HMS Castlereagh

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Castlereagh, 1845
Type: Survey schooner ;
Purchased : 3 Apr 1846 ;
Disposal date or year : 21 Aug 1847
Disposal Details : Sold to Captain Fotheringham, ship owner, Sydney, NSW. Subsequently wrecked 13th February 1848 at island of Lefoo.
BM: 93 tons

3 Apr 1846 was purchased into the service for 640 : 12s. 6d, and included in a return to Parliament dated 5 Mar 1847, detailing all the vessels purchased into the Service by the Admiralty since 1830 - Accounts and Papers for the House of Commons Vol. 37.

It would appear that the vessel was used for some time before payment was made, unless the dates were simply caused by the distant lines of communication between Sydney, where I believe the vessel was purchased, and London, where the Admiralty would have subsequently approved it.

15 Dec 1845 Junior Officers attend farewell dinner of officers of "Fly"

22 Dec 1845, Mate D. Aird, promoted to Lieutenant.

27 Dec 1845 "Sovereign" reports sighting "Castlereagh" off Port Macquarie last Monday.

31 January 1846, the schooners Bramble and Castlereagh are lying in Moreton Bay, the officers, assisted by Captain Wickham, surveying the northern passage into the Bay.

28 Feb 1846, the Thomas Lord spoke with the Bramble and Castlereagh, near Cape Sidmouth, all well; they were then going to Sir Charles Hardy's Island to refit, after which they would proceed to the coast of New Guinea.

15 Aug 1846, a source at Sydney reported that the Bramble and Castlereagh, were en route for the Torres Strait, and had put into Moreton Bay to survey the area around Moreton Island, with a view to returning at a later date to complete the survey

2 Mar 1847 Lt Aird, commander, from a surveying expedition - no details - suggest see Bramble for details. See Bramble for report

13 Mar 1847 Farm Cove, Sydney, refitting.

31 Jul 1847 it is reported that the Bramble and Castlereagh will be paid off on Monday next. The whole of the officers of these vessels, we believe, with the exception of Lieutenant Yule, in command of the Bramble, proceed to England. The schooners will be re-commissioned with other officers from the Rattlesnake.

29 Aug 1847 Officers and 20 ratings return home in the merchant ship "Thomas Arbuthnot", Captain Thompson.

21 Aug 1847 Reported in the Shipping Gazette to have been sold for 601 to Captain Fotheringham, a well known ship owner, at Sydney.

Nov 1847 being refitted for the sandal wood trade.

17 Dec 1847 departed for the South Sea Islands. Captain Siler.

1 Apr 1848 - Loss of the Brig Sarah and Schooner Castlereagh.

We have to announce the total wreck of the brig Sarah and schooner Castlereagh, of this port, at the island Lefoo, on the 13th February last, but we are happy to say without loss of life, the captains, officers, and seamen (thirty-five in number) having arrived in Sydney on Wednesday by the Eleanor. The Sarah, Captain Seagrove, left Sydney on the 1st December, and the Castlereagh, Captain Silver. on the 19th, both on a Sandal-wood voyage. the former proceeded to New Caledonia, and the latter to Lefoo. Captain Silver having arranged with the natives there to cut wood, proceeded to Erromanga, and anchored in Dillon's Bay on the 15th January for the purpose of watering and collecting wood, but after remaining there ten days without obtaining much of the latter, departed again for Lefoo, and arrived there on the 30th January. The natives being friendly, they immediately commenced trading, and on the 5th February the Sarah arrived from New Caledonia for a like purpose, having then on board about seven tons of wood. Both vessels were successful in their trading, and on the 11th February had each obtained about twenty tons wood, when the hurricane commenced in which they were both wrecked. The following particulars are given by Captain Seagrove:-

" February 11th, at noon, increasing breezes, from the eastward, let go the best bower anchor. At 5 p.m. the boats came alongside, when we down all awnings, hoisted the boats up, and cleared the decks. 9 p.m., strong breezes. and dull rainy weather. 12th commences with strong gales and squally weather, sent down topgallant yards, the gale increasing during the forenoon, with a heavy sea rising, sent the topsail yards down on deck, and veered out to 110 fathoms of the starboard chain, and 75 of port cable ; at noon it blew a hurricane, with a rising sea, which caused the ship to pitch heavily, sending the sprays fore and aft the deck. About 4 p.m. snapped the starboard cable, and drove within a quarter of a mile of the beach, the foremast was then immediately cut away, to let the ship ride easy, and, if possible, to save her. About 6 p.m. found her strike very heavily abaft, the tide then ebbing ; she, however, rode this way until two o'clock the following morning, when, in a violent squall, she dragged the best bower anchor, and went broadside on to the beach, where she soon bilged, and half filled with wrater. The rudder also unshipped, tearing the trunk away, and smashing the after cabins, leaving a free passage for the sea, and destroying everything on board. Our only hopes now rested on the Castlereagh, but at daylight, they were blighted, for she had driven close in to the breakers, and had apparently unshipped her rudder, the sea breaking clear over her. Captain Silver then cut away both masts, to save her if possible, but to no purpose, for it was then blowing a complete hurri-cane, and about ten o'clock in the forenoon she went broadside onto the beach. Many of the crew now went on shore, expecting the ship would go to pieces, the natives assisting and swimming them through the surf.

