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SEA BIRD

Location

Cape Patton

VHR Number

S615

Date lost

06 Mar 1895

Year of construction

1851

Official number

31660

Statement of Significance

The site of the Seabird has not been located and therefore it is not possible to assess its archaeological significance. However it has historical/ technical significance as the wreck of an Australian built vessel, which may contribute to the understanding of research questions relating to Australian-built vessels.

Physical Description  
Construction Material Wood
Rig Schooner
Hull Details Single deck, running bowsprit, square stern, carvel built
Propulsion Sail
Number of Masts 2
Length / Breadth / Depth 39.2 Feet / 11.0 Feet / 4.8 Feet
History  
Builder J.C. Miller
Built Date 1851
Built Port / Country Shoalhaven, NSW / Australia
Registration Number 59 of 1856
Registration Port / Country Melbourne / Australia
Details
The Seabird was owned by Captain Jeffery of Williamstown, Henry Lazemby Costin (described as both a storekeeper of Melbourne and hotelkeeper of Apollo Bay - he built and owned the Ballarat Hotel in Apollo Bay in 1887) and James Ovens, also a storekeeper of Melbourne. Captain Jeffery was described as having traded to Apollo Bay for six years, "and was a careful navigator" (Argus 9/3/1895). However his judgement was to let him down on his last voyage on the Seabird, from Apollo Bay to Melbourne with a cargo of split posts for Portarlington, and a large quantity of butter and cheese for Melbourne. A strong south-west wind was blowing and a moderate sea running, which did not phase the Captain (Argus 9/3/1895). However he was unable to clear far enough out to sea upon leaving Apollo Bay in the strong south-westerly, and accordingly was blown ashore at Cape Patton , the next headland up the coast. The captain may also have been an unwitting victim of a strong coastal setting current. The crew and salvors were fortunately able to recover the sails, running gear and butter and cheese from the stricken vessel lying broadside onto the rocks, however within a couple of days the Seabird was described as "breaking up on every tide" (Argus 11/3/1895). The vessel was not insured. There is some confusion in the historical record as to whether the Seabird was a ketch or schooner, and of 13 or 17 tons gross. Although it was described as a ketch in newspaper reports its registration details record it as a schooner, indicating it may have been re-rigged at some stage in its Victorian/ Otway trading career. The Geelong Advertiser reported that: "The Seabird was a small wooden ketch of 17 tons, registered at Adelaide. She was built at Garden Island, Tasmania, in 1860, and is owned by Mr G McKay" (GA, 9 March 1895). However these details are incorrect, as this Seabird was a schooner built in Shoalhaven, New South Wales in 1851, and was registered in Melbourne (see Parsons, 1988; A.S.R.O. 1855-1859). This is confirmed by the registry entry for this Seabird, closed on 9 April 1896 with the notation "Wrecked at Cape Patton, Victoria near Lorne on 6 March 1895" (A.S.R.O. Melbourne Registry, 59 of 1856). The remains of the Seabird have not been located not reported, though little is predicted to remain of a 44 year old wooden vessel that has lain in such an exposed location for over 100 years. Any remains that have remained on the shoreline and in the intertidal zone may also have been buried by naturally occurring landslides, and collapsed fill as a result of the construction and ongoing maintenance works to the Great Ocean Road.
Voyage Details  
Date Lost 06 Mar 1895
Voyage from Apollo Bay to Melbourne
Cargo
Split posts for Portarlington, a 'large quantity' of butter and cheese for Melbourne
Owner J.C. Miller, shipowner, Shoalhaven NSW 3/12/1856 - John Hughes and John Tudor, mariners of Williamstown 2/7/1856 - Henry Lazemby Costin and James Ovens, storekeepers of Melbourne, and Capt. Henry Jeffrey, Master Mariner of Melbourne
Master of Vessel Capt. Henry Jeffery
Weather conditions
strong south-west wind and moderate seas
Cause of Loss
Went ashore in a strong south-west wind and was wrecked
Further Details  
Number of Passengers 0
Number of Crew Members 1
Comments on Crew Members
Only one other crew member mentioned in sources