The steel steam trawler Nile was launched from the yard of Mackie and Thomson Ltd., Glasgow (Yard No 234) on 30th December 1898. She measured 115.5′ x 20.0′ x 10.3′ and her tonnage was 196 gross tons, 48 net tons. She was powered by a triple expansion steam engine by Muir and Houston Ltd., Glasgow delivering 60 registered horse power. She was ordered by the Neptune Steam Fishing Co Ltd of Hull and was registered in that port as H31. She spent her entire working career operated by this company.
She left Hull around 4pm on 27th October 1905 heading for the fishing grounds off Noup Head, Orkney under the command of skipper John Ellarby with a crew of nine men. By 11pm she passed Flamborough Head some six miles off shore. The skipper made a rough estimate of their position and set his standard engine speed at 100 revolutions which should have given her a speed of around 8 knots. However, by midnight the following day the log indicated she had only made 225 miles and was therefore steaming much slower than the skipper had expected. At 10am on the 28th the skipper had altered their course to due north but, at this point, the visibility was poor and he was unable to exactly verify his position by sighting land. Throughout day the crew became increasingly uneasy and so, at 11.55 that night they slowed to take a depth sounding to try to establish a more accurate position. The evidence of the crew and skipper from this point on are confused with one crewman claiming he had changed the vessel’s course at 11;30pm prior to the depth sounding and the skipper claiming he had changed it after the sounding which was showing 19 fathoms. In any case, with the depth clearly much shallower than expected they were clearly much closer to land than they should be. The course was drastically altered to a south east direction intended to take them directly away from the unseen danger of the Aberdeenshire coastline. At 1.10am another sounding was taken and depth had dramatically increased to 75 fathoms which convinced the skipper they had reached an area described as the Buchan Deeps. He then ordered a course of north west half west and, satisfied they were now on a safe course, went below to his bunk.
The weather remained poor with very little visibility so, throughout the episode, no land or light had been sighted making any precise determination of their position impossible. At 1:45 am on 29 October, the Nile ran aground without warning. The engines were stopped and then run full speed astern for ten minutes in an attempt to pull her off but to no avail. The hull had been damaged and water was rushing in through the tear in the ship’s bottom and within fifteen minutes there was more than three feet of water in the engine room. The Nile was in a dangerous position with waves breaking over her making it impossible to launch their boat so a distress message was issued. Thankfully this was picked up and a rescue team were soon on the scene. It was too dangerous to attempt a rescue in the dark but as the light began to break the rocket brigade succeeded in getting a line aboard the Nile at took of the crew safely. The Nile became a total wreck. She had run aground on the Sea Baddocks, a rocky outcrop at the south end of Cruden Bay.
The remaining scattered wreckage of the Nile lie in the shallows in approximate position 57° 23.726’N, 001° 51.363’W inside Black Stone Rock.
We would like to thank Lloyd’s Register Foundation – Heritage & Education Centre for allowing us to reproduce documents from their archive in this article.