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WreckWreck | Shore access

Outside Port Phillip Wreck Dive Site

Three Masted Wooden Sailing Barque

© Unknown

The Artisan lies in Harmers Haven, Cape Paterson. The vessel is historically significant to the community of Wonthaggi, however archaeologically the vessel has limited significance due to it being totally wrecked, however some information might be obtained from the small sections of the wreck washed up into the creek bed.

Artisan History

The Artisan was a 1155 ton single decked, three masted sailing barque built in 1881 by Stewart and Richie in St John, New Brunswick, Canada. The Artisan was 189.6 feet (58 metres) in length, with a beam of 37.7 feet (11 metres) with a depth of 22.4 feet (6.8 metres). The hull was of softwood (pitchpine and spruce) construction and sheathed in felt and yellow metal. In 1897 structural modifications were made to the vessel with two tiers of iron beams being added to the existing supports, structural improvements not surprising for a softwood vessel then approaching its seventeenth year in service.

Sinking of the Artisan

© Unknown

The large wooden barque Artisan left Manila in the Phillipines in February 1901 bound for Newcastle in NSW to pick up a cargo of coal. On 21 April 1901 just off the coast of Victoria the ship was struck by a severe storm and thick weather which lasted for two days and made position fixing impossible. The gale continued and one by one, although close-reefed the gale carried the sails away and the buoyant, lightly ballasted vessel with bare poles was at the mercy of the driving wind and waves.

The drama was compounded by an oil lamp igniting and setting fire to the deck of the vessel, which was bought under control by the crew. Seven hours later at about 3am on the 23rd of April 1901 the vessel was driven ashore onto a low rock platform near the present day hamlet of Harmers Haven. Blue distress rockets had failed to draw attention to their plight, but miraculously at daylight the captain's wife and crew found they could safely step ashore.

Caretakers of the Cape Paterson Coal Mine, Richard Jennings and his wife, lived a short distance away and looked after the crew, the Captain and his wife. The captain was critical of the delay in arranging transport for himself and the crew to Melbourne. The Newhaven-San Remo Rocket Corps made a hazardous overland voyage with lifesaving gear after spotting the wreck and later assisted the passage of the mariners to Melbourne.

With its back broken and impossible to refloat the vessel was a total loss. The mate stayed behind to deter looters during the salvage operations. Extensive salvage took place.

Built at an estimated cost of 4000 pounds the Artisan was owned by 23 part owners all from St Johns, New Brunswick, major shareholders being John Stewart and William Ritchi. Lesser shareholders included William Thompson & Co. who were large shipowners with a fleet of 14 ships and barques, three steel ships and nine steel ocean steamers.

A Marine Court of Inquiry found no-one was to blame for the wrecking, and the ship was well found with gear and safety equipment, but considered that it would have been prudent for the master to have kept his vessel on a port tack, when the wind was from the eastward. A number of vessels including the Canadian ship George T. Hay which was sheltering behind Cape Woolomai and burning blue distress flares, and the Tasmanian schooner Marie Laurie which sheltered in Western Port after having its port bulwarks stove in, were in distress during the period of the gales.

See also, MAAV: Artisan 1881-1901,
Australian National Shipwreck Database: Artisan,
Heritage Council Victoria: Artisan, and
Heritage Victoria slide collection on flickr: Artisan

Latitude: 38° 39.568′ S   (38.659467° S / 38° 39′ 34.08″ S)
Longitude: 145° 34.862′ E   (145.581033° E / 145° 34′ 51.72″ E)

Datum: WGS84 | Google Map
Added: 2012-07-22 01:00:00 GMT, Last updated: 2019-05-14 05:15:32 GMT
Source: GPS
Nearest Neighbour: Amazon, 10,076 m, bearing 83°, E
Large wooden barque, 1155 ton.
Built: St John, New Brunswick, Canada, 1881.
Sunk: 23 April 1901.

DISCLAIMER: No claim is made by The Scuba Doctor as to the accuracy of the dive site coordinates listed here. Should anyone decide to use these GPS marks to locate and dive on a site, they do so entirely at their own risk. Always verify against other sources.

The marks come from numerous sources including commercial operators, independent dive clubs, reference works, and active divers. Some are known to be accurate, while others may not be. Some GPS marks may even have come from maps using the AGD66 datum, and thus may need be converted to the WGS84 datum. To distinguish between the possible accuracy of the dive site marks, we've tried to give each mark a source of GPS, Google Earth, or unknown.

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