The complete scuba divers guide to shipwrecks around the Island of Bermuda




   Capt. Dan Berg's Wreck Valley Collection   

MADIANA shipwreck postage stamp Bermuda   MADIANA shipwreck historical photo Bermuda   MADIANA shipwreck sinking Bermuda    

By Capt. Dan Berg

Photos: Madiana courtesy SSHS and Brendan Hollis Collection. Bermuda wreck series postage stamps. Courtesy Postmaster General.

The iron hulled Canadian passenger steamship, Madiana, was built by R. Napier & Sons, Glasgow, in 1877, as the Balmoral Castle. She was 344.8 feet long, had a 39.4 foot beam, displaced 3,080 gross tons and was powered by 383 n.p.h. triple expansion engines. She was sold in 1882 to Spanish owners and re-named San Augustin. Later she was sold to another British owner and reverted to Balmoral Castle. In the early 1890's, she was purchased by the Quebec S.S. Company, Ltd., Montreal, and once again re-named Madiana.

On February 10, 1903, under command of Captain Roderick Frazer, while enroute from New York to the West Indies, with passengers and a general cargo, the Madiana went ashore on the reefs of Bermuda. According to reports from passengers, the Madiana was threading her way through the narrow channel among the coral reefs which lead to Hamilton Harbor, when she struck a reef northeast of North Rock. Distress signals were sent up, and tugs were sent to render assistance. The tug, Gladisfen, dared not approach the wreck due to a heavy sea and was forced to wait about a mile off. The Madiana's crew launched a life boat, but it was smashed to pieces against the steamer's side. Another boat was lowered into the threatening sea, this time successfully. Other lifeboats were then launched in succession, and all passengers and crew, after a long row through enormous, seas finally reached safety aboard the awaiting Gladisfen.

In an interview with New York Times reporters, Captain Fraser declared that on the night of the incident, he was on deck. He was knowledgeable of the reefs and had twenty years of experience running to Bermuda.  "I looked for lights," he said, " and the mate looked for lights and the third mate looked for lights, and we could see no lights." Finally chief officer Williams saw a light and told the Captain he saw breakers about it. "The helm was put hard to starboard. I looked at the light and couldn't see any breakers. The light appeared to be fixed, so I decided it was the St. David's Head light, and ordered the ship steered east. In a few minutes she struck the reef.  Captain Fraser went on to say that the light he saw was not St. David's Head, but Gibbs Hill light. Gibbs Hill light is a revolving light, but on this night, due to an accident, the reflectors had been replaced by tin, which frequently grew smokey causing the appearance of a fixed light.

The Marine Board of Inquiry found Captain Frazer negligent, but this ruling was later overturned in a British court.

This wreck was partially salvaged in WW II. Her engine is gone, but her twin boilers are still there and her stern overhangs into a sand hole. She sits in 25 feet of water on a hard coral bottom one mile from the Caraquet wreck which went down 20 years later in 1923. Visibility in the area is usually excellent averaging from 80 to 100 feet.


The information listed above was taken with permission from the Book:
A Vacationing Divers Guide to Bermudas Shipwrecks,
by Dan and Denise Berg, 6x9 softcover,73 pages.
Retail $14.95




Now also Available as an instant download printable PDF eBook

A Vacationing Divers Guide to Bermudas Shipwrecks

Buy Now  only $9.95
4.5 MB instant download, printable  PDF file

by Dan and Denise Berg, 6x9, 73 page downloadable ebook. From the first quarter of the 16th century, Bermuda became a landmark for Spanish ships sailing back to Spain from the New World. The desire to sight Bermuda to confirm their position often ended their voyage as they wrecked on Bermuda's outer reefs. To this day Bermuda's treacherous reefs have taken their toll on shipping. The reefs have claimed vessels ranging from ocean lines to small fishing boats. Bermuda Shipwrecks is the most comprehensive, accurate, illustrated collection of information, photographs, sketches and stories ever written about the legendary wrecks around Bermuda. Bermuda Shipwrecks includes over 100 illustrations comprised of 61 sensational color photos, 17 rare b&w historical images, 19 stamps, 4 sketches plus one map. Bermuda Shipwrecks contains a wealth of enlightening information that gives the readers a nostalgic glimpse into the history and present condition of over 55 of Bermuda's most popular Shipwrecks. 

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Copyright Capt. Dan Berg / Aqua Explorers Inc

2745 Cheshire Dr
Baldwin NY 11510


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