Pendeen Wrecks & Rescues
Clive Carter 1970,
Cornish Shipwrecks: The North Coast.
Pan books, London and Sydney
The largest sailing ship lost anywhere between Land's End and St Ives was the Liverpool ship Alexander Yeats. The Alexander Yeats launched in 1876, by David Lynch was built for Alex. Yeats, of St. John New Brunswick (Canada). The ship was pronounced at the time to be the finest ship ever turned out of St. John yards. Her frame was of hackmatack, pitch pine, and spruce; keel, stem, and stern-post of American white oak. Her keelson was of four tiers, the upper ones being of white oak with greenheart mast-steps. The ceiling and outside planking were wholly of pitch pine. She was copper-fastened to the covering boards and classed A1 10 years in the Bureau Veritas.
Towards the end of her career she was bought by Liverpool shipowner G. Windon, who cut her down to a barque. On 17 September 1896, laden with deals and pitchpine from Sable, Savannah, she received orders from a pilot-boat off Port Lynas to discharge at Devonport dockyard. Three days later she broke away from the tug Gamecock in a gale off the Smalls and, after a near wrecking at Milford, Captain Scott stood down Channel.
On the evening of 25 September, as the flash of the light on the Wolf rock was sighted, the SSW gale suddenly increased again, driving the Alexander Yeats back to the northward of Godrevy. The storm eased towards dawn, but the deck cargo had now shifted and the ship had developed a bad list to port. Throughout the day Portreath coastguards kept a vigilant watch on her attempts to wear off the land, and at dusk, as she wallowed past under small sail, they alerted Hayle lifeboat. But both she and the St Ives lifeboat failed to reach the crippled ship, which, just before midnight, struck heavily in high seas under Gurnard's Head.
Nineteen sailors, Irish, British and Swedish, were landed by breeches-buoy, though not before a near-disaster when the landward anchor of the hawser came adrift. Apart from a broken foretopmast, the Alexander Yeats was not badly damaged, and by January 1897 a squad of traction engines, the first seen in the district, were hauling her pitchpine cargo to Penzance.