The Wreck of the SV Nordenskjold

The SV Nordenskjold was a 3 masted, wooden barque built in 1880 for Brunchorst & Dekke, Bergen, Norway. She was 167.8 feet long and had a beam of 34.5 feet.

During the next 30 years she changed ownership 5 times and in 1910 was owned by Joh F. Juell.

On the 18th of October 1891 while sailing by the Maidens Lighthouse off County Antrim in Northern Ireland she came across the abandoned Sailing ship the Noel. The Noel had run aground the previous evening. Her crew had abandoned her and rowed to shore. The Noel floated off with the rising tide and was kept afloat by her cargo of barrels of Oil.

The following was taken from the official enquiry of the Noel.

About 10 a.m. a Norwegian barque, named the “Nordenskjold” appeared on the scene, and sent her mate with two men on board of the “Noel,” with the view of obtaining provisions. The mate took the fore hatch off, and finding the vessel full of water and floated by her oil cargo, he returned to his own vessel and reported her condition to the master, who requested him to take a couple of seamen with him on board the “Noel” and endeavour to get her into Belfast Harbour. He agreed to do so, and returned on board the “Noel” and began to cut away her cables, which were hanging over the bows. About 1 p.m. a coasting steamer, named the “Glenarm,” was signalled to by the “Noel,” and the Norwegian mate in charge of the “Noel” asked him to tow her to Belfast, but the steamer preferred to take him into Larne. When the steamer took the “Noel” in tow the Maidens were bearing to the south westward, distance about 12 miles. This was about 3 p.m., and at 8 p.m. the “Noel” was beached in Larne Lough, where she at present lies. The second mate, with the four men who went with him to the Maidens, were landed at Larne about 5 p.m on the 19th, so that no lives have been lost by this casualty.

Wreck of SV Nordenskjold
On February 14th 1910, the Norwegian barque SV Nordenskjold on a voyage from Las Palmas to Barbados was lost after running over Cobblers Reef off the south east coast of Barbados.
Photo source: Michael Hoad family collection

On 14th February 1910 the SV Nordenskjold, on a voyage from Las Palmas in the Canary Islands to Barbados, was wrecked at Long Bay. At the time of her loss she was owned by Joh. F. Juell from Risør in Norway.  According to Lloyd’s register of casualties, the SV Nordenskjold was in ballast.

When I was living at Bottom Bay in the 1980’s I met a man, who was over 80 at the time. He told me of a wreck that took place on Harry Smith Beach when he was a boy. I contacted the Barbados National Trust and they kindly gave me a picture of the wreck but did not know the name of the vessel. When I showed him the picture he was very moved as he recognised it.

He told me that the ship came over the reef and had dropped anchor a short distance off the shore waiting on favourable weather to get back out to sea.  He then told me that a man jumped off the cliff, between Bottom Bay and Harry Smith with a Collins (the local name for a cutlass) and swam out to it. The captain was on the bow shooting at him with a rifle. He managed to evade the bullets and dived down and cut the anchor rope. Before the crew could drop another anchor the wind quickly pushed the SV Nordenskjold onto the beach. He told me the name of the man and the name of his grandson who still lived in the area. Unfortunately I did not record this and he has since died. He ended the story saying “we lived well that year”.

Richard Goddard also told me that his Grandfather used some of the wood to repair or build on to his house under Hackletons Cliff.

Is this part of the SV Nordenskjold? Sometimes the shifting sands covers this relic and it is not visible.
Is this part of the SV Nordenskjold? Sometimes the shifting sands at Harry Smith beach covers this relic and it is not visible.

Sometimes, when the sand has been eroded, a large piece of rusted metal is uncovered on the beach. It is not the engine of a fishing boat. It was part of a much larger piece of machinery. The official records show that the SV Nordenskjold was wrecked at Long Bay. However this may be wrong as I was told it was Harry Smith. The large piece of metal on Harry Smith beach could be part of the engine or windlass.

The 1:50,000 map of 1993 has Harry Smith Bay named as Cave Bay. There is no large cave on Harry Smith Beach but there is a large sea cave on Bottom Bay Beach. Harry Smith Bay is between Bottom Bay and Long Beach so a mistake could have been made.

The month of February 1910 was not a lucky month for ships named Nordenskjold.

The Russian wooden brigantine, also the Nordenskjold, on a voyage from La Rochelle to Llanelly with a cargo of pit props, was wrecked in Belgrave Bay, Guernsey on 28 February 1910. The locals of the island also helped offload the cargo for their own uses.

Owners of the SV Nordenskjold:

Harry Smith Bay. Was this beach that the Nordenskjold met her end?
Harry Smith Bay. Was this beach that the SV Nordenskjold met her end?
  • 1880 built for: Brunchorst & Dekke, Bergen, Norway
  • 1886 sold to: P. G. Pettersen, Bergen, Norway
  • 1888 sold to: S. Hansen, Oslo, Norway
  • 1892 sold to: Joh. F. Juell, Risør, Norway
  • 1906 sold to: Joh. J. Hassel, Risør, Norway
  • 1910 sold to: Joh. F. Juell, Risør, Norway
  • 1910: recorded as wrecked at Long Bay however this may be wrong and it might have been at Harry Smith Bay which is between Bottom Bay and Long Bay

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