The wreck of the Bayard lies in about 3m of water on the southern side of Ocean Harbour, South Georgia. She’s been there since 6th June 1911, having broken free from her coaling pier moorings on the north side of the harbour during a fierce gale. She sank there after striking rocks.
She had been in South Georgia for some time, being used mainly as a coaling ship for the whaling station. Her wooden decks have rotted and become overrun by tussock grass – now much loved by blue-eyed shags who nest amongst it.
Bayard was built by T. Vernon and Sons of Liverpool for the Hall Line. Four years after launching, ownership was transferred to the Sun Shipping Company and then, in 1881, she was sold again to Foley and Co.
Three-masted iron-riveted sailing ship
Built in North of England
Size: 67 metres, 1,028 tons
Launched: Liverpool, 1864
Fate: Blown onto rocks and holed
Much of her early life at sea involved carrying “indentured labourers” to the West Indies. Indentured labour was introduced after the abolition of slavery in 1807 and involved workers who agreed to work on cotton, sugar and tea plantations, and other construction projects, for a fixed period of time. Usually in British Colonies in Africa, the West Indies or South East Asia. It was controversial and many in India called it “notorious”. The Bayard got caught up in this controversy in August 1883, when she carried 494 Indian indentured labourers from Calcutta to Suva in Fiji.
On 6th May 1885, Bayard ran into further trouble when she hit an iceberg 55 miles south of Cape Race, Newfoundland, whilst on a voyage from Marseilles to the French island of St. Pierre. She was severly damaged, losing her bowsprit, jib-boom and foremast, amongst other things, but managed to reach her destination even though she was leaking badly.
She was next heard of in South Georgia, plying the whaling station with coal, where she remains to this day.