Shipwreck Databases Western Australian Museum

Wave (1848/07/05)

Cheynes Beach, Cape Riche

Wave was built in Bermuda with one deck, a square stern, billet head, no galleries and was copper sheathed. It was owned by R. Brown and registered in London. At that time it was registered at Lloyd’s as a brig. In 1847 it was bought by William Younghusband and Co. of Adelaide, registered at that port (No. 9/1847), and is then referred to as a brigantine, so it is possible that the new owners changed the rig. Under the command of James C. Coke, it was sailing from Adelaide to Shanghai via Cape Riche, Albany and Singapore. The cargo included flour, which at that time was in very short supply in Western Australia, and the vessel’s arrival was looked forward to with some anxiety. The Wave had departed Adelaide on 5 June 1848, and was to take on a cargo of sandalwood at Albany.

While anchored with two anchors down in Cheyne Bay near Cape Riche the Wave was hit by a heavy gale from the north-east which blew the brigantine ashore. The crew reached shore safely. The Reverend John Ramsden Wollaston, newly arrived in Albany, wrote in his diary: ‘Strong suspicions have since arisen that this wreck was purposely contrived to obtain the insurance’ (Henn, 1954: 39).

On receiving news of the wreck of the Wave the colonial schooner Champion under the command of Lieutenant Benjamin Franklin Helpman, then at Albany, sailed on 8 July to render assistance to the survivors, and to save what cargo it could. It managed to get the Wave off the shore, but the brigantine suddenly filled with water and sank. The Champion arrived back in Albany some days later with the crew and part of the damaged cargo. The crew, apart from the captain, were then taken on to Fremantle by the Champion, arriving there on 21 July. Captain Coke travelled back to Adelaide on board the Royal Navy’s paddle steamer HMS Acheron, commanded by Captain John Lort Stokes, ‘there being no probability of meeting at the Sound with a vessel proceeding to Adelaide direct, for some time’ (Sydney Morning Herald, 21 August 1848: 2b).

The brig Arpenteur, under the command of Captain Allen, was also employed in salvaging cargo from the wreck. The Arpenteur’s owners had purchased the wreck of the Wave and that cargo not already salvaged for £330. The brig is recorded as arriving in Fremantle on 20 August with a cargo consisting of ‘27½ tons flour, 1 000 bushels wheat, and the rigging, sails, &c., of the schooner Wave’ (Perth Gazette, 26 August 1848: 2a).

The wreck of the Wave lies between the boat ramp and a small reef at Cape Riche.

The wreck lies in 3 m of water on a sand bottom. A large timber with lead sheathing, probably the stem post or gripe with what is most likely a section of the keel attached, is buried in the sand. Other wreck timbers lie trapped in the reef. A number of ceramic and glass sherds are scattered on the beach.

In January 1988 an inspection of the wreck of the Wave by Dr Michael McCarthy of the Department of Maritime Archaeology, Western Australian Museum, recovered a brass spike fragment and a stealer plank with copper spikes. Prior to this the finder, Robert Davy, had salvaged a holy-stone, some timber, a grind stone, scupper and copper bolts.


Ship Built

Country Built West Indies

Port Built Victoria Bermuda

Port Registered Adelaide

When Built 1847

Ship Lost

Gouped Region South-Coast

When Lost 1848/07/05

Where Lost Cheynes Beach, Cape Riche

Latitude -34.594518

Longitude 118.751646

Port From Port Adelaide

Port To Shanghai

Cargo General

Ship Details

Engine N

Length 23.07

Beam 6.22

TONA 107.00

Draft 3.29

Museum Reference

Unique Number 788

Sunk Code Wrecked and sunk

File Number 2009/0213/SG _MA-63/88

Chart Number BA 1034

Protected Protected Federal

Found Y

Inspected Y

Date Inspected 1998/01

Confidential NO