The wreck of HMS Havick 1800

The last hours on board

The scene of the catastrophe - St Aubin's Bay - from a 1797 chartWith his anchors dragging Captain Bartholomew recognised that he was caught in a classic situation. He was caught on a lee shore and as a square rigged ship could only sail to within 6 points (67) of the wind, the SW gale (225) meant that his vessel was unable to claw its way out of the bay between SSE and WNW (157 - 292). As he knew his ship was going to be driven onshore he would have made preparations to minimise damage. As the storm heightened he would have already have given orders for the top hamper – the top masts and yards - to be taken down to reduce windage. His primary concern would have been to lighten his vessel so that it would beach in shallow water. He would have had the pumps rigged to get rid of the fresh water supply, the cannon would have been jettisoned along with the shot. Even barrels of salt beef and ships biscuits would have gone over the side. The ship’s boats would have been put over the leeward side to take advantage of the small amount shelter afforded by the stricken ship. On the order "abandon ship" as many of the crew as possible would have got into them and headed the short distance to shore.

 

The crews of both the Havick and the Pelican were transported back to Plymouth on board the 40 gun L’Ambuscade, the Hon. Captain Colville. On their return they said that they had remained on board for nearly six hours as the mountainous waves crashed over them. They were only saved when the wind direction swung round to the north and pushed the high tide out. The shipwrecked crew were able to leave but they lost all their possession.

 

 

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