Isle Of Wight Shipwrecks: Treasure, Hazardous

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There are few records of shipwrecks during the 17th Century, yet many of the few records that survive mention one thing in common; treasure.

In October 1627, the Dutch East India Company sent a convoy to India and Indonesia, loaded with Dutch silver Daalders and Spanish "pieces of eight".

Only two days out of port, the small fleet of 7 ships was caught in a terrible gale, and were forced into the Solent. Two of which were forced to sail between the Needles, the Vliegende Draecke, of 320 tons with a crew of 200, tearing a large hole in her bottom in the process. The crew transferred its precious cargo to other ships, abandoning her in Alum Bay.

The Campen sank just south of the Needles, again the crew and much of the silver were saved. In 1628, a team headed by Dutch salvor Jacob the Diver and local merchant Robert Newland began to explore the wreck, handing 5 cannon, 6,660 kg of lead and 2,635 coins to the authorities. The Campen was rediscovered in June 1979, where divers raised a further 8,000 silver coins.

In 1636, the Bird Phoenix, an English treasure ship, was wrecked in Compton Bay. In 1691, the English Galleon St. Anthony was lost in Scratchells Bay.

In 1688 England and Holland were allies in a war against France and Spain that was to last 25 years. In 1702, during the war of the Spanish Succession the fleet under the command of Admiral Sir George Rooke, who later captured Gibraltar, was returning from Cadiz when they discovered a Spanish treasure fleet in Vigo Bay, protected by a French detachment. The English fleet was able to capture 5 treasure ships, only to meet a terrible storm in the channel. Two of the treasure ships were lost, their fate unknown. Yet several Spanish coins, dated 1701, have been found in the area around Blackgang Chine...


On the very boundary of the waters of the Isle of Wight, off the Witterings in Bracklesham Bay on the mainland lies the remains of the Hazardous, which sank in a storm in 1706.

Built at Fort Louis, France, in 1698 as the 50-gun 3rd Rate1Le Hazardeux, she was captured in 1703 by Admiral Sir Claudsley Shovell, and towed into Portsmouth, rebuilt, enlarged, and, in 1704 commissioned as a 54-gun 4th Rate2 ship, armed with a mixture of her original French and English weapons.

In the night of the 19th November 1706, she was under the command of Lieutenant John Hares, who was following the orders of Captain John Lowan, who was in command of the Advice. Lowan was convicted of disobeying orders, as he should not have been in the Solent, and convicted of leading the two ships into shoal waters and not signalling the Hazardous when changing course. The Hazardous had scraped along the shoals, and Lieutenant Hares successfully ran the Hazardous ashore, enabling her crew to get ashore safely. Hares was acquitted for the loss.

Much of her, including her cannons, were salvaged. She was rediscovered in the 1970s. In 1986, the Hazardous was the 32nd site to be protected by the 1973 Protection of Wrecks Act, with plans in 2000 to design a "Diver Trail" around her, complete with information boards, to present her story to divers. If this scheme goes ahead, it will be the first for a Protected British historic wreck.

John Wheeler

The Log of John Wheeler, a longshoreman from Blackgang, is one of the few records we have of shipwrecks of the time. Although it was started in 1757, it mentions how, in 1746, a shipwreck on the Island caused the death of 15 men off Rocken End. In all, the log, which continues until 1808, records over a hundred shipwrecks and a beached whale.

Shipwrecks Of The Isle Of Wight

1In 1698, a 3rd rate was defined as a two-decked ship by the Royal Navy with 40-50 guns, although the rating system was soon to change, with a 3rd rate being a 70-80 gun 3 decker.2In the 1700s, a 4th rate was now a ship with 50-60 guns.

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