Stephen Tyler

The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance – it is the illusion of knowledge.

January 14, 2014
by stephen
0 comments

Disaster to the American Ship Susan Gilmore

Source: Newcastle Morning Herald & Miners’ Advocate, Saturday 5 July 1884

Ashore Off Sheperd’s Hill

All Hands Saved

[The following appeared as an extraordinary yesterday at 12 o’clock.]

The American ship Susan Giluore, Captain Carver, with a crew of fourteen hands, left Sydney on Wednesday, at 11 p.m., for Newcastle for coal, consigned to Messrs. C. F. Stokes and Co., in tow of the steamer Irresistible. About half way some delay occurred. Shortly after, Captain Carver hailed the Afghan steamer, bound north, and an attempt was unsuccessfully made to get the hawser from the Irresistible on board her, but the rope parted about 7 o’clock on Thursday night. The captain tried to hang off by the wind, but it was of no use, and the vessel went ashore at 11 o’clock the same night under Shepherd’s Hill, about fifty yards south of where the City of Newcastle went ashore.

At daylight the ship’s last boat was launched, and made two trips, taking seven men ashore before any assistance came. The vessel was then well in the sand; her anchors were let go, but could not hold.
The captain’s wife was in the boat on the third trip, but the boat capsized, and she had a very narrow escape of being drowned. The poor lady was again got on board, fortunately without injury. By this time the alarm had been given. Mr. Robert Watt, nephew of Mr. Robert Watt, of Newcastle, went on the beach at seven o’clock, and saw the ship stranded. Those on board were trying to float a cask from the ship to the shore. Mr. Watt stripped and tried to get to the cask, but the current was too strong, and he returned to shore, dressed, and ran into town, being the first to give the alarm at the Police Station.

The signal gun announced a wreck shortly before 8 o’clock, and the Prince Alfred tug, with the life-boat, put off to the scene of the disaster, while the rocket and life-saving apparstus was sent round by the Lake Road under charge of Mr. H. Fearneaux
(Captain Sheed being in Sydney). The life-boat, in charge of Pilot Dagwell, and which, with the tug, had been in readiness all night, could not get near the vessel, which lay about eighty yards from the rocks, imbedded in the sand, her rudder having parted; and after some time, the life-boat was signalled to return.

On the Rocket Brigade, therefore, devolved the onerous duty of rescuing those aboard, it being found impossible to get to the ship through the surf. The men, under the direction of Captain Allan and Mr. Fearneaux, worked bravely and well. The line was fixed, and the remainder of the crew were brought ashore as rapidly as possible.

A scene of great excitement ensued when the captain’s wife was being brought ashore. The surf was very high and the sea rising rapidly, but she reached the shore safely, although naturally very weak and agitated through her previous capsize and the drenching of the salt water during her airy transit along the life-lines. As soon as she touched the shore, three ringing cheers rang out from the crowd that lined the rocks above and the beach beneath, none seemed to mind the rough weather or the blinding rain. The waves dashed up amongst the hundreds of men, women, and children who were watching the operations of the Rocket Brigade. By direction of the Harbour Master, Mrs. Carver was carried up the fearfully muddy and precipitous ascent from the beach by half-a-dozen willing hands, Mr. Frank Gardner supervising her removal to the Great Northern Hotel, and that of the rescued crew to the Sailor’s Home. Some of the crew, however, remained gallantly to help work the life lines and get their comrades ashore.

When Mrs. Carver was safely landed her first inquiry was for her child, and the little fellow was quickly seen traversing the distance in mid-air between the ship and the shore. Presently he was triumphantly landed and conveyed on the willing shoulders of one of the bystanders up the steep ascent to rejoin his mother.

Captain Carver having seen nearly all hands safe ashore, went on board again, for the ship’s papers and other valuables. The Rocket Brigade, fifteen in number, deserve special praise for its splendid exertions on this occasion. The Brigade consists of fifteen hands, and has lately been re-organised. Much of the success of yesterday is due to the continual practices lately under the supervision of Mr. Hickson, Assistant Engineer.

Captain Allan was one of the first on the scene, and did much by example and advice to bring the exertions of the Rocket Brigade to a successful termination, and also in providing for the conveyance of the shipwrecked parties to town. Inspector Thorpe and the land and water police rendered great and efficient service in keeping the crowd back from impeding the exertions of the Brigade.

