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.

17 July 2017

Head-board picked up off Jervis Bay

The lost Clipper Ship Strathnaver 1875.

"A brave ship struggling with might and main,
And its white sails rent and torn ;
It lurches and groans like a thing in pain,
And its mast is well-nigh gone".


The Clipper Ship Strathnaver left Port Jackson and was never seen again,  the only part of the vessel ever found was the headboard picked up off Jervis Bay.

The Strathnaver left Sydney on the 27th of  April 1875 heading for her home port in New Zealand. she was almost a new ship at the time of her disappearance and since her launch had made periodical trips to Sydney.

She carried no passengers, and was regarded and a first class sea going ship and ably manned.  Her crew numbered around 30 men. Her commander, Captain Devey, was regarded as a thoroughly competent sea-man and experienced in voyages both by way of the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Horn. Her valuable cargo consisted of 3423 bales of wool, 21 bales of skin, 15 casks of tallow,  127 bags of bone dust, 13 bales of leather, 38 logs of timber, 931 cases of meat, 2517 ingots, 488 cakes of copper,  3586 ingots of tin.

As time went by and it became obvious the Strathnaver, had floundered different theories were put forward, with some believing she may have been wrecked on the Auckland Islands and there may still be survivors.  The recent case of Captain Dalgarno who was wrecked on these islands,  and lived there for thirteen months before being rescued.  He was of the opinion that some of the crew of the Strathnaver and other vessels may now be alive on these islands.
Both the Australia and New Zealand government were widely criticised in the press for not sending a ship to look for survivors. The governments of these colonies and H.M.Navy on the Australian Station were at the time noted for their lack of concern for missing ships and crews.

Press release which appeared in the Town and Country Journal.

" We think that the attention of the Admiralty might with advantage lie directed to cases of missing ships, and the rescue of shipwrecked seamen from savage or uninhabited islands, The Strathmore and other wrecks are cases in point, proving that if periodical visits were made to tho Crozett's, St. Paul's, the Auckland Islands, and other solitary dangers that beset the track of Australian clippers in mid-ocean, many lives would be saved and the mystery regarding the fate of many a noble ship would not remain a mystery for ever."

Following the continued critisism 12 months after the Strathnaver went missing H.M.S Nymph (Nymphe) was sent in search of the Strathnaver, nothing was found of the missing vessel or her crew.

HMS Nymphe (1866)

H.M.S. Nymph. (Nymphe)

In an attempt to provide some sort of relief for marooned sea-men the government left casks full of provisions at chosen spots on designated islands in the Auckland group containing matches, flint, steel-tinder, axes, knives, fish hooks and lines, warm clothing and blankets, hammer, saw, nails, chisel, a spade, a few tins of preserved meat and biscuits, a chart and a small map of New Zealand, water tight boots, needles, thread, camp oven, pannikins and a little ordinary medicine. On some islands, they also turned out pigs.

The Strathnaver was just one more missing ship,  leaving family and friends to ponder their loved one's fate.

Clipper Ships - A clipper was a very fast sailing ship of the middle third of the 19th century


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