CARADOG was a Celtic chieftain who reputedly helped defend Wales against the Roman invasion. The figurehead from an iron barque depicts a wild looking man, bare-chested, and with a skin draped over his shoulder. The vessel was later renamed FARSUND.
Last week I took the 30-minute
flight from Launceston (Tasmania) to Flinders Island (part of the Furneaux
Group in Bass Strait.
While these islands were discovered by Tobias Furneaux in 1773 and mapped by George Bass and Matthew Flinders in 1798, the islands are infamous for the number of ships that wrecked on the inhospitable coastline.
From Flinders Island, I was able to see the ghostly outline of the rusted remains of FARSUND off the nearby Vansittart Island.
Built in Sunderland, England, 1891 and named CARADOG, the ship’s name was changed in 1910 to FARSUND by A. Theisen of Farsund, Norway. (Note: Seafaring lore warns it is bad luck to change a ship’s name).
Fifty-nine days out from Buenos Aires – FARSUND (1443/1351 tons) was heading for Sydney via Bass Strait when driven on to the Vansittart Shoals by a gale (10 March 1912). Efforts were made to dislodge her from the sand but failed. No souls were lost and, after some items were salvaged from her, she was abandoned, and over time FARSUND succumbed to rust and rot.
However, one item salvaged from her was the figurehead. Another was the capstan.
The unusual figurehead of CARADOG, the mythological Welsh warrior, was discovered and purchased from a private sale many years ago by Bernal Cuthbertson, the man who built the remarkable replica of Matthew Flinders’ sloop NORFOLK.
The NORFOLK is now housed in the Bass and Flinders Museum in George Town (Tasmania). Having kept the figurehead for 60 years, Bern opted to hand it to the safekeeping of the people of Lady Barron (F.I.) to become part of a permanent memorial to the FARSUND.
Another item recovered was the capstan. Considering this could be useful for hauling boats to shore, the capstan was taken to the Low Head Pilot Station at the mouth of the Tamar River in Tasmania, where it now stands in the grounds of the Pilot Station Museum (pictured without it bars which were removed for safekeeping). Being a volunteer with the Pilot Station Museum, at Low Head, I was particularly interested in Pilot Station’s connection with the FARSUND wreck.
My thanks to Gerald Willis of Lady Barron for the images of the figurehead and of Mr. Bernal Cuthbertson (decd.) with Creagh Dixon, who assisted him in constructing the NORFOLK and carrying the FARSUND figurehead to Flinders Island.
Note: the chairs the men are sitting on are said to have been salvaged from the wreck of the FARSUND.
Replica of NORFOLK – note the thousands of Trunnels in the hull.