This vessel was a 177nt. wooden brigantine built by Bartram & Co., Sunderland and launched in April 1862. Her dimensions were 97.0′ x 23.0′ x 12.8′. She was owned by John Bell of Barrow, Lancaster and registered there, her official number was 43879.
The gallant rescue of the crew of the John Slater illustrates well the lengths that people will go to, to save the lives of their fellow mariners in distress.
On Thursday 16th December, 1873 the steamer Garland left Stranraer around 11am for the Irish coast. As she headed west into rough seas off Corsewall Point, a dismasted sailing vessel was sighted ahead flying distress signals. Captain Campbell immediately headed the Garland for the vessel which turned out to be the Barrow brigantine John Slater with seven men aboard. Due to the weather conditions, attempts to pass a line aboard the John Slater were unsuccessful forcing Captain Campbell to ask for volunteers to row across with the rope. Five men immediately agreed to try and, after nearly capsizing on two occasions, managed to get the tow rope aboard the John Slater. As soon as the men were back on board the Garland, the slack was taken up and the two vessels headed for Loch Ryan. They had not travelled far when the tow rope, stretched and strained by the heaving of the two ships in the swell, snapped with a loud crack leaving the John Slater, once again, helpless and wallowing and drifting towards the shore. For the next two hours the crew of the Garland repeatedly tried to get another rope aboard the John Slater but without success.
Meanwhile, the vessels drifted ever closer to the rocks at Milleur Point and finally Captain Campbell shouted for the crew of the John Slater to abandon ship. Four men immediately left the John Slater in a small boat and were picked up by the Garland just before their boat was smashed to pieces against the side of the steamer. When no more than 500 yards offshore, the Garland’s lifeboat again set off for the John Slater and the remaining crew were rescued only minutes before she ran ashore. Almost immediately the brigantine started to break up.