Dead Dolphin ashore May 2016

Dead Dolphin ashore May 2016

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Moby Dick

Living on the coast all my life I done many things associated with the sea. One of my favourite memories has to be spear fishing under Margate Pier for Mullet and harpooning Rays on the offshore sandbanks during the exceptionally hot summer of 1976. This picture was taken when I was nineteen and my hair was a bit longer then ,the fish pictured is a Thornback Ray which I harpooned on the surface in the bight of the Margate Sand off Birchington.
In case anyone asks the pink thing dangling is the fishes tale.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

A human tragedy

Over the course of this year I have been scouting the low water mark behind the East Pier Ramsgate to about half way along the main sands on a regular occurrence. I have found a piece of human vertebrae, a piece of a crashed spitfire and many pieces of wooden ship wrecks amongst other things. However, everything I found does have one thing in common in the fact that everything is a result of a tragedy. Although I cannot link most of the found items to any specific event in history apart from the spitfire part , research into the history of the recorded maritime losses at the entrance to Ramsgate Harbour in the days of sail is staggering. The loss of life of mariners attempting to reach the haven of the harbour in stormy weather runs into many along with their vessels.
Board of Trade returns at the time give brief reports of these tragedies which today would be headlines. One such example is the loss of the "Daring" a fishing smack lost entering the harbour 13th March 1867.

"During wind conditions E force 10 with heavy seas , was dashed against the East Pier Head, where her bowsprit was carried away and later the vessel was dashed to pieces. The steam tug"Vulcan" put out to sea to save survivors, but all five have drowned. Mr Rigden, the Whitstable diver, was employed to recover some ballast"

The loss of the "Maria Ann" 20th October 1855

" Whilst attempting to enter the Harbour in wind conditions SW force 10, was thrown against the pier head and foundered within only a few yards of the mast. A lot of other vessels were attempting to enter at the same time, the pier was full of people. One crewman managed to reach the pier via the rigging before the wreck fell over, another was drowned after being injured when the bowsprit broke.The remaining three crew members took to the rigging, but despite attempts to throw heaving lines to them from ashore , due to the force of the wind, although the distance was thirty feet, none could reach them. There only hope was the lifeboat, already engaged with the tug "Aid" in helping other vessels. The French man 0' war gun boat " St Barbe", then drove athwart of the mast of the wreck, so preventing the lifeboat getting closer, but one more crewman was able to clamber into her rigging. The lifeboat saved one other man, but the third crewman, lashed to the mast drowned,"

Another report from the 19th December 1814 is as follows "In a heavy gale three vessels, including th Dutch galliot "DRIE KEIDEN", the French brigs "ROSIE" an "AGALE" and the "ORION" missed the entrance to Ramsgate Harbour and went ashore. The "ORION" is still ashore and bilged, her cargo landed and may be at total wreck" . There is no recorded loss of life for that incident.

Monday, 19 October 2009

Loss of the "Greypoint" off Broadstairs

Every winter along our coastline there is always at one point after a storm that debris from the sea bed ends up washed ashore somewhere on the coast of Thanet. As most fishermen will confirm the sea bed offshore is littered in debris in many places and there is no shortage of History waiting to be discovered. The unfortunate thing is that it is almost impossible to identify the items and piece together the History. Thanks to the Internet it is now so much easier to research and pool information together to identify marine loses and provide factual Historical links as the previous article on the SS Montgomery proves.
Trawling through archive I often come across lesser known maritime incidents off our coast that have faded into memory and become forgotten or folklore. One such incident was the loss of the steamship "Greypoint" of Broadstairs on 18th March 1917 the position given is 50.20.20N 01.29.38E. The report is as follows.

"Whilst of anchor off anchor off Broadstairs, four German torpedo boat destroyers went past at full speed firing one or more torpedo's each at the steamship as they past, one of which struck the "Greypoint" just aft of the engine room. The enemy vessels turned and came back whilst the steamer was being abandoned, the destroyers then firing about 30 shells at the ship, the attack commenced at 00:30 am and the "Greypoint" sinking 30 minutes later. The crew were picked up by a patrol vessel, one man being slightly wounded by shell fragments"

Source : Lloyds confidential war loses 1914-1918 page 106.

As in most cases wreckage of this size would have been cleared by demolition salvage teams after the war, but not everything would have been cleared so the evidence must still be out there on the seabed. However, it does make me wonder where the torpedo's that missed ended up and where they could be.