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A Cornish Shipwreck Tragedy
by Kevin Patience
This is the tragic story of the loss of an elegant German four-masted sailing ship in the early years of the twentieth century on the rugged south coast of Cornwall in the west of England. Nineteen of the crew died in the raging seas on the night of 31 January/1 February 1914, and five survived. The story made newspaper headlines around the world, and the casualties were buried in the nearby village churchyard of Veryan. The introduction of steamships in the late 1800s saw a rapid decline in these once graceful sailing greyhounds. Great races had been run in the nineteenth century when ship owners ordered hundreds of these three and four-masted sailing ships competing in the carriage of goods across the world in the fastest times. The tea clippers like the Cutty Sark and Thermopylae raced each other across the oceans to bring the first of the seasons’ tea crop to the London markets. The first in commanded the highest prices. They relied entirely on the winds and could only voyage around the Cape of Good Hope in Southern Africa and Cape Horn in South America. With the opening of the Suez Canal, the route from the far east to the European markets was shortened by some 5,000 miles, and the steamship came into its own. By the early 1900s, many sailing ships had been scrapped, but a few continued to trade until the outbreak of the Second World War. Their main advantage was the ability to await a cargo without incurring the high cost of coal and water to maintain steam, and many were transferred to the lucrative nitrate trade from Chile in the build-up to the First World War. The Hera was one of them, and this is the story of her life and final voyage.

Number of copies

Book Author

Kevin Patience


General Interest, History