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Wreck Report for 'Yarra Yarra', 1885

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Unique ID:15086
Description:Board of Trade Wreck Report for 'Yarra Yarra', 1885
Creator:Board of Trade
Copyright:Out of copyright
Partner:SCC Libraries
Partner ID:Unknown


(No. 2831.)


The Merchant Shipping Acts, 1854 to 1876.

IN the matter of a formal Investigation held at St. George's Hall, Liverpool, on the 23rd and 24th days of February 1886, before THOS. STAMFORD RAFFLES, Esquire, Stipendiary Magistrate, assisted by Captains KNOX, R.N., and PARFITT, Nautical Assessors, into the circumstances attending the supposed loss of the British sailing ship "YARRA YARRA," of Liverpool, whilst on a voyage from Astoria, Oregon, to Queenstown.

Report of Court.

The Court, having carefully inquired into the circumstances attending the above-mentioned shipping casualty, finds, for the reasons stated in the annex hereto, that the said vessel was dismasted in the vicinity of the Falkland Islands, and drifted on the rocks off Beaver Island, one of the group.

Dated this 24th day of February 1886.



T. S. RAFFLES, Judge.

We concur in the above report.







Captain R.N.,






Annex to the Report.

In this case, which was an inquiry into the supposed loss of the British sailing ship "Yarra Yarra," of Liverpool, Mr. Paxton, solicitor, appeared for the Board of Trade, and Mr. Dickinson, solicitor, for the owners. The "Yarra Yarra" was a sailing ship built of iron in 1877, at Dumbarton, originally rigged as a ship, but altered to a barque. She was registered at Liverpool of 1,241.58 tons, and she was the property of Mr. William Gracie, of Liverpool, who managed her, and several others. She was commanded at the time of her loss by Mr. James Earle, who held a certificate of competency No. 84,845, and she had a crew of 25 hands all told. She was classed 100 A 1 at Lloyd's. in March 1884 she was overhauled and thoroughly repaired after being dismasted and incurring other extensive damage during a cyclone on a voyage to Calcutta. The repairs were partly executed at Calcutta and completed at Liverpool on her return home at a cost of from 6,000l. to 7,000l. She then left Liverpool for Melbourne with passengers and cargo, thence to New South Wales, and thence with a cargo of 1,793 tons of coals to California, where she discharged part of her cargo and sailed with the remainder, about 600 tons, to Portland, Oregon. All the communications from the master during this voyage spoke well of the ship. At Portland during January 1885 as appeared from depositions made there since the supposed loss of the ship and put in evidence on the inquiry, she was loaded with a full cargo of wheat in 29,339 bags weighing nearly 1,789 tons. The marine surveyor under whose supervision she was laden stated that she was not loaded so deeply as she might have been under Lloyd's rules. Her freeboard in fresh water was 3 ft. 11 in., and she would rise four inches in salt water. Her mean draft was 19 ft. 7 in. He added that the vessel was in first-class condition, and well found in every respect. The deposition of the stevedore stated that she was carefully stowed, and he considered her light loaded, her disc being "immersed only about " 2 inches over the centre in fresh water," and "in " salt water she would rise about 5 inches." The stevedore at Astoria, Oregon, where the ship was in salt water, said that the Plimsoll mark was not in the water up to the bar in the middle of the disc. The Columbia River Bar pilot, who took her to sea on the 12th February 1885, said that so far as his observation went the vessel behaved as well as any vessel he had piloted out of her class, and he stated her draft to be 19 ft. 8 in. aft. and 19 feet forward. He said he did not remember the clear side, but from recollection he did not consider it out of the way. From this date nothing positively is known as to the loss of the vessel, but a deposition was put in evidence made by Mr. William Duncan before Mr. Waldron, a justice of the peace, Falkland Islands, as follows: "On or about the 28th April 1885 " I was out for a walk on Stickout Bluff, Beaver " Island; it was blowing a tremendous gale from " the south so that I could hardly stand. I thought " I saw a vessel without any sails drifting upon " the rocks of Staats Island at Staats Bluff, where " I saw her strike and did not see her afterwards. " From the time I first saw the vessel until she struck " would be about 20 minutes. No signals were flying. " The vessel appeared to be abandoned, but its being at " least 6 miles off, I cannot state positively to that " effect. No assistance could possibly have been ren- " dered, even if a lifeboat was here." Other depositions from people dwelling on the Falkland Islands were put in, from which it appeared that a box of books, in some of which the master's name "Jas. Earle" was inscribed, a life buoy with the name "Yarra Yarra, Liverpool," painted on it, two or three small pieces of deck planking with splits in them filled with wheat, a teak head board with "Yarra Yarra" painted white in the carving, and other wreckage were picked up on one or other of the Falkland group. A letter was received by the owners of the "Yarra Yarra," dated Glasgow, November 13th 1885, from the master of the "Perthshire," which was wrecked in Blind Bay, Falkland Islands, on the 28th April last, the same day on which the man Duncan saw the vessel drifting on Staats Bluff. The master of this vessel also saw some wreckage clearly belonging to the "Yarra Yarra" near Speedwell Island. No bodies were found on the islands.

On the close of the evidence, Mr. Paxton put in the following questions:-

1. When the vessel left Portland was she in all respects in a good and seaworthy condition?

2. What, in the opinion of the Court, was the cause of the loss of the vessel?

3. What was the cost of the vessel to her owner?

4. What was her value when she left the United Kingdom?

5. What were the insurances effected upon vessel and freight, and how were they apportioned?

The Court gave judgment as follows:-

1. The vessel appeared when she left Portland to have been in all respects in a good and seaworthy condition.

2. There would seem to be little doubt that the vessel seen drifting towards Beaver Island was the unfortunate "Yarra Yarra," and from the deposition of Duncan she would seem probably to have been dismasted in the severe gale he mentions, as he stated that no sail was visible, and there was no signal of distress flying; and in this disabled state she drifted on the rocks at Staats Bluff and disappeared. The amount of wreckage subsequently picked up in the neighbourhood clearly belonging to the ship, confirms his story.

3. The vessel cost her owners in 1877 19,5001.

4. The owners valued her when she last left Liverpool at 15,000., and the chief draughtsman of the builder's said she could not at the present time be replaced for less than 11l. per ton.

5. 15,000l. were insured on the vessel, and 4,600l. on freight, which was stated to be not fully covered.



T. S. RAFFLES, Judge.

We concur in this report.







Captain R.N.,







Liverpool, 24th February 1886.

L 367. 2610. 180.-3/86. Wt. 408. E. & S.


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