The natives were very anxious for myself and officers to leave the ship, kindly offering their assistance, with the good intention of saving us, for the sea was breaking right over her, and they shortly left themselves, expecting the ship to go to pieces, but we had resolved to remain on board as long as she kept together. Towards night the gale moderated, and on the 14th had altoge ther abated. I then consulted with Captain Silver, and came to the determination of getting both crews on board the Sarah, having much more room on, her deck, and a greater protection from the natives than the schooner. It was then resolved to get the schooner off, if possible, under the direction of Captain Silver, with the assistance of both crews, but unfortunately we did not succeed in our endeavours. The natives behaved with the greatest kindness, bringing us great quantities of cocoanuts and sugar canes, although a great number of their trees had been destroyed and their sugar-canes torn up by this hurricane, such a severe one not having been felt for many years. After living on the deck of the Sarah for fourteen days. with no hopes of getting the schooner off our damaged bread we had saved, getting short, and having but a small quantity of fresh water, we turned our attention to preparing to make a passage in the two boats we had saved. At this time, however, my chief officer (Mr. White), with five men out of the two crews. in the most praise- worthy manner, volunteered their services to proceed in an open whaleboat, being the most expeditious, to stretch across to New Caledonia, ran down along the east side of it, and if not, successful in falling in with a ship, to proceed across to Moreton Bay, being a distance of one thousand miles. After seeing to the preparations and provisions of the boat myself, she was despatched with three hearty cheers on the morning of the 29th February, having every confidence in the officer and crew, with an addition of a native volunteer.

Fortunately, however, on the afternoon of the following day, they fell in with the barque Eleanor, Captain Woodin, and the Spy, Captain White, of Hobart Town, then laying in a small harbour on the east side of New Caledonia. They were received on board with the greatest kindness, and upon hearing of the disaster, Captain Woodin immediately gave directions for the two vessels to prepare for sea to come to our assistance, leaving a place where there was every chance of getting sandal-wood, in which trade they were engaged.

On the 4th March, at 6 a.m., the joyful news of " Sail ho !" was announced, and shortly after the two vessels hove in sight. The anxiety shown by Captains Woodin and White for our safety, I shall ever remember with a feeling of gratitude, but upon firing our swivel guns their fears were dispelled, for they then knew we were safe. The greatest expedition was used for our reception on board the Eleanor to convey us to Sydney, and on the 11th of March, we set sail from the island of Lefoo, where we had been on shore one month, living in perfect amity with the natives, though completely at their mercy. This I attribute to the kindness shown them, but at the same time we let them see we were always on our guard. Captain Silvers report being similar to that of Captain Seagrove's, it would be unnecessary for us to give more than the following, which is an extract from the log-book. relating merely to the circumstance of her lose.

" February 10th. Fresh breezes from the south-east. 11th, at noon, wind increasing, let go the best bower anchor, and veered out to eighty fathoms of the starboard chain, and forty on the port cable ; at 4 p.m. lowered fore-topgallant yard, and housed main-topmast. February 12th, strong gale from Southeast, with heavy sea rising; lowered fore-topsail yard, and housed fore-topmast, gave the ship all the starboard chain and sixty fathoms of port cable ; at 4 p.m. upset the windlass, and while securing it observed the brig Sarah to be driving, and soon afterwards she went on shore. It then blew a heavy gale from east-south-east, with a heavy sea ; at 6 p.m., observed our port chain slack, having carried away the anchor, the vessel then pitching bows under ; midnight, heavy gusts of wind, attended with much rain ; sounded, and found we had shoaled our water to seven fathoms, having drove a considerable distance ; 13th, at four a.m., saw the brig Sarah drive broadside on the bench, the sea breaking completely over her, and the natives having a large fire on the beach, it presented an awful appearance ; the schooner still continued driving, and finding we had only four fathoms water, expected every moment to strike aft, knowing that there were several small rocks close to us ; 4.30, a.m. struck aft, and unshipped the rudder ; at daylight it blew a complete hurricane, and the lower masts were then cut away, in order, if possible, to save the vessel, that being the only means left. At 8 a.m., however, she had drove into two and a-half fathoms water, starting on the rocks, and at 10 a.m. she went broadside on to the beach. Every exertion was made, after the gale abated, to get her off, but without success."

Captain Silver joins with Captain Seagrove and his chief officer, in expression of gratitude to Captains Woodin and White. of the Eleanor and Spy, and also speaks in the highest terms of the conduct of Mr. White, chief officer of the Sarah, and the men who so manfully volunteered to proceed in the whaleboat to New Caledonia, as stated above, and were the means of bringing the above-named vessels to their assistance. The Sarah was the property of Captain Larkins, of Hongkong, where she is fully insured. The Castlereagh was the property of Captain Fotheringham, and is insured in Sydney for 800. The chronometer and other things of value were saved, and the wrecks were sold by the captains for the benefit of the underwriters. The Sarah for 120, and the Castlereagh for 50, Captain Woodin, of the Eleanor, being the purchaser.