The Schooner ‘Star of the Sea’

Written by S. Ablott
First Published
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The Star of the Sea was a 75 foot schooner built at Burton Stather for Mr James Duckett, a corn merchant from Preston. She was launched on the 28th of March 1861 and registered in Preston.1

The schooner worked mainly between Preston and Ireland, but also made voyages all around the UK and sometimes to mainland Europe. The cargos were mostly grain, but she also carried other general cargos such as coal, timber and porter from Ireland.2

The Star of the Sea ran into problems before she even reached her home port of Preston. While on voyage from Hamburg, bound for Preston for the first time, she was de-masted in a collision and was assisted into Wicklow Harbour on the 15th of June.2a

In spite of this, Mr Duckett must have been pleased with his schooner, as John Wray mentions him as a reference in an advertisement for an unfinished schooner in the Preston Chronicle.2b

FOR SALE, a very smart clipper SCHOONER, partly built, to class ten years, A 1, at Lloyd's. Length on keel, 76ft.; fore rake, 4ft.; beam extreme, 20ft. 6in.; berth in hold, 10ft. 6in. Has a flat midship section, and very sharp ends. Price, lump sum, fitted complete for sea, £1,800, or £11 15s. per ton, O.M. The builder is ready to take contracts for ships of the ten years' class, of any size up to 300 tons, of fair dimensions, for £11 15s, per ton, parties requiring reference may apply to Mr. JAS. DUCKETT, of Preston, the owner of the schooner Star of the Sea, built at this place. - Address JOHN WRAY, Burton Stather, Brigg, Lincolnshire.

Preston Chronicle
September 1862

This schooner may be the Summer Cloud, being the next schooner launched from the yard of about this size.1

Further Incidents

In February 1864 the Star of the Sea left Drogheda in the company of three other ships, all bound for Preston. But only two of the ships arrived.

One of the ships, a Drogheda schooner called Gypsy, was known to have sunk in a severe gale with the loss of all hands. The whereabouts of the Star of the Sea was unknown and there were fears for her safety. She was thought to have been seen last off the Horse Bank, bearing in the direction of Liverpool.

The schooner did eventually turn up in Preston some time later.3

Run Aground

In October the same year there were further problems making the opposite voyage, from Preston to Drogheda. The schooner was driven onto the West Bank below Rock Perch near Dundalk. A tug went to tow her off, but she had to remain aground until the next spring tide, though the damage to the vessel was minimal.4

Aground Again

She went aground on the Irish Coast again on the 1st of September 1874. This time it was on the Pladdies of Donaghagee Sound and she managed to get off with the assistance of a boats' crew. Again the damage was minimal, as she lay at anchor afterwards making no water.5

A New Owner

In 1876 the Star of the Sea had a new owner, Mr Daniel McKay of Adrossan, though she remained registered in Preston.6 After the change of ownership, the trade remained much the same as before, taking grain and other cargo between the UK and Ireland.

The End

The end of the schooner came on the 17th of September 1878 when she was wrecked in Downlings Bay while carrying a cargo of wheat. The Crew were saved.7

Vessel Details for Star of the Sea

Official Number:28991
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Vessel Name:Star of the Sea
  • James Duckett of Preston
  • Richard Duckett of Preston
  • Daniel McKay of Adrossan 1876
  • H Fletcher - Walker 1867
  • Wilby Rackham 1866
  • P Kirwan 1871
  • J Kelly 1873
  • McKay 1876
  • Preston
Construction:Felt and Yellow Metal. Iron bolts. Damage repairs 1867. Some repairs 1871.
Trade:General cargos, mainly grain, Hull, Liverpool coastal trade.
Fate:Wrecked in Downings Bay, 17th Sept 1878, carrying wheat, crew saved.


  1. Lloyd's Register of Ships.
  2. Preston Chronicle
    1. 19th June 1861.
    2. 25th October 1862.
  3. Lancaster Gazette 20th February 1864.
  4. London Standard 25th October 1864.
  5. Sunderland Daily Echo and Shipping Gazette 3rd September 1874.
  6. The Mercantile Navy Lists.
  7. Hartlepool Mail 19th September 1878.

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Creative Commons. Background Photograph by Bruno Girin. Used with modifications under license.