FANDOM


 A McKay clipper.


LifeEdit

Built in 1853, a figurehead of a queen with a globe. Her maiden voyage was made from New York to San Fran in 121 days. In 1856, she was 115 days to the same place from New York. In 1857, same trip, only in 124 days. Burnt in 1869 to the waterline, her wreck can be seen at low tides.

More Details

Empress of the Sea was a magnificent wooden clipper built by prominent American ship builder Donald McKay in 1853. McKay was a leader in North American clipper design and intended to keep Empress of the Sea for his own use. Initially, the vessel sailed between America and the rich trading ports of the world. In 1858 it was sold to flamboyant and powerful ship owner James Baines. It then became part of the Black Ball Line, a shipping company which brought immigrants and cargo from Britain to Australia. The final voyage of Empress of the Sea In August 1861, Empress of the Sea berthed in Melbourne after an exceptionally fast voyage of 66 days from Liverpool. The vessel made a trip from Melbourne to Otago, New Zealand and back between Sep 13 and Oct 22. Some of the crew deserted the ship to seek their fortunes on the goldfields and new crew had to be found. The goldrush also lured farm labourers and city workers, creating a shortage in the labour market and a downturn in export trade. So, it was many months before Empress of the Sea had sufficient cargo and crew to return to England. On December 18, 1861, under the command of Captain J (Bully) Bragg, Empress of the Sea finally left Hobsons Bay with 12 passengers and 45 crew, some of whom had little or no seafaring experience. The ship was also carrying a very valuable cargo - £80,000 of gold, 2,711 bales of wool, 100 casks of whale oil, whale bone, bags of leather and woollens, wheat, flour and 180 tons of copper ore. Late that evening, the vessel arrived at Queenscliff where Captain Bragg and his first officer went ashore to find more crew. While they were away, a fire broke out in the forward hold and quickly spread through the ship. A Port Phillip Pilot, Mr Kennedy, who was on board Empress of the Sea, and another passenger, took command and ordered the crew to run the ship's pumps to send water down to the hold. Unfortunately the pump handles could not be found and the crew had to resort to passing buckets of water by hand. The fire was soon out of control. The Pilot decided to beach the ship at Point Nepean in order to save the cargo and hull. He steered the vessel toward the shore where it grounded in shallow water. Lifeboats were lowered and the passengers, crew and gold were off-loaded. The passengers and most of the crew rowed towards Queenscliff. Another boat with five crew and the gold could be seen disappearing towards the Heads. A Pilot boat managed to apprehend the crew and their "loot" and direct them towards Queenscliff. A Court of Inquiry held shortly after the wrecking, found that the fire was a deliberate act of arson. Goldman, the German quarter master, was the chief suspect. He had previously been convicted for murder but his sentence was reprieved on the gallow's scaffold. In spite of the suspicions circulating in the press, there was insufficient evidence to convict him. In late December, the hull and the remaining cargo of the Empress of the Sea were sold at auction for £3,750. Ship construction Empress of the Sea was built in Boston, Massachusetts of white oak and pitch pine sheathed in copper. It had three decks and its three wooden masts were all square rigged. A feature of Empress of the Sea was a female figurehead in white and gold which formed a beautiful ornament on the bow. The ship's saloon accommodation was luxurious. It was finished in mahogany, and decorated with comfortable sofas and gold-edged mirrors. The ship was very large and measured 240ft (72.7m) in length, 43ft (13m) in width, 27ft (8.1) deep and had a gross tonnage of 2200 tons. Despite its vast size, Empress of the Sea was said to look as beautiful and graceful as a yacht. It was certainly one of the best fitted merchant ships in the world with strong spars, perfect style of rigs and sails finished without regard to cost. Diving on the wreck of Empress of the Sea Empress of the Sea is one of the many historic shipwrecks included in Victoria's Underwater Shipwreck Discovery Trail. Qualified divers can explore the wrecks of old wooden clippers, iron steamships and cargo and passenger vessels located along the coast and in Port Phillip Bay. Some of these wreck dives are suitable for beginners while other wrecks require