The Emerald was a wooden lugsail fishing boat with a crew of six men. On 10 June 1886 the boat was leaving Stromness harbour when it collided with the steamer St Clair.

The force of the collision cut the Emerald in two, with the stern sinking almost immediately and the six-man crew having to cling onto wreckage to stay afloat. They were all successfully rescued by local boats.

Orkney Herald - 16 June 1886 - Stromness, Collision in the harbour, Fishing Boat Sunk

On Thursday evening a serious collision took place at the entrance to Stromness Harbour, which happily was unattended with loss of life. The fishing boat Emerald 714 BF, of Findochty, belonging to Mr David Flett, arrived here that evening from the fishing ground with a large haul of fish, but being unable to sell them was turning out of the harbour as the steamer St Clair, from Shetland, was approaching the entrance.

The boat tacked close to the buoy, and was on the starboard tack when the steamer approached, but had got little or no way, and the fishermen expected that the steamer would pass their bow. The steamer however, put her helm to starboard, with the intention of rounding the stern of the boat, but this unfortunately she was unable to accomplish, as the distance between the two vessels was then little, and the steamer struck the boat with great force, cutting her down diagonally, the stern of the boat with the crew of six men sinking almost immediately, while the bow, with the mast and sail still standing, floated past the starboard bow of the steamer.

The boat was at once launched from the steamer, and several boats also put off from the shore to render assistance. The unfortunate crew, on regaining the surface of the water, got hold of some fishing buoys, corks and small pieces of the wreck which were floating near, by means of which they supported themselves until they were rescued – two by steamer's boat, and the other four by boats belonging to Mr F Stanger, shipbuilder.

The accident caused great excitement among the passengers on board the steamer and also in the town, where the occurrence was witnessed by a large number of people. The wreck has since been lifted and brought into shallow water. Much sympathy is felt in town for the fishermen, who not only lose their boat and some material, but most likely their summer’s work as well.

  • Date lost: 1886
  • Location: Stromness Harbour