June 18, 2024

Yavniel

Obey Your Travel

Many Valuables Lost In A Noble Ship – The Unfortunate Ship “Earl Of Moira”

The Earl of Moira Dublin smack packet ship was on her voyage from Liverpool to Dublin with 110 persons on board, including 30 cabin passengers, many of them very respectable and with a crew of six.
She was supposed to sail at five, on the evening of the 8th, 1821.The vessel however, did not sail until half past six, from the pier head at Liverpool, owing to what I was told, the captain delay on shore for various and personal reasons. When he came on board, he was so intoxicated with alcohol as being totally incapable of conducting the vessel, and indeed unable to stand without support. This was observed by many, but every person seemed to think that his crew was sufficient to conduct her in such a moderate weather as it then appeared to be. The first obvious error was the running the vessel upon the Burbo Bank near half past seven, about four or five miles from the rock; but after great exertions on the part of the passengers and crew, she was got off and could, without doubt, have been bought back to Liverpool safely, as the wind was fair.Unfortunately the captain would not allow it; the men would only obey his orders, nor could the passengers be persuaded to act together. They depended upon two or three seamen only who were sober as all should be to conduct a vessel at sea.

About ten, the vessel again missed stays and grounded on the Wharf Bank, off Mok Beggar. The top mast was then struck and the captain and crew assured the passengers that there was no danger. When the flood tide set in, the vessel began to leave and struck the Bank with much violence, that at half past two in the morning, she was filled with water fore and aft and the pumps became wholly ineffective. The passengers now wished a signal of distress to be hoisted, but the captain unconscious by liquor would not consent. Between four and five in the morning, the water forced away the cabin deck windows and the luggage, provisions etc… floating up, the sea breaking over them.The waves increased with the rising tide and at last, brought the vessel on her broadside. Soon after, the boat and deck lumber were washed overboard. The wretched appearance of the passengers, with the exception of a few bold fellows and one young married lady was rendered truly distressing.

In fact, it would be impossible to convey the least idea of the deplorable situation of the females; indeed, many of the men were equally as helpless. Some were already incapable of making exertions through fear, and others so careless, that they required to be urged to make them. The boat had been stove at night and lying on deck unfit for sailing, yet might have been put in order, if we had been apprised of our danger. But now the time was too short, the confusion too great – the sailors fled to the shrouds, which first induced me to look that way for protection. The luggage had been piled in this boat and many thronged upon it. Every moment seemed to increase the danger. Two valuable horses that had been in the hold were got out before this time and were thrown overboard. They took different directions, neither making to the shore; one swam towards Liverpool, the other out to sea. The last time I saw the captain was in making some exertion to get the horses overboard; even he was incapable of action. While this was taking place, the crippled boat in which the greater part of the cabin passengers were seated and the luggage placed, forced the skylight against which it lay and went overboard, leaving those who had been upon it to make the best of their way to a rope or the shrouds. Those who had no strength remaining to rush there or swim to the fallen bowsprit, were compelled to hold by the next object, whether the railing or a rope. In a quarter of an hour more, at seven, the deck gave away, commencing at the stern and breaking up to the main hatchway nearly at once.It was impossible to learn the exact number of those who perished but it may be safely stared at 50 souls. All the survivors stated the accident to have originated in the intoxication of the captain and the greater part of his crew, the steward and one or two others only having done their duty. Many of the passengers were of the most respectable families on their way to meet His Majesty in Ireland and carried with them considerable property.

Between seven and eight A.M, the Hoylake life-boat arrived and took on board about 30 of the passengers, all much exhausted and some of them in a dying state. A second boat arrived from Liverpool and received about eight more of the passengers. Before the third boat arrived the deck of the Earl of Moira was borne up by the sea and the masts fell. Many of the women were swept away, but about twelve persons got into this boat. Out of 83 cabin passengers, only 16 were saved…No report of divers yet, of finding any wreckage of the ship and her valuables. This is a very difficult place where to dive, with strong currents and cold water. But the ship and her treasures are still lying somewhere in these dangerous waters, waiting to be discovered…

In other considerations, this story his a typically a case study of irresponsibility and negligence from a ship’s captain and her crew, transporting passengers and cargo. This is one of the many reasons for a ship to be wrecked, as nobody or no sufficient hands are capable to steer the ship properly and safely to her destination.

An early notable shipwreck story we can mention is the one of the Blanche Nef or the White Ship. According to the historian Robert Lacey : The White Ship was the Titanic of the Middle Ages, a much-vaunted high-tech vessel on its maiden voyage, wrecked against a foreseeable natural obstacle in the reckless pursuit of speed. The passenger list constituted the cream of high society, cast into the chilly waters.On 24 November 1120, King Henry and his entourage were finally returning to England, having reached the Norman port of Barfleur. The King was offered the state-of-the-art White Ship, but as he had already made his travelling arrangements, he suggested that it would be a treat for his son William to sail in such a vessel. She was powered by 50 oarsmen and carrying more than 300 passengers. Among them were 140 knights and 18 noblewomen. Both passengers and crew were soon drunk, shouting abuse at one another and ejecting a group of priests who had arrived to bless the voyage. The drinking and carousing delayed the start of the Channel crossing – King Henry had already sailed. Now the roisterers issued a challenge to the captain: despite the fact that night had fallen, could he overtake the king’s ship ? He accepted and tragedy soon followed… The fact that the Captain was as drunk as his passengers and a substantial rock that was submerged at high tide sealed the fate of the ship.It is said that, after hearing of the disaster, Henry I never smiled again…

Amongst others cases, there is the one with captain Merriman of the Commodore T.H. Allen, in 1901, when the oil-laden full-rigged ship caught fire, was beached and scuttled, just inside the point at Sandy Hook, at the time manned by a drunken crew…

Another one of this nature can be narrated with the more recent example of the m.v. Roustel grounded on Red Head, near Montrose, in December 1999, when Mr Pawlak, the Chief Officer on board, retired to his bunk without anyone on the bridge keeping watch, leaving his crew members asleep and oblivious to the danger. The ship was then a ghost ship carrying 16,000 litres of diesel, travelling through the night without direction and control. Mr Pawlak admitted that he was solely responsible for the navigation of the ship and that having taken over the watch, he drank whisky and became totally drunk…The recent example of the Jork, a 2.000-ton ship carrying grain from Lubeck (Germany) destined for the port of New Holland, Lincolnshire, is also significative when the vessel crashed 40 miles (64km) off the coast, in August 2007. Captain Zbigniew Krakowski, was jailed for a year after crashing his ship into Viking Echo gas platform off Norfolk while drunk, causing up to £10m damage. The Jork continued another 500 metres before it stopped and started listing. It sank a day later. The captain pleaded guilty, at Lincoln Crown Court, to being drunk in charge of a cargo vessel…

Pascal Kainic