A Jersey built ketch abandoned at the western end of Hooe Lake.
Cutter until 1870 then Ketch
Built by Le Sueur of Jersey in 1866, Amazon was first registered in Jersey on 23 April of that year as a 30 ton cutter-rigged vessel. Between 1870 and 1888 her owner was John Wright of Jersey. Amazon was lengthened and converted to a ketch in 1870 and by 1890 she was registered in Jersey as 50 tons under the ownership of James Richmond. Amazon was registered in Hull from 1895 to 1897 under the ownership of William Lowery and from 1898 to 1904 owned by Mrs Bessie Watts of Braunton in Devon. From 1900 until the outbreak of the Great War – and perhaps later – her master was A. J. Watts. Between 1906 and 1924 her managing owner was James Watts also of Braunton.
In 1927 Amazon was sold to Oscar Harris, mariner of Par, who re-registered her at Barnstaple at 33 tons and installed an auxiliary motor of 25 bhp. Her new owner/skipper was something of a character. Jack Birch of Oreston recalls that he was nick named ‘Mad’ Harris on account of his uncertain temper when things were not going right! He was a native of Par and his mate was likewise a Cornishman. In the late 20’s and early 30’s the Amazon was probably better known for her colourful skipper than for any other reason.
On June 16th 1934 Amazon caught fire in her engine room when off Looe, anchoring in Plymouth Sound the crew managed to put the fire out after two hours. She berthed in Millbay Docks when at night the fire flared up again so fire engines were called and they put the fire out. Two years later, on Tuesday 22nd September 1936, Amazon was heading from Falmouth to Plymouth to pick up a cargo when she was stranded near Picklecombe in dense fog. The lifeboat was called out and found that the Amazon had been abandoned, but later in their 2 hour search met a motor launch towing a ships boat containing the Amazon's captain, Oscar Harris, and his one-man crew, Mr H. W. Hounsell of Oreston, Plymouth. The skipper and mate had taken their belongings and some blankets and tried to make for shore in the ship's boat. Amazon was refloated at high tide; she had strained her hull badly so was towed by two tugs to Lucas's yard in Oreston. A survey showed that the hull was beyond economic repair, so written off as a total loss she was towed into the middle of Hooe Lake and left to rot.
Langley and Small suggested that there were three vessels abandoned together in the middle of the lake,,and. However early aerial photographs only show two hulls and a drone survey only showed the remains of two vessels, which we think are Amazon and Bulla, with Alfred Rooker having been broken up. See Alfred Rooker, Amazon or Bulla?
The ships must have been a considerable hazard to navigation in the middle of the lake so it is surprising that they were not beached like the many other abandoned vessels. By the 1980s all that remained standing was the sternpost and part of the rudder of one of the ships, the remainder being the keel, floor timbers and outer planking.
Hooe Lake, Oreston, Plymouth
This hulk is not accessible on foot as it lies in the middle of Hooe Lake at the western end, the mud is both soft and deep so visiting this hulk is not advised. The closest place to see the hulks is from Barton Road in Hooe as the road runs alongside the western end of Hooe Lake. The hulks can be seen in the middle of the Lake at low tide as a low, dark shape in the mud, often manned by a crew of seagulls.
Thanks to the West Bay Discovery Centre for sending us a picture of Amazon at West Bay.
Nearby hulks include the schooner Bulla , pilot vessel Leader , ketch Coronella and crabber Happy Venture .
Last updated 03 Jan 2021
Position OS: SX 50298 53010
Position GPS: 50.357917, -4.105889
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Le Sueur, Jersey
53.5ft to 1870 then 65.5ft
15.6ft to 1870 then 17.4ft
7.7ft to 1870 then 8.2ft
49 GRT, 34 net
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