Thursday, August 26, 2010


Rosalie and/or Rossini, August 3, 1840.

London Times, Nov. 6, 1840 -- the Rosalie, a large French ship, bound from Hamburg to Havana -- abandoned ship -- no clue to an explanation. Most of the sails set -- no leak -- valuable cargo. There was a half-starved canary in a cage. (Fort, Lo!, p. 138.)

The article:

SHIP DESERTED. — A letter from Nassau, in the Bahamas, bearing date the 27th of August, has the following narrative: — "A singular fact has taken place within the last few days. A large French vessel, bound from Hamburgh to the Havannah, was met by one of our small coasters, and was discovered to be completely abandoned. The greater part of her sails were set, and she did not appear to have sustained any damage. The cargo, composed of wines, fruits, silks, &c., was of very considerable value, and was in a most perfect condition. The captain's papers were all secure in their proper place. The soundings gave three feet of water in the hold, but there was no leak whatever. The only living beings found on board were a cat, some fowls, and several canaries half dead with hunger. The cabins of the officers and passengers were very elegantly furnished, and everything indicated that they had been only recently deserted. In one of them were found several articles belonging to a lady's toilet, together with a quantity of ladies' wearing apparel thrown hastily aside, but not a human being was to be found on board. The vessel, which must have been left within a very few hours, contained several bales of goods addressed to different merchants in Havannah. She is very large, recently built, and called the Rosalie. Of her crew no intelligence has been received." (Times (London), November 6, 1840, p. 6, col. 3.)

Kusche reports that there were no more articles in the London Times. The New York Times and The Nassau Guardian did not yet exist then. The Library of Congress and the British Library told him that there are no libraries with copies of August 1840 newspapers from Nassau or Havana. The Musée de la Marine in Paris had no information on this allegedly French ship.

Yet Lloyd's proved helpful:

I… regret that a search of Lloyd's Records has failed to reveal mention of any incident involving a vessel named Rosalie in the Bahamas in 1840.

However, I am enclosing extracts from Lloyd's Records, which contain references to a vessel named Rossini, which would appear to be the vessel in which you are interested.

Lloyd's List, September 25, 1840: Havana, 18th Aug. The Rossini, from Hambro to this port, struck on the Muares (Bahama Channel) 3rd inst.; Crew and Passengers saved.

Lloyd's List, October 17, 1840: Havana, 5th Sept. The Rossini, from Hambro to this port, which struck on the Muares (Bahama Channel) 3rd ult. was fallen in with abandoned, 17th ult. and has been brought into this port a derelict.

(J. F. Lane, Assistant Shipping Editor, Lloyd's, letter to Kusche, August 15, 1973, in Kusche, Bermuda Triangle Mystery, p. 25.)

Kusche found enough similarities between the Rossini and the Rosalie to make him agree they might be the same ship. "The names were so close that one could have been mistaken for the other, especially if they were handwritten, which most messages were in 1840." The correspondent in Nassau might have written Rossini, and the editor in London might have read Rosalie.

Both vessels were bound from Hamburg to Havana. Both were found near Nassau.

The dates were a good match, too: "It was reported on August 27 that the Rosalie was brought into Nassau 'within the last few days,' and the Rossini was found on August 17 and towed to Nassau."

Kusche examined the vice admiralty court minutes on the salvage of the Rossini, to see if the circumstances of the discovery of the Rossini match those in the tale of the Rosalie, which would prove that both were one and the same. But the only clue he found was the minutes mentioning "curious circumstances" under which the Rossini was found. This certainly would be a fitting description of the Rosalie story, but is too vague for a definite proof. The government in Nassau lost the affidavit with the exact description of the discovery of the Rossini, so unless someone feels like searching the Bahamian government's files high and low…

Here the matter could have died. Yet, just as love never dies, the mystics never rest:

The first recorded merchant ship disappearance was in 1840, when the Rosalie vanished in the Sargasso Sea. Rosalie has often been listed as a derelict ship instead, confused with the very non mysterious drifter Rossini, and claimed to have never existed at all. However, the British Maritime Museum does hold a record of her. She was built in 1838, of 222 tons. There is still some debate whether she vanished or was found derelict. The London Times of 1840 listed her as derelict.

This is pathetic — a prime example of how the mystics grasp at straws to stay afloat in their self-made Bermuda Triangle. All that the British Maritime Museum record proves is that a ship called Rosalie existed at that time. It does not prove that she ever had an accident, let alone in the Bermuda Triangle. As for the Times article, I quoted it above, and it may refer to the Rossini.

The Rosalie was indeed a real ship. She was built in 1838 of 222 tons of wood. In 1840 she was found deserted but in ship shape near the Bahamas. She was not the Rossini.

I don't know about you, but I feel much better now that I know that the Rosalie was built of wood, and not out of cookie batter like most ships of her era.

Yet one thing about the only fact Quasar could find and consequently waves about like a castaway waves his shirt is interesting: In the Times, the drifter was referred to as "very large" and "recently built." Quasar's Rosalie certainly was recently built, but would 222 tons (plus the weight of the non-wooden parts) empty displacement be very large, even in 1840? Observe that she was not just referred to as large compared with the small Bahamian coasters, but as "very large" in absolute terms.

The Cutty Sark, which was built in 1869 and admittedly contains iron reinforcements, weighs 963 tons. The USS Constitution, built in 1797 and more sturdily than a merchantman, displaces 2,200 tons, of which, of course, not all is wood.

The Charles W. Morgan was built at the right time (1841), displaces 313.75 tons (loaded?), and was "comparable to many whaling ships of the time." Would she have been called "very large"? If I got that right and gross tons means weight, the Mary Celeste weighed "198 Gross Tons as built 1861" and "282 Gross Tons after rebuild 1872." She was always considered a small ship.

Would be interesting to know what the Rossini weighed. I'm not an expert on mid-nineteenth-century sailing ships, but if I'm right, Quasar has shot himself in the foot with his 222 tons of wood.


Jak Wolff said...

Geez just cause you haven't properly - you fail to mention that she was found a drift no crew and then was crewed again by the ship that found her adrift and that the two ships sailed in concert and then that crew disappeared - yeah really clutching at straws are we -do your research properly fella before you dismiss out of hand -Jak Wolffe

Jak Wolff said...

Geez just cause you haven't properly researched this have you ?! Bloke - you fail to mention that she was found a drift no crew and then was crewed again by the ship that found her adrift and that the two ships sailed in concert and then that crew disappeared - yeah really clutching at straws are we -do your research properly fella before you dismiss out of hand -Jak Wolffe

Ragnar said...

You mistake the "Rosalie" for the derelict found by the "Ellen Austin," bloke.

You do your research properly, fella.