When TBF Davies died, he left specific instructions that his racing yacht should be scuttled off Guernsey. Davies himself had been born on Guernsey – and lived there – but had died in Durban five years before his wishes were carried out.

The Westward, as it was called, had been built at Rhode Island and once belonged to the Kaiser. Worth £60,000 (around £2.3m today), it had frequently raced against King George V’s yacht, Britannia, and was well-known in Dartmouth where it was berthed.

Indeed, it was so well-loved that despite the fact the date of its sinking had been kept a secret until the very last moment, Dartmouth residents had turned out to see it off and, according to the Western Morning News, “The smoke of the tug [that took Westward] along the estuary was so dense that some local people believed a smoke screen was being thrown out to hide the schooner’s departure.”

Westward’s sinking

A report in The Times read,

In accordance with the owner’s will, two members of the crew, Skipper Aldis and the sailmaker, Mr James Foster, were the last to be on board. Two souvenirs were taken from the Westward – the wheel and a punt.

The Western Morning News described the sinking in more detail:

Preliminaries completed, the explosives in the hold of the vessel were detonated by means of a switch from the cabin of the tug and also by a time fuse. There was a loud roar as the explosion took place, with clouds of smoke billowing in mushroom fashion into the clear sky, intermingled with pieces of timber which fell over a wide area of the sea. Westward gradually settled and disappeared from the view of the men watching in the tug, leaving only a few floating spars.

Davies was a millionaire who had made his fortune as a stevedore (dock worker who loads and unloads ships) in South Africa.

Category: Guernsey History | Other events tagged

On this day in 1975…
Point Law ran aground off Alderney

Point Law was an oil tanker owned by Shell Mex and BP, which had been built at the Hall, Russell & Co yard in Aberdeen, Scotland, in 1967. Less than 10 years later she ran aground Le Puits Jervais rocks off Alderney.

Point Law had not long left Guernsey, bound for the Isle of Grain, when it ran around in rough weather. Although her beaching was unfortunate, it could have been worse. She was sailing away from the Channel Islands at the time, having already put in at St Sampson and offloaded her cargo. She was therefore empty and there was nothing to spill into the sea.

The tanker had been sailing a crew of 12 men. Six of these were immediately rescued by the Guernsey lifeboat. The remainder stayed on the ship in hope that it could be refloated on the incoming tide.

Unfortunately, their hopes were in vain as the weather only got worse.

Punctured… and doomed

When it became obvious that the rocks had pierced each of her compartments and refloating would not be possible, the last six crew members were taken to Alderney by helicopter. Point Law was then left alone to be wrecked on the rocks.

One of four tankers built by Hall, Russell & Co for Shell Mex BP, Point Law had been at sea just eight years when she ran aground. She had a  gross tonnage of 1529 tons, length of 240 feet and breadth of 40 feet. The name “Point Law” was taken from a BP oil depot.

Guernsey Post issued a 34p stamp depicting Point Law on the rocks in May 1987 as part of a series depicting Alderney shipwrecks.

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What else happened in Guernsey in July?