Loch Sloy

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For the Scottish loch, see Loch Sloy Hydro-Electric Scheme.
Loch Sloy
Loch Sloy
Civil Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg
Name: Loch Sloy
Owner: Loch Line
Builder: D. and W. Henderson and Company, Glasgow
Launched: August 1877
In service: 1877
Out of service: 24 April 1899
Fate: Wrecked 24 April 1899
General characteristics
Class and type: Clipper
Tons burthen: 1,280 tons
Length: 225 ft 4 in (68.68 m)
Beam: 35 ft 5 in (10.80 m)
Depth of hold: 21 ft 2 in (6.45 m)
Propulsion: Sail
Sail plan: Barque
Complement: 26 crew

Loch Sloy was a Scottish sailing barque that operated between Great Britain and Australia from the late 19th century until 1899.[1] Her name was drawn from Loch Sloy, a freshwater loch which lies to the north of the Burgh of Helensburgh, in the region of Argyll and Bute, Scotland. Ships Captains: 1877 - 1885 James Horne, 1885 – 1890 John McLean, 1890 – 1895 Charles Lehman, 1895 – 1896 James R. George, 1896 – 1899 William J. Wade, 1899 Peter Nicol.[2]

In the early hours of 24 April 1899, Loch Sloy overran her distance when trying to pick up the light at Cape Borda and was wrecked on Brothers Rocks, about 300 metres from shore off Maupertuis Bay, Kangaroo Island, South Australia.[3] Of the 34 passengers and crew on board, there were only four survivors, one who died from injuries and exposure shortly afterwards.[4][5]

History and description[edit]

Loch Sloy was built in 1877 by D. and W. Henderson and Company, Glasgow, Yard No 178 for the Glasgow Shipping Company, more commonly known as the Loch Line.[6][7]

Under the command of Captain Peter Nicol, Loch Sloy was on passage from Glasgow to Adelaide and Melbourne with a load of general cargo and seven passengers, including 2 women; David Kilpatrick, a cook from Glasgow (25), George Lamb, a clerk from Edinburgh, (30), Robert Logan, a piano tuner from Inverness, (40), Alexander McDonald, an engineer from Aberdeen (34), Captain Osmond Leicester (30) and Mrs Leicester (real name Blanche Sophia Meyer-Edmunds, 26, but listed as 30; Osmond's real wife Fermina had been abandoned) of Liverpool, and Rosalind Cartlidge (25).[5] In the early hours of 24 April 1899, she met with disaster on the coast of Kangaroo Island at the mouth of the Investigator Strait, South Australia. The ship overran her distance when trying to pick up the light at Cape Borda. She was too close inshore and the light was hidden by the cliffs between Cape Bedout and Cape Couedie. In the darkness of the morning she ran full on to a reef 300 yards from shore to the north of the Casuarina Islets in Maurpetuis Bay.[1][4][8]

The crew and passengers took refuge in the rigging, but one by one the masts broke and went over the side and the men were hurled into the breakers. There was little opportunity for her crew to save themselves. The ship had struck well off shore and only four men reached it - a passenger, two able seamen and an apprentice. None of the survivors remembered how they actually got ashore; they heard the crash of the masts, and then felt the wreckage bumping them about in the surf.[1]

Crew of the final voyage[edit]

Ship's Officers

  • Captain: Peter Nicol, 38, Peterhead, Aberdeenshire.
  • First Officer: John MacMillan, 25, Fortrose, Inverness-shire.
  • Second Officer: Geoffrey J. Twidale, 24, Glentham, Lincoln, England.
  • Third Officer: Thomas Allan Cleland, 21, Blythswood, Glasgow, Lanarkshire.

Ship's Specialists

  • Carpenter: Hugh McBride 25, Greenock, Renfrewshire.
  • Sailmaker: Robert Birnie, 22, Amoy, China.
  • Chief Steward: William M. Hardinge, 48, Gloucestershire, England.
  • Second Steward: John A. Browne, 26, Liverpool.
  • Cook: John Chisholm, 34, Inverness.

Five Apprentices

  • William ‘Willie’ John Simpson 19, Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire.
  • George W. Youden, 19, Dover, Kent, England.
  • Thomas H. Leach, 18, Hull, Yorkshire, England.
  • Robert Milligan, 16, Portobello, Midlothian.
  • Frederick William Lyons, 20, Baymount, Sligo.

