The steel barque Bertha was launched from the Alloa yard of Grangemouth Dockyard Co Ltd (Yard No 163) on 28th April 1892. She measured 248.2′ x 38.4′ x 22.4′ and her tonnage was 1643 gross tons, 1546 net tons. Built for Jon H Soost of Hamburg the barque was sold multiple times to German, Finnish and Swedish owners. Renamed Bohus by G Carlsson of Gothenburg in 1917 further ownership changes ensued before she was purchased by her final owners, Beulwitz, Donitz and Witt of Hamburg in early 1924.
At this point she was to be used as a sail training ship and it was in this use that she sailed on her first voyage, in ballast, under these new owners departing from Gothenburg in April 1924 en route to Taltal in Chile where she was to pick up a cargo of sulphate. She was under the command of Captain Hugo Ferdinand Blume and had a crew of thirty eight, including twenty young cadets. It was also later discovered that she had a single stowaway aboard as she departed.
As they crossed the North Sea the weather was thick and hazy making any accurate view of their position almost impossible. Blume sailed on using dead reckoning to attempt to determine their route and position without a single clear sighting of the sun. In the evening of the 26th the weather deteriorated even more. The dense fog was supplemented by an increasingly strong wind and swell. In the gloom a light appeared but Blume mistakingly identified it as the light on Sumburgh Head. It was in fact the light on the Outer Skerries. He sailed on encountering some fierce tides as they continued west until, without warning, the ship suddenly crashed aground and immediately took on an alarming list throwing men and boys across the deck of the ship. They had hit the Yell coastline at Otterswick near Ness of Queyon. With waves breaking over the ship the lifeboats were smashed to pieces leaving the men aboard no choice but to jump overboard an try to make it ashore. Thankfully most were able to do this safely but three lives were lost. A young stowaway also made it safe to land.
There is some scattered wreckage in shallow water reported in approximate position 60° 32.682’N, 01° 02.460’W off Otterswick.
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