn out so as to accommodate two people. For each cabin
there is a fixed lavatory, supplied with fresh water from a patent tap,
and by the removal of a small plug in the centre of the basin, the water
runs away right into the sea, so that all slopping is avoided. The
lavatory is fixed on top of a cupboard, which answers all the purposes
of a little chiff oniere, being fitted up for the reception of bottles, glasses,
brushes, etc.

There is also a chest of drawers in each cabin a very great con-
venience in which may be kept clothes, books, linen and many " un-
considered trifles," which generally go knocking about in ships' cabins
at sea.

The windows in the cabins are large, admitting plenty of light and


air, and the passengers have easy control over them. The ventilation,
in fact, is all that could be desired. Good-sized looking-glasses and
handy little racks for water-bottles, tumblers, combs, brushes, etc., also
abound, and in other little matters the comfort of the passengers has
been well cared for.

The cabins are also so arranged that two or more or even the whole
of them on one side of the ship afford communication to each other
without going out into the saloon, and where families are together this
is very advantageous.

The bathroom occupies the space of one of the largest cabins, and
hot as well as cold baths are attainable.

The saloon is lighted by two large skylights, one of them being
21 feet in length. They are emblazoned with very pretty views of
Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, and Capetown, these being the principal
ports to which Messrs. Devitt & Moore's vessels trade. There is also
a piano in the saloon, by which the tedium of a voyage may be enlivened,
and the tables are so constructed that they can be easily unshipped and
the saloon cleared for dancing.

For gentlemen there is a capital smoking-room at the top of the
companion leading from the saloon to the deck.

The accommodation in the 'tween decks for second cabin and steerage
passengers is everything that could be desired, and there is quite an
elaborate system adopted for ventilation.

Cooking can be done in the galley for 600 people, and there is a
steam condenser, which can distil 500 gallons of water daily.

The passengers of all classes who came out in this ship on her maiden
voyage here expressed themselves wonderfully well pleased with the
ship and her commander, Captain A. Louttit, who has had great
experience in the passenger trade.

The Rodney's best passage was to Sydney in 1887,
when under Captain Harwood Barrett, with Captain
Corner of training ship fame as his mate. On this
occasion she ran from the Lizards to Sydney in 67 days,
and 68 days from pilot to Sydney. Her best passage
home was 77 days from Sydney to London. Her
best run to Melbourne was 71 days in 1882, and to
Adelaide 74 days in 1880.

The Rodney was sold in 1897 to the French and
renamed Gipsy. On her previous voyage she had en-
countered terrible weather both out and home, and was


even robbed of her figure-head by the raging sea; it was
probably on account of the damage sustained on this
voyage that Devitt & Moore sold her.

On the 7th December, 1901, the Rodney was wrecked
on the Cornish coast, when homeward bound from
Iquique with nitrate. The ship became a total loss
but the crew were saved.

Nicol's "Romanoff."

Romanoff was Alexander Nicol's finest iron
clipper until the Cimba came out. Nicol's ships
were always good lookers, painted Aberdeen green
with white masts and yards and scraped jibboom and
topmasts, they fully upheld the Aberdeen reputation.
Romanoff was a fast ship, but was overmasted with
double topgallant yards and skysails, and after a few
years she was severely cut down. She was a very
regular Melbourne trader. She ended her days under
the Norwegian flag.

Duthie 's * * Cairnbulg. ' '

The Cairnbulg was another Aberdeen ship, but
she was in the Sydney trade. She was of about the
same speed as the Romanoff, a fine, fast, wholesome ship
without any very special records to her credit.

She came to a most unusual end. After being sold to
the Russians and renamed Hellas, she was sold by them
to the Danes and called Alexandra. On the 26th
November, 1907, she sailed from Newcastle, N.S.W.,
for Panama, coal laden. In April she was taken off
the overdue list and posted as missing, being uninsurable
at 90 guineas. The following June, one of her boats
in charge of the mate, was picked up off the South
American Coast. The mate then told the following



extraordinary story : On 8th May the ship was aban-
doned owing to her provisions running out and for no
other reason as in every other way, both in hull and
gear, she was perfectly seaworthy. The position of the
Cairnbulg when abandoned was given as 500 miles
off the South American Coast. A search expedition
was at once sent out after her, but in vain. Sometime
afterwards she was found ashore on the rocks at Iguana
Cove, Albemarle Island, with her back broken. Her
insurances, hull, freight and cargo amounted to 30,000,
and she was abandoned in calm weather through lack
of provisions. This story is not to the credit of either
her captain or her owners.

The Speedy "Thessalus."

