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 May 2018

The brigantine Adonis 1890.

Mystery still surrounds the sinking of another beautifully handcrafted timber ship built by the Dents on the shores of Currambene Creek Huskisson.

The brigantine Adonis was built at Jervis Bay by Mr. Dent in 1874.
She measured 108 tons, 92ft 4 inches in length, with a beam of 20ft 7 inches, and 8ft 3 inches depth of hold.

copyright free example of a brigantineExample of the fully rigged brigantine Leon from the era.


21 December 1890  - Captained by John Richards with a crew of 6, she was on a voyage from Wollongong to the Richmond River laden with coal, the vessel was making good and all was going well. She was placed around 10 miles distant from the shore, the night was dark, the weather was light with a north-east wind, and a strong easterly swell.

22 December 11 p.m.  - Able seaman Ludwick Myer was lying awake in his bunk, hearing the sounds of water on the floor he struck a light and saw that water was coming in freely, he quickly went aft reporting the ship was full of water to the captain. The pumps were immediately set to work, but they could not cope with the inflow, the captain ordered all crew to the deck and make the boats ready. At the captains order the man at the wheel put her hard aport, the water by then was over the forecastle deck.
The crew came on deck saying the water was rising fast, they sounded the pumps and found there was over 3ft of water below and rising fast. The crew tried to get her onto land but without avail.  Realising there was nothing they could do to save the ship the captain ordered his crew to abandon ship the crew launched the lifeboats and managed to leave the ship safely landing at Crowdy Head at daylight.

15 minutes after abandoning the ship the Adonis sank out of sight.
Official Enquiry.

1 January 1890 - during the official inquiry into the founding of the Adonis the captain and crew explained how they always looked upon the ship as a "thoroughly staunch and seaworthy craft".  The only explanation for the loss may have been if one of her planks was faulty.

Marine Board Findings.

7 January 1890 - The board deliberated on the abandonment of the Adonis, they found the abandonment was justifiable,  and there was no evidence on which to found a charge of default against the master, Captain Richards.

She was owned by Mr. Patrick Hogan and was insured.

A brigantine is a two-masted vessel with her foremast fully square rigged and her mainmast rigged with both a fore-and-aft mainsail (usually a gaff sail) and square topsails (and possibly topgallant sails).

An interesting fact about the Adonis.
Many ships were adorned with classical figure heads, but by the 1870's they went into decline and the last NSW made classical figure heads were a female bust for the schooner Venus of 1873 and a male bust for the brigantine Adonis of 1874.
REF: Ships figureheads in Australia.


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