Daedalus Reef

5th January 2009, 21:40
One of the disadvantages of old age is that you can't remember whether you are repeating oneself or not ! I may have told this tale before and if so I apologise ! The Brocklebank mob appears to have gone into hibernation so I offer this hoping to ignite something - don;t quite know what.
When I was in Brocks we had a marine super (deck) - Capt McKenzie - great chap. It was said that when he was 3rd mate he was on watch in the Red Sea, southbound. As you navigators will recall there is the Daedalus Reef slap in the path - it lies some distance south of the Gulf of Suez. It has a big tall lighthouse which stands like a phallic symbol and ships would pass on either side of it.
Pre ww2 officers on watch could not, apparently alter course even 1 degree without the master's permission. McKenzie sighted the lighthouse dead ahead, blew down the voice pipe and told the master who instructed him to hold his course. As the ship got nearer and nearer the master was advised several times that thelighthouse was dead ahead and again McKanzie was told to hold the course.
Inevitably the ship piled onto the reef and came to a halt with the stem only yards from knocking down the lighthouse.
The master lost his ticket but MzKenzie was found to be blameless.
Today, of course, he would have been expected to take matters into his own hands but times were different then

5th January 2009, 21:53
There is a photo in Gallery of the lighthouse;-

6th January 2009, 13:16
It was a bvgger that one, exactly in the way of a direct run from Suez to Hormuz!

6th January 2009, 20:11
Great picture of the lighthouse ! I like these tales of the Red Sea and G of Aden. I can remember too - reading the Pilot Book for the Southern Red Sea which had lots of interesting historical information. The newer Pilot Books are very factul and don't have much if any historical info.
This book told of the area around the islands in the South - not so far from Perim - is it Little Hamish or Zaqar ? anyway the pilot book said that there was a pinnacle of rock just below the surface. Years ago a ship struck it and sank. It was not believed that such a rock exixted as the area had been minutely soundedby the Admiralty Hydrogarphers. Then a second ship sank in the same spot so the authorities had two vessels trawl the area with a wire slung betwen them and they found it and thus solved the mystery .
Also I was told that pre WW1 a British ship was wrecked on Sokotra and the crew eaten !! - and that the British Government paid the Sultan of Sokotra an annual amount on condition that he would look after any shipwrecked sailors,
Wonder if it's true ?
When I was in tankers I remember an Indian ship went ashore up towards Ras al Had and their navy had to send a frigate to rescue the crew. The ship was then stripped bare - even the windlass was taken apparently. You could see the wreck clearly.
One master I sailed with kept all the wooden crates from the stores and stacked them on the poop. Going close inshore by Ras al Had the Arabs came out in canoes and the boxes etc thrown overboard for them. Times have changed - cruise ships call at Salalah now.
The world's become small and the excitment of foreign places have lost some of their glamour !

7th January 2009, 00:52
If I remember the story correctly, the 2nd Mate was later Captain Cadwallader who also became the marine super and, when he retired, was succeded by Captain McKenzie. There must be some truth in being on a sinking ship and getting a promotion.
When I was in Brocks we had a marine super (deck) - Capt McKenzie - great chap.

7th January 2009, 14:19
Fancy Cadwallader being on the same ship ! I remember him when I was in Brocks. There was a great tale about him too.
There was a newish Brock ship in Glasgow and Cadwallader was overseeing her sailing. She was being towed stern first into the Clyde from the dock with everyone on stations. Cadwallader, as soon as she let go motored round and stood on the knuckle of the entrance as she moved back. A wind started to blow her bow towards this knuckle and it was obvious she was going to strike it so the pilot shouted to the mate - "Let go port anchor" .
Unfortunately the chippy let go the starboard anchor just as the flare of the bow overhung the knuckle and the anchor fell on the dock followed by the usual shower of rust and debris. Cadwallader ran for his life - otherwise he could have had a nsaty taste in his mouth !

7th January 2009, 15:00
Was any explanation given why he chose to ignore, following several advisements, the fact that his ship was on course to strike the reef and ground ? Something must have come out of the enquiry that cleared the 3rd Mate ?

In a separate thread I asked whether anyone knew anything of the incident in 1964 when the BP Tanker's 'British Envoy' struck the Avocet Rock, Red Sea, but until now no response. Anyone else know anything of this reef or any other vessels having come to grief on it? I believe it was named after a French or Belgian ship that came a cropper on it in the late 19th century.

7th January 2009, 15:09
see if you can link to this web site especially pages 9 onwards which gives information on Avocet Rock, It is a pdf file:-

7th January 2009, 15:53
For 'gadgee' (Paul W. J.)

Many thanks for that link, now I know what, where and how deep the foul is, but strangely there is no mention of the 1964 incident re 'British Envoy'. As other victims of this hazard, old and contemporary, are given a mention, I would have thought the 'Envoy' incident would have been mentioned. The story I was given, at the time, was that she had struck the rock at full away speed, seriously damaging her bottom, and had to divert to a drydock in Genoa for extensive remedial repairs. The Avocet Rock was specifically mentioned and, as I would not know the Avocet Rock from a stick of Blackpool Rock, I had no cause to doubt the story, but now starting to wonder qwhen no mention of it in the article. The name 'Avocet' was indeed taking from a ship, S.S. Avvocet, that struck the rock in March 1887. Many thanks for the link !

Roger Bentley
7th January 2009, 16:57
I see in the Brocklebank history Part II that it was Mahronda I that struck the reef, There is no mention of who was in command or any other of the officers. It took place early in 1917 and apparently she went to Port Sudan for repairs. Salaams

7th January 2009, 17:47
For Gadgee& Eriksay

The web page 8 onwards confirms the fact that in the southern Red Sea there are some bad patches near Hanish and Jebel At Air islands.
Another hazard is Palinurus Shoal - just to the east of Aden. In 1947 or 8 I was 2nd Mate on a T2 tanker where the master was a drunkard and the Mate a demoted captain ( he had run his ship onto Green Island ,Suez just after dropping his pilot). Eventually I walked off the ship in Le Havre, fearing for my ticket.
One pm watch I had taken bearings of mountains and decided she was setting towards the land and in order to pass well clear of Palinurus shoal altered corse 5 degrees to starboard. Just before 4 the master came on the bridge, gave me a boll****g and told the helmsman to return to the original course. He loudly proclaimed that 2nd Mates were b*** useless.
At about 5.30 I felt the ship lean over and everything rattled away ( furniture was all metal etc). I rushed onto the bridge where she was turning to starboard and just off to port was a round area of smoothe water with eddies.
The master was looking at it through glasses and his spindly legs were visibly shaking.
I couldn't resist saying - " Palinurus shoal, aye, Captain - 2nd Mates usless are they ?" and went below chuckling. This same chap laid a course 2 miles off the coast up to Ras Al Had where most masters kept 10 to 15 miles off at least as the coast was imperfeclty charted. One night I saw a white line stretching on either bow and realised they were breakers and went hard astarboard. The Mate and he and the C/E boozed away all day and as often as not I wasn't relieved at 4. The 3rd Mate would relieve me for dinner etc.
At that time Esso were very short of men as the US was transferring several tankers a month onto the Panamanian flag with British crews so they took anyone who could stand up ( sometimes).