Valuables lost in a noble ship
The unfortunate Earl Moira
- By Pascal Kainic -
The narrative is from one of the passengers who was nearly the last who quitted the wreck -
"The Moira" Dublin smack packet was on her voyage from Liverpool to Dublin with 110 persons on board, including 30 cabin passengers, many of them very respectable, and the crew which consisted of 6 persons.
The packet was to have sailed at five o’clock P.M, on Wednesday evening, the 8th, 1821.
The vessel however, did not sail until half past six, from the pier head at Liverpool, owing, I believe, and as I have been given to understand, to the Captain delaying on shore.
When he came on board, he was so intoxicated as to be rendered totally incapable of conducting the vessel, and indeed unable to stand without support. This was observed by many, but every person seemed to think that his crew was sufficient to conduct her in such a moderate weather as it then appeared to be. The first obvious error was his running the vessel upon the Burbo Bank near half past seven o’clock, about four or five miles from the rock; but after great exertions on the part of the passengers and crew, she was got off and could, without doubt, have been bought back to Liverpool safely, as the wind was fair.
This, the unfortunate Captain would not permit; the men would only obey his orders, nor could the passengers be persuaded to act together. They depended upon two or three seamen who were not insensible by intoxication, to conduct the vessel to sea.
About ten o’clock, the vessel again missed stays and grounded on the Wharf Bank, off Mok Beggar. The top mast was then struck and the Captain and crew assured the passengers that there was no danger.
When the flood tide set in, the vessel began to leave and struck the Bank with much violence, that at half past two o’clock in the morning, she was filled with water fore and aft and the pumps became wholly ineffective.
The passengers now wished a signal of distress to be hoisted, but the Captain unconscious by liquor would not consent.
Between four and five o’clock, the water forced away the cabin deck windows and the luggage, provisions etc… floating up, the sea breaking over them.
The waves increased with the rising tide and at last brought the vessel on her broadside. Soon after, the boat and deck lumber were washed overboard. The wretched appearance of the passengers, with the exception of a few bold fellows and one young married lady was rendered truly distressing.
In fact, it would be impossible to convey the least idea of the deplorable situation of the females; indeed, many of the men were equally as helpless. Some were already incapable of making exertions through fear, and others so careless, that they required to be urged to make them. The boat had been stove at night and lying on deck unfit for sailing, yet might have been put in order, if we had been apprised of our danger. But now the time was too short, the confusion too great – the sailors fled to the shrouds, which first induced me to look that way for protection.
The luggage had been piled in this boat and many thronged upon it. Every moment seemed to increase the danger. Two valuable horses that had been in the hold were got out before this time and were thrown overboard. They took different directions, neither making to the shore; one swam towards Liverpool, the other out to sea.
The last time I saw the Captain was in making some exertion to get the horses overboard; even he was incapable of action. While this was taking place, the crippled boat in which the greater part of the cabin passengers were seated and the luggage placed, forced the skylight against which it lay and went overboard, leaving those who had been upon it to make the best of their way to a rope or the shrouds.
Those who had no strength remaining to rush there or swim to the fallen bowsprit, were compelled to hold by the next object, whether the railing or a rope. In a quarter of an hour more, at seven o’clock, the deck gave away, commencing at the stern and breaking up to the main hatchway nearly at once.
It was impossible to learn the exact number of those who perished but it may be safely stared at fifty souls. All the survivors stated the accident to have originated in the intoxication of the Captain and the greater part of his crew, the steward and one or two others only having done their duty.
Many of the passengers were of the most respectable families on their way to meet His Majesty in Ireland and carried with them considerable property.
Between seven and eight o’clock the Hoylake life-boat arrived and took on board about 30 of the passengers, all much exhausted and some of them in a dying state. A second boat arrived from Liverpool and received about eight more of the passengers. Before the third boat arrived the deck of the Earl of Moira was borne up by the sea and the masts fell.
Many of the women were swept away, but about twelve persons got into this boat. Out of 83 cabin passengers, only 16 were saved.
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