"I am not afraid of storms for I have learned how to sail my ship." - Louisa May Alcott.
(This article is taken from the Glasgow Herald of Monday 25th January 1819 and RN Shipping movements of that year)
Around six o’clock on a Friday morning, the fine wooden ship Trelawny all of 455 tons burthen sailed from Glasgow.
The Trelawny was launched in 1809 and fit for trade with the West Indies and Jamaica.
Captain Reid was in command and had her set for Jamaica but for some unknown reason came ashore between Stevenston Burn and Irvine Bar.
No communication was recorded between the ship and land. Near the hour of ten o’clock a strong wind rose with a heavy swell.
The captain sent four of the crew ashore in a jolly boat with a line, unfortunately the line slipped from the vessel. A wooden cask sent for the ship with a line reached the shore and four active adventurous seamen of Saltcoats, leaving their wives and families volunteered their lives for the sake of humanity. They included three ship experienced Masters, pushed of in a small boat and rowed through the swell and succeeded in reaching the Trelawny.
The Captain and ten men boarded the small boat filling it to capacity. They pushed off to the shore line. A large amount of people now stood watching the happenings of the bobbing vessels. Within two hundred yards of the shore well in sight of those watching, the small boat overturned where it was impossible to give assistance.
The body of Captain Reid and a ship boy named Clark were washed on to the sands soon after. All attempts to restore animation failed. The watchers could see the remaining nine of the Trelawny crew and a passenger clinging to the masts and rigging all through that day. The sea began to break over the ship and still nothing could possibly be done to save them. In time, four of them dropped off during the night into the raging dark waters.
Early next morning the sea moderated allowing four Irvine sailors in a jolly boat to rescue six men counting a single passenger. They came ashore safe after a nightmare of losing the Trelawny and nineteen men including four men who generously attempted to save the lives of others.
Two of those saved from the Trelawny were so utterly exhausted they were carried off to Saltcoats. If the boat had not reached them at that time they would have surely perished. The Trelawny is said to have broken up, spilling her cargo of little value. Mainly herrings and plantation stores which was probably salvaged. In Stevenston they have a street named after the ship, Trelawny Terrace.
It appears the crew could have been safely landed on the Friday morning but the Captain hoping to get the ship on its way, induced the crew to remain on board till the afternoon, with the wind increasing, a signal of distress was displayed. Also it had run aground on the sand bank.
Strangely there is another version that states the Trelawny sailed into the Clyde on January the 22nd on the final leg of its voyage from Jamaica but had run aground on the sands.
We gladly leave it to the reader to find the truth of this tale.