the skills and experience of advanced divers.Empress of the Sea was a magnificent wooden clipper built by prominent American ship builder Donald McKay in 1853. McKay was a leader in North American clipper design and intended to keep Empress of the Sea for his own use. Initially, the vessel sailed between America and the rich trading ports of the world. In 1858 it was sold to flamboyant and powerful ship owner James Baines. It then became part of the Black Ball Line, a shipping company which brought immigrants and cargo from Britain to Australia. The final voyage of Empress of the Sea In August 1861, Empress of the Sea berthed in Melbourne after an exceptionally fast voyage of 66 days from Liverpool. The vessel never again left Australian waters. Some of the crew deserted the ship to seek their fortunes on the goldfields and new crew had to be found. The goldrush also lured farm labourers and city workers, creating a shortage in the labour market and a downturn in export trade. So, it was many months before Empress of the Sea had sufficient cargo and crew to return to England. On December 18, 1861, under the command of Captain J (Bully) Bragg, Empress of the Sea finally left Hobsons Bay with 12 passengers and 45 crew, some of whom had little or no seafaring experience. The ship was also carrying a very valuable cargo - £80,000 of gold, 2,711 bales of wool, 100 casks of whale oil, whale bone, bags of leather and woollens, wheat, flour and 180 tons of copper ore. Late that evening, the vessel arrived at Queenscliff where Captain Bragg and his first officer went ashore to find more crew. While they were away, a fire broke out in the forward hold and quickly spread through the ship. A Port Phillip Pilot, Mr Kennedy, who was on board Empress of the Sea, and another passenger, took command and ordered the crew to run the ship's pumps to send water down to the hold. Unfortunately the pump handles could not be found and the crew had to resort to passing buckets of water by hand. The fire was soon out of control. The Pilot decided to beach the ship at Point Nepean in order to save the cargo and hull. He steered the vessel toward the shore where it grounded in shallow water. Lifeboats were lowered and the passengers, crew and gold were off-loaded. The passengers and most of the crew rowed towards Queenscliff. Another boat with five crew and the gold could be seen disappearing towards the Heads. A Pilot boat managed to apprehend the crew and their "loot" and direct them towards Queenscliff. A Court of Inquiry held shortly after the wrecking, found that the fire was a deliberate act of arson. Goldman, the German quarter master, was the chief suspect. He had previously been convicted for murder but his sentence was reprieved on the gallow's scaffold. In spite of the suspicions circulating in the press, there was insufficient evidence to convict him. In late December, the hull and the remaining cargo of the Empress of the Sea were sold at auction for £3,750. Ship construction Empress of the Sea was built in Boston, Massachusetts of white oak and pitch pine sheathed in copper. It had three decks and its three wooden masts were all square rigged. A feature of Empress of the Sea was a female figurehead in white and gold which formed a beautiful ornament on the bow. The ship's saloon accommodation was luxurious. It was finished in mahogany, and decorated with comfortable sofas and gold-edged mirrors. The ship was very large and measured 240ft (72.7m) in length, 43ft (13m) in width, 27ft (8.1) deep and had a gross tonnage of 2200 tons. Despite its vast size, Empress of the Sea was said to look as beautiful and graceful as a yacht. It was certainly one of the best fitted merchant ships in the world with strong spars, perfect style of rigs and sails finished without regard to cost. Diving on the wreck of Empress of the Sea Empress of the Sea is one of the many historic shipwrecks included in Victoria's Underwater Shipwreck Discovery Trail. Qualified divers can explore the wrecks of old wooden clippers, iron steamships and cargo and passenger vessels located along the coast and in Port Phillip Bay. Some of these wreck dives are suitable for beginners while other wrecks require the skills and experience of advanced divers.

Ad blocker interference detected!


Wikia is a free-to-use site that makes money from advertising. We have a modified experience for viewers using ad blockers

Wikia is not accessible if you’ve made further modifications. Remove the custom ad blocker rule(s) and the page will load as expected.