The Captain’s Report

Captain Carver reports that his vessel,the American ship Susan Gilmore, 1204 tons, left Sydney with a crew of fourteen hands on Wednesday night, at 11 o’clock. The glass then was high, but the weather showery. She was bound to Newcastle for coal, and consigned to Messrs. C. P.  Stokes and Co., and was in tow of the steamer Irresistible. About half way to her destination, Captain Carver noticed something wrong about 10 o’clock on Thursday morning aboard the steamer.  The Irresistible kept slashing up, and Captain Carver saw the hands at work screwing something up near the engines. The steamer, however, towed the ship till within sight of Nobbys, and then set signals for assistance. None coming up, at about 2 o’clock on Thursday afternoon the ship’s head was put about and made sail. About 5 p.m. Thursday set signals of distress, and the steamer Afghan, bound for Newcastle, came alongside, and tried to take the hawser from the Irresistible, but failed.  The Afghan then made another attempt, and was successful, getting the hawser onboard at about 5.30 p.m; but, going ahead quickly, the hawser, which belonged to the Susan Gilmore, parted. The wind then drawing a little more astern, the ship’s head was kept up the coast, trying to weather Nobby’s.  Finding, however the ship close on to the breakers, and not being able to weather Nobby’s, both anchors were let go. The anchors not holding, the ship stranded at about 11 o’clock on Thursday night.  Captain Carver then sent up rockets and blue lights, and burnt some flare-ups as signals, for abont twenty minutes;  but, as far as the captain observed, no notice was taken of any of these signals by anyone on shore.  At midnight one boat was launched, but was sucked under the ship and destroyed.  At daylight, Friday morning, another boat was launched, but the sea filled her alongside.  The third boat then put off immediately afterwards, and succeeded in successfully landing seven of the crow in two trips.  On the third trip it was attempted to take the captain’s wife ashore; but the boat, like the other, filled alongside, and Mrs. Carver was thrown into the water, but was rescued by her husband, who passed a rope under her, and she was hauled on board again by the second officerf (Mr. Peaselee). The captain then had to swim ashore, being very nearly carried away, and had a hard struggle to reach land. Shortly after this the Rocket Brigade appeared.  A line had already been conveyed from the ship, by which the lifesaving lines were hauled aboard.  The Brigade succeeded in rescuing the captain’s wife, son (aged five years), and the remainder of the crew. The captain then went aboard again and brought ashore the ship’s papers, chronometer, two favourite dogs, a cat, and pet canary, and other treasured articles.  The crew were conveyed to the Sailor’s Home, and Captain Carver, Mrs. Carver, and son, were taken to the G. N. Hotel, where everything was in readiness for their reception.  From this hotel, however, they were invited on board the barque Escort, Captain Waterhouse, from Boston, who is related to Captain Carver’s family.  All are now being hospitably entertained on board that vessel. Neither Mrs. Carver nor child has sustained any physical injury through the disaster. The vessel is now lying where she stranded.  Great credit is due to Captain Humphreys, of the ship Eldorada, and Captain McEachern, of the barque Edith Carmichael; also to Mr. G. O. Hyde, for the kind assistance rendered to Mrs. Carver in helping her ashore and assisting her up the dangerous pathway up the rocks from the beach.

Incidents of the Wreck

Mr. Riley, representing Mr. Alex. Brown (the American Consul), when he was notified of the disaster, soon made his way down to the stranded vessel, and when the sailors had been rescued, attended to their comfort.  Mr. Alex Brown was unavoidably absent, owing to illness.

Capt. Allan, harbour master, in spite of severe indisposition, was very quickly on Shepherd’s Hill, when he received news of the disaster. He did much to secure order and discipline.

Several “old salts” and others got discussing the incidents of the wreck yesterday in several bars, till at length one and all of them became convinced that they saved the lives of those on board.  Then they came around to this office to try and persuade us into the same belief.

It was an act of charity on the part of the master of the Afghan in coming to the assistance of the Susan Gilmore and Irresistible in their hour of need.  Had it not been for even the partial help rendered by the Afghan the disaster might have been more serious than it is.

Mr. Grattan Riggs very kindly invited the wrecked seamen of the Susan Gilmore to be present at the theatre last night.  Most of them availed themselves of the kind offer.  In fact, the fine lads are the heroes of the hour, and great hospitality is being extended to them.

Although the rain was coming down in torrents, the gusts of wind were fiercely driving the pelting rain in the faces of the onlookers, and the ground beneath foot was like a swamp.

There were almost as many women asmen at the scene of the wreck yesterday morning.

Captain Carver is part owner of the Susan Gilmore, and his share is insured.  Most of the other owners are not insured.  The estimated value of the Susan Gilmoreis £9000 sterling.

Captain Carver had a remarkably narrow escape yesterday morning. While trying to assist his wife ashore he was sucked below the water’s surface by the undertow, and taken in a half suffocated state down towards the vessel’s keel. Being clad in a heavy sou’-wester jacket and large sea-boots, his case became desperate, but having the advantage of a grand six-feet athletic physique, in addition to being a powerful swimmer, he managed to make the surface and struck out. While below water he succeeded in pulling off his boots and divesting himself of his superfluous clothing. He subsequently managed to clutch a line and was brought to the beach in an exhausted condition.

The sails of the wrecked vessel and the ensign were torn almost to ribbons by the gale, and the foresail especially hung like festoons of canvas from the yard.

The Tug “Irresistible” in Sydney

She Has a Bad Time

Captain Crossan’s Statement

SYDNEY, Friday, 10 p.m.

