The Life and Loss of HMSC MERMAID

Between 1818 and 1820 the small cutter HMSC Mermaid played an important role in charting Australia‚Äôs vast coastline.   So, it is perhaps ironic that her last voyage should have been cut short on an uncharted reef off the north Queensland coast. The Mermaid was an 84-ton cutter launched in Calcutta in 1816.   She arrived inContinue reading “The Life and Loss of HMSC MERMAID”

The Loss of the Sovereign – 1847.

When the 119-ton paddle steamer Sovereign foundered in Moreton Bay resulting in the loss of 44 lives, it was inevitable that people would want someone to blame.   But was it the fault of the captain, the unseaworthiness of the ship or just a terrible accident? On 3 March 1847 the Sovereign steamed down the BrisbaneContinue reading “The Loss of the Sovereign – 1847.”

HMS Torch and the rescue of the Ningpo castaways

While Lieutenant William Chimmo was preparing HMS Torch to return to survey work in the South Seas, he was unexpectedly tasked with an urgent mission.     Word had just reached Sydney that nearly 20 people had been marooned for two months on a remote island far out in the Coral Sea.   By chance, his paddle steamerContinue reading “HMS Torch and the rescue of the Ningpo castaways”

The Loss of the Enchantress: A first-hand account.

On 24 July 1850, the 146-ton brig Enchantress was wrecked while trying to pass through the Great Barrier Reef using the Raine Island passage.   Navigating the tricky passages leading to Torres Strait could prove challenging in those days.   Between 1791 and 1887 no less than 37 ships came to grief near Raine Island.   Many more wereContinue reading “The Loss of the Enchantress: A first-hand account.”

The Cambus Wallace: did a shipwreck split an island in two?

In September 1894 the 1600-ton iron barque Cambus Wallace ran aground on Stradbroke Island spilling its cargo of salt, Scottish whiskey and dynamite to be strewn along the beach.   Six seamen lost their lives in the tragedy and the wreck may also have contributed to the island splitting in two. The Cambus Wallace had sailedContinue reading “The Cambus Wallace: did a shipwreck split an island in two?”