12 miles south of Jurien Bay/Sand Reef
Europa, originally named Haidee, was an iron barque built by C. Mitchell & Co., Newcastle, England, in 1869 for John Annan Simpson of Leith. According to Lloyd’s Register it was built under Special Survey and of heavier plate than the rules required. Although it had only one deck it was fitted with two tiers of beams.
At some time it was sold to Jean J. Bordes of Bordeaux, France, and during this ownership it was involved in a stranding in 1895. It was later sold to interests who registered the vessel in British Bermuda. The date of the name change is not known, but in the 1888 Lloyd’s Register it is still called Haidee. At the time of wrecking the vessel, now called Europa, was owned by O.R. Treglia and registered in Castellamaire, Italy.
The Europa sailed from Glasgow on 11 October 1896. The master, Captain Viponi (Henderson, 1986) or Tommaso di Janni, (Cairns & Henderson, 1995) claimed that as he approached the Western Australian coast his chronometer had malfunctioned. He was therefore unsure of his position and, although out of sight of land, had used his lead to ascertain the depth of water. At about 8.00 to 8.30 on the morning of 10 January 1897 he found a depth of 25–30 fathoms between Sand Knoll Ledge and Escape Bay. The Europa struck a reef about half an hour later. The sea was fairly calm and the weather was hazy.
The Europa filled to the level of the main deck, and it was obvious there was little chance of getting it off. The sails were left all standing. The crew abandoned the vessel at 6.00 p.m. on 11 January and went by boat to the mainland, where they set up a camp under the command of the First Mate. The Master and Second Mate, Alberigo, obtained assistance from nearby Hamersley station to travel to Fremantle to report the wrecking. To prevent salvage claims on an abandoned vessel, the crew were ordered to keep watch and re-board the Europa if any other vessel approached.
It was 16 January before the Master reported to the Italian Consular Agent, Elias Solomon. The SS Eleanor set out with Customs Officer Armstrong and Lloyd’s surveyor, Captain Webster, on board. On arrival at the wreck Webster found that the water was level with the deck on the port side aft, but 1.8 m below the foredeck.
Captain Webster reported that the Adelaide Steamship Co. Ltd’s SS Lubra had already started unloading cargo from the wreck. Captain Owen, Adelaide Steamship’s Marine Superintendent, was supervising the discharge of cargo and he formally handed over the wreck to the Customs Officer. Some of the crew of the Europa had come out from the beach, but had been unable to prevent the transfer of cargo. In fact Police Constable Casserly of Gingin, who had been sent to investigate the whereabouts of the crew on the beach, reported that five of the Europa’s crew were helping to discharge the cargo into the Lubra.
There was no inquiry, as these were only held for foreign owned ships if requested by the diplomatic representative of that country after he had received a Captain’s report on the event.
The Europa was at first considered to be not badly damaged. It was thought that she could be salvaged if lightened by the removal of some or all of the cargo. This consisted of 573 tons of ‘deadweight’ (see glossary) and 995 tons of ‘measurement’ (i.e. by volume). It was mainly bar iron and steel, cases of beer, stout and whiskey, hogsheads of beer, china plates and 130 packages of weighing machines for the government. The value of this cargo was about £11?000.
The Lubra under the supervision of Captain Owen, Adelaide Steamship’s Marine Superintendent, salvaged some 600 tons of cargo (largely cased alcohol) by 17 January and this was taken to Fremantle. Five of the crew of Lubra were left on board to maintain the salvage claim. A week later a further 200–300 tons of cargo (mainly cased liquor, bedding and plate) was salvaged and taken to Fremantle by the Lubra. The crew of the Lubra also removed sails and probably some of the rigging. The steam tug Beagle acting for the underwriters and agents, W. Sandover and Company, made an attempt at salvaging the vessel, but due to rough weather was unable to get along side.
Salvaged cargo was stored in Fremantle by the Adelaide Steamship Co. Ltd until satisfactory arrangements could be made with the Europa’s agents. Shortly after the last of the dry cargo was removed, the barque and its remaining cargo were sold to Connor & Doherty for £220. They used the Beagle to continue salvage and removed most of the remainder of the cargo.
The wreck lies 125 km south of Dongara, 7.4 km from Escape Island and 5.6 km from Sand Knoll Ledge and is 4 km from the nearest part of the mainland.
Most of the hull of the Europa lies on top of the reef in 4–6 m of water, but the stern and part of the starboard side has collapsed into reef holes 10–12 m deep. The keel lies in an east-west direction, bow towards the shore. Some of the cargo, mainly bottles and crockery (broken and intact), remains trapped by the collapsed iron decking and is also scattered in the vicinity. Two anchors lie on site, one to the north of the wreck and one to the south.
EXCAVATION AND ARTEFACTS
The initial wreck inspection by the Western Australian Museum recovered a number of artefacts including 103 intact china plates and bottles, and fragments of bottles, jars and plates. Some brass and copper items including a porthole were also recovered. No formal excavation has been carried out on the wreck. In 1986 approval was given for an anchor to be raised for exhibition in the town of Cervantes. The anchor was raised by the Museum with the assistance of local people including Bill McLay, the finder of the wreck. The Dandaragan Shire then conserved and mounted the anchor under the Museum’s guidance.
Owner McBean, Bowker and Company of Perth and Fremantle
Master Tommaso di Janni
Country Built UK
Port Built Newcastle-on-Tyne
Port Registered Castellamaire, Italy
When Built 1869
Gouped Region Mid-West
Sinking Grounded on reef
When Lost 1897/10/01
Where Lost 12 miles south of Jurien Bay/Sand Reef
Port From Glasgow
Port To Fremantle
Official Number 62283
Unique Number 206
Sunk Code Wrecked and sunk
File Number 2009/0112/SG _MA-379/77
Chart Number AUS 753
Protected Protected Federal
Date Inspected 36226