strathelliot wreck


The steam trawler Strathelliot grounded in Orkney during bad weather in October 1952 with no loss of life.

George Simpson skippered the Aberdeen vessel and worked relentlessly to save his boat alongside Orcadians. Continued bad weather hampered their attempts and even resulted in Simpson needing to be rescued once more as he attempted to prepare the Strathelliot to be re-floated.

The trawler was never saved and it now lies in pieces in Hoy Sound.

Orkney Herald - 28 October 1952 - Trawler Crew Rescued by Breeches Buoy

After grounding on the skerry off Selwick, Hoy, during the severe south-easterly gale which swept Orkney on Thursday the Aberdeen Trawler Strathelliot was still fast last night. Unless there is a reoccurrence of the stormy conditions it is hoped she may be re-floated today or tomorrow but it will depend on the weather. Since the weekend the vessel has been lightened considerably. During Sunday and yesterday local craft from Stromness took a considerable amount of heavy gear, coal and ice off her. Though she was heavily pounded by the sea on Friday the Strathelliot is reported to have suffered no severe damage.

For six hours during Thursday night and Friday morning in wild conditions, Longhope life-saving apparatus company worked to take all 12 members of Strathelliot's crew off by Breeches buoy. Earlier the Stromness lifeboat had been prevented by the heavy seas from getting alongside the trawler, but she played a vital part in the rescue by taking heavy life saving gear from the Longhope crew.

The Orcadian - 30 October 1952 - In Trouble Again

Another rescue by breeches buoy had to be made late on Tuesday night when three men – including the skipper George Simpson of Aberdeen – who had returned to the Strathelliot found themselves on board cut off by huge seas which had been suddenly whipped up by a southerly gale. The rescue was carried out in gusts of over 50 m.p.h after the Stromness Lifeboat had been launched just before 8 p.m. to convey the Stromness Lifesaving Company, 18 strong, and their heavy equipment to Hoy, where they joined up with members of the Hoy and Longhope companies at Selwick.

Once again Station Officer Clark of the Kirkwall Coastguard made a 15 mile dash by road to Stromness in order to join the Lifeboat and take charge of the land operations in Hoy, just as he had done five nights previously. Altogether about 30 men took part in the rescue.

Across 360 yards or more of gale lashed seas, the first man, Mr Ritch was brought safely to the shore at 11.00 p.m. by breeches buoy. The next man followed and at 11.48 p.m. the skipper himself was taken off. For two thirds of the way the three of them had to be dragged through water. Huge seas had been sweeping over the trawler earlier on. The shore rescuers worked in the light of small searchlights.

The Orcadian - 6 November 1952 - Trawler: Total Loss

The Aberdeen trawler Strathelliot, which went aground on rocks at Selwick in Hoy Sound on October 23, has been given up as a constructive total loss. Her skipper George Simpson, after having a last look at his ship from Quildon, Stromness, left Orkney for Aberdeen by air on Saturday with his mate, Peter Simpson, and engineer Wm Farquhar. "I shall never forget the kindness of the Orkney people," he told the Orcadian.

The skipper's last view of the Strathelliot was from the cottage Quildon. The trawler lies 360 metres from the shore with a heavy list to port. The midships part of her keel is twisted, her coffin plate and stern frame fractured and bent. Her insurance value is £9000 and an attempt to re-float her and have her repaired would be uneconomic. She will be sold as a wreck. At high tide heavy seas swirl over her, at low tide she is high and dry. Before he went away, Mr Simpson left this message to the people of Orkney.

"My crew and I wish to thank the people of Orkney, and in particular the Hoy, Longhope and Stromness Life-Saving Companies; the Stromness Lifeboat; Mr and Mrs Issac Moar and Mr and Mrs Wallace of Hoy; and all concerned for the kindness shown and the help they gave us in connection with the unsuccessful efforts to re-float the Strathelliot."

The Orcadian - 7 January 1954

It was for directing the rescue of 12 men off the Aberdeen trawler Strathelliot on the night of October 24, 1952, the Coastguard Station Officer James Clark received the B.E.M. in the Queen's New Years Honours list. The wreck still lies in Hoy Sound having survived the 1952-53 winter and still whole to resist another one.


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