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Wreck Report for 'Allen Gardiner', 1894

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Unique ID:16527
Description:Board of Trade Wreck Report for 'Allen Gardiner', 1894
Creator:Board of Trade
Copyright:Out of copyright
Partner:SCC Libraries
Partner ID:Unknown


(No. 4926.)


COURT of Inquiry held at the Court Room in the town of Stanley, East Falkland Island, on the 10th of April 1894, before THOMAS AUGUSTUS THOMPSON, Judge and Police Magistrate of the Falkland Islands, and JOHN JONES, master mariner, holding a master's certificate, No. 8130, to inquire into the causes of the stranding of the British three-masted schooner "ALLEN GARDINER," on the evening of ninth of March last past, on rocks off the Settlement, Pebble Island.


The three-masted schooner "Allen Gardiner," of 50 tons burthen, was originally a steamer, but was seven years ago converted into a sailing vessel. She was thoroughly overhauled and refitted last year, and sailed in December last, under the command of Captain Robert Thompson, on a voyage to the different missions of the South American Missionary Society on the coast of South America and among the Falklands.

She returned to Stanley, East Falklands, in February last, and on the 21st of the same month sailed for Keppel Island for wool and skins. She took in forty bales of wool and skins, and sailed for Stanley on the 27th. She encountered boisterous weather on the return voyage, began to leak badly, and a portion of her cargo was damaged. This leak was in her stern head and had been known to exist before she sailed, but it did not, in Captain Thompson's opinion, render the schooner unsafe and unseaworthy.

Captain Thompson was obliged to make for a harbour in White Rock Bay, and remained there until the weather had subsided. He did not return to Stanley until the 6th of March.

On the 8th he again sailed in the schooner for Keppel Island, in order to carry back the wool which had been damaged. At three p.m. on the 9th Cape Dolphin was sighted; the wind was then blowing to the N.W. and freshening. At four p.m. the wind subsided, but at half-past four sprung up from the north. After the schooner had passed through the Tamar Passes the wind hauled ahead and became light and baffling, blowing from W. to W.S.W.

The schooner was stood up for Sturgess Point. The wind soon hauled to the N.W., but Captain Thompson determined to keep on and beat up Pebble Sound.

At between half-past seven and eight o'clock p.m. the weather became threatening, and at eight was thick and misty and blowing heavily.

At about eight o'clock, when the schooner had been standing in for some time on the port tack, the lookout reported that a vessel was lying at anchor ahead.

Captain Thompson at once ordered the schooner to be put about, but she missed stays, and it became necessary, in order to avoid fouling the vessel that was at anchor, that the schooner's anchors should be dropped. The vessel that was seen was afterwards discovered to be a small cutter, the "Edith," owned by the settlers on Pebble Island. There is a difference of opinion between Captain Thompson and his crew and the mate of the "Allen Gardiner" as to what could have been done after the anchors had been let go to extricate her from what, because of the schooner's vicinity to the land, was a position of danger. The mate swears that it would have been quite possible to have got a boat out at once and taken the kedge into deep water and hauled the schooner out, whilst Captain Thompson and the rest of the men swear that because of the heaviness of the sea and wind this was absolutely impossible. Upon this point the captain is to a certain extent borne out by the evidence of James Charles Robins, who was a passenger on the "Allen Gardiner." Mr. Robins swears that although the schooner's boat could with risk of life have gone out with an ordinary kedge, she could not, on the night in question, have taken out the large kedge on board the schooner.

The "Allen Gardiner" took the bottom and began to bump in the early morning of the 10th, and the anchor was heaved on and she was cleared, but she again took the ground and bumped heavily. At three p.m. she drifted broadside on the rocks.

Captain Thompson declared that his ship dragged, and his men also express the same opinion, basing this belief upon the distance and bearing of the cutter "Edith" from the schooner when the latter's anchors were first let go and the distance and bearing when the schooner took the ground. Both the mate and Mr. Robins, however, are of a different opinion, and think that the schooner did not drag but simply took the bottom when the tide fell.

Mr. Robins was very intelligent and very clear. He swore as follows: I noticed the cutter in the morning; her position was changed to the schooner, but the wind had altered, and the schooner was tailing entirely different to what she had been at night. I don't think she dragged.

The wind and sea subsided on the evening of the 10th, and at seven p.m. the schooner's kedge was run out, with the assistance of people from the shore, and the schooner was hauled into deep water and anchored.

She rode out in safety a south-west gale which continued throughout the 11th. On the 12th March Captain Thompson again started in the schooner for Keppel Island, and arrived there and returned to Stanley in safety.

It appears that there is good holding ground almost anywhere in Pebble Sound, and that the schooner could have been safely anchored between Broken Island Reef, stretching out from Broken Island, and the Settlement in Pebble Island without standing in so near. The distance from the northernmost point of the reef to the beach on Pebble Island is about one mile. It was admitted by Captain Thompson that his schooner is "a very unhandy vessel—she does not work very well " —she misses stays and takes a great distance to " veer."

The schooner's keel, upon examination after arrival in Stanley, was found to have been seriously damaged; two of her planks were nearly chafed through.

The "Allen Gardiner" is owned by the South American Missionary Society.

We are of opinion that Captain Thompson acted very wrongly in attempting to beat up Pebble Sound and beyond the Settlement on Pebble Island on the night of the 9th of March last. The night was dark, the wind was ahead, and he knew, to use his own words. that his vessel was unhandy, did not work well, and frequently missed stays.

Under such circumstances he should have anchored, after leaving Ship Harbour behind, either under the lee of Broken Island Reef, or, as he stood on and the weather became threatening, have dropped his anchor as soon as he had got a safe distance from the reef, and not have stood so far in toward Pebble Island.

For this error he deserves, and has received from us, severe censure.

We think he had no alternative when his vessel missed stays than to let his anchor go, and are of opinion that it was then impossible in the sea that was running to have taken his kedge out and hauled the schooner into a position of safety.

We do not think that the schooner dragged ashore, but believe that she was so near in when her anchors were let go that she took the ground when the tide fell.




Police Magistrate.




Master Mariner.

Stanley, Falkland Islands,

13th April 1894.

81564—32. 110.—6/94. Wt. 60. E. & S.


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