Thessalus, Carmichael's largest three-master,
was one of the finest and fastest sailing ships ever seen in
Australasian waters. Though not a regular wool clipper
like the Mermerus, she was well known both in Sydney
and Melbourne. But she was also as well known in
Calcutta and San Francisco, and wherever she went she
always made fine passages.
Here are a few of her best :


1878 Start to Melbourne .. .. 67 days.

1882 London to Sydney 79 ,,

1884 Downs to Sydney 77

1887 London to Sydney .. .. .. 79 ,,

1893 Cardiff to Sydney (via Capetown) 78

1894 London to Sydney (via Capetown) 78 ,,
1896 Sydney to London .. .. .. 75


1876 Calcutta to London . . . . 90 days

1878 Calcutta to Dundee .. .. 98

1879 Penarth Roads to Calcutta 98



1883 Frisco to Lizard 105 days.

1885 Frisco to Hull 125 ,.

1888 Portland, Ore., to Queenstown .. 98

1889 Frisco to Queenstown . . . . 104

1890 Swansea to Frisco 113

1890 Frisco to Lizard 109

1892 Frisco to Queenstown .. ..101


1878 Melbourne to Calcutta .. .. 48 days

1880 Calcutta to Melbourne . . . . 49

1882 Sydney to Frisco 55 ..

1884 Sydney to San Pedro . . . . 66
1884 Frisco to Newcastle, N.S.W. .. 45

1886 Newcastle, N.S.W., to Frisco . . 50

On her third voyage she encountered the cyclone of
81st October, 1876, near the Sandheads. Captain
E. C. Bennett, foreseeing the approach of the cyclone,
stood over to the east side of the Bay of Bengal, and
considered himself lucky to escape with the loss of his
topgallant masts.

Lashed on top of his main hatch, he had a large kennel
containing a pack of foxhounds for the Calcutta Jackal
Club. When the cyclone began, the hounds were let out
of the kennel, to give them a chance to save themselves ;
and shortly afterwards the kennel was washed clean over
the lee rail without touching it. The hounds had mean-
while disappeared and everyone thought that they must
have gone overboard; but when the weather cleared
they all came out, safe and sound, from under the lower
foe Vie bunks, where they had taken refuge.

This cyclone wrought havoc amongst the Calcutta
shipping, and cost the underwriters over 100,000.
Thessalus was lucky to get off with a repair bill of 380.

The Thessalus was lucky with live freight. On her
seventh voyage she took horses from Melbourne to


Calcutta and landed them all alive and in prime con-
dition. Shortly afterwards the Udston arrived with
only four horses alive. She had had bad weather in the
Bay of Bengal, the horses had broken loose and in their
fright kicked each other to death. On this voyage,
Thessalus returned to Melbourne with wheat bags,
wool packs and camels. The camels also arrived in
good condition. At Melbourne she loaded wool for
London at a penny per pound.

Her best wool passage was in 1896, when she left,
Sydney on the 17th October and was only 75 days to the
Start, where she signalled on 31st December. She had
left Melbourne in company with Cimba and Argonaut.
Argonaut made a long passage, but Thessalus and
Cimba were twice in company, concerning which
Captain Holmes of Cimba wrote :

I left Sydney in company with Thessalus and Argonaut. I was
twice in company with Thessalus on 3rd October in 54 S., 152 W., to
5th October 54 S., 143 W., and on 25th November in 36 S., 34 W. I
came up on him in light winds, but when he got the breeze he just
romped away from me as if I was at anchor. Thessalus was a wonder-
fully fast ship. I think the German five-master Potosi is the only one
I have seen to touch her.

This is high praise, for Captain Holmes had a great
knowledge of ships, especially in the Australian trade,
and he had a very fast ship in Cimba, which on this
occasion reported at noon at the Lizard when Thessalus
was reporting at Start Point.

After a long and successful career Thessalus was sold
to the Swedes in 1905, when she was still classed 100 Al .

Notes on Passages to Australia in 1874.

1874 was Ben Voirlich's great year. It will be
noticed, however, that on her record passage she had
Lochs Ness and Maree on her heels the whole way.



Both Lochs had just changed their commanders,
Captain Meiklejohn going to the Loch Ness and Captain
Charles Grey succeeding Captain McCallum in Loch
Maree. Loch Ness chased Ben Voirlich very closely all
the way to the Australian Coast, her best 24-hour run
being 321 miles. But Loch Maree dropped back in the
roaring forties through no fault of her own. On 13th
and 14th December she experienced a tremendous gale
from east working round to S.W. with high confused
sea, during which her patent steering gear was com-
pletely smashed up; and this prevented her from
taking full advantage of the westerlies, as Captain Grey
decided it would not be safe to go further than 42 S.











