At anchor, Hamelin Bay
The Chaudiere was built by W. Doxford at Sunderland for H. & W. Douglas of London, and launched in December 1863. It had a raised quarter deck 12.5 m long, was copper fastened and sheathed with felt and yellow metal. In both 1869 and 1870 the iron beams were damaged and repaired. In 1879 the vessel was owned by Shaw, Savill and Company. In early 1883 it was sold by William Duthie to Maurice Coleman Davies, the owner of considerable timber rights in the south-west of Western Australia. The place of purchase is given as either Adelaide (Inquirer, 11 July 1883: 2f) or Melbourne (Inquirer, 11 April 1883: 2e). Davies intended to use the barque exclusively in the timber trade from Western Australia to Adelaide and Melbourne. The Chaudiere was under the command of William Hayes, and had arrived in Hamelin Bay on 23 May 1883. There were strong winds for the first six weeks, and it was only on 1 July that loading of sleepers could commence.
During the subsequent inquiries Captain Hayes stated that the Chaudiere was anchored in 7 fathoms (12.8 m) about half to three-quarters of a mile from the shore and about 2 cables (366 m) from Peak Island and Mushroom Rock. The anchor bearings he took showed that the vessel was on a line through Peak and Hamelin islands, and Mushroom Rock lay nearly south. Both anchors weighed 22 cwt (1.12 tonnes) and were equipped with chain cables (3.2 cm diameter on the port and 4.5 cm diameter on the starboard). When it began blowing hard from the north-west he payed out an additional 105 fathoms (192 m) of cable on the port anchor and 90 fathoms (165 m) on the starboard anchor. Hayes went ashore on 3 July to arrange the repair of some pumping gear, but was unable to get back aboard that day because of the deteriorating weather. During the night the wind changed to west-north-west, and on receiving news the following morning that the Chaudiere was dragging, Hayes somehow managed to get aboard. The vessel continued to drag and then struck, so the captain ordered more cable to be payed out and sails loosed in order to ‘harden on the beach’. However the Chaudiere went broadside on. The crew were taken ashore immediately as the barometer was continuing to fall and night was approaching. Captain Hayes later stated that he thought that there was ‘something broken or injured’ about the starboard anchor.
At the Preliminary Court of Inquiry held at Hamelin before the subcollector of Customs, L. Harris, and Dr Charles Smith Bompas, J.P., into the loss of the Chaudiere, the first mate, John Le Brun, was charged with not using an extra anchor. The subsequent Court of Inquiry lacked suitable experience and the charge was not sustained, although the court did censure Le Brun for ‘having kept his log in such a manner as to be of no use whatsoever’. This was despite evidence by Captain Hayes that Le Brun was a competent mate, whose only failing was that, coming from the island of Jersey, he had a language problem which made his log keeping poor. The Attorney-General later stated that the alleged incompetence regarding log keeping had no bearing on the loss of the Chaudiere.
Captain Hayes’ chronometer is in the possession of Mrs Peggy Davies, whose husband was the grandson of Maurice Coleman Davies.
The wreck of the Chaudiere lies some 650 m north of the base of the Hamelin Jetty, and about 300 m off the beach.
The wreck of the Chaudiere lies on a sandy bottom in 5–6 m water, bow towards the shore on an axis of 97°. The wreckage extends over an area of approximately 35.5 m by 8.5 m. There are the remains of both the planking (95 mm thick) and inner ceiling (70 mm thick), together with paired frames. These frames are 225 mm by 270 mm, with 90–120 mm between each pair. The timber is reported as being soft and damaged by marine borers. Some iron fastenings protrude from the sand in the midships area, and a jumble of iron deck beams stretch from there aft. Little remains of the yellow metal sheathing, although the tarred felt placed between the planking and the sheathing is still visible. The windlass (3.9 m long), an iron mast partner with a diamond shaped hole, an iron strapped deadeye and the conspicuous cargo of sleepers are also visible.
EXCAVATION AND ARTEFACTS
The museum wreck inspection conducted by Scott Sledge on 27 April 1977 recovered three samples of timber of the planking and frames, a yellow metal fastening bolt, a piece of lead sheet and a stoneware pot sherd.
Owner M.C. Davies of the Jarrahdale Timber Company
Master Captain William Hayes
Country Built UK
Port Built Sunderland
Port Registered Adelaide
When Built 1863
Gouped Region South-West-Coast
Sinking Gale, dragged anchor
When Lost 1883/07/04
Where Lost At anchor, Hamelin Bay
Position Information GPS from DoLA Aerial 2004/3/31
Official Number 48683
Unique Number 38
Sunk Code Wrecked and sunk
File Number 2009/0089/SG _MA-355/77
Chart Number AUS 116
Protected Protected Federal
Date Inspected 2011/02