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18 April 2017

On this day April 18, 1805

The Cutter Nancy.


Example of a typical cutter
By Fanch (originally posted to Flickr as PICT5694) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The Nancy was wrecked on 18 April 1805 near Jervis Bay.
The Nancy was a wooden sloop of some 20 tons constructed in 1803 on the Hawkesbury River, New South Wales by Kable & Co. It arrived in Sydney on its maiden voyage on 17 October 1803.

April 17 1805 – Appearances strongly indicating an approaching gale, she hauled off shore, and in the evening a dreadful hurricane set in accompanied with very vivid lightning, and awful peals of thunder that rolled without intermission, together with an incessant torrent of rain. The rage of the elements increasing, split the mainsail, which was close-reefed, the vessel still driving at the rate of 4 or 5 knots, and at the same time making much lee way.

April 18th -  Midnight the gale became furiously violent, not a sail was left, and the sea making a fair breach over her, prevented the possibility of keeping a light in the binnacle. The gale blowing dead on the shore.

April 18th 2am - the man at the helm gave notice of land to leeward, which was discernible by the lightning; and such was its appearance, being a chain of perpendicular cliffs against which the sea dashed with inconceivable violence, as to fill with horror and consternation the minds of those already hopeless of escaping a destiny presented in a variety of dismal shapes; all above-board was by this time washed away, and to avoid grounding in a situation where every person on board must have inevitably perished, all that remained to determined perseverance was effected, and by keeping her as much to the wind as her helpless condition would permit, she happily changed her ground, and striking on a small sand-beach between two bluff heads, unhung her rudder at the first blow. To this interposition of providence alone is to be attributed the rescue of the people from a melancholy fate, one of whom, Richard Wall, a native of Exeter, was unfortunately lost.

April 18th - The same morning the hull parted, and shortly after went to pieces, the continued violence and rapidity of the surf preventing any part of the cargo from being saved; and such few articles as were washed ashore were carried off by the natives, who, though they offered no personal violence, had become too numerous to be resisted.

April 20th - One of the people, whose conduct Mr. Demaria, the master of the vessel, notices as being in all respects opposite to that of his brethren, cheerfully undertook to conduct his distressed party round to Jervis Bay which they reached the same evening.

April 21st -  In the morning perceiving that the natives, possibly with no other design than the gratification of curiosity, were clustering round them from all directions, it was considered most advisable to commit themselves to the Providence that had thus far bountifully preserved them, to make the best of their way for Sydney by pedestrian travel.  Destitute of provisions, without a musket, except one that was useless and only borne to intimidate the natives, the proposal was readily concurred in, and after a terrible journey of eleven days.

May 1st – The journey lengthened much by the inundated state of the country, they arrived at Sydney, crippled by fatigue, and reduced to the last extremity by actual want.”

The cargo of the Nancy consisted of 3187 skins; she was the largest vessel ever built at Hawkesbury, from whence she was about two years since launched by Mr. Thompson, and sold to Messrs Kable and Company, in whose service she remained to the moment of her dissolution.

A cutter is typically a small, but in some cases a medium-sized, watercraft designed for speed rather than for capacity. Traditionally a cutter sailing vessel is a small single-masted boat, fore-and-aft rigged, with two or more headsails and often a bowsprit.





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