The Schooner ‘Summer Cloud’

Written by S. Ablott
First Published
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On the 1st of September 1863 the Summer Cloud was launched at Burton Stather, classed A1 by Lloyds for 10 years. She was a top sail schooner,1 78 feet long and registered in Goole. James Alsop of Goole was the owner and skipper.2

De Masted

Just over two months after launch, Captain Alsop and the Summer Cloud had got into difficulties. On the night of November the 8th they were sailing off Cromer, the sea at the time running very high. A heavy sea struck the ship carrying away the rigging.

They lay helpless for some time in the turbulent sea, until spotted by the Hull fishing smack Rambler, which came to their aid. The smack took the schooner in tow, and after some difficulty the two vessels arrived in Hull on Tuesday afternoon, the 10th of November.3

New Owners

In 1869 the Summer Cloud was up for sale. This advert appeared in the Hull Packet newspaper.4

Goole - Sale of a Schooner

The fast sailing Clipper Schooner SUMMER CLOUD, with figure-head, Class A 1, and was built at Burton Stather in October, 1863. Length, 78 feet; of breadth, 20 feet 2-10ths; depth, 10 feet 2-ths - register, 91-57, and carries 175 tons at 10 feet 6 inches in water, shifts without ballast, and has an excellent inventory of stores, and could be sent to sea immediately.

Hull Packet
12th March 18694

She was then bought by George Greenfield of Goole.5 In 1872 the ship was restored to A1 class for 7 years at a cost of £300 under Lloyds inspection.1

The schooner changed hands again in 1875.5 Thomas Lewis of Aberystwyth became the managing owner and skipper on the 17th of December that year.1

The Summer Cloud lost a crew man on the 4th of October 1881. Thomas Owen of Aberystwyth fell overboard in Plymouth Sound and drowned.6

The Loss of the Summer Cloud

The final voyage of the Summer Cloud began at 4pm on the 17th of April 1885. She left Annalong, County Down, Northern Ireland with 160 tons of granite stone bound for Chatham, on the Medway in Kent. The schooner under Thomas Lewis, appeared to be in good order on leaving, with 18 inches of freeboard and the load line disc 2 inches above the water. The weather was fine with a light easterly wind.

On the 21st the wind turned to a fresh south-westerly, so they put into Fishguard Roads for shelter, until the weather moderated on the next day. But the weather turned bad again on the 24th and she returned to Fishguard until the 27th, when it moderated again. But again, the wind increased the following day, forcing her to put in yet again.

They sailed again on the 29th, and by 6pm had passed the Bishops and Smalls Lights. There was a heavy swell, the vessel was making a little water and was shipping some on deck. On May the 1st the wind was a strong westerly breeze, by midnight it had increased and was squally. With the ship rolling heavily the footrope of the top sail and fore-boom were carried away.

At 3am on the 2nd the wind was south-westerly and the ship was making more water. The mate was at the time on watch, and the pumps were set to work. She seemed to be making more water than usual; the mate called the skipper up on deck, who set all hands to the pumps. As they worked, one of the pumps became choked, as it turned out by a piece of wood which was cleared. With the vessel labouring heavily in the swell, the leakage increased to the point that the pumps could not keep up. Lewis then decided to make for Milford Haven which was about 40 miles to the north east.

After they had been heading toward Milford Haven for some time, one of the pump spears broke off from the box. They tried to repair it, but there were no spare spear boxed on board, so one pump was now useless, and the water gained more rapidly.

Lewis went down into the hold to try and locate the source of the leak. He found the water level some way over the keelson and was unable to find where the water was coming from.

At 12 noon the spear broke off the other pump. Again they tried in vain to repair the broken pump. With the vessel now setting down, the decision was made to abandon ship at about 5pm. The crew of four took to the boat, taking a compass and supplies of bread and water. Ten minutes after leaving the ship they saw her go down, head first.

In the boat, they pulled for Milford Haven right through the night, until 7am on the 3rd, when they were spotted and picked up by the schooner Cyril, which landed them in Milford Haven that same day.1

Vessel Details for Summer Cloud

Official Number:47120
Code Flags:VMHGCode flag - VictorCode flag - MikeCode flag - HotelCode flag - Golf
Vessel Name:Summer Cloud
  • James Alsop of Goole
  • George Greenfield of Goole 1870
  • Thomas Lewis of Aberystwith 1874
  • James Alsop
  • Grouthwite
  • Thomas Lewis 1885
  • Goole 1870
  • Aberystwith 1874
Construction:Iron bolts. Damage repairs 1870.
Trade:Goole Leith coaster 1870.
Fate:Sank off Milford Haven 2nd of May 1885, all crew saved.


  1. Board of Trade Wreck Report for Summer Cloud - 18th September 1885
  2. Lloyd's Register of Ships.
  3. Hull Packet - 13th November 1863
  4. Hull Packet - 12th March 1869
  5. The Mercantile Navy Lists.
  6. Sheffield Daily Telegraph - 5th October 1881

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