The tug Irresistible returned about nine this morning, having had a very serious time since handing over the Susan Gilmore to the Afghan. Captain Crossan, who is in charge of the Irresistible, states that he left Port Jachson late on Wednesday night, with the Susan Gilmore in tow.  The Heads were cleared shortly after midnight; the wind blowing fresh from the S.E.  At eight o’clock on Thursday morning the wind, which had been steadily increasing, veered round to the eastward, blowing a hard gale with heavy squalls from the N.E.  There was a very heavy sea, and the ship, which was flying light, laid over almost on her beam ends.  She had no canvas set, until well on in the day, when she set all fore and aft sail.  The steamer was going full speed, and making very fair way with the ship, and all were in hopes that the stormy passage would soon be ended by a safe arrival at Port Hunter, when Captain Crossan noticed that the tow rope was stranding on the hook. owing to the great strain to which it had been subjected.  Speed had to be reduced as a consequence, and both vessels made considerable leeway. Off the Point the wind came away from the N.E., and the vessels had to go about; and, although a course was steered, owing to the leeway made by the ship, Bird Island was just weathered.  The steamer Afghan, from Adelaide to Newcastle, which had been sighted for some time previous, had observed a signal of distress flying at the mizen peak of the ship and bore down, having learned by the signal what the cause was.  She proceeded to take the Susan Gilmore in tow, and having passed a line on board the Irresistible, which was made fast clear of the stranded part, she steamed away with the Susan Gilmore for Newcastle, and the tug, seeing the ship in safety, returned to port this morning.

Latest Particulars

The Susan Gilmore last night lay with her head to south-west, more broadside onto the beach. She began to bump when the tide made, and several pieces of planking have been washed ashore.  She has also, it is said, been driven slightly further up the sand towards the shore.

January 13, 2014
by stephen
0 comments

So Who Was Susan Gilmore?

Sunrise on Susan Gilmore Beach:

Growing Lifestyle Gallery: Panoramas &emdash; Happy Gilmore

Whilst shooting this image, I became curious as to the identity of Susan Gilmore and how this beach came to be named. It turns out that Susan Gilmore was a large sailing ship that ran aground on this beach in 1884.

I have found original newspaper articles of this shipwreck, that I have transcribed. They make fascinating reading:

January 10, 2014
by stephen
2 Comments

Wreck of the American Ship Susan Gilmore

Source: The Argus, Melbourne.  Saturday 5 July 1884.

No Lives Lost

Great excitement was caused in shipping circles this morning, when news reached town that the fine American clipper ship Susan Gilmore was a total wreck near Newcastle.  The first telegrams relating to the disaster were rather meagre in their details, and also uncertain as to whether the crew had been saved, one message stating that it was supposed that several of the crew were lost.  All apprehensions as to the safety of the crew were, however, set at rest by the receipt of the following telegram from the harbourmaster, Newcastle :-

“The Susan Gilmore, in tow, from Sydney, went on shore last night, in consequence of the towrope breaking, at the place where the City of Newcastle was wrecked some years ago.  The captain, his wife and son, and all of the crew were saved.  They were brought on shore by the rocket apparatus, which has just returned from the wreck.”

Captain Carver reports that his vessel, the American ship Susan Gilmore, 1,204 tons, left Sydney with a crew of 14 hands on Wednesday night, at 11 o’clock.  The glass then was high, but the weather showery.  The ship was bound to Newcastle for coal, and consigned to Messrs. C. F. Stokes and Co., and was in tow of the steamer Irresistible.  When almost half way to her destination, the captain noticed something wrong at about 10 o’clock on Thursday morning on board the steamer.  The Irresistible kept slacking up, and Captain Carver saw the hands at work screw something up near the engines.  The steamer, however, towed the ship until within sight of Nobbys, and then set signals for assistance.  None coming up, at about 2 o’clock on Thursday afternoon the ship’s head was put about, and she made sail.  At about 5 p.m. on Thursday they set signals of distress, and the steamer Afghan, bound for Newcastle from Adelaide, came alongside, and tried to take the hawser from the Irresistible, but failed.  The Afghan then made another attempt, and was successful in getting the hawser on board at about half past 5 p.m., but going ahead quickly, the hawser, which belonged to the Susan Gilmore, parted.  The wind then drawing a little more astern, the ship’s head was kept up the coast trying to weather the Nobbys.  Finding, however, the ship close to the breakers, and not being able to weather the Nobbys, both anchors were let go.  The anchors not holding, the ship was stranded at about 11 o’clock on Thursday night.  Captain Carver then sent up rockets and blue lights, and burnt some flareups as signals for about 20 minutes, but as far as the captain observed no notice was taken of any of these signals by anyone on shore.  At midnight one boat was launched, but it was sucked under the ship and destroyed.  At daylight on Friday morning another boat was launched, but the sea filled her when alongside.  The third boat then put off immediately afterwards, and succeeded in safely landing seven of the crew in two trips.  On the third trip it was attempted to take the captain’s wife ashore, but the boat, like the others, filled alongside, and Mrs. Carver was thrown into the water, but was rescued by her husband, who passed a rope under her, and she as hauled on board again by the second officer, Mr. Peaselee.  The captain then had to swim ashore.  He was very nearly carried away, and had a hard struggle to reach the land.

Shortly after this the rocket brigade appeared.  A line had already been conveyed from the ship, by which the life-saving lines were hauled on board.  The brigade succeeded in rescuing the captain’s wife, his son aged five years, and the remainder of the crew.  The captain then went on board again and brought ashore the ship’s papers.  The crew were taken to the Sailors’ Home, and Captain and Mrs. Carver and their child were taken to the Great Northern Hotel, where everything was in readiness for their reception.  From the hotel, however, they were taken on board the barque Escort, Captain Waterhouse, from Boston, who is related to Captain Carver.  The family are all now being hospitably entertained on board that vessel.  Neither Mrs. Carver nor the child has sustained any physical injury through the disaster.