S.W. Cape






Cutty Hark

Start Nov. 21

Dec. 11

Jan. 1 75

Jan. 26*75

Feb. 2 '75



Start Apl. 14

May 8

May 29

June 24

June 27



Start April 9

Apl. 3G

May 22

June 17

June 22



Wight June 8

July 2

July 26

Aug. 19

Aug. 24




Plymouth Apl. 5

Apl. 29

May 21

June 14

June 22




















Lizard Dec. 2

Dec. 25

Jan. 14 '75

Feb. 4 '75


Ben Voirlich -

Plymouth Nov. 11

Dec. 1

Dec. 24

Jan. 14 '76


Loch Nets - -

Tuskar Nov. 11

Dec. 1

Jan. 16 '75

Jan. 18 '75


Ben Voirlich

Tuakar Jan. 27

Feb. 19

Mar. 15

Apl. 5

Apl. 6


Thomas Stephens

Lizard Nov. 22

Dec. 12


Jan. 31 '75


Ben Cruachan

Cape Clear Sept. 4

Sept. 29

Oct. 20

Nov. 13

Nov. 14



Lizard Nov. 5

Jan. 16 '75



Tuskar Aug. 16

Sept. 12

Oct. 8

Oct. 30


City of Hankow

Channel Nov. 19

Feb. 2 '75


Loch Lomond

Tuskar Nov. 80

Feb. 14 '75


LochMaret -

Channel Nov. fi

Dec. 1

Dec. 25

Jan. 22 '75

Jan. 23 '75



Cutty Sark and Thomas Stephens also had a great
race, the famous tea clipper making the best passage of
the year to Sydney.

Both ships were off the Lizards on 22nd November, and
experienced very baffling winds to the equator, which
Cutty Sark crossed in 26 W. and Thomas Stephens in 29
W. a day later. Cutty Sark was 65 days from the Lizards
to S.W. Cape, Tasmania, whilst Thomas Stephens was 68
days to the Otway, where she was becalmed for 14 hours.

Thermopylae, with a 64 -day passage from the Lizards,
her best run being 348 miles, arrived just in time to
defend herself, for Captain McPetrie was declaring to
all and sundry that Ben Voirlich had broken Thermo-
pylae's record, by making a better run from port to port.

The "Loch Garry."

Many experts considered the Loch Garry to be the
finest sailing ship in the world at the date of her launch.
She certainly was an example of the well-known Glasgow
type at its best.

A new feature was adopted in the placing of her masts.
Her mainmast was stepped right amidships, with the
fore and mizen masts at equal distances from it.

Loch Garry, her sister ship Loch Vennachar, Green's
Carlisle Castle, Nicol's Romanoff and the American ship
Manuel Laguna were rigged in a manner peculiar to
themselves. They had short topgallant masts with
fidded royal and skysail masts, on which they crossed
royals and skysails above double topgallant yards.
When in port their upper topsail and upper topgallant
yards would be half mast-headed, and with the seven
yards on each mast, all squared to perfection, they
presented a magnificent appearance. Loch Garry's first
commander was Captain Andrew Black, a very fine
seaman indeed. He commanded her from 1875 to 1882.


He was succeeded by Captain John Erskine, who was
followed by Captain Home.

With regard to her merits, the veteran Captain Home,
who commanded her for close on 26 years, wrote to me :

The Loch Garry is a front rank ship and always will be so. She is a
ship that has got no vices and when properly loaded is as gentle as a
lamb. It is quite a pleasure to sail such a ship, which might be des-
cribed as a 1500-ton yacht. She is not a ship of excessive speed, but
with a moderately fre^h breeze will maintain a speed of 10 or 11 knots
without much exertion.

Loch Garry's best run under Captain Home was on
26th December, 1892, when running her easting down
in 40 S. With a N. W. wind and smooth sea she covered
334 miles. It is very possible that she exceeded this in
her early days when she carried a stronger crew. She was
also a good light weather ship. In 1900 she went from
the South Tropic to the North Tropic in 14 days 2 hours.

The following passages of recent date will show that
Captain Home kept the Loch Garry moving in spite of
the lack of a good crew of sailormen:

1892 Tuskar to Cape Otway 71 dy 1903 Port Philip Heads to

1894 Downs to Melbourne 77 ,, Lizard .. . . 74 dv

Online LibraryBasil LubbockThe colonial clippers → online text (page 19 of 32)