The loss of a ship

Painting of HMS Nile under sail

Here’s a painting of HMS Nile under sail. Portrayed in a common way among marine artists, the ship is coming towards the viewer and we can see the sails on all her three masts. A motive that for some marine artists was quite hard to paint themselves out of – if they wanted to make a living on their painting. Customers who saw a painting with a motive like this would put in an order for a similar one. It sold. Which is understandable, it’s from an attractive angle, but we’ve seen one too many by now and me myself has no problem in finding a boat sailing away from me attractive. There are indeed sexy boat asses out there, believe me.

I stood on the jetty shooting out from the harbour of Visby (capital of Gotland – an island on the Swedish east coast) and watched the ship I arrived to the island in, sail off into the sunset. It was one of the most beautiful sights I have seen.

ship on the water
sails on the horizon
setting sun, summer breeze
far from the end,
nothing to amend

The  building of the second-rate ship of the line HMS Nile started in 1826 at the Dockyard in Plymouth. She was built out of wood, had a sparred length of 205 feet (62.64 m), depth 54 feet (16.59 ) and carried 92 guns on two decks. The costs for her building was £86,197.
She survived several adventures around the world, among them Crimean war and supposedly the American civil war. In 1876 she was retired and served as a school ship for the naval academy in Liverpool. During World War II she was towed to the Menai Strait, in North Wales. In 1953, being towed away for a refit, she ran aground and wrecked.
She was being towed by two boats, one in the bow and one in the stern. Fighting strong tidal currents, the boat in the bow couldn’t make any progress and the second boat in the stern came forward to help. This caused the stern to swing in the strong currents and the tugs couldn’t hold her. She ran up on some rocks where she “broke her back” when the tide went out. All efforts to try to tow her free was in vain and she was left to her destiny, which was not to rot away slowly. For three years she was sitting in the strait, then in 1956, she burned and was gone.

HMS Conway aground in Menai Strait
What a tragic sight that is.
After the towing incident there was, of course, some discussions concerning what happened. Some said that the pilots were ignored and other questions why she was towed through such a narrow passage with strong tidal streams and shifting banks, to start with. Anyhow, she was sitting there and was not going anywhere.

This site has an extensive source of HMS Conway information.
Lots of nice photo’s, I specially enjoyed this album.


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