The vessel is now lying where she was stranded.  Great credit is due to Captain Humphreys, of the ship Eldorado; Captain McEachern, of the barque Edith Carmichael; and also to Mr. G. O. Hyde, for the kind assistance they rendered.

 

January 7, 2014
by stephen
1 Comment

Stranding of the Ship Susan Gilmore (Qld Times)

Source: Queensland Times, Thursday 10 July 1884.

During the pauses in the tempest of Thursday night, many persons in Newcastle thought they heard the noises of a gun firing about 12 o’clock : but, hearing no more reports, paid no attention to the sound.  This must have been the time when Captain Carver was firing the signal-rockets.  None of the sounds, however, reached the ears of the land or water police, and the night was not of an inviting character for passengers to be out, especially in the vicinity of the wreck.  In spite of the bonfires extemporised on deck by the crew, no sign of help was visible, and the ruddy glare of the flame flickered for a time on the darkened sky, and at last died out, leaving the vessel in gloom till the morning.  The ship’s position, about fifty or sixty yards due south of the boilers of the s.e. City of Newcastle, which can still be seen rusting away at low tide, was not at all a favourable one.  The hour at which she struck was a little past the time at which the highly steamers pass on their way to Sydney.  The rocks rise rugged and abruptly in the vicinity, in some places to 300ft., and it therefore was not at all likely that the fitful glare of the bonfire close under the rocks could be seen high along the coast or in-shore.  At the first streak of daylight efforts were made to reach the shore, but the first two were terrible failures.  Both boats came to grief, but no lives were lost.  The morning was cold, wild and stormy.  heavy squalls came roaring through the rigging from the south-west; the sails were in ribbons, and the rudder was gone.   The rain drove fiercely in the men’s faces as they manned the third boat.  But it was clear that no times was to be lost in getting all hands ashore.  Though the ship lay within eighty yards of the beach, in a deep bed of sand, she had veered round, and her head was due south.  In her present position a sudden squall, more powerful than any of her predecessors, might cause her to fall over seaward, and bury all on board in the raging sea.  The third attempt was made in the only boat left, and this proved successful, as did the next trip also, when, by this time, seven of the crew had reached the shore.  The third trip was not so fortunate.  There was no abatement in the fury of the storm, and just as the boat put off with the captain’s wife, she heeled over, and threw all her occupants into the water.  The skipper struck out for his wife.  He is a strongly-built, powerful man, six feet in height, but he needed his strength.  Clad in large pea-jacket and heavy sea-boots, he was nearly sucked under the ship’s side by the under-tow.  Being a splendid swimmer, he managed to get out of his heavy coat and boots, and succeeded in rescuing his wife from sinking the last time.  Seizing a ripe handing from the ship, he fastened it under his wife’s armpits, and she was hauled on board by the second officer.  The captain himself then struck out for the shore, which he succeeding in reaching.  By the time the alarm had been given in town, the signal-guns announced the wreck, and the smoke from the funnel of the tug Prince Alfred, as he rounded the Nobbys. showed that the lifeboat’s crew were on the alert.  Presently she was seen in the offing, while the cheers from the shore and the cliffs proclaimed that the Rocket Brigade were at hand.  Their red caps soon appeared over the ridges of the rocks above.  The apparatus was lowered and quickly got to work.  By the time the edges of the cliffs which are inclosed in some places by the railed fencing, were crowded with spectators.  At the outer rails between twenty and thirty saddle horses were tied up, and from all the directions men, women and even children were seen hastening to the wreck.  The descent from the top of the rocks to the beach is at the best of times dangerous, but this morning was made trebly so by the increased rains, which had in the a great measure converted the pathway, only a yard wide in many places, into a mere muddy slope.  Down this narrow zigzag shelf came the brigade and all desirous of helping to rescue this on board.  A rope had already been brought ashore from the ship.  The life-lines and cradle were quickly hauled aboard, and the apparatus was soon in use, with celerity and despatch only to be produced by willing hearts and practical experience.  Captain Allan, like a sturdy old veteran, as he is, although ill in health, was busy in the midst giving directions here, lending a hand there, and infusing bravery in the works by precept and example.  Three of the crew were brought off safely, and, the apparatus being proved to be ably worked, the precious life of the only female on board, Mrs. Carver, was entrusted to the life-lines.  The wildest excitement prevailed by this time; the cliffs literally swarmed with people, waving hands and hurrahing to the workers below.  When the captain’s wide was fairly launched on her perilous trip through mid-air, above the roaring waves below, nothing was heard but the sighing of the wind or the sullen dash os the crested foaming waters upon the frowning rocks above.  The surf broke savagely, upon the sand in heavy rollers, scattering the spectators at times, but the brigade stuck to their post, and hailed the life-line, with its precious burden, swiftly, but carefully ashore.  It was a sight worth remembering to see the stalwart captain clasp his wife again in his arms, and lift her, as a feather from the chair into the air and on to the beach.  Despite the gathering waters around them, the moment Mrs. Carver landed a cheer rang out, which those who heard it can never forget.  It was followed by another, and then another, and was echoed along the cliffs in to the open sky, and made strong hearts vibrate again with joy and gladness.  Men stuck to each other by the hands, and felt inclined to shout once more a glad tribute of acknowledgement for the second preservation that day of now who had already had so narrow and escape from the jaws of death.  Nobody seemed to care or feel for the stormy wind or tempest then.  The rain drove on as furious as ever, but the crowd never moved, but stood watching, for it knew there was another helpless little one to be brought ashore.  Willing hands and gallant hearts had already carried up the dangerous precipice the mother, whose first cry on landing was “Where is my child?”  The little fellow was presently seen firmly strapped in the chair, sliding, with his arms extended, down the welcome life-line.  In the twinkling of an eye half-a-dozen arms were around him ere the cradle touched the shore, and one stalwart here carried him, shoulder-high, up the slippery pathway to the haven of shelter above.  One man remained aboard; and yea was joined by Captain Carver, who went back in the returning line.  He as the last to leave the ship, bringing with him the ship’s papers, his favourite dog, and a pet canary.  The good ship Susan Gilmore is now abandoned, apparently, to her fate.  The peculiarity of her position is fearfully against her ploughing the waters again.  Rudderless, and with her sails and national flag streaming in ribbons, the sport of the gale and the ocean, the chances are sadly against her ploughing the waters again.  Already some of her planks are breaking away.  She lies now broad-side on, her head pointing south-west, and exposed to the pitiless rage of the Pacific, when lashed into one of its fiercest storms.

