Posted by: Old Navy
N 39° 15.545 W 074° 34.395
18S E 536817 N 4345614
Quick Description: On December 15, 1901, the Sindia, a 329-foot, four-masted sailing barque, ran aground on the shores of Ocean City, New Jersey.
Location: New Jersey, United States
Date Posted: 12/4/2005 7:59:49 PM
Waymark Code: WM4H9
The Sindia came to rest approximately 150 yards from the beach between 16th and 17th Streets, after losing her way in a storm on the way to New York City. Within a matter of hours, the Sindia began to wedge deeper and deeper into the sand, while her steel hull, unable to support the ship’s weight, cracked and the hold began to fill in with water and sand.
The Sindia was built in 1887 by Harland and Wolff of Belfast, Ireland as hull no. 204, the same company that later built the Titanic, the Sindia was one of the last commercial sailing ships prior to the predominance of steam-powered ocean travel. Reported to have been named for Madagee Sindia, emperor of Hindustan from 1741 to 1749, she was 329.3 feet long, had a beam of 45.2 feet, a draft in the water of 26.7 feet, and weighed 3,068 gross tons. Rigged with double top and topgallant sails and royal sails, she was launched on November 19, 1887, and delivered to the T.J. Brocklebank shipping firm in Liverpool on February 6, 1888. In 1900, John D. Rockefeller’s Anglo-American Oil Company, a division of Standard Oil Company, purchased the Sindia for $200,000.00.
The Sindia’s final voyage brought her to Asia, bringing containers of kerosene to the Far East and returning with silk, camphor, porcelain, and other items to be sold in time for the Christmas holiday. On her last, fateful journey, she travelled to Shanghai and then Kobe, Japan, before setting sail on July 8, 1901 for the 5-month, 10,000 mile voyage to New York City.
The trip to New York should be been routine for Captain Allan MacKenzie and his crew: southeast across the Pacific Ocean from Japan to the western hemisphere, around Cape Horn at the tip of South America, then north up the eastern coast of the Americas to New York. But upon reaching Cape May, New Jersey, a howling winter gale and churning seas pummelled the vessel for almost four days. Ripping her sails and rigging to tatters, the storm ultimately spun her around broadside to the beach, pointing southward, and drove her westward toward Peck’s Beach, Ocean City, NJ, her final resting place.
With the storm raging and the Sindia’s hull burrowing ever-deeper into the sand, at approximately 2:30 a.m. Captain MacKenzie sent up distress signals. The signal flares were first seen by Harry Young of the Ocean City Life-Saving Station, which was commanded by Captain J. Mackey Corson, and Edward Boyd at the mainland’s Middle Station. The two stations each dispatched crews to the scene, with the Ocean City crew bringing a breeches buoy and the Middle Station crew bringing a surf boat. The rescuers made three failed attempts to use the breeches buoy, and at daybreak the surf boat was launched carrying Captain Corson and 15 men of the Life-Saving Service. Fighting the bitter cold, torrential rains, and crashing waves, they brought 26 of the Sindia’s 33 men to safety on the shore, taking seven at a time. Captain MacKenzie remained onboard, and he and the remaining 6 came ashore later in the day after the winds and seas had calmed.
Rumors quickly spread that the Sindia crew had been drunk, holding an early celebration of the Christmas holiday and the proximity of their destination, which resulted in the wreck. A British Naval Court conducting hearings on December 23, 26, 27, 28, 30 & 31, 1901, and concluded that Captain MacKenzie had “failed to exercise proper and seamanlike care and precaution”, suspending his certificate for six months. Allan MacKenzie never mastered a vessel again: a broken man, he died in his native Scotland before the suspension period ended.
The ship’s arrival in Shanghai had come shortly after the outbreak of the Boxer Rebellion. It has long been speculated by treasure hunters and archaeologists that the ship’s lowest hold, which has never been able to be excavated due to the quick filling in of sand and water, contains items looted from Buddhist temples during the 1900 rebellion, including gold, jade, porcelain, and other valuables. Legends tell of a golden Buddha and jade dogs among other booty smuggled aboard. This speculation was fueled in part by the listing among the items on the ship’s manifest of 200 tons of manganese ore, to be stored in boxes as ballast. The crates were loaded by E.H. Frazier, acting American counsel-general in Shanghai, for delivery to the “B. Ellis Co.” of New York City. However, it is believed by some that the true destination of the shipment was to a man named B. Ellis who had once worked as Frazier’s subordinate in Shanghai. Since manganese ore was already in plentiful supply in the United States (specifically including New York State), and since foreign powers were known to have looted Buddhist temples in China during the time of the uprising, it is suspected by some that rather than containing mere rocks of manganese ore, the crates bear stolen art smuggled out of China.
Over the years since the shipwreck, the Sindia sank deeper into the water and sand, and as a result of an ongoing beach replenishment project by the United States Army Corps of Engineers, her entire hull and most of her valuable cargo lies totally buried beneath the sand. Prior to then, the tiller post could still be seen protruding from the beach. The Sindia has been the target of several aborted recovery attempts, the most recent having been approximately 10 years ago by an entity called Sindia Expedition, Inc., a New Jersey corporation comprised of various investors.
After having sailed some 200,000 miles over the world’s oceans, on December 15, 1901, the ship sailed no more. On Christmas Eve, 1970, the last surviving member of her crew, David Jackson, died in Philadelphia at the age of 90. The wreck location was designated as an official historical site by the State of New Jersey in 1969.
Type: steel-hulled bark, USA
Built: 1887, Ireland
Specs: ( 329 x 45 ft ) 3068 gross tons, 34 crew
Sunk: Sunday December 15, 1901
ran aground in storm - no casualties
Depth: 0-5 ft depending on the tide
Date of Shipwreck: 1901/12/15
Type of Boat: Sailboat
Military or Civilian: civilian
Cause of Shipwreck: Ran aground in a storm
The Sindia is not a scuba diving wreck, since it lies under 10-20 ft of sand. It is, however, of historic interest, since she was carrying a treasure in far-eastern porcelain and art works, much of which is still thought to be buried inside her, waiting to be dug out.
Diving Permitted: no
Only log the site if you have visited it personally.
Floating over a site does not qualify as a find if it is a wreck that requires diving - you must have actually visited the site - therefore photos of the site are good.