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Oak - a general history

Oak 1854-?

Ratcliffe, Spence, Sunderland: Official No. 14078: Code Letters LKQM: one deck; three masts; carvel built wood barque felt sheathed in yellow metal; 353g; 110.2 x 26.5 x 17.2; female figurehead; some repairs 1860; figurehead removed 28 March 1868.

Owners: 1854 Thomas, George & Matthew Wilkinson, Hartlepool; 1861 George & Matthew Wilkinson, Hartlepool.

Masters: 1854-57 John Wilkinson; 1858-66 John Ferguson; 1867 May; 1869 Patterson; 1870-75 Jacks.

Miscellaneous: Recorded by Thomas Miller, master mariner, USA on a sailing from New York for Bangkok:

‘With three others, sailed from New York 4 August 1857 on board of the British barque Oak of Hartlepool. We crossed the bar the next day with little or no wind, and laid our course S.E. by E. from the Highland Lights, losing sight of the Lights at dark that night. Our voyage was very pleasant until we crossed the line-the Equator; there, for two or three days, it was rather squally, but not enough to reef topsails. We had a good run until we made the Islands of Amsterdam and St. Paul, two lonely islands in the middle of the Indian Ocean. The next land we made was the Islands of Java & Sumatra about the 20th of November. Arrived at Anjiers in the Straits of Sunda about dark the same day after a passage of about one hundred & seven days from New York. Here we recruited ship with fresh provisions, such as yams, onions, sweet potatoes and fowls. On the third day we weighed anchor, and sailed out into the Straits, with the wind from S.S.W. blowing up the Straits. We passed the Two Brothers Island out in the China Sea. The first Sunday, after we entered the China Sea, at daylight, we were confronted with seventeen water spouts of huge size, some of which were over two miles off. At one time it looked as if we would be engulfed by them, for certainly, if one of them had burst on us, our good ship would have gone down. A water spout is a long column of water rising out of the sea. It begins with a little ripple on the water like a whirlwind, increasing in diameter until ten or twelve feet in size; it then rises, up and up, until it reaches the clouds. It ascends with a corkscrew motion. The only way to get clear of it is to fire a cannon into it. Sometimes the concussion will break the column, & it falls with a terrible noise & splash into the sea. As luck would have it, we had no guns to fire into the worst one ; therefore, only by an overruling, Providence and a little main strength and smartness in hauling our braces, did our good ship sail clear of the nearest one, which was very large. As it passed us, or we passed it, the noise was almost deafening. Notwithstanding our scare, the sight was perfectly grand. As it was the Northeast Monsoon, we kept well to the southward & eastward up along the coast of B.eo, commonly called the Palawan Passage. We passed large numbers of beautiful islands, until we made nearly a fair wind of it, and sailed direct for the entrance to the Gulf of Siam. We came to anchor off the bar about the 24th of December; took pilot, and crossed the bar and drifted up to Bangkok. The river is so very crooked we could not sail therefore, we drifted up with the tide, & came to anchor in mid stream on the 27th of December, after a passage of one hundred & forty days. The whole distance of about seventeen thousand miles could have been made in a ship's boat.’

December 1864 Robert Smith, a crew member, was charged with carrying out a violent assault on the master, John Ferguson, on 30 October 1864 while at sea. Smith was sentenced to 10 months hard labour.

Crew 1857;

Hatch, carpenter

Jenkins, engineer

Sharpp, young man (died December 1857 of delirium)

December 1864 a case was heard at the Court House at Lowestoft regarding a violent assault on John Ferguson, master on 30 October 1864. On a voyage from Cronstadt for London with a cargo of deals a seaman, Robert Smith had struck Ferguson in the face. He was sentenced to ten weeks hard labour.

June 1869 advertised for sale; 19 October 1869 assisted into Lowestoft with loss of anchor & chain & broken windlass having fallen foul of another vessel.

Not on the British Register as Oak by 1875.

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