Heritage VIC

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SCHAH

Location

Shipwreck creek, 6 miles SE of Mallacoota

VHR Number

S611

Date lost

20/12/1837

Statement of Significance

The Schah is the second oldest identified wreck in Victorian coastal waters. It is of great historical value as a onetime illegal African slave trader, and for its short involvement with early prominent Australian colonists, John and John Robert Raine. The archaeological potential is also very high as the remains of the wreckage still exist.

Physical Description  
Construction Material Wood
Rig Schooner
Hull Details Wooden brig (auctioned as Schooner), two-masted, coppered (1833), extensive repairs (1834) felt and coppered (1836) oak, HULL cedar, pitch pine, one and half decks, square rigged, standing HULL bowsprit, square stern, carvel built, griffin figure head.
Propulsion Sail
Number of Masts 2
Length / Breadth / Depth 80.1 Feet / 18.3 Feet / 8.5 Feet
History  
Built Port / Country Baltimore? / United States of America
Registration Number 24 of 1837
Registration Port / Country Sydney / Australia
Details
The schooner Shah is the second oldest identified wreck on the Victorian coast. The Schah was known formerly as the Frasquita/Centella, when it had been engaged in the illegal African slave trade. It was one of a small number of ex-slave ships known to have plied the eastern coast of Australia. Its participation in the slave trade ended in 1831 with persistent British efforts to suppress the illegal practice. It was captured, condemned, and then auctioned in Sierra Leone. It was taken to Leigh in Scotland for repairs, and it was probably here that it was given the new name, Schah. The Schah was first registered in Lloyd?s register in 1834 as a 162 ton two-masted, carvel-built schooner constructed of oak cedar and pitch pine. It received extensive repair and copper sheathing in 1833. It had one and a half decks, square rigging with a bowsprit, a square stern and a griffin figurehead. It had been bought by Kettle and Company for trade between London and the Ottoman Empire in what is now Turkey. However, it seems that its small size left it at a disadvantage against the larger steamers it was competing with. The Schah was again sold, and in 1835 was registered under the names of Henry Goodwin and Charles Lee of London. It was sheathed with felt and copper before it sailed to South Australia from London on 8 January 1837, captained by Lee. In Australia, the vessel was again auctioned, and purchased by John Robert Raine for 1,100 and mortgaged to Moses Solomon, who also held the license for the Australian Hotel, Sydney. It was used for a limited and problematic time for trade and passenger travel between Sydney and Hobart. Mishaps from its maiden voyage on 27 August 1837 up to its sinking on 20 December of the same year included a shortage of cargo and passengers, bad weather, and a dismasting (from which the captain, Hayle, was severely wounded, but quickly recovered). Its final voyage carrying 13 passengers, including John Raine (John Robert Raine?s father), 8 crew members, general cargo, and the new Captain Milligan, was on 15 December from Hobart to Sydney. On 20 December, the Schah was forced to alter its course away from shore due to gale-force winds. When the winds had dropped, the vessel began drifting dangerously towards land in the pitch darkness of night. Bower anchors were dropped, but the larger of these broke while the other dragged. The Schah struck the seabed violently a number of times. A boat carrying eight passengers, including all four women, one child and three crew, was being lowered when confusion caused it to be dropped. It swamped upon crashing down into the water, and while two of the crew were able to swim back to the schooner, the rest drowned. The Schah continued to crash into the rocks, and a total nine people, including Raine, who was trapped in the steward?s cabin attempting to retrieve his documents, perished. The survivors had clung to the main beam and made their way to a safe place among the rocks. They believed they were at Ram(e) head, but the wreck was later located at Shipwreck Creek. The thirteen survivors, battered and bruised from being washed over the rocks, then made a five day journey to the settlement at Twofold Bay.
Voyage Details  
Date Lost 20/12/1837
Voyage from Hobart to Sydney
Cargo
General cargo including, foodstuffs, liquor. 15 cases gin, 6 tins oil, 2 casks preserved fruit, 14 casks of ale, 1 case tomahawks, 2 cases wax candles, 8 cases plate glass, 3 hogsheads, 10 quarter casks, 1 pipe Tenerife Wine, 8 casks Moselle, 2 hogsheads pale ale, 4 hogsheads claret, 2 cases sauternes, 7 casks salmon, 2 casks hams, 30 boxes raisins, 390 bags of bark, 3 bags gooseberries.
Owner John Robert Raine
Master of Vessel Captain William Milligan
Cause of Loss
Drifted ashore in calm conditions when anchors failed to hold
Further Details  
Number of Passengers 13
Number of Crew Members 9
Comments on Crew Members
Captain and 8 others