schooner ,tall ship   Home
Schooner & Sailing Terms
Sea Tale Books Sales
Maritime @ Seafaring Art 

Schooner Man

Clipper Sailing Ships

Much of the information on this page comes from
Clipper Sailing Ships
The Power of Gold
Emigrant Ships to Australia in the Forties.
Report on Steerage Conditions in 1844.
The Discovery of Gold in Australia
Melbourne and its Shipping 1851-2
Blue Jacket
Champion of the Seas 
Cutty Sark
Donald Mackay
Heather Bell 
James Baines
John Bunyan
Maid of Judah
Red Jacket
Walter Hood
White Star
Tall Ships 2007 Wall Calendar





We now come to the unfortunate Schimberg, the only wooden ship ever built in a British yard that could in any way compare with the big Boston and Nova Scotian built ships in size.

In 1854, James Baines was so impressed by the success of the little Aberdeen clippers, that he gave Hall an order for a monster emigrant clipper of 2600 tons. Unfortunately, Hall had no experience in the building of emigrant ships and the Schomberg was more of a copy of Mackay’s clippers than Hall’s own beautiful little ships. The Schomberg cost when ready for sea #43,103 or #18.17s. 6d per ton. She measured:



Builder’s measurement

2600 tons

For payment of dues

2492 tons


2284 tons

Length over all

288 ft


Between perpendiculars

262 ft


45 ft

Depth of hold

29.2 ft


She had 3 skins, two of diagonal planking, and one for and aft, the whole fastened together with screw-threaded hard-wood trunnels-a novelty in ship building. She was specially heavily rigged, her mainmast weighing 15 tons, being a pitch-pine spar 110 ft in length and 42 ins in diameter. Her main yard was 110 ft long. She crossed three skysail yards, but no moonsail.

Captain Forbes, as commodore of the Black Ball, was shifted into her from the Lightning, and great hopes were entertained that she would lower the record to Australia.

On 6th October, 1855, she was hauled through the pier heads amidst the cheers of a patriotic crowd of sightseers, with the boast of “Sixty days to Melbourne’ flying from her signal halliards. The passage was one of light and moderate winds. Schomberg was 28 days to the line and 55 days to the Greenwich meridian. Running her easting down she averaged 6 degrees daily to 130 degrees E., her greatest speed being 15 ½ knots and her best run 368 368 miles. She made the land off Cape Bridgewater at 1 p.m. on Christmas Day, the wind being fresh at E.S.E. One 27th December after two days tacking, with the wind still blowing fresh from ahead, Forbes went about at noon when 4 miles off shore and tacked out; at 6 p.m. he tacked in again. At about 10 p.m., the land being faintly visible, the wind gradually died away. It was a moonlight night. Forbes was playing cards in the saloon when the mate came down and reported that the ship was getting rather close in under the land and suggested going about. As luck would have it, Forbes was losing and, being a bit out of temper, insisted on playing another rubber of whist before tacking ship, and the danger point had been over stripped when at 11 o’clock he came on deck and gave the order to ‘bout ship.

As there was next to no wind and a current running 3 to 4 knots to the westward, the Schomberg refused to come round. Forbes next tried to wear her, with the result that the ship slid up on to a sandbank 35 miles west of Cape Otway. On sounding round the ship it was found that she was stuck fast in 4 fathoms of water. Sail was kept on her in hopes of it pulling her off into deep water again.

Forbes, on being told that the ship was hard aground, said angrily:-”Let her go to Hell, and tell me when she is no the beach,” and at once went below.

Henry Cooper Keen, the mate, then took charge, and finding that the Schomberg was only being hove further in by the swell and current, clewed up all sail, let go the starboard anchor and lowered the boats. And it was subsequently proved at the inquiry afterwards that it was chiefly due to the chief officer and a first class passenger, a civil engineer of Belfast named Millar, that all the passengers were safely disembarked and put aboard the steamer Queen, which hove in sight on the following morning.

All efforts to save the ship failed and she presently went to pieces. Forbes at the inquiry was acquitted of all blame for the stranding, the sandbank being uncharted, but at a mass meeting of his passengers in the Mechanics’ Institute, Melbourne, he was very severely censured. Many of them declared that he was so disgusted with the slowness of the passage that he let the ship go ashore on purpose. Others complained of his tyranny during the voyage and even made worse allegations against his morality and that of the ship’s doctor; altogether the affair was a pretty scandal and Forbes never obtained another command in the Black Ball Line.

* *
Schooner Introduction Schooner & Sailing Terms  Sea Tale Books Sales Figureheads on Sailing Ships
Clipper Ships Maritime @ Seafaring Art Schooner Man Books Finding a Berth on a Tall Ship
Naval History MARITIME MUSEUMS Key West Pirates
    Online maritime books (free to Read)  

This site is design and maintained by Tom Van Oosterhout