Sunday, June 4, 2017

Cape shipping: Conch and Bell 1837

1st mention in South African Commercial Advertiser 1 April 1837 of Bell as captain of Conch. There is an earlier reference in the Cape Government Gazette in January of that year. 

The Schooner Conch 1842 by Thomas Baines. Bell was commanding
the vessel at the time of the insurrection of the Dutch at Port Natal, when the British
garrison was besieged at what is now the Old Fort, Durban. Because the frigate Southampton was of too deep a draught* to enter the channel, the Conch towed boatloads
of troops across the Bar, landing them safely at the Point. The siege was lifted
and the Dutch withdrew on Pietermaritzburg.

The draught of a ship's hull is the vertical distance between the waterline and the bottom of the hull (keel), with the thickness of the hull included; in the case of not being included the draught outline would be obtained. Draught determines the minimum depth of water a ship can safely navigate. The entrance to Port Natal was blocked by a shifting sandbank, the Bar, over which the depth of water changed according to tides etc.