5th September 1921
Ship sinks in St Sampson harbour
Belfast-based steam ship Clarrie struck Roustel Rock at 5.30am on her approach to St Sampson harbour. She was holed below the waterline and sank within half an hour. The crew was saved, but the ship was lost at the end of its crossing from Newhaven, East Sussex.
Clarrie was just one of two ships that suffered collisions within two days. The Taunton Courier of 7 September 1921 reported that “two steamers, both belonging to the Sarnia Company, went ashore at Guernsey during the week-end. Bound from Newhaven, the steamer Clarrie (176 tons) struck Roustel Rock, owing to the jamming of the steering gear. She was badly holed amidships. The captain fired flares, and the pilot boat Janira went to her assistance. Later the Clarrie slid from the rock, and the Janira towed her towards land. She sank, however, 500 yards from the shore. The crew of seven were saved. The steamer Flevo IV, struck under Vale Castle, Guernsey. The crew prepared to leave, but the vessel got clear, and is now safe at St Sampson.”
Deadly rocks on the approach to St Sampson
Roustel is a small, isolated peak that’s covered at high tide, roughly a mile and a quarter due east of Bordeaux Harbour. A light tower was built on the rock in 1923, but this was demolished when MV Winchester (2 December) collided with it in 1970. An 8m (26ft) light tower of skeletal metal was constructed to replace the original.
The Clarrie and Flevo IV disasters came just days after another piece of bad news for Guernsey’s cargo shipping operations. On 2 September, the Shepton Mallet Journal had reported that “a fire was discovered aboard the small Great Western cargo steamer Gazelle on arrival at Guernsey from Weymouth, late on Saturday night. Captain Allen ordered water to be pumped down the ventilator to flood the lower hold, and the Guernsey fire brigade were summoned. Several hundreds of wicker baskets were destroyed, and damage was done to a general cargo in the upper main hold.”