|Loss of the Brig Mary of Liverpool |
(From the Nautical Magazine.)
Extract of a letter from H. M. Schooner Bramble. By Lieut. Commander C. B. Yule.
At 6h. 30m. P.M., tacked off Double Island Point, and whilst standing out our masthead man observed a boat making for the land. Having no doubt the crew were in distress, I shortened sail and shaped a course to pick the boat up. There was rather a heavy sea running. We however succeeded in getting the people and a few damaged stores out of the boat, and then took her in tow.
The boat appeared to have belonged to the late brig Mary, of Liverpool, commanded by Mr. John Beel, who with his wife, mate. and seven seamen, were received on board the Bramble, after having been ten days in the boat.
It appears from the master's statement, that the Mary sailed from Sydney on the 19th November, 1847, bound to Manila with a small general cargo. Everything was going on prosperously until the 2nd December. In the forenoon of that day sights were taken, and at 11h. 30m. a.m. land was seen, bearing east north-east, about eight or ten leagues distant. At noon a meridian altitude of the sun was observed. The vessel's position being then in latitude 20° 01' S., and longitude 163° 05' E.; a course was then shaped north-west by north, up to 6h. p.m , with a fresh breeze from the eastward, which then fell light. The course was again altered to north-west, no land being then in sight. At 8h. p.m. having gone northwest ¾ west, about ten leagues, the water being ; perfectly smooth and the wind light, the vessel grounded, but so imperceptibly as not to be felt, until it was found she had become stationary.
The sails were then furled, the long boat got out, the stream anchor and hawser laid out astern, and every exertion made to get the vessel off until 2h. a.m. on the 3rd, at which time the wind had increased so much as to create a heavy sea, when the hawser parted, supposed to have been chafed by the coral. Mr. Beel and his crew finding that the utmost endeavours failed in saving the brig, they could afford to lose no time in making preparations for their personal safety.
The long boat and jolly boat were then got in readiness as well as their distressed circumstances would permit. Having saved about three hundred weight of biscuit, a puncheon of water, the chronometer, ship's log, and papers, together with the mails and a few personal effects, they reluctantly abandoned the vessel at 4h. a.m., at which time she laboured so much as to lead them to fear the masts would roll over the side and destroy the boats. The master, his wife, and five seamen, embarked in the long boat, the mate and three seamen left in the jolly boat, when the two boats in company shaped a curse for Moreton Bay, it being the nearest civilised part of Australia that Mr. Beel could hope to reach.
During each night a small line was passed between the two boats, to prevent their parting company, in which manner they went on very well until the 6th, when the wind blew very strong with a heavy sea running, so much so that he was induced at about ten or eleven p.m., to try the effect of some oil being thrown overboard, but before the oil spread so far astern as the jolly boat, some heavy seas struck her, and turned her over two or three times ; the long boat's sails were immediately lowered and the small boat hauled up, when three out of the four men were saved, one unfortunate man being lost. Although the oil had a most beneficial effect on the surface of the water, the sea ran so heavily at one time as to fill the long boat nearly up to the thwarts, which, required the united exertions of three men to bail out and keep the boat dry. The jolly boat, as a matter of course was abandoned, the three men saved from her being taken into the long boats, in which crowded state the perilous voyage was pursued ; the wind continued strong with a heavy sea, but fortunately from a favourable direction : at about midnight on the 11th, breakers were seen both ahead and to leeward, but as any attempt to weather them under sailing or pulling would be utterly useless, the sails were lowered and recourse had again to oil.
The boat passed through the breakers over the reef, she struck two or three times, by which she sustained so much damage as to require blankets to be nailed on, which to a certain extent succeeded ; two men, however, were constantly employed to keep the boat clear of water by bailing. Nothing important occurred from this time, until the 13th, when land was observed, which proved to be Great Sandy Island, near Wide Bay ; the Bramble was first seen by them at about one p.m., from which hour until about halt-past four, every exertion was made to obtain assistance, which at last terminated successfully. I certainly felt rejoiced at having sailed that morning, which enabled me to render that assistance and protection these unfortunate people felt so much in need of Mrs. Beel's sufferings must have been truly pitiable, having been wet through and exposed to the searching influence of the sun for ten days, and from constantly lying in the same position, she suffered much pain.
Reprinted in the SG & SGTL 10 Feb 1849. Page 40.
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