The LOCH TORRIDON, built in response to the need for a large cargo carrying ship in the 1870's, became famous for being one of the most perfect four-masted barques ever built. She was built for the Loch Line in 1880 by Messrs. Barclay, Curle and Co. Her measurements were: 287 feet 4 inches in length, 42 feet 6 inch beam, and 24 feet depth of hold. She was well sparred and her sail plan was so perfectly balanced that she was a very handy ship, easy on her helm, which was not a common virtue among the large four masted ships of her day. Her main and mizen masts, from deck to truck, measured 152 feet, her foremast 148 feet.

Her sails were interchangeable on all three masts, which was common in the last days of sail for both economical and practical purposes. Her lower yards measured 88 feet, lower topsail 78, upper topsail 74, topgallant 56, and royal 42 1/2. Her royals were 18 feet deep at the bunt - she carried no skysails. Her bowsprit and jib-boom measued 56 feet overall. She was considered one of the most graceful and elegant ships ever launched from the Glasgow shipyards.

The first master of the LOCH TORRIDON was Captain Pinder. She loaded a heavy cargo for Melbourne, arriving at Hobson's Bay 105 days out, which did not give a good indication of her sailing capabilities. She then went to Calcutta with a cargo of horses. On August 22nd, 1882, she left Calcutta with a cargo of jute. All went well until off the Cape, were Captain Pinder made a mistake while sailing in a heavy W.N.W. gale. Although the mate begged the Captain not to set the foresail before he put his helm up, Captain Pinder was determined to risk it, having got away with it once before. When he tried the wear the ship around to the starboard tack she got off before the wind and there was not enough way on her. As a result, a tremendous sea broke over her poop and carried Captain Pinder, the 2nd mate, man at the wheel, sailmaker, and a boy overboard. The mate was also swept away, but was saved when a turn of the main-brace held him by the leg. The men overboard could not be rescued in such a sea and were never seen again, the mate bringing the ship home.

The luck of the LOCH TORRIDON changed with the owners persuading Captain Robert Pattman to take command. He was a fine passage-maker and a safe navigator who took great pains in picking a good crew for his ship. He sailed the LOCH TORRIDON for 26 years 9 months, making 25 voyages around the world without a serious mishap, and with seldom a passage which was not above average. Some of his best are indicated below:

  • 1882-82. Glasgow to Melbourne (with 59 passengers and 12 prize stallions) -- 74 days.

  • Melbourne to Calcutta (with 320 horses) -- 42 days. The horse trade in those days between Australia and India was very profitable.

  • Calcutta to London -- 103 days. It was very difficult for long-voyage iron ships to make a good homeward passage owing to the growth of weed and bamicles fouling the iron bottom.

  • 1883-4. Glasgow to Melbourne (with 61 passengers) -- 79 days.

  • Newcastle, N. S.W., to San Francisco -- 58 days.

On the following voyage she again crossed the Pacific from Newcastle, N.S.W., to San Francisco in 58 days. On each of these occasions she beat a number of well-known ships.

She spent the next five voyages in the Indian trade, but in 1891 she went out to Sydney and loaded wool home. It was her first wool cargo, all the rest of the sailing ships leaving ahead of her. She had the finest run of the season, however, reaching London only in only 81 days. Despite this great performance, Captain Pattman could get no cargo in London and had to sail in ballast to Melbourne in 1892-93. She reached Melbourne only 69 days out.

Her best week's work in the "roaring forties" was 2,119 miles, making the following consecutive daily runs: 303, 290, 288, 272, 285, 327 and 341.

The LOCH TORRIDON kept up her excellent record right up to 1908, Captain Pattman keeping his ship in the front rank of sailing ships. Some of her best performances were: London to Adelaide, 79 days in 1902; Newcastle, N.S.W., to San Francisco, 45 days in 1903; Glasgow to Sydney, 77 days in 1904; Melbourne to London, 86 days in 1908; and Melbourne to London, 87 days in 1909. On September 5, 1909, Captain Pattman resigned the command of the ship. His reason was that he had a difficult time finding competent officers and crew to man the ship. He seems to have lost his luck, however, when he left the LOCH TORRIDON and sail, switching to steam. On his first steamship he was smashed by a sea on his own bridge, his leg being so badly broken that he died in the hospital after being landed at Falmouth.

The LOCH TORRIDON kept on sailing until 1915 having been sold to the Russians two years earlier. Near the end of January 1915, while off the west coast of Ireland bound for the Channel with a load of lumber, she sprang a leak. The captain and crew abandoned the vessel, being taken off by the S.S. ORDUNA. This is strange, for she was close to a port, had a buoyant cargo, and yet, at a time when ships were worth there weight in gold, was abandoned owing to a leak! One would speculate that with a British crew and her old captain, she would still have been sailing!

 

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