This vessel was a barque rigged sailing ship of 582 gross tons launched in October 1867 from the yard of Lawrence Hill & Company of Port Glasgow (Yard No.60). Her iron hull measured 171.5” x 28.1’ x 17.0’ and she had 3 mast. The vessel was owned by a number of interests in Port Glasgow, and Leonard Gow was her managing owner. Her official number was 58350.
The Estrella de Chile was wrecked on the Robin Rigg Spit off Maryport in the Solway Firth on 25 November 1888, with the loss of the vessel and one life, that of her first mate James Napier.
She had loaded a cargo of 890 tons of steel rails at Whitehaven and left for the port of Rosario on the River Plate in the early afternoon of 23 November 1888, under the command of Mr James Dorward. She proceeded to sea under tow of a small harbour tug expecting to be towed around 15 miles but the tug cast off the tow around 3 miles offshore, she had yet to set any of her mainsails. Sails were set but the vessel was in a difficult area to navigate with many sand banks, she was also against a lee shore giving little sea room. Throughout the rest of the day and into 24th she manoeuvred in the outer Firth and by late afternoon with a rising wind her sails were reefed and the master intended to anchor up in Maryport Roads.
Around 6pm they struck what they believed to be the Two Feet Bank but managed to float off, but not before maroons were sent up. They eventually floated into deeper water, but soon after the water shoaled again and they landed on the Robin Rigg Spit around 11.30pm. As the tide rose the ship began to bump across the spit. Anchors were set and they attempted to launch one of the ships boats but it was smashed against the hull, the ship was filling with water, her pumps were unable to cope in the now atrocious sea conditions.
Around 11am on 25th the crew were ordered to climb into the rigging to escape the mayhem that was taking place at deck level. The master and both mates took to the mizzen rigging, but around mid afternoon the rigging parted and both mates fell into the maelstrom below them. Fortunately the backwash brought one of them back who managed to regain a hold and struggled above the waves. The other was taken away by the sea and drowned.
Meanwhile the Maryport lifeboat was towed out to the wreck by the tug Seahorse. The sea was now rolling across the flooded hull of the Estrella de Chile the waves were 5-6 feet above the deck level, and the crew were all in the rigging. The lifeboat was now able to row over the wreck to to make their rescue and managed to save the remaining 14 crew including her master. The crew were landed at Maryport and taken into care of the Shipwrecked Mariners Society.
A Board of Trade inquiry was held in Glasgow on the 18 & 19 December 1888 to establish the cause of the loss of the vessel and the death of the 1st mate. In conclusion the master was found in default for committing at least one serious error of judgement but the Court did not deal with his certificate.
In April 1889, Alfred Gann & Company were contracted to recover her valuable cargo of steel railway track, which they would commence once they had finished removing a cargo of timber from another wreck in the Solway Firth, the William Leavitts.