One of the more dramatic stories of shipwreck along this section of coastline concerns the loss of the steam trawler Chindwin (H34) and the subsequent efforts of her crew to reach safety.
The iron hulled Chindwin was launched and completed in December 1887 by her builders Cook Welton & Gemmell of Hull (Yard No. 21). The vessel measured 100.0’ x 20.1’ x 10.3’ and had a tonnage of 57 net and 157 gross. Her compound steam engine was provided by C D Holmes. At the time of the loss the vessel was owned by George Beeching of St Andrew’s Dock, Hull. The vessels official number was 93123.
On Wednesday 6th February, 1895, while returning from the fishing grounds off Colonsay, the Chindwin encountered atrocious weather conditions in the North Channel. Storm force winds and heavy snow reduced visibility to such an extent that she became totally lost and eventually stranded in Salt Pan Bay, seven miles south of Corsewall Point, around 12:30am the following morning.
The Chindwin was hard aground and resisted all attempts to refloat her by going ‘full astern.’ After firing distress rockets, the crew climbed into the rigging to escape the waves which were breaking over most of the vessel. They remained aloft till daybreak but, with no sign of rescue and numbed by the wind and sub zero temperatures, they decided to try to reach the shore. A large rope with a knotted end was floated ashore and successfully snagged between two pinnacles of rock. The steward, being the youngest and lightest of the crew, volunteered to shin across the ninety foot gap to the shore. Watched by his crew mates, he reached safety and refastened the rope in a more secure location. Slowly the rest of the crew pulled themselves to the shore, drenched and frozen by the stinging spray.
Once ashore, the crew were confronted by sheer cliffs covered with snow and ice. Tired and exhausted, they struggled upwards and finally reached the cliff top and the open expanse of Galdenoch Moor. Already suffering from cold and frostbite, they staggered and crawled through the deep snow for five hours trying to find shelter and assistance. In desperation, they dug a large hole in the snow where they sheltered for some time. Realising that they might die of exposure the crew set off again in search of help.
Around 4am on the Friday morning they came across a large manure heap and managed to light a fire with stalks of straw. As they huddled round trying to absorb the heat, one of the crew, the second engineer, was so numbed by the frostbite that he did not realise his right foot as in the fire and, when it was pulled out, two of his toes were found to be completely charred.
The crew were eventually found shortly after daybreak by a local shepherd and guided to Miekle Galdenoch Farm where they were give dry clothes and warm food. All the roads in the surrounding district were impassable due to the heavy snow and the survivors had to wait till the following day before they could be transported to Stranraer to receive badly needed medical attention.
The wreck of the Chindwin was later purchased by a Mr. Garscadden of Glasgow who had also recently purchased the wreck of the SS Strathspey, wrecked close by in December 1894. The authors have been unable to establish the extent or success of the salvage operations. It is also of note that a number of other vessels have been wrecked in the bay namely the SS Hayburn and the fishing vessel William Castle.