1876 Royal Yacht Squadron Schooner 366 ton Schooner FORTUNA

Royal Yacht Squadron Schooner FORTUNA was designed and built in 1876 by G Inman & son, Lymington, Hampshire for Mr Adrian E. Hope of 8 Chesterfield Gardens, London. She was registered in Southampton and her Captain for the period 1876-86 was Oliver Andrews residing at 36 High Street, Lymington.

Schooner FORTUNA being built at Inmans Boatyard Lymington 1876

She was of 192.4 Register tons, (366 Thames measurement) and 130.7 ft length, breadth of 25.5 ft and depth of 13.7 ft and fitted with Lapthorn sails. During the ownership of Adrian Hope she did many cruises around United Kingdom and the Mediterrean. From the paintings of marine artist Tomasso de Simone in 1886 we can learn that she was dismasted and damaged in a gale at Shanklin Bay, Isle of Wight. It would appear from the records that Mr Hope sold the vessel in 1891.

FORTUNA reefed down in a gale off the coast of the Isle of Wight

The dismasted Fortuna limping into Shanklin Bay off the coast of the Isle of Wight

Lifeboat coming alongside; and the crew of the FORTUNA being rowed to shore

In 1893 she was offered for sale for £2000 and this is where her new life begins.

Captain Francis Rylander (anglicized to Rowlands) a Swedish citizen shipwrecked in 1860 and became a resident of the Falkland Islands and known to all his new friends as the Commodore. In 1881 he travelled to Portsmouth to buy his own vessel and purchased the ex RYS schooner “Fair Rosamond” and sailed back to the Falklands for coastal service and voyages to Magellan straits in Chile. He was then induced by the Falkland Islands Company Ltd to take command of their newly purchased ex RYS schooner “Castalia”  also previously built for Mr Adrian E. Hope in 1874  This vessel was damaged in an overnight gale whilst at anchor in Gull Harbour, Weddell Island in March 1893 and the Falkland Islands Company was in need of a replacement vessel. Captain Rowlands had brought his ill wife back to her family in Dumfries in August 1893.

He found the FORTUNA for sale and thought she would be an ideal vessel for Falkland coastal service and voyages to South America, she was purchased by the Falkland Islands Company and refitted in Gosport for her new service which would involve carrying Passengers and stores to remote farms and Islands along with Bales of wool and livestock and was re rated at 164 ton.

Adrian Elias Hope 1845-1919 – Owner of the FORTUNA 1876-1891

FORTUNA sailed from Gosport on St Valentines day 1894 with a full cargo for Packe Brothers Dunnose Head Ranch, West Falklands and had a fast passage of 49 days and 12 hours on the 8000 mile voyage, she sailed remarkably well passing everything they met and the best days run was 276 miles. This was an exceptional voyage time having beaten the “Fair Rosmond” voyage by 13 days and on the 33rd day out she passed the 4 masted “Seafarer” of Liverpool on 29.10 south, 15.03 west who was then 50 days into her voyage around Cape Horn from Gravesend to San Francisco.

On arrival in the Falklands, the Falkland Company manager Mr W.A. Harding described her as the finest schooner ever to come to the Islands and due to her size, speed and sea keeping qualities was popular with passengers.

FORTUNA at Gosport/Portsmouth February 1894 ready to sail to Falkland Islands

FORTUNA sailed successfully around the Islands under Rowlands command for nine years until August 1903, then taking FORTUNA to Montevideo for refit, the 1000 mile voyage was made in very heavy weather and some of her sails were blown away but the distance was covered in 9 days.  A telegram was sent to England asking for new sails to be dispatched by the next mail steamer to Uruguay, she arrived back in Port Stanley looking clean and trim on 6th November ready for further service, by then Steam vessels had taken over most of the external Falkland voyages to Montevideo and the Magellan straits.

Captain F. T. Rowlands 1835-1919

In July 1905 the Danish sailing vessel “Sixtus” under Captain Eriksen was wrecked on Volunteer point and her crew was rescued by FORTUNA. In September it was FORTUNA to the rescue again when the “Kirkhill” under Captain Howell journeying from South Shields to San Francisco with a cargo of Coke and Pig iron struck the Wolf Rocks on the Falkland coast and sank in six minutes, all crew were saved.

FORTUNA deck with Captain Rowlands 

In October 1905 a formal Falkland Government Gazette Notice was issued and advert placed in the Newspaper, offering a reward of £50 for information which would lead to conviction of the person or persons who had maliciously attempted to set fire to the schooner FORTUNA in Port Stanley on 20th September.

FORTUNA anchored in the Falkland Islands – Gosport, England to Dunnose Head, Falkland Islands in 49 days – 1894

After a 30 year life, the good luck of FORTUNA and her Captain with 46 years on rugged Falkland coastlines come to an end in May 1906, she had departed Port Stanley and had to return  promptly to have the Ranch owners connect the next Mail steamer calling northbound from Valparaiso, having collected the Bonner family from San Carlos then sailed down Falkland Sound between the two main islands in the dark, at 19.30 hours sailing near West Island  close to her destination port of Fox Bay she grounded on a reef, a kedge anchor was got out in endeavour to haul her off but this failed, landing in the dark was impossible so the boats were kept alongside and the vessel bumping all night caused anxiety to all, passengers with children in their arms were kept on the steps of the stairs ready for a momentsnotice to go on deck, when daylight arrived passengers were put ashore on the island and sheltered in the high tussacgrass from the bitterly cold east wind, then a tent was made with oars and sails and clothing and luggage were rescued, nothing could be done for FORTUNA and she filled with water. After two days on the island, schooner “Lafonia” (ex- Liverpool pilot schooner “George Holt”) was passing and rescued them. “Lafonia” voyage to Port Stanley was then delayed with bad weather but it was the passengers luck that the Mail steamer arrival was also late and the onward connection was made. The steam Tug “Samson” was sent out but nothing could be done to salvage FORTUNA.

Captain Rowlands went on to command  another ex RYS schooner “Gwendolin” which was purchased as FORTUNA replacement until his retirement in his late 70’s.

In recent years Paintings of the schooner and the original dinner service Crockery from FORTUNA had been offered for sale in England and in the Falkland Islands the name lives proudly on in one of the most successful locally owned Companies since Islanders have had opportunities brought about by events after the Argentine invasion in 1982.

Search Berthon.co.uk