and Story of the German Schooner Maria Wrecked of Sandend Bay, Portsoy,
Banffshire, Scotland in 1903.
Banffshire Reporter, Wednesday, April 15th, 1903: -
GERMAN VESSEL WRECKED AT SANDEND, CREW SAVED - On Saturday morning
what appeared to be a foreign vessel was observed making for the Firth. A
strong westerly wind was blowing at the time - so fiercely that the ship was
compelled to put into Sandend Bay and cast anchor. This would be about 10.30
am. The vessel took up what was considered by the seafaring class a very
dangerous position, the sea being very tempestuous.
On Sunday morning the vessel was still riding at anchor in the bay and
labouring heavily. The gale kept blowing as fiercely as ever, and fears were
entertained that the vessel might drift on to the rocks. The ship was being
closely watched by the Coastguards and a number of fishermen. About noon on
Sunday she was observed to be dragging her anchors slightly. The sea
increasing Mr. Pitts, the chief Coastguard stationed at Portsoy, deemed it
expedient to proceed with the life-saving apparatus. He also took the
precaution to wire for the Buckie lifeboat to come and render assistance.
Life-saving Brigade promptly turned out, and in a short time arrived with
the apparatus. On reaching the scene they found the ship labouring heavily
some 500 yards off the land. The apparatus stood by until after the arrival
of the lifeboat about 9.00 pm when, being of no further use, they returned
to the station. During the time the apparatus was out the weather was very
boisterous, accompanied by heavy showers of hail, which made it very
uncomfortable for the men.
lifeboat arrived in the bay no lights were to be seen on the doomed vessel.
A blue light was consequently exhibited from the shore to guide the lifeboat
towards the spot where the ship was lying at anchor. After standing by the
vessel for a couple of hours, the lifeboat made for Portsoy, reaching the
harbour in safety about 11.30 pm. The crew reported that the master and crew
refused to leave the vessel, being apparently convinced that they would be
able to ride out the storm.
During the early hours of Monday morning the sea and wind increased, and the
vessel commenced to drag her anchors and to exhibit signals of distress. The
Coastguards and members of brigade proceeded again to the apparatus at 5.30
am and Mr. Pitts wired Lossiemouth for the lifeboat, the Buckie lifeboat
being moored at Portsoy and the crew home. On arriving with the apparatus it
was found that the vessel had driven ashore close to the rocks at
Dunniedeich, near by the salmon bothy. The crew, five in number, were
speedily hauled on shore, communication with the vessel having been readily
established, there being many willing hands on shore eager to assist. Mrs.
McKay extended her kindly hospitality to the Captain, the other members of
the crew receiving like treatment at the hands of Mr. Wm. Smith, No. 12; Mr.
Wm. Smith, No. 8; Mr. John Sutherland, No. 49: and Mr. John Smith, No. 2.
The ship rapidly broke up, and in the course of a few hours was completely
shattered, the wreckage being strewn across the beach.
The schooner turned out to be the "Maria," of Barsell, Oldenburg, Germany (
Hermann Hibben, master and owner); 76 tons register. The "Maria" left London
on the 29th. ult. bound for Buckie with a cargo of valuable manure.
praise is due to Mr. Pitts and the other members of the Coastguard, the
Life-saving Brigade, and the large number of Sandend and Portsoy fishermen
for the active interest they took in the welfare of the crew and their
The sale of
the wreck and cargo took place last night at six o'clock, at Dunniedeich.
The lots which were strewn for a quarter of a mile along the coast, were
quickly disposed of for firewood, the total amount realised being £10 19s
8d. The cargo of manure was sold for £10 to Mr. McWilliam, Beechbank. The
two anchors and cables, as they lie in the sea fetched 10s.
Yesterday the crew were forwarded to the German Consul at Aberdeen by Mr.
Pitts, the hon. agent at Portsoy of the Shipwrecked Mariner's Society. The
captain left for home this morning.
A gold watch and chain belonging to one of the crew was picked up near the
scene of the wreck, little the worse to all appearance.
The Buckie lifeboat remained in Portsoy harbour until yesterday afternoon,
when she was manned by the crew (who came over by rail) and set sail for the