Able Seamen

  • Peter Cleland AB, 24, Bothwell, Lanarkshire.
  • John Buchanan AB, 35, Uig, Ross-shire.
  • John Finlayson AB, 29, Inverness.
  • Johan ‘John’ Olsson AB, 35, Gothenburg, Sweden.
  • Paul Blasznowski AB, 38, Danzic, Westpreußen, Germany.
  • John Terry AB, 38, Ramsgate, Kent, England.
  • William Mitchell AB, 47, Caldewgate, Carlisle.
  • Duncan McMillan AB, 22, Dundee, Forfar.
  • George Caclard AB, 38, Rouen, France.
  • Bernard Sterne AB, 25, Poland, Germany.

Ordinary Seamen

  • Archibald 'Archie' Martin OS, 19, Govan, Lanarkshire.
  • Robert John Haddow Smith OS, 27, Haddington, East Lothian.
  • William ‘Paddy’ Cummings OS ‘Deckboy’, Ireland.


The four survivors, David Kilpatrick a passenger from Paisley, Renfrewshire, William John Simpson, the 19-year-old apprentice, and nephew of the captain, and two able seamen William Mitchell and Duncan McMillan, had to scale steep cliffs before they could even begin to get help.[8] Kilpatrick was in a fearful state and could not climb up but eventually his companions helped him to the top, cutting his feet badly during the climb.

Cape Borda Lighthouse

McMillan, the strongest of the survivors, left to find assistance, but after three days he had not returned, and the remaining three men decided to try to reach Cape Borda lighthouse. McMillan returned and finding the others gone, again set out for help, this time finding the May family, one of whom rode to the lighthouse where a search was organised.[9]

The three other survivors were many miles from a settlement and were forced to survive on shell fish and dead penguins cast up by the sea.[10] Unable to keep up with the others due to injuries and exposure, Kilpatrick was too ill to continue. The two others made him as comfortable as possible and he was left behind. Simpson and Mitchell were eventually found seventeen days after the disaster in a terrible state, slowly making their way to the Cape Borda Lightstation. They were without food, having given all they possessed to Kilpatrick, but the remains of two dead penguins were tied around their necks.[5][11]

Mitchell subsequently stated that the ship was in fairly calm water half an hour before she struck. The boats might have been got out, but no attempt was made, the captain hoping to "bout ship" (change direction of the ship).[12]

The body of David Kilpatrick was found nearly a month after the disaster. He was buried where found and his stone grave can still be seen today as a memorial to those who died in shipwrecks on Kangaroo Island's west coast.[5]


The ship’s wreck site is protected by the Commonwealth Historic Shipwrecks Act 1976 and is located at 36°00′00″S 136°40′48″E / 36.00000°S 136.68000°E / -36.00000; 136.68000Coordinates: 36°00′00″S 136°40′48″E / 36.00000°S 136.68000°E / -36.00000; 136.68000.[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Lubbock, Basil (2005). The Colonial Clippers. Published by Kessinger Publishing. OCLC 185535859 ISBN 1-4179-6416-2.
  2. ^ The Ships List (2006), Tonnage: 1280 tons, Length: 225.5 feet, Breadth: 35.6 feet, Draught: 21.2 feet. Glasgow Shipping Company: Loch Line. Retrieved on 9 August 2008.
  3. ^ "Wreck of the Loch Sloy". Sydney Morning Herald. 12 May 1899. Retrieved 26 December 2015. 
  4. ^ a b Hocking, Charles (1969). Dictionary of disasters at sea during the age of steam. Lloyd's Register of Shipping, London. OCLC 47378 ISBN 0-900528-03-6.
  5. ^ a b c d Kangaroo Island Shipwreck Trail (2008). Wreck of the Loch Sloy. Retrieved on 6 August 2008.
  6. ^ Clyde Built Ships (2006). Vessel Name: Loch Sloy. Retrieved on 6 August 2008.
  7. ^ The Wreck Site (2007). Loch Sloy (1899). Retrieved on 6 August 2008.
  8. ^ a b New York Times (1911). Wrecks that Mark the Seven Seas from Glasgow to Australia. Retrieved on 6 August 2008.
  9. ^ State Library of South Australia (2007). Shipwrecks and sea rescue: Shipwrecks, 1890-1899. Retrieved on 6 August 2008.
  10. ^ ABC News (2003). Shipwrecks: Loch Vennachar. Retrieved on 18 September 2008.
  11. ^ Kangaroo Island Wilderness Resort (2008). West Bay: In the Kangaroo Island region of South Australia. Retrieved on 18 September 2008.
  12. ^ National Library of New Zealand. (1899). The Loch Sloy Wreck. Retrieved on 6 August 2008.
  13. ^ "View Shipwreck - Loch Sloy". Australian National Shipwreck Database. Retrieved 24 July 2012.

External links[edit]