The Wanderer and a Miraculous Rescue

Far out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, a seaman on board a small schooner thought his imagination was getting the better of him.     It was daybreak on 5 February 1850.   His ship, the 140-ton schooner Wanderer was en route from Sydney to San Francisco and still under storm canvas having just survived aContinue reading “The Wanderer and a Miraculous Rescue”

The Countess of Minto’s brush with Disaster

In 1851 two men pulled off a sailing feat few thought possible.   They had been the only hands on board the Countess of Minto when it vanished during a violent storm stranding the rest of the crew on a remote desert island.    Everyone thought the ship had foundered but four weeks later it sailed intoContinue reading “The Countess of Minto’s brush with Disaster”

The Peruvian’s Lone Survivor

There is a modest memorial standing in the Bowen Cemetery in North Queensland dedicated to James Morrill who died on 30 October 1865.   The plaque credits him as a sailor who had survived the loss of his ship and subsequently lived with the local Aborigines for the next seventeen years. The 22-year-old Morrill sailed fromContinue reading “The Peruvian’s Lone Survivor”

The Tragedy behind the Gothenburg Medals

In September 1875 three men were honoured by the South Australian Government for the courage they displayed when the Gothenburg sank with fearsome loss of life.     James Fitzgerald, John Cleland and Robert Brazil risked their lives to save themselves and the remaining survivors from the ill-fated steamer.     While steaming from Darwin to Adelaide, the GothenburgContinue reading “The Tragedy behind the Gothenburg Medals”

The Macabre case of the Mignonette

Authenticated acts of cannibalism among shipwreck survivors are remarkably rare.   But when they have taken place, those involved have often been met with revulsion and sympathy in equal measure. Such was the case with the survivors of the small yacht Mignonette which foundered on its way to Australia in 1884. The Mignonette was a smallContinue reading “The Macabre case of the Mignonette”