January 7, 2014
by stephen
1 Comment

Stranding of the Ship Susan Gilmore (SMH)

Source: The Sydney Morning Herald, Saturday 5 July 1884.

The American ship Susan Gilmore, 1,204 tons, Captain Carver, went ashore last night under the rocks near Shepherd’s Hill, about 50 to 60 yards south of the spot where the steamer City of Newcastle was wrecked some six years since.  Captain Carver reports that the Susan Gilmore left Sydney with a crew of 14 hands on Wednesday night, at 11 o’clock.  The glass then was high, but the weather showery.  She was bound to Newcastle for coal, and consigned to Messrs. C. F. Stokes and Co., and was in tow of the steamer Irresistible.  About half way to her destination, the captain noticed something wrong at about 10 o’clock on Thursday morning, on board the steamer.  The Irresistible kept slacking up, and Captain Carver saw the hands at work screwing something up near the engines.  The steamer, however, towed the ship until within sight of Nobbys, and then set signals for assistance.  None coming up, at about 2 o’clock on Thursday afternoon the ship’s head was put about, and she made sail.  At about 5 p.m. on Thursday set signals of distress, and the steamer Afghan, bound for Newcastle from Adelaide, came alongside, and tried to take the hawser from the Irresistible, but failed.  The Afghan then made another attempt, and was successful in getting the hawser on board at about half past 5 p.m., but going ahead quickly, the hawser, which belonged to the Susan Gilmore, parted.  The wind then drawing a little more astern, the ship’s head was kept up the coast trying to weather the Nobbys.  Finding, however, the ship close to the breakers, and not being able to weather the Nobbys, both anchors were let go.  The anchors not holding, the ship stranded at about 11 o’clock on Thursday night.  Captain Carver then threw up rockets and blue-lights, and burnt some flareups as signals for about 20 minutes, but as far as the captain observed no notice was taken of any of these signals by anyone on shore.  At midnight one boat was launched, but it was sucked under the ship and destroyed.  At daylight on Friday morning another boat was launched, but the sea filled her when alongside.  The third boat then put off immediately afterwards, and succeeded in safely landing seven of the crew in two trips.  On the third trip it was attempted to take the captain’s wife ashore, but the boat, like the others, filled alongside, and Mrs. Carver was thrown into the water, but was rescued by her husband, who passed a rope under her, and she as hauled on board again by the second officer, Mr. Peaselee.  The captain then had to swim ashore, being very nearly carried away, and had a hard struggle to reach the land.  Shortly after this the Rocket Brigade appeared.  A line had already been conveyed from the ship, by which the life-saving lines were hauled aboard.  The brigade succeeded in rescuing the captain’s wife and son, aged five years, and the remainder of the crew.  The captain then went aboard again, and brought ashore the ship’s papers, chronometer, two favourite dogs, a cat, and a pet canary, and other treasured articles.  There crew were conveyed to the Sailors’ Home, and Captain Carver, Mrs Carver and son, were taken to the Great Northern Hotel, where everything was in readiness for their reception.  From this hotel, however, they were invited on board the barque Escort, Captain Waterhouse, from Boston, who is related to Captain Carver’s family.  All are now being hospitably entertained on board that vessel.  Neither Mrs. Carver nor child have sustained any physical injury through the disaster.  The vessel is now lying where she stranded.  Great credit is due to Captain Humphreys, of the ship Eldorado; Captain M’Eachern, of the barque Edith Carmichael; and also to Mr. G. O. Hyde, for the kind assistance rendered to Mrs. Carver in helping her ashore and assisting her up the dangerous pathway up the rocks from the beach.  About 120 fathoms of hawser were out when it broke.  Captain Carver is part owner, and his share is stated to be insured.  The estimated value of the vessel, which was in ballast, is £9000.

Later.

