Sirenia (The), shipwreck
The wreck of the Sirenia in 1888 on Atherfield Ledge, off the south-west coast of the Isle of Wight, was one of those wrecks which greatly affected both the local communities and how they would deal with future wrecks.
On the morning of March 9, 1888 in dense fog and a heavy sea, the Sirenia, a three masted ship in full rig, sailed on to the rocks of Atherfield Ledge. Brighstone lifeboat was launched and attended saving the captain's wife, children and servant. However, it was considered best to leave returning to rescue the crew until later when the sea conditions were thought likely to be more favourable.
Attempts were made to launch the Brook Lifeboat to assist but the sea was considered too rough at Brook, so the Brook lifeboat was moved along the Military Road and launched at Brighstone. There, she was thrown back onto the beach by the waves and 2 of her crew injured. She was reloaded onto her carriage and moved further along the coast to Chilton Chine where she was successfully launched.
Later, the Brighstone lifeboat returned to the ship and managed to rescue most of the crew, but after beginning to return to shore, a wave hit the lifeboat side on and capsized it throwing all into the sea. After the lifeboat was righted and survivors climbed back on board, it was found that the Moses Munt and Thomas Cotton (the lifeboat's coxswain and 2nd coxswain) and a crew member of the Sirenia were missing.
When nearing the Sirenia, the Brook lifeboat was hit by a large wave which washed 3 crew members overboard, 2 managed to be recovered but a search for Reuben Cooper (the 2nd coxswain) was fruitless. Having been at sea for 15 hours, the exhausted crew dropped anchor and waited for dawn. Following a further fruitless search, the Brook lifeboat headed back to Brook.
The Brighstone lifeboat was launched a third time to rescue the remaining crew on the Sirenia, but only 3 of its original crew were in any fit state, so lifeboatmen from other stations and local fishermen made up a new crew. The lifeboat managed to make the trip and rescue the remaining crew members without further incident.
These events deeply affected the two village communities which had lost people and led to the introduction of the Atherfield lifeboat two years later.