A sut' raeth y "Deuddeg Apostol", yn siwr

Ar goll yn "Safn Uffarn" i waelod y dwr.

"The Twelve Apostles"


May 13 1858 Pwllheli. 

On Thursday morning last a fine new schooner, named the Twelve Apostles, of a beautiful model, partly rigged on the stocks, and decorated with a handsome figure head, was launched from the building yard of Messrs. Hugh Thomas and William Jones, of Morfa, near this town (Pwllheli). She glided majestically into her briny element amidst the deafening cheers of the numerous host of spectators attracted to the spot. She is about 220 tons burthen [118 tons in fact], is the sole property of Captain Prichard, of Erw Wen, Penrhos, is to be commanded by Captain Hugh Hughes, of the schooner Jaw, of this port, and is intended for the coasting and foreign trade 

(C & D H. May 15, 1858)


There was great sadness in Porthmadog with the loss of the little schooner Twelve Apostles in Hells Mouth on November 23rd 1898, she was very much loved by the people of "Port" and was always regarded as their flagship. She was 118 tons and built at Pwllheli in 1858, but had spent most of her working life sailing out of Porthmadog with slate. And on this her last voyage, she was on her way home from Southampton in ballast*. Her Captain Richard Jones of Borth y Gest, had thought of entering Milford Haven, South Wales for shelter, as the wind had increased to storm force from the south, but he decided against this as Milford was very difficult to get out of with that wind direction, so with much reduced sail, he pressed on through the day and in to a most horrendous of nights. His plan of action was to head for St Tudwal's roads for shelter, a favourite anchorage in a southerly or south westerly wind, for any ship heading to Porthmadog or Pwllheli. (Up to fifty ships were known to have used the roads for shelter at any one time) He knew full well to stay well clear of St Patrick's causeway to the east, that shallow graveyard for countless vessels, but there again he didn't want to go too far to the west and miss Llyn altogether. But in the dim light of a stormy dawn his worst fears were realized, Cilan head was on his starboard side, which meant he was too far over to the west, and with the wind still howling from the south, it was only a matter of time before his little ship would be blown into the roaring surf of Hells Mouth, and certain destruction. A change of course to port (West) was out of the question, as this would have taken him onto the ragged rocks of Rhiw. Sailing vessels have a lot of leeway**, especially when light and / or in heavy weather and there was no way that she was going to clear Penarfynydd headland, at the western end of the bay, let alone make Bardsey sound, and the relative shelter of the north coast of Llyn. No, his only option was to head straight for the beach. "As a seafarer, I can only imagine the horror the crew must have gone through, being on a lee shore, helpless, and at the mercy of a relentless storm". When she approached the shore the crew got into they're small work boat, but it was quickly overcome by the huge waves. But "Lady Luck" was up to her tricks, the "Lady" being the maid of a near by farm Trefollwyn.  She happened to see this drama unfold and ran down to the beach, and with out any hesitation at all, she was out and up to her neck in the surf, dragging every man to the beach and safety. The next day a Telegram arrived at the Cornhill exchange in Liverpool which read.

  "Twelve Apostles taking in water at Hells Mouth"  

Magnificent Twelve Apostles figurehead, a bust of St Paul


And according to legend it caused quite a stir!!!. She was the second vessel to founder at Hells Mouth that  year, as the ‘Aggravator’ a 37-ton, wooden steamer, carrying a cargo of coal, was wrecked on the beach (towards the western Rhiw end) on August the 5th. Her boiler can still be seen to this day. And in less than a year on the 1st of November 1899 the 155-ton brigantine 'Rob the Ranter' of Foy was wrecked at the same spot with the loss of 2 crew members. The survivors managed to escape in their own boat and came ashore near Trefallwyn. It was carrying a cargo of ‘burnt ore’. 



* When ships are empty of cargo, this must be replaced with weight other wise the vessel becomes top heavy, or at the very least uncomfortable. Modern ships use water ballast tanks, but in days of old it was normally stones, earth or gravel, or in the case of the "Twelve Apostles" fire bricks.

** Leeway is a side ways movement of a ship, modern sailing yachts have deep fin keels, which cuts this down to a minimum.


The Twelve Apostles was the first ship ever to take a load of slate through the Kiel Canal, Germany, on October 7th 1895.

(Thanks to Mr Ian Warburton for the Figurehead Photograph)


Other Shipwrecks

Stuart    Sorrento    Newry    Bristol

Cyprian    Monk    Timbo    Amy Summerfield    Brig Ann


Map or Safle                Website Map

Copyright © Rhiw.com