Thursday, August 4, 2016

Caithness and the schooner Prairie in Tasmania 1856

References to local Cape mariners like James Ramsay Caithness can frequently be picked up in newspapers from much further afield. In this instance, the topic is Caithness's schooner (or brigantine), the Prairie, stranded near Rocky Cape, Tasmania.

The American built 150 ton schooner had been bound from Cape Town to Melbourne,
laden with wine, oats and raisins. She went on shore on the coast between Rocky Cape and Emu Bay. The schooner lost her foremast off Cape Otway and went on shore at high water. The master of the wrecked vessel was at Circular Head. The vessel is said to be but little injured and might be got off after discharging the cargo.  The crew were encamped on the coast.

Launceston Examiner Tasmania
 Tues 10 June 1856


Loss of the Brigantine Prairie— This vessel, James
Ramsay Caithness master, sailed from the Cape of Good Hope
for Melbourne, on the 23 March last. There were on
board nine passengers and a crew of eleven. The lading
consisted of wine, oats, flour, and raisins, and other Cape produce.
During the voyage she encountered extremely stormy weather,
during which the boats were staved, the bulwarks much
damaged, the water-casks staved and displaced, and the head
rail on one side entirely carried away. After repairing damages
as efficiently as possible, she proceeded on her voyage, but
again encountered a violent gale off Cape Otway, on tbe night
of the 20th May, when she was dismasted, and in imminent
danger. The weather still continuing contrary, and the dis
mantled state of the vessel rendering navigation perilous in
the extrcme, it was necessary in order to save life and property
to run her on shore at Sisters' Creek, which was successfully
effected on the 2nd June. She now lies on the beach where she ran on shore.

The owner, captain and some of the crew, arrived here on Saturday night.

Rocky Cape, Tasmania

More on the Caithness family and this incident at:

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