Loch Ard (ship)
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|Builder:||Charles Connell & Company Scotstoun|
|Fate:||Wrecked 1st March, 1878.|
|Tons burthen:||1,693 t (1,666 long tons; 1,866 short tons)|
|Length:||263 ft (80 m)|
|Sail plan:||3 masts|
Loch Ard was a clipper which was wrecked in the bight between Moonlight Head and Port Campbell, just off the Shipwreck Coast of Victoria, Australia in 1878. The name was drawn from Loch Ard, a loch which lies to the west of Aberfoyle, and to the east of Loch Lomond. It means "high lake" in Scottish Gaelic.
Loch Ard belonged to the Loch Line, a major shipping line operating between Great Britain and Australia. It was a three-masted clipper ship, of 263' in length, with a tonnage of 1693 tonnes, and was constructed by Barclay, Curdle & Co. of Glasgow.
Final voyage and wreck
Loch Ard departed England on 1 March 1878, bound for Melbourne, commanded by Captain Gibb and with a crew of 37 men. It was carrying 17 passengers and assorted cargo (total of 54 people). On 1 June, the ship was approaching Melbourne. The crew expected to sight land but encountered heavy fog. The inquest determined that, unable to see the Cape Otway lighthouse; having faulty chronometers on board; and not having been able to take a reading to establish his exact position due to bad weather conditions over the previous few days, the captain was unaware how close he was running to the coast. The fog lifted around 4am, revealing breakers and cliff faces. Captain Gibb quickly ordered sail to be set to come about and get clear of the coast, but they were unable to do so in time, and ran aground on a reef. The masts and rigging came crashing down, killing some people on deck and preventing the lifeboats from being launched effectively. The ship sank within 10 or 15 minutes of striking the reef.
The widespread popular belief that Captain Gibb mistook the opening of the nearby Loch Ard Gorge for Port Phillip Heads has no basis in fact or probability: there is no physical or cartographic resemblance whatsoever; ships are obliged to stop outside the Heads to take on a pilot; and the Loch Ard never entered the Gorge at all.
The only two survivors of the wreck were Eva Carmichael, who survived by clinging to a spar for five hours, and Thomas (Tom) R. Pearce, an apprentice who clung to the overturned hull of a lifeboat. Tom Pearce came ashore first, then heard Eva's shouts and went back into the ocean to rescue her. They came ashore at what is now known as Loch Ard Gorge and sheltered there before seeking assistance. Coincidentally, Tom Pearce was the step son of James Pearce, captain of the SS Gothenburg.
Loch Ard's cargo included a range of luxury goods, including a grand piano which washed up in the Gorge, and a large decorative porcelain peacock made by Minton in England, intended to be displayed in the Melbourne International Exhibition in 1880. The peacock was recovered intact and was eventually able to be displayed a century later for the Victoria Pavilion at the Brisbane 1988 World Exposition. It is now on display at the Flagstaff Hill Maritime Museum in Warrnambool, along with a number of other relics of the wreck.
- Lubbock, Basil (1921). The Colonial Clippers (2nd ed.). Glasgow: James Brown & Son. pp. 290, 247–250. OCLC 1750412.
- Christopher, Peter (2012). Australian Shipwrecks. A Pictorial History (2nd ed.). Stepney, South Australia: Axiom Publishing. pp. 39–45. ISBN 978-1-8647658-8-5.
- "THE LOCH ARD LOST". The Argus (Melbourne) (9, 972). Victoria, Australia. 3 June 1878. p. 5. Retrieved 9 March 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
- "THE LOSS OF THE LOCH ARD. SISTER SHIP, TO THE LOCH TAY". Cairns Post. XXXV (5137). Queensland, Australia. 18 March 1925. p. 3. Retrieved 9 March 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
- Picture Australia (2009). Captain James Pearce. Retrieved on 4 June 2009.
- The Loch Ard disaster / J.K. Loney (1970, ISBN 0-9599853-1-X)
- The wreck of the Loch Ard: end of a ship, end of an era / D.E. Charlwood (1971, ISBN 0-207-12316-0)
- Wrecks & reputations: the loss of the Schomberg and Loch Ard / Don Charlwood (1993, 3rd edition - ISBN 0-646-28006-6)
- The young hero schottische (music) / composed by Coleman Jacobs ... "dedicated by permission to Mr. Thomas R. Pearce, the gallant survivor of the 'Loch Ard'", including photograph
- Shipwreck Discovery Trails: Loch Ard
- Interview with the Loch Ard Peacock, by Foundation Expo '88
- "Loch Ard Dive Site". The Scuba Doctor.