Monday, June 25, 2018

Maritime adventures at Natal 1: the Princeza and Bell

This snippet from the Natal Mercury 21 July 1859 emphasises that once a ship reached its destination, Natal, there could still be any number of complications before a passenger actually set foot ashore. The Reliance dragged her anchors and nearly came to grief, but was eventually hauled to safety. The Jan Van Brakel lost both her anchors, spares being supplied from the shore. This incident led to a lawsuit. On board the Van Brakel were nearly fifty Dutch immigrants destined for New Guelderland on the Natal North Coast, part of Colenbrander's scheme. 

The Princeza mentioned in the above report was a schooner of Liverpool commanded by Captain W Lee. She was almost the cause of a disaster in September 1854 when the Port Boat - whose crew on that occasion included Captain William Bell and the harbour pilot/coxswain George Archer - coming ashore in the early hours from the schooner which lay outside at anchor, had a narrow escape from drowning. The night was very dark and the Port Boat filled with water in the heavy surf. Bell and his crew were immersed chest-deep before they abandoned her and slowly groped their way to land without a light. If the incident had taken place a yard or two nearer the deep water channel all the men would have been lost. 

[Source: The Natal Mercury Supplement 27 September 1854 ‘Boat Accidents’.]


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