SNOWSTORM and SHIPWRECKS
28 FEBRUARY - 1 MARCH 1886
The steamship GLENISLA, of Leith, was bound from Glasgow to Savona, Italy with a cargo of coal. At 1.30 a.m. on 28 February 1886 a light was seen which the master Allan Wallace took to be on the Irish coast. Course was changed to south by east but soon after the ship struck Llechganol * a rock off Abereiddy Bay on the north coast of Pembrokeshire. Within twenty minutes the vessel was full of water and the crew abandoned. The master took charge of the starboard lifeboat and made sure that his wife and half the crew were aboard before pushing off. The port lifeboat contained the rest of the crew of 22 and was under the command of the mate John Watson. The boats remained by the wreck until daylight when they pulled ashore and the crew were taken to a farm numb with the cold, and wet with snow and sleet.
That evening they left for St Davids, and on Monday morning 1 March set off for Haverfordwest. Snow was now falling thickly and the horses pulling the cart had a difficult time. The men were now taken care of by the Shipwrecked Mariners' Society, given two shillings each and train tickets home. The mate arranged for each to have a good meal costing eight pence, which left them one shilling and fourpence for the journey home.
Captain Wallace appeared at a Board of Trade inquiry, held at North Shields, into the loss of the ship. He was found negligent on four counts:1) He had failed to notice that the compass courses were not being made good, 2) He had not satisfied himself of the the distictive character of the light seen at 1.30 on the 28th, 3)The lead was not used, and 4) he was not on deck when safe navigation required his personal supervision. Capt Wallace had his certificate suspended for three months but was granted a chief mate's ticket during the suspension.
* Llechganol translates as "middle slate". There are three rocks in the area - Llechuchaf, Llechganol and Llechisaf (Upper, Middle and Lower Slate). The rocks are frequently dived by members of sub-aqua clubs as there are a number of wrecks in the area and are known as the Upper, Middle and Lower Sledge.
The steamship MISSOURI was of 5,146 tons gross 3,331 net. She had left Boston USA on 17 February bound for Liverpool with 395 head of cattle and a large general cargo. She made the Fastnet rock on the Irish coast on the morning of 28th and as she entered St George's channel shaped a course to take her towards Holyhead. At 11 p.m. that day it began to snow. At 4.15 the next morning the loom of the coast was seen through the gloom and the engines were put full speed astern. The ship struck the rocks at Porth Dafarch to the south of Holyhead. The coastguard L.S.A. rocket company got the breeches buoy rigged and brought ashore the cattle men, the ship's doctor and three stowaways.
Tugs attempted to tow the ship off with no success. The Missouri developed a list to starboard. Some of the cattle were driven overboard and 156 head swam ashore. The rest were drowned when the ship capsized on the rocks as the tide ebbed. Capt Reuben Poland, the chief officer Ernest William Owens and the crew had abandoned in the boats shortly before.
At the Board of Trade inquiry into the loss the court found that the ship had continued at too high a speed in the poor visibility caused by the snow storm, and the lead had not been used often enough in approaching the coast particularly as the master was unsure of the ship's position. Capt Poland's certificate was suspended for six months, though he was granted a first mate's ticket for that time.
There was a third shipwreck on the evening of 28 February. The schooner Mere du Sauveur, of Fécamp, was bound from la Rochelle to Newport, Monmouthshire, with a cargo of potatoes when driven into Carmarthen Bay. She was wrecked at Pendine drowning her crew.