HOME OF THE LADY DENMAN - Local history isn't always about the big story - the everyday story of life in the early development of the region can be a fascinating, entertaining and educational journey.

23 January 2015

The Launch and destruction of the Colonial Built Steamer.

The Chindera
On Saturday morning the 10th of September 1895, the twin screw, timber steamer “Chindera”, was launched into the calm waters of Currambene Creek Jervis Bay, by ship builder Mr. G, W. Hardman, who was one of the shipbuilders working along the shores of Currambene Creek Huskisson in the late 1800’s, along side the Dent family of ship builders.

Specially built for the Tweed River passenger and cargo trade for the Nicoll’s Line, the new steamer was built exceptionally strong and will carry 180 tons on a easy draught.

P03849Another timber vessel being built at Huskisson.

Saturday 29th November 1895.
Trial trip goes well.

After being fitted out the Chindera made her trial trip with Mr. Nicoll and a large party of friends and recorded a speed of over nine knots, which was considered highly satisfactory. The Chindera is nicely fitted up for passengers, and on Saturday afternoon dressed in bunting from deck to masthead, she looked extremely smart.
Wednesday 9th September 1896
Chindera aground on the Tweed Heads Bar.
Almost exactly 12 months after her celebrated launch, the Chindera was aground on the Tweed River spit just inside the bar.

First Report’s of the disaster.
  “Still in same spot, but seas are now breaking over her.” By 7.30pm. the vessel was full of water and likely to become a total wreck. Some of the hands came ashore, but the master and engineer and two crew remained on board.
The Chindera was carrying 185 ton’s of coal and general cargo on board from Sydney when she struck at 9.30am. There was a heavy break on the bar, and a moderate southerly was blowing.
When the vessel was driven on the South Spit waves broke clean over her, washing overboard the deck cargo. The vessel bumped heavily, and commenced to make water. By days end, The steamers back appears to be broken and the hold full of water. There appears no possible chance of getting her afloat.
Marine board enquiry.
William Aksel Williamson, seaman on the Chindara, stated he served about 2 and a half months in the vessel.
  ‘'She was very hard to keep on course’.
Mr. Aksel and mate were at the wheel crossing the bar.
”They got over all right and into deeper water, they were steering by order  when close to to the South Spit the order was “hard a starboard.” The Chindera came to and just struck on the corner of the South Spit. She kept slewing – not forging ahead – until the waters put out the fires.
Another witness, named Aksel Rossendahl, also a seaman on the Chindera, gave corroborative evidence regarding the vessel’s bad steering qualities.
  CaptureMr William Mc’Gregor,  harbour pilot’s evidence.

Sourced from Community based heritage study - Tweed Shire Council
  The Pilot.
”Stated that on the morning of the 9th, the “stand off” signals were flying at the Tweed. He saw the Chindera approaching from Point Danger. He informed the master the old channel was no good, as it was only 6ft 5 inches”.
Captain Pearson.
”He told the captain of the Chindera to go to the south, informing him that the leading beacon was down, but that a house he mentioned – a prominent landmark – would lead him in”.
The pilot was subjected to a lengthy cross examination, with a view of showing that the depth of water in the south channel was less than the draught of the Chindera.
”The stand off signal was intended to warn vessels from attempting to enter. He knew there was not sufficient water for the vessels outside to enter. The Chindera, he considered, was deeper than he had ever seen her before”.
Captain Pearson, was recalled on his former oath.
  “He denied that the Pilot M’Gregor had warned him not to go in by the south channel”.  
Marine Boards final judgment.
The board found that the loss of the vessel was due to the wrongful act or default of the master in entering when the “stand off” signals were flying, and sited him to appear on Monday to show cause why his certificate should not be suspended of cancelled.

After reading certificates as to character, the board decided to suspend Pearson’s foreign going certificate for a period of three months. Pearson applied for a first mate’s certificate, which was granted to him.
Chindera a danger to navigation.
  “The wreck has become a danger to navigation. The pilot has reported to the Marine Board that it is dangerous for vessels to pass between the wreck and the rocks, and that navigation of the entrance is only safe in calm weather”.  
Chindera to be blow up.
  “The minister of works has issued instructions the Chindera wrecked on the bar is to be blown up. The work to be carried out as soon as possible”.
Monday 5th October 1896.
370lb of dynamite used.
The steamer Chindera was successfully blown up yesterday. It was intended to explode three mines of 250lb each of dynamite, but the strong tide running and the sea breaking over the vessel prevented more than one charge of 370lb from being placed under her keel.
The charge was fired electronically.
The debris was thrown a distance of about 60ft, and the centre and fore part of the hull disappeared.

The end of another vessel built built at Huskisson.
Vessels Specs.
Chindera -  186 tons. Lbd: 118' x 20'8" x 9'7". Wooden steamship of 35 horsepower, 2 masts schooner rigged, Built by H Hardman.
“Stand off”
As I have been researching these stories involving ships wrecked trying to enter a harbour or river mouth, I keep coming across a reference to the “stand off signal flag”  being displayed by harbour pilots, as a warning signal to ship captains, - do not enter the harbour or cross the bar until otherwise advised.

I thought it would be good to have an image of the flag to go along with this story, I thought with a bit of work Id find the image easily, but that wasn’t the case.

Despite extensive research, at this time I'm unable to find an image or for that matter any reference to the words “Stand off” signal at all, the closest international signal is the one below meaning,   “you should stop your vessel instantly”

It seems flags that were flying then, may not be in existence now, or may have a different meaning, the research continues.

Id like to thank Tony Burton from Flags Australia and Andrew Brown from the Naval Reserve, for their assistance.

Sourced from Community based heritage study - Tweed Shire Council

 The most important signal for the masters of vessels approaching the port was to convey
information about the state of the tide. McGregor devised a system of flags to show whether the tide was flooding or ebbing.
Then he needed to convey to the vessel if it was safe to cross the bar. In rough conditions he would fly a ‘stand off’ flag signal, to warn the vessel to anchor, usually in Danger Bay, under the lee of Point Danger headland.

Sourced from Community based heritage study - Tweed Shire Council
Andrew Brown’s continued input. 28th Jan 2015
The ‘stand off’ signal would have been flown from or very close to the Tweed Heads Signal Station near, but not necessarily at, Point Danger (they would know the location).  There is probably a record up there of the specific signal it use to fly - don’t be surprised if the one referred to in the report as ’the stand off signal” is not in fact called the ‘stand off’ signal.  It might well be described as ‘Harbour Closed’, 'Bar Heavy’ or similar as ‘stand off’ is a bit too generic.

No comments :

Post a Comment