Launched from the N V Schapps shipyard in Leiden, Holland in 1929 the steel steam trawler Noordpool (YM132) measured 119.2′ x 21.2′ x 11.1′ and her tonnage was 197 gross tons, 78 net tons. She was powered by a triple expansion steam engine by Amsterdamche Droogdok Maats delivering 60 net horse power.
On 1st March 1931 the Noordpool, owned by NV Visscherij Maats, was caught in a severe storm in the Moray Firth. The Noordpool was under the command of her skipper Job Gravenmaker with a crew of thirteen men aboard. Visibility was reduced to virtually zero as a snow storm blew through. The exact details of the stranding of the vessel are unclear as everyone aboard was lost when she was driven onto the rocks five hundred yards west of Rosehearty harbour. It seems likely that the Noordpool was heading for Roeshearty harbour to shelter from the storm but was driven onto the rocks close to the harbour entrance by the ferocity of the storm.
The following morning the first sign that a disaster had occurred in the darkness that night was the appearance of various pieces of floating wreckage and then four bodies of the crewmen being washed ashore in a narrow rocky inlet locally called Sweet Gulley. The weather had abated somewhat but the swell was still beating against the rocks around the gully. As the light improved and the tide began to fall the sad sight of the wrecked trawler lying on its port side appeared close to the shore. Initially the identity of the vessel was not known but gradually the wreckage, visible amid the churning swell, provided clues to the name of the wreck. Firstly onlookers spotted the letters ’POOL’ on the bow of the wreck and later the letters ’EN’ indicating the last letters of her port of registration confirmed that the wreck was the Noordpool of Ymuiden, Holland. Over subsequent days more bodies were washed ashore and recovered confirming all the men aboard had lost their lives as she stranded in the stormy darkness. Ten bodies of the crew were eventually recovered and later buried in the local cemetery, they were later exhumed and taken to Holland where they were reburied. There were eleven crew aboard the Noordpool when she was lost, the body of the mate – Willem Gravemaker, son of the skipper was located during demolition work in June 1931 and his body returned to Holland.
Some salvage was carried out from the shore by Cameron’s of Peterhead but some scattered wreckage remains at the site lying in 6 metres in position 57° 42.080’N, 02° 07.110’W.
Local divers report the recovery of portholes and a telegraph in the 1990’s but the site, overgrown with kelp in the summer months, still has some scattered wreckage among the rocks.
We would like to thank Lloyd’s Register Foundation – Heritage & Education Centre for allowing us to reproduce documents from their archive in this article.