The Louise was a 43gt. iron steam lighter launched in March 1870 by J & R Swan & Co., of Maryhill in Glasgow. She was powered by a fifteen horsepower direct acting steam engine supplied by J & J Hay. The Louise carried cargo between the ports of the Upper Clyde and Glasgow for her owners James and John Hay of Renfield Street, Glasgow. Her dimensions were 65.2′ x 14.3′ x 5.5′
On the morning of 3rd February, 1893 she left Rothesay for Falkirk under the command of her master, John Steel with two crew. Her cargo consisted of sixty three tons of tar and ammoniacal liquor in casks. The loading of the casks left the top row protruding from the hold making it impossible to secure the hatches that would normally cover the hold. This was to be a fatal mistake.
As the Louise left Rothesay Bay the sea was calm but, as she reached Bogany Point at the south east end of the bay, she left the shelter of the land and the sea immediately became rough. Mr. Steel decided to return to Rothesay and await calmer weather. As he turned to port his little vessel was hit, side on, by a series of heavy seas and, as a large wave pushed his port gunwhale beneath the surface, the water rushed into the open hold. The master and his two crewmen leapt into the Louise’s lifeboat which was being towed astern but, before they could untie the painter, another large wave struck the Louise and she sank by the stern taking the lifeboat and the two crew with her. Mr Steel survived by clinging to a floating hatch cover.
The Wreck Today
The small wreck of the Louise lies on a sloping sandy seabed off Bogany Point in general seabed depths of 43 metres in position 55° 50.658’N, 005° 00.952’W (GPS). The wreck eluded the attentions of divers for years as it was fairly difficult to locate sitting only two metres proud of the seabed.
There are many mounds in the seabed close by making location by echo sounder difficult. The wreck lies more or less parallel to the shore with the bow facing in the general direction of Toward. The boiler stands as the wreck’s highest point with the remaining hull wreckage heavily silted and breaking up. The visibility is usually poor as the silt is easily disturbed, quickly leaving the diver disoriented or even off the wreck on the muddy seabed. Although off the main shipping channel the wreck lies in an area which is busy with pleasure craft making good boat cover essential.