28th November 1807

HMS Boreas sank at Hanois

Yarmouth-built