Strandings & Sinkings
Written by Ray Stanfield
Shipping accidents on and around the Manx coast
“By this time conditions were so severe that Captain Horsley was forced to abandon ship. In fact the list was by then so bad that the lifeboat could no longer get close enough to take him on board. Captain Horsley slid down the coaster’s hull into the sea and was picked up from the water.”
Strandings & Sinkings, page 63.
In the scheme of things, wrecks are wrong.
Ships should be forging out exploring the oceans. Or carrying cargo between lands. Or harvesting fish. At the very least they should be floating and not grounded.
Perhaps this is why so many of us find wrecks fascinating. It may be because they are mute witnesses to great heroism (and occasionally great idiocy), or provide an insight into the lives of those who crewed them. Some of us may find the maritime history fascinating, or like the fact that wrecks often provide useful homes for marine life.
Of course, not all ships which founder, stay down. Many are refloated to sail again.
The waters around the Isle of Man are notoriously tricky, so much so that what became the RNLI was founded here. A book of wrecks in Manx waters could never be comprehensive, but this provides an illustrated cross section of the tragedies and triumphs of riding the waves.
From the Publisher
There are a number of very good publications about wrecks in Britain and at least one excellent one about wrecks on and around the Manx coast. We wanted to do something a little different.
Photographs of wrecks are relatively scarce. Understandably, if the boat is sinking beneath you, there is little time for taking selfies. At the same time, photographs convey with more immediacy than text can, the dangers and heroism involved in seafaring.
So we thought we’d start with the pictures. If a ship wasn’t illustrated then it wasn’t included in the book. However, photography goes back further than you think, and boats in general have a long life. The earliest sinking mentioned is that of Racehorse in 1822 – the book contains underwater photography of some of her remains – and the most recent Alauna in 2023. The 200 years between the two wrecks saw a huge variety of boats learn the hard way about the dangers of the sea surrounding the Isle of Man.