During the pauses in the tempest of Thursday night, many persons in Newcastle thought they heard the noises of a gun firing about 12 o’clock : but, hearing no more reports, paid no attention to the sound.  This must have been the time when Captain Carver was firing the signal-rockets.  None of the sounds, however, reached the ears of the land or water police, and the night was not of an inviting character for passengers to be out, especially in the vicinity of the wreck.  In spite of the bonfires extemporised on deck by the crew, no sign of help was visible, and the ruddy glare of the flame flickered for a time on the darkened sky, and at last died out, leaving the vessel in gloom till the morning.  The ship’s position, about 50 or 60 yards due south of the boilers of the s.s. City of Newcastle, which can still be seen rusting away at low tide, was not at all a favourable one.  The hour at which she struck was a little past the time at which the highly steamers pass on their way to Sydney.  The rocks rise rugged and abruptly in the vicinity, in some places to 300ft., and it therefore was not at all likely that the fitful glare of the bonfire close under the rocks could be seen high along the coast or in-shore.  At the first streak of daylight efforts were made to reach the shore, but the first two were terrible failures.  Both boats came to grief, but no lives were lost.  The morning was cold, wild and stormy.  Heavy squalls came roaring through the rigging from the south-west; the sails were in ribbons, and the rudder was gone.   The rain drove fiercely in the men’s faces as they manned the third boat.  But it was clear that no times was to be lost in getting all hands ashore.  Though the ship lay within eighty yards of the beach, in a deep bed of sand, she had veered round, and her head was due south.  In her present position a sudden squall, more powerful than any of her predecessors, might cause her to fall over seaward, and bury all on board in the raging sea.  The third attempt was made in the only boat left, and this proved successful, as did the next trip also, when, by this time, seven of the crew had reached the shore.  The third trip was not so fortunate.  There was no abatement in the fury of the storm, and just as the boat put off with the captain’s wife, she heeled over, and threw all her occupants into the water.  The skipper struck out for his wife.  He is a strongly-built, powerful man, six feet in height, but he needed his strength.  Clad in large pea-jacket and heavy sea-boots, he was nearly sucked under the ship’s side by the under-tow.  Being a splendid swimmer, he managed to get out of his heavy coat and boots, and succeeded in rescuing his wife from sinking the last time.  Seizing a ripe handing from the ship, he fastened it under his wife’s armpits, and she was hauled on board by the second officer.  The captain himself then struck out for the shore, which he succeeding in reaching.  By the time the alarm had been given in town, the signal-guns announced the wreck, and the smoke from the funnel of the tug Prince Alfred, as he rounded the Nobbys. showed that the lifeboat’s crew were on the alert.  Presently she was seen in the offing, while the cheers from the shore and the cliffs proclaimed that the Rocket Brigade were at hand.  Their red caps soon appeared over the ridges of the rocks above.  The apparatus was lowered and quickly got to work.  By the time the edges of the cliffs which are inclosed in some places by the railed fencing, were crowded with spectators.  At the outer rails between 20 or 30 saddle horses were tied up, and from all the directions men, women and even children were seen hastening to the wreck.  The descent from the top of the rocks to the beach is at the best of times dangerous, but this morning was made trebly so by the increased rains, which had in the a great measure converted the pathway, only a yard wide in many places, into a mere muddy slope.  Down this narrow zigzag shelf came the brigade and all desirous of helping to rescue this on board.  A rope had already been brought ashore from the ship.  The life-lines and cradle were quickly hauled aboard, and the apparatus was soon in use, with celerity and despatch only to be produced by willing hearts and practical experience.  Captain Allan, like a sturdy old veteran, as he is, although ill in health, was busy in the midst giving directions here, lending a hand there, and infusing bravery in the works by precept and example.  Three of the crew were brought off safely, and, the apparatus being proved to be ably worked, the precious life of the only female on board, Mrs. Carver, was entrusted to the life-lines.  The wildest excitement prevailed by this time; the cliffs literally swarmed with people, waving hands and hurrahing to the workers below.  When the captain’s wide was fairly launched on her perilous trip through mid-air, above the roaring waves below, nothing was heard but the sighing of the wind or the sullen dash os the crested foaming waters upon the frowning rocks above.  The surf broke savagely, upon the sand in heavy rollers, scattering the spectators at times, but the brigade stuck to their post, and hailed the life-line, with its precious burden, swiftly, but carefully ashore.  It was a sight worth remembering to see the stalwart captain clasp his wife again in his arms, and lift her, as a feather from the chair into the air and on to the beach.  Despite the gathering waters around them, the moment Mrs. Carver landed a cheer rang out, which those who heard it can never forget.  It was followed by another, and then another, and was echoed along the cliffs in to the open sky, and made strong hearts vibrate again with joy and gladness.  Men stuck to each other by the hands, and felt inclined to shout once more a glad tribute of acknowledgement for the second preservation that day of now who had already had so narrow and escape from the jaws of death.  Nobody seemed to care or feel for the stormy wind or tempest then.  The rain drove on as furious as ever, but the crowd never moved, but stood watching, for it knew there was another helpless little one to be brought ashore.  Willing hands and gallant hearts had already carried up the dangerous precipice the mother, whose first cry on landing was “Where is my child?”  The little fellow was presently seen firmly strapped in the chair, sliding, with his arms extended, down the welcome life-line.  In the twinkling of an eye half-a-dozen arms were around him ere the cradle touched the shore, and one stalwart here carried him, shoulder-high, up the slippery pathway to the haven of shelter above.  One man remained aboard; and yea was joined by Captain Carver, who went back in the returning line.  He as the last to leave the ship, bringing with him the ship’s papers, his favourite dog, and a pet canary.  The good ship Susan Gilmore is now abandoned, apparently, to her fate.  The peculiarity of her position is fearfully against her ploughing the waters again.  Rudderless, and with her sails and national flag streaming in ribbons, the sport of the gale and the ocean, the chances are sadly against her ploughing the waters again.  Already some of her planks are breaking away.  She lies now broad-side on, her head pointing south-west, and exposed to the pitiless rage of the Pacific, when lashed into one of its fiercest storms.  The rain has partially ceased, but the gale continues.  The moon occasionally sheds a brilliant ray of light across the dark chasm-like region where the Susan Gilmore lies imbedded in the sand, giving it a weird, spectral, Flying Dutchman appearance.  One or two venturesome spectators stand on the summit of the beetling cliffs, attracted by the romantic yet gloomy surroundings of the spot.  There was no lack of hospitable offers of shelter for the captain and his wife and child.  Many residents of Newcastle would have felt honoured in entertaining the strangers thus cast upon its shore, but Providence willed it that some of Mr. Carver’s relatives were in port.  After being carefully conveyed to the Great Northern Hotel for rest, change of raiment, and refreshment they left for the barque Escort, where in the midst of friends and relatives Mrs Carver and child will assuredly recover strength, while her husband goes forth bravely again to grapple with the difficulties which the wreck of the Susan Gilmore has scattered in his path.

October 15, 2013
by stephen
0 comments

Cable Beach Sunrise

May 20, 2013
by stephen
0 comments

Hackers Must Be Punished

There have been a couple of recent cases involving “unauthorised” use of computers, and the tendency of those in authority to over-react and punish the messenger, instead of paying attention to the underlying problem.  Much of the mainstream media has been incredibly ignorant in appealing for swift and strong justice, in order to send a strong “message” to others who might be thinking along similar lines, while ignoring the facts and motivations of the people involved.

Case 1 involves the suicide of Aaron Swartz, who was facing charges carrying up to 50 years in prison.  He accessed (large amounts of) public research from a University with an open network with free access to a database of research papers.  The owner of the database, JSTOR, initially contacted authorities about the problem, but did not want to press charges when the perpetrator was uncovered.

Case 2 involves a student, Ahmed Al-Kahabaz, who was expelled from his school for discovering that the school was exposing private information of other students, and telling the school about the flaw so that it could be fixed.  The provider of the software involved has since offered to hire the young ex-student.

Techdirt has an interesting analysis of the spin that the media have made of these cases, and how their reasoning is very flawed.

It touches on some key areas of the interaction between emerging technology and the law.

  • What constitutes stealing?  Can something be stolen if the original owner still has it in their possession?  Is it still stealing if the item in question is free or not even owned by the original party?
  • Is the breach of a one-sided, unilateral and perhaps unseen “user agreement” on a web site worthy of criminal proceeding involving lengthy jail time?
  • Should rules be ruthlessly enforced, because “Rule are Rules”?  Or are some rules just plain stupid?  is there any room for common sense?
  • Should trying to help be punished?  Severely and without mercy?
  • Does it matter if there are no victims, and everybody is better off?  Should the punishment still be the maximum permitted by law?
  • Hacking is the enhancement of some piece of technology to do something that the original creator did not intend.  Should all forms of hacking be outlawed and punished?  Is it wrong to do something beyond what the creator intended?
  • Can doing something as simple as changing a number in a URL in a browser be considered criminal hacking?  Is it a crime to possess the slightest bit of imagination and curiosity about the technology that we are forced to use?

Sadly we are seeing more cases where an over-zealous prosecutor is seeking to make an example of some hapless person, merely because that person’s curiosity and thirst for knowledge has caused embarrassment to some institution by exposing their weaknesses.

May 1, 2012
by stephen
2 Comments

Youth Mortality in Developed Nations

New research by George Patton of the University of Melbourne reveals the differences in youth mortality (ages 10-24) among developed nations.  The USA has the highest rates of youth mortality, due to the highest rates of death by violence and traffic accidents.  Interestingly, youth suicide rates appear to be lowest in the warmer countries such as Singapore and around the Mediterranean, and highest in colder countries such as Scandinavia, Canada, Japan and New Zealand.

I was surprised to find New Zealand having the highest rate of youth suicide.  I would have expected the rate to be similar to Australia’s, since the laws, institutions and culture appear to be quite similar, but in fact the rate is more than double.  The rate of death by traffic accidents is also much higher in New Zealand, suggesting that there is in fact a large gulf between the youth cultures of the two countries.

See Chart

The research was published in The Lancet, Volume 379, Issue 9826, Pages 1665 – 1675, 28 April 2012

January 20, 2012
by stephen
0 comments

An education revolution?

Today Apple announced its new initiatives in education, claiming they will spark a revolution in education.  Lets look at the details to see if Apple’s claims hold up to scrutiny:

Pricing

$15 per textbook is quite a discount from the average $75 being charged for printed textbooks. So how did Apple get the publishers to agree to such a low price?

In the past, electronic textbooks have been sold at the same or even higher price than the printed copy. But it turns out that there is a lot of reuse of printed textbooks. They are often resold, lent, given away or otherwise reused over a number or years by several students. Many schools have established a second-hand textbook store to help students minimize their textbook expenses.  So the publishers were actually only selling around one textbook per 5 students. With the new $15 iBook price, the student will be unable to lend or resell the textbook, increasing sales dramatically and also eliminating manufacturing and distribution costs. So $15 isn’t such a huge discount after all.

Competition, or lack thereof.

Textbooks created with the iBooks Author application may not be sold through any channel except the Apple iTunes/iBooks store.  So Android tablets and Windows netbooks are prohibited markets for textbooks created with iBooks Author.  From the iBooks Author EULA:

If you charge a fee for any book or other work you generate using this software (a “Work”), you may only sell or distribute such Work through Apple (e.g., through the iBookstore) and such distribution will be subject to a separate agreement with Apple.

Any textbook publisher wishing to sell in multiple markets will now need to author textbooks in at least 3 different ways: traditional printed versions, the new iBooks version, and a cross-platform electronic version for other devices.

Tied to the iPad

Curiously, Apple’s initiative supports only the iPad.  Not the iPhone, iPod, iMac or Macbook Pro.  Although the iPad is a great device for consuming content, it is not so great for producing content.  I can’t see many students producing long essays on the iPad, and printing from the iPad is much more clumsy than from a computer.  Multiple-choice tests may be all the creative work that the student will be able to readily achieve on the iPad, severely restricting the scope of possible assignments.  I was not able to find any mechanism for test results to be communicated back to the teacher.

In Australia, Windows 7 netbooks are provided to every public high-school student in grades 9 to 12.  So even though such machines are capable to reading ePub files and using iTunes, textbook publishers may not sell iBooks Author produced files to those students.

File Sizes

Although Apple has stated that the maximum file size is 2GB, many of the initial launch offerings were around 3GB.  And many of the samples were around 1GB for just a couple of chapters.  At these sizes, the entry-level 16GB iPad will only be able to hold a few textbooks.

What is missing

  • Collaboration – student to student, and student to teacher communication.
  • Exercises and testing – a vital part of the learning process.
  • Reuse and sharing – such as copy and paste into projects, assignments and essays.
  • Cross-platform – only iPad is supported.

Conclusion

Apple introduced a new iBook format for the iPad, allowing the creation of more interactive textbooks featuring videos, audio, animations and other “multimedia”.  The iBook remains, however, largely a content delivery platform, lacking any more than rudimentary support of content creation by students (such as essays, assignments and projects), assessment (eg testing and graded delivery) and collaboration (between students and from student to teacher).  The new iBook thus moves from a purely passive replica of a printed textbook in the direction of a touch-screen kiosk, but fails to provide a complete online-classroom.

By eliminating the possibility of trading second-hand textbooks, Apple has negotiated a less outrageous cost for the new textbooks at a maximum of US$15 per high-school textbook.  But such text books are only available for the iPad, excluding other tablets, netbooks and laptops commonly used by students.

It is not a revolution like the new undergraduate courses at Stanford such as Machine Learning, but it is still a significant move for one aspect (textbook publishing) of education for K-12.

November 29, 2011
by stephen
0 comments

Why do Amazon & Apple Hate Families?

Danny Sullivan writes in Why Do Amazon & Apple Hate Families?:

With the Apple iPad and the Amazon Kindle Fire among the hot gifts for families this year, it’s pretty sad that neither device has any concept of “family” baked into it. Used by plenty of children, these devices ironically aren’t intended for them.

Danny makes a lot of good points.  When you purchase a physical book, you can freely pass it between the members of your family.  Almost nobody purchases multiple copies of the same book so that each child can read the book.  Nor do husbands and wives.  Families share.  But that doesn’t work with iTunes or Amazon’s Kindle unless everybody uses the same account.  And when everybody uses the same account, the account becomes littered with inappropriate material (kiddy apps for an adult, and mature books and apps for children).

Sharing an account has other problems too – it becomes much harder to prevent kids from inadvertently racking up a huge bill in “In App Purchases” on things like Smurf Berries.  And things like settings, address books, calendars and more cannot be customised for the user, as the device thinks every member of the family is the same person.  But not sharing an account has additional problems, as Danny Sullivan notes:

Both Windows and the Mac allow for the same computer to be used by different people, each with their own account. A family can share the same computer without stepping on each others settings.

But what if a mother wants to let her child use her iPad? There’s no way to “sign-out” and sign the child in, to view their own menus and apps (trust me, plenty of parents would kill for this feature).

Similarly, what if a Kindle is being shared by a family, but each family member has their own Amazon account? You have to deregister the Kindle from the current account and then reregister it to the new one.

So what is a family supposed to do?  The official solution appears to be that every person in the family has their own account and their own devices.  And every app, tune and book needs to be repurchased for every person.  Clearly that is not satisfactory.

As Danny Sullivan suggests, Apple & Amazon need to think more deeply about the concept of family accounts.  The current system is clearly broken.