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Bill Thayer

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Part II
Chapter 11
This webpage reproduces part of
Angry Island

by Margaret Mackay

published by Rand McNally & Company,
Chicago • New York • San Francisco

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!


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Part III
Chapter 2

Part Three
Shipwrecks and Flotsam

 p95  1 Five Shipwrecks

The turn of the decade was crowded with 'wracks', as the Tristanians would say.

In 1870 Captain James Anderson brought the Sir Ralph Abercrombie to call at Tristan. Peter Green and his boatmen were towing out to meet her as she manoeuvred around to stand from shore. They saw her strike on a rock, but the impact was so slight that no notice was taken.

'When I got on board,' wrote Green to a friend, 'I said, "Captain Anderson, it was touch and go".'

The captain took the provisions and paid the men in coffee, tea, sugar, etc. Then he remarked, 'Mr Green, I should like to settle on your island.'

'You would be too lonely.'

'No. I'm sick of taking ships out and home again.'

The islanders left, hearing nothing more of any damage to the hull. The anchor was weighed and the sail dwindled over the horizon.

The next day, however, the Abercrombie was sinking. It was sighted by the Swedish skipper of the Telegraph, a Cape Town sailing schooner. The schooner hurried towards her and rescued the crew and their belongings. Captain Anderson would not leave his vessel until she was sinking under his feet.

The Telegraph brought the Abercrombie refugees back to lodge with the surprised Tristanians. When Captain Anderson greeted Peter Green on the alien deck, he said, 'Well, Mr Green, I have come to stay with  p96 you, but not in the way I wished . . . I have lost my ship and my time, and my money to support my family.'

'So,' wrote Peter Green, 'I took the captain and mate and their private property in my own boat and brought them all up to my house.'

In 1871 another fire at sea made a grim pun on the name of the Beacon Light, bound for Rangoon.

Her cargo of coal ignited when she was 650 miles north-west of Tristan. For three days the crew fought to beat out the flames. On the third day, a Friday, the boats were provisioned and all hands retreated. One boat was swamped, drowning six. The sixteen survivors crowded into the sole remaining longboat.

Fortunately the winds and currents were in their favour, and late on Sunday afternoon they saw the far blur of Tristan. The next day the islanders sighted them, a tiny speck on the waves, and a boat came out to tow them ashore. They were stranded for eighteen days.

The loss in 1872 of an Italian vessel might almost be described as The Operetta Shipwreck.

A graceful barque oddly called the Czarina Peter Lucker, in stormy weather was hurled on to a reef near Anchorstock Point, on the most westerly part of Tristan.​1 The crew were able to launch the boats, and landed safely on a sandy beach. They had had time to salvage many large cases of macaroni.

While the barque was being smashed into driftwood on the rocks, crates of wine were washed ashore. The Italians lit a fire, dried out, cooked macaroni, and opened innumerable bottles of vino. All evening they danced and sang as in a festa on the barbarian shore.

The next morning they picked their way up the rocky coast to the Settlement.

The Author's Note:

1 Anchorstock Point got its name in the pirate heyday of the early nineteenth century. A fierce battle was waged by an English brig and an American privateer in the seas between Tristan and Inaccessible. The American ship was sunk. The wooden stock of her anchor later drifted ashore at this point of the main island.

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Page updated: 13 Dec 20