The Loss of the Areta and Crew.

The Loss of the Areta and Crew.

The Areta was a 210 ton brig built in 1840 at the Bishopwearmouth Panns (Sunderland) yard of William Adamson and owned by him. It was later rregistered in Whitby in 1850. She then had owners of the names Baxter, Skerry, Harrison, Weighill and, eventually, John Brand, Robert Wellburn. and John Harrison Storm

Previously she had been rammed on the way from Riga to London on the night of October 30 1864 whilst under the command of Captain James Baxter. On that occasion she was hit by the Jane Ghandie while riding at anchor "with all lights burning" off the Black Tail "doing much damage"

This account is from information obtained by Keith Stoker of Washington, Co. Durham, and who is a descendant of the master, Captain William Ventress. Original research was conducted locally by Harm Hummel of Ter Heijde, Monster, Holland.

John Harrison Storm (1819-1898) was the owner of the ship.

The mate was Benjamin Avery b.1850s, brother to Elizabeth who married Michael Ventress, brother of William.
Benjamin’s parents were Benjamin Avery and Mary Storm.

At 1945 local time on the evening of 29th October 1878, loaded with coal from Newcastle and bound for Schiedam, the ship ran aground and was stranded off the coast of South Holland in a storm. Earlier the ship had been seen in trouble off Scheveningen.

Attempts at rescue were delayed while the rescue crews haggled over payment. At 22.45 a line was shot twice from the shore but failed. This was a technique reported as not working well on the Dutch coast.

At 23.15 a rescue boat put to sea but failed to reach the ship. Until 4 o’clock next morning the cries of the crew could be heard but suddenly a mast fell down followed by silence. An hour later there was no sign of the ship, and when a search was made in daylight only a heap of wood remained.

In the wreckage the searchers found the body of a 35 year old sailor with the letters BAR on his right arm. A day later 4 other bodies were found in their late ‘teens and early twenties one of whom may have been the mate, Benjamin Avery. A day after that another body was found which was probably that of Captain Ventress aged about 40 years.

Subsequent Events

On October 31st a telegram was received in Holland address to:

‘The Burgomaster van Luik, Monster, Holland.
Telegraph if crew saved, and the state of the ship. If a wreck save all possible.

On November 7th a letter was received from Jansen and Van der Berg of Schiedam who had arranged the transport of coal from Newcastle to Schiedam, and who were now wanting evidence of the loss in order to claim insurance.

On November 11th a letter was received by the Burgomaster from the owner, John Harrison Storm, authorising him to sell surviving property and stores.

On November 13th the British Consul asks about the corpses and places of burial.

On Decmber 5th the British Consul on behalf of the owner asks if anything might have been saved from the captain’s cabin and to have the answer in writing - not that he really expected anything.

About December 13th the British Consul receives the money from the sale of the remains of the wreck. This is 320 guilders. On 19th December the Consul writes expressing his disappointment because the original amount of 822 guilders had been reduced by costs of saving, storing and transporting of the goods. The Burgomaster’s reponse is that in 25 years he had never seen such a wreck.

Prologue:- In the previous year it happened that the ship Wright had been lost with all hands. The master of the Wright was William Ventress’s brother, Michael. The mate was James Skerry Storm.

Further Interest:- A John Crooks had earlier sea service on the Areta. This included:
1871 One voyage as Captain.
1872 Two voyages as Mate. One voyage as Captain.
1873 Four voyages as Mate
1874 Two voyages as Mate.

And a further aspect:- It migght be appropriate to mention Raymond Storm spoke of the time when the British exchanged goods with Dutchmen in the North Sea to avoid customs duties. Also British ships found smuggling goods into Holland claimed that they were blown off course and had to find port, and the particular Dutch port was the nearest. However the Dutch customs soon put a stop to that excuse.


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