CHRISTIANA

332 Ton Norwegian Barque – (LARN) At 8 a.m. drove ashore on the beach where eight of her crew were saved by the Rocket Apparatus, two men drowned. Captain H. Haugensen. Chesil Cove. Ref. DCC: 06/09/1883.

Christiana – 1883

Transcription by K. V. Saunders, The Island & Royal Manor of Portland Historic Sources. Note LARN has it as CRISTIANA.  DCC: 6/9/1883.

“Wreck of a Barque and Loss of Life – The scene in and around Chesil on Sunday will long be remembered, for, owing to the heavy gale blowing from the south-west the sea was tremendously high, and, being full tide in the morning, the water percolated through the beach, and inundated the road to the depth of about two feet in some places. The whole aspect of Chesil was completely changed. The surface of the roads was washed away, and deep ruts and gulleys made; foundations of walls were undermined, and the structures either washed or blown down. The wind blew a perfect hurricane, and so great was the violence that boats were blown about as if they were cockleshells, and in some places the fishing nets were buried among the pebbles. The highway to Weymouth was flooded, and the rush of water was so great that a considerable portion of the railway was destroyed, so that communication by rail was cut off until the evening. In the bay the scene was terrible. Huge waves reared their crested heads, and, gathering strength on their way, broke with thundering vehemence on the beach, almost blinding every one with spray. Rain at intervals fell in torrents, whilst the dull leaden clouds helped to make a fearful spectacle. Of course, in such weather as this a keen look-out for any ships in the bay was kept by the coastguard and fishermen, for if any craft came within a couple of miles of the shore destruction was inevitable. Throughout the whole of the morning, fortunately, no vessel came in such close proximity, but between one and two a barque was observed coming from the westward, her captain evidently intending, if possible, to weather the Bill and seek refuge inside the Breakwater. The gaze of hundreds all along the beach was anxiously directed to the craft, and hope and fear alternately held sway, but the men who knew the coast best seemed to regard it as a matter of certainty the ship would come ashore. There was only one chance of escape, that, by carrying as great a press of sail as possible, and nothing giving way, she might be able to get round the Bill. At one time the ship was only about a mile from the shore, but she reached off, and, although completely hidden at times with rain, when there was a cessation she was seen getting farther and farther away. About three o’clock she seemed in a fair way of weathering the Bill, but owing, perhaps, to insufficient sea room, or the captain being frightened at the fearful sea which was there raging, the ship was put about, and then the fishermen knew all chance of escape was gone, and that she must come ashore some time or the other. Shortly after she had put about, a most violent storm raged, and the vessel was lost for some time; in fact, fears were entertained she had foundered, but, by and by, as the atmosphere cleared, she could still be seen battling with the sea. To attempt to run down Channel was altogether hopeless, and then the time came which had been looked for – the vessel’s head was pointed to the beach, the captain having made up his mind to run her ashore in the hope of saving the lives of those on board. Very quickly the ship drove in, the best place on the beach, Chesil Cove, being indicated by a flag which the coastguard had planted. Nearer and nearer came the doomed ship, until at last, lifted by an immense wave she grounded on the beach with a fearful crash, and soon after two of her masts fell. She was carried well up the beach, in fact, at times there was scarcely any water on the shore side of her as she lay broadside on. Seeing this, two of her crew in their anxiety to save themselves, the cook and a seaman; dropped from the ship on to the beach, thinking they would have time to run ashore before a wave came, but, like others who have tried the fatal experiment, they perished in the attempt, for they had no sooner touched the beach than a wave broke over the ship, and, sweeping around her with irresistible force, carried the two poor fellows out to sea. One of them, before jumping from the ship, had lashed a lifebuoy around his waist and he was carried floating away amongst the breakers, but the other man was not seen again until about an hour afterwards, when his dead body was washed to within a few yards of people who were standing on the beach, but before they could seize it the undertow had again carried it out to sea. The coastguard, under the charge of Mr. Colville, were on the beach with the rocket apparatus, and, within a few minutes after the ship struck, the line was got on board, and the cable made fast. The cradle was then despatched on its errand of rescue, and the remainder of the crew, eight, were saved. It does not redound much to the credit of the men on board to state they all left the ship before a lad of about 16, he being left to scramble into the breeches buoy as best he could. A dog was either thrown or washed overboard, and carried with a wave almost high and dry on the beach, a lad named Frank Read bringing it in before the next wave could take it off again. The vessel proved to be the barque CHRISTINE, Captain Haagensen, of and from Drammen, for Dartmouth, with planed boards. The rescued men were taken care of at the Cove Inn, the boy being placed at the Terminus Hotel. In the meantime the deck cargo of the ship was floating about, and amongst the wood at times and at others some way from it, was the man with the life buoy, who was floating breast high within a quarter of a mile of the hundreds of spectators who congregated on the beach. The coastguard fired several rockets in the hope the line might get within reach of the poor fellow, but every attempt was in vain, the rocket either going too wide of the object aimed at, on account of the high wind, or not far enough. When the man got amongst the floating cargo it seemed as if he must be crushed to pieces, as the huge waves tossed the wood about like matchwood, but as soon as a wave carried him high up he was still seen floating about, being further supported by a piece of planking apparently under his arms. The excitement amongst the spectators was very great indeed, and it was with difficulty one man could be restrained from meeting with certain death in his eagerness to attempt a rescue. There was quite a scuffle on the beach with him, and a somewhat dangerous one too, as whilst so engaged a wave which broke on the shore spent a great deal of its force high on the beach, surrounded the party, so that they had to beat a hasty retreat, dragging the man with them. It was impossible to launch a boat in such a sea, as before she could have got fairly afloat she would have been capsized and her crew drowned. At one time the man got quite clear of the wreckage and seemed to be drifting towards the rock-bound shore, in which case death seemed equally certain, but, in anticipation of his getting anywhere near, one brave man was determined on trying to save him, and for this purpose a line was tied around his waist and held by a party on the shore, but instead of the floating sailor going towards the rocks the tide carried him away, at the same time, however, bringing him much nearer the shore, so close, indeed, that when he put up his arm it could be plainly seen About half-past five the last rocket was fired, and, this failing the coastguard made no further trial. By this time it was apparent the poor fellow’s strength was becoming utterly exhausted, and he was seen to let go the piece of wood to which he had been clinging and, instead of maintaining the upright position which he had hitherto done, he lay down and was drowned. The marvel is how in the face of such a sea he could have struggled so long, at he was at times apparently engulphed. His corpse was seen floating about, but it has not been washed ashore. It is somewhat singular the Board of Trade Inspector Captain Prowse, who is on a visit at Weymouth, was on the beach at the time, and personally directed the discharge of several of the rockets. Contrary to general expectation, the ship, which lay broadside to the sea, did not go to pieces, so that if the two unfortunate men had only waited to be saved by means of the rocket apparatus no lives would have been lost. During Sunday night the wreck remained in charge of the coastguard, and on Monday morning the gale had abated so far as to enable a salvage party to commence saving the remaining portion of the ship’s cargo. On Monday the shipwrecked crew were brought to the Sailor’s Home, where through the agency of the Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society they were fed, clothed, and sent away.

 

Times: September,1883

THE SHIPWRECK AT PORTLAND EXCITING SCENES ON THE BEACH

NORWEGIAN BARQUE CHRISTIANA

An exciting scene was witnessed on the beach at Portland on Sunday afternoon, when the NORWEGIAN BARQUE CHRISTIANA, of DAMMEN, went ashore at CHESIL COVE.  The fate of the vessel, which had been seen beating  helplessly about at the WEST BAY for some time previously, has already been anticipated by the Portlanders and Coast Guard, and about 4.00pm, finding nothing further could be done, the Captain, on a signal from the beach, ran the vessel ashore in CHESIL COVE, where thousands of spectators had congregated in expectation of what would be the ultimate fate of the barque. Immediately on striking the rocket apparatus was got successfully into play , but a couple of the crew, more eager to make their escape  than the rest, at once jumped into the raging sea, with nothing but their lifebelts on, hoping by these means to swim ashore.  The terrible nature of the surf here to be encountered, however rendered the attempt an impossibility, and one poor fellow was drowned almost immediately within reached of the crowds that lined the beach.  The other endeavoured to keep himself afloat for a long time on a plank, but finally getting exhausted, after bravely battling against the elements for nearly two hours during which time every attempt to render him help proved futile he too, likewise succumbed, at the time being only a short distance from the crowded beach; and, although both bodies were afterwards observed floating near the beach, neither of them were recovered. The remainder of the crew, eight in number, were rescued with great  promptitude  by the Coast Guard, the last taken off being the ship’s boy, which was done amid frantic  excitement, occasioned in great measure by the heartless conduct of the Captain, who, pushing the lad aside jumped into the cradle and left the boy to his fate. Fortunately the Coast Guard was successful in sending another line on board, and the boy was brought ashore safely, amidst the deafening cheers of the spectators, who denounced the cowardly conduct of the Captain in the strongest terms. A splendid retriever on board the ill fated ship manage by some unaccountable means to swim ashore; one of its legs being fractured. Very shortly after the rescue had been effected, the vessel went to pieces, and at dusk nothing remained.  The two men that drowned were the Steward and the Carpenter. Such a gale has not experienced for years.


Day of Loss: 2

Month of Loss: 9

Year of Loss: 1883


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