Paddle steamer, 500 tons, 160 hp engine
Recently built; cost £12000
Bristol to Waterford with passengers and cargo.
18th Dec 1833: Hit Rock near Kilmore Quay.
Water Witch rock: 52° 10.25'N, 6° 33.32'W.
3 crew(?) and 4 passengers lost.
Loss of the "WATER WITCH" Steam Packet.- (From the Wexford Freeman.)- We have to communicate the sad intelligence that this fine vessel (the Water Witch) has gone to pieces on the Kilmore coast, about ten miles from this town [Wexford]. She left Bristol on the 17th [December 1833] and encountered a dreadful gale immediatly after leaving the Bristol Channel. The vessel was new; of 500 tons and 160 horse power, and she was therefore enabled to weather the gale and keep her course, but when she was more than half way across, a tremendous sea broke her windward paddle to atoms, and thus completely disabled her. The Captain (Stacey) kept his course as well as he could (the lights not being visible in consequence of the fog and storm), and the vessel held on pretty well, but at seven o clock at night she struck on a rock, called Mageens [now charted as Water Witch Rock], on the Kilmore coast, and not far to leeward of her true course.
The scene here became terrific, as there were several passengers on board, the sea running almost over the vessel, and every wave driving her with increased violence on the shore. At this period, the mate and two seamen took the large boat, but in consequence of the painter snapping, the boat was swamped or overset, and the three were lost. - There is reason to think that had this boat been left, all might have been saved. Some ladies and male passengers were put into the small boat, and succeeded in gaining the shore during the night; the others remained in the ship, expecting she would hold together for a long time. At day break, to the eternal credit of the people on that part of the coast, two boats put off in one of the most dreadful hurricanes ever witnessed, they succeded in reaching the vessel, which was a quarter of a mile from the shore, and by their exertions, the principal part of the crew were saved.
The ship, however, broke up while yet four remained on board, and those unfortunate persons were lost. They consisted of Mr. Smith of Headborough, in the county of Waterford, two daughters and a servant, and melancholy to relate, another daughter of Mr. Smith (the lady saved during the night) saw from the beach her father, two sisters, and a servant drowned. The conduct of the peasantry is beyond all praise. The danger they braved is inconceivable to those not acquainted with the coast, and in addition to this, when the valuable cargo was drifting on shore, they shewed not the slightest disposition to plunder, and preferred attending on and taking care of the exhausted crew and passengers, to seeking for any of the property driven on the beach. We trust those who were most active, particularly the crews of the two boats, will be handsomely rewarded.
Another newspaper quotes the Captain:
She ran on a ledge of rocks off Ballyhale [Ballyhealy?], on the coast of Wexford, at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, in a haze. One boat was launched with the first mate and three sailors, dropped astern of the vessel, and we saw no more of them. The second boat was lowered, which immediately filled with water, and after getting her up again we put four men and two ladies into her, all of whom got safe on shore. We then all night prepared rafts, and next morning all got safe to land but Mr. Smith and his sister, who were drowned by the upsetting of the raft. Another Miss Smith and her servant-maid died after reaching the shore.