First registered at Llanelly on 3 December 1873 the new steamship Udea was built for the Burry Port Steamship Company of St Helens Place, London. Built by Schlesinger, Davis & Company Limited (Yard No. 51) at Wallsend in Newcastle she was an iron hulled steamship that measured 110.5’ x 18.1’ x 10.1’ and tonnage of 92nt / 157gt. The vessel was powered by a 2cylinder compound steam engine supplied by Christie, Gutch and Company of North Shields. The vessels official number was 60770. The Udea passed through a number of owners in her life transferring to Pontyburn Colliery 1880-1881; Charles Nevill – Llanelly Copper Works 1881-1888; before being purchased by David MacBrayne in 1888 and remained in his ownership until her loss.
The Udea was employed as a small general cargo vessel delivering goods to ports and offshore islands along the west coast of Scotland. It was on this duty that she was lost around 3.30am on 7 April 1894 while on a voyage from Glasgow to Port of Ness, Isle of Lewis with a cargo of coal, girders and timber. While passing the Island of Gigha off the west coast of Kintyre, she hit the Cath Sgeir Rock, floated off and sank in deep water 15 minutes later. The crew landed safely on the Isle of Gigha.
The Wreck Today
Cath Sgeir is located on the west side of the Isle of Gigha, and is a reef marked by a cardinal buoy. The reef breaks surface at all states of the tide. This reef has been the cause of a number of shipwrecks over the centuries and the remains of at least four are still to be found around the reef today.
The wreck of the Udea lies around 1.75 kilometres to the north of this reef in position 55 °40.519’N 005° 47.890’W. The wreck lies in 62-63 metres on a sand and mud seabed rising a maximum of 4 metres at the stern. Wreck is of a small rear engined steamship around 30 metres in length, oriented 125°/325° with stern to NW.
At the bow there is clear damage to the stem post which ties in with her collision with Cath Sgeir rock. The bow winch has collapsed into the hull which rises no more than a metre above the seabed. The main hatch combing has also dropped into the hold although its outline is still visible. The hold itself is a jumble of metal some of which could be the cargo. At the stern there is more to see, the boiler, engine and main steam pipework.