Saturday, January 16, 2016

Shipwreck survivors 3

This dramatic 18th c painting by Claude Vernet gives an indication of what shipwreck survivors faced in order to get to land. Before them lay an arduous journey on foot, which they would probably not come through alive, kept going by the faint hope of rescue by a passing ship or the kindness of local tribes. 

The subject became a popular one with artists of the period, one of the most famous being African Hospitality, showing reaction of natives to the survivors of the wreck of the East Indiaman Grosvenor in August 1782 on the coast of Pondoland.

123 people reached the beach alive. These castaways chose to walk south in the direction of Cape Town. Only 18 of them reached the Cape, four eventually returning to England.
The Grosvenor is a fabled treasure ship, with speculation re the famous Peacock Throne and other valuables having been carried on board. Sydney Turner, a pioneer of Natal, made one of the earliest salvage attempts, finding silver coins and other items in the vicinity of the wreck.
However, the wreck itself has yet to be found, joining the list of maritime mysteries associated with South Africa, including that of the SS Waratah.

See Andrew van Rensburg's blog

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