lizzie bain wreck

Lizzie Bain

The Lizzie Bain was a wooden smack, a traditional 19th century fishing boat. There is no record of where she was built and the boat was not registered at the time she was lost.

The boat was jointly owned by R Garden of Kirkwall and the three-man crew: John Loutitt; George Rendale and Peter Sinclair. The four men had owned the vessel for just 18 months before she was lost in Gutter Sound on 6 November 1888.

The Lizzie Bain left Scapa Pier near Kirkwall at 11am on 6 November 1888. It had four tonnes of goods on board and was bound for Longhope Bay in the south of Orkney. Of the three-man crew only Peter Sinclair had previous sea experience, having worked as a fisherman, but it was John Loutitt who took the role of skipper.

That afternoon the sloop Elizabeth Buchan observed the Lizzie Bain sailing through Gutter Sound in some difficulty and approached to see if they could be of any assistance. The wind had freshened from the south and when the Elizabeth Buchan was alongside her crew noticed the smack had dropped anchor. This was off the south-west point of Fara, a small island east of Hoy. The crew of the Elizabeth Buchan asked if they could offer help but were told that all was ok. They thought the position the Lizzie Bain had anchored was neither usual nor safe, as it was in the path of passing vessels. When the mate of the Elizabeth Buchan later went ashore to his house at Hackness he looked out to sea for the Lizzie Bain. He had a good view down the sound, but even as late as 11pm could not see the boat's lights.

The only others who saw any of the boat's men that day were crew members from the Norwegian steamship Bijou, which was at anchor in Longhope Bay. On board was James Anderson, who was acting as pilot. The captain of the steamship asked Anderson to row to the Lizzie Bain to obtain provisions. As he approached the boat he could see nobody aboard. When he tied up and climbed aboard he found a spirit bottle lying aft but the boat was otherwise deserted. Mr Anderson then rowed to another boat, which he described as a "floating shop", to buy the provisions. There he found John Loutitt and George Rendale from the Lizzie Bain, somewhat under the influence of drink. A short while after Anderson had returned to the steamship, Peter Sinclair turned up in the Lizzie Bain's small boat and spent a short time on the Bijou. He then made his way back to the smack, which was still at anchor off Fara. Anderson watched Peter Sinclair get close to Lizzie Bain but never saw him board.

That same day the steamship SS Queen left Aberdeen just before midday, headed for Stromness with goods, mail and passengers. At 11pm the steamship was starting through Gutter Sound. The night was described as dark and the SS Queen had reduced speed. At 11.30pm the lookout on the bow saw a smack's mast and rigging right under the bow, but before he could raise the alarm the ship ran through what the lookout described as the "hull of a small craft". This small craft was the Lizzie Bain. The SS Queen stopped and put her boat out but all that was found was some wreckage and an empty box marked R G (R Garden). John Loutitt, George Rendale and Peter Sinclair were never found.

The conclusion was that the Lizzie Bain had been anchored in the channel off the south-west point of Fara with no anchor light displayed. No blame was attached to the SS Queen or her crew.

  • Nationality: British
  • Date built: 1878
  • Type: Smack
  • Builder: Unknown
  • Purpose: General trading around the Orkney Islands
  • Weight: 14 tons
  • Cause of loss: Run down by SS Queen
  • Date lost: 6 November 1888
  • Registration: Unregistered Kirkwall boat