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5 March 2018

The Oakland Gale – Jervis Bay


May 1903.

The Loch Torridon was a well known 4 masted iron barque trading between London and Sydney renowned for her speed and admired for her grace and elegance. 
Before her latest voyage, she had been for a long time held in Sydney Harbour unable to secure a freight.  The competition from steamships cut badly into the supply of cargos for companies employing tall ships. After so long being port bound, Captain Mearns and his crew must have been happy when the Torridon finally secured a shipment and headed to sea. 

The Torridon left Port Jackson and proceeded to Port Pirie where she shipped a cargo of ore destined for Antwerp.


Thursday, May 14 - Leaving Port Pirie,  via New Zealand before making her way around the Horn,   splendid progress was made until the vessel was 10 days out, when a heavy southerly gale was encountered.

Monday, May 25 - Labouring in the big seas she was struck by a tremendous wave which swept over the vessel.  Some 20 ft of bulwarks snapped off like twigs forward of the main rigging, while another 30ft aft was damaged. Fortunately, no water found it's way into the hold despite tons of water sweeping across her decks, one of the sailors was knocked over and badly injured.

Thursday, May 28 - Badly damaged and in the grip of the gale the Torridon had no choice but to make her way to Sydney.

Friday, May 29 - The steamer Clam passed the Torridon off Jervis Bay.

Saturday, May 30 - Concerns were raised for the Torridon in Sydney newspapers after the captain of the Clam which had now arrived at Sydney, reported passing the clipper off Jervis Bay in a dismasted condition. 

Sunday, May 31 - The Torridon suffered the heavy weather until Sydney, entering the harbour at
1 am, anchoring below Garden Island to await survey.

The Four-Masted Barque 'Loch Torridon'

The gale hit the southeastern seaboard hard putting many ships in danger of floundering.
The British Barque Shakespeare was towed into Port Jackson in a crippled condition.
The barque Caithness-shire lost two lifeboats and a lot of deck gear.
The Huddart, Parker steamer Zealandia arrived in Sydney in a battered state.
The ship Abby Palmer was in reported to be in tow from Newcastle to Sydney but because of the heavy weather was unable to enter.


The vessel which suffered the most and after which the gale was named was the Steamer Oakland which foundered on May 27 taking 11 of the 18 crew including the Captain to a watery grave. The story of the Oakland is one of bravery and endurance against overwhelming odds.
Continue reading about the Oakland - http://waratahrevisited.blogspot.com.au/2018/02/steamer-oakland.html

Torridon Specifications
- 2000 Tons. Built at Glasgow 1881 She was 287.4ft in length, a beam of 42.6ft and 24ft in depth.

The  Loch Torridon survived until 1915 when she foundered near the entrance to the Channel in the last days of January, and it is possible that she was torpedoed by a German submarine.

In 1904 John Arthur Barry, the Australian writer, wrote of her:—“She is exceptionally lofty as to her masts, exceptionally square as to her yards.  She carries nothing above a royal, but her royal yards are as long as the topgallant yards of most vessels. Her lower yards are enormous.
The vessel is uncommonly well-manned with 20 hands in the foc’s’le, with the usual complement of petty officers, together with three mates and four apprentices aft.  Looking forward from the break of the poop, one is struck by the immense amount of clear room on her decks, giving a visitor a sense of spaciousness and freedom in a marked contrast to the often lumbered up decks of the average sailor.”
Ref - https://www.gutenberg.org/files/52897/52897-h/52897-h.htm

Ref- https://collections.slsa.sa.gov.au/resource/PRG+1373/15/32


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