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Caroline Hutchings

The Caroline Hutchings was Captain Francis Ward's barque - and the first to tie up at the Long Jetty, perhaps in 1873, when it was completed. The ship was wrecked and lost off the coast of China near Formosa (now Taiwan) in 1874, and an account was written by Mary Jane, second daughter of J.J. Harwood, the builder, and published in the Fremantle Herald of 24 October 1874. It is republished here.

The following account of the loss of this vessel has been kindly placed at our disposal by Mr. J. J. Harwood. On her last visit to this colony the master, Captain Ward, married Miss M. J. Harwood, the second daughter of Mr. J. J. Harwood, the well-known builder of this town, hence the unfortunate disaster has additional interest. The graphic description of the occurrence is simply an extract from a letter written by Mrs. Ward to her parents here. "We arrived here, "Formosa", on the 28th July, and had to lay in the outer harbor as there was not sufficient water on the bar to enable the "Caroline Hutchings" to go over. The next day it came on to blow very hard, and the next it blew still harder. The following day it was a typhoon, the horrible fury of which is indescribable. On Thursday afternoon we thought we could hold out as the wind began to lull a little, and kept so until about six o'clock on Friday morning, when one of the anchors parted with some 105 fathoms of chain. The ship now commenced to drag, the sea breaking over her in huge waves that swept the decks of everything. About 7 o'clock my husband came below and told me to prepare for the worst. He fastened a life-buoy round me and then went on deck. About half-an-hour after he called me up so that I might be near him if the ship broke up on the rocks, to which she was closer and closer approaching. To prevent my being - by the sea that broke over us - washed away, he lashed me to the ship's side. The sea was frightful - I never saw anything like it before, and pray I never may again. About 9 o'clock we slipped the other anchor as she was dragging right down on the rocky bar, and had she gone on to it not a soul could have been saved. But God was near us to save us; for soon after the anchor was slipped, she fell off with her head towards a patch of sandy beach-the only piece for miles along the coast. She bumped heavily several times before she went ashore on the sand. The sailors were alarmed least the masts should come down, for every time she struck the masts jumped and shook frightfully. About 1 o'clock we got assistance from the shore, by the aid of our brave dog "Spring". Frank "the Captain— " "fastened a thin line round his neck and flung him over board in hope he would swim ashore. For some time he swam round and round the ship, and we began to fear he would not make the land. At last, attracted by the barking of some dogs on shore, he struck out boldly in direction of the beach and reached it safely. Ready hands on shore soon took the line and by attaching shorter ones to it, we soon had a number of warps out which the people on shore fastened to trees or anything strong enough to prevent the ship drifting on to the rocks. By means of the ropes we all, thank God, got on shore safely. During the three days of the typhoon - death each moment stared us in the face. The agony of the few minutes from the time we slipped until we went ashore on the sand I cannot tell ; it was fearful: even the sailors inured, as they are, to danger, were pale and silent from fear. After landing I had to travel several miles over mud hills before I reached the residence of the only European lady in the place. I was completely exhausted and ill. I cannot speak too warmly of the kind ness and generosity with which we have all been treated. After several ineffectual attempts to get the ship afloat she was condemned and sold as a wreck."

References and Links

Ward, Mary Jane née HARWOOD 1874, 'Loss of the Caroline Hutchings', Fremantle Herald, Saturday 24 October.

Thanks to Rob Ward, a descendant, for the information about the Caroline Hutchings and the link to the Herald article.

Garry Gillard | New: 30 November, 2019 | Now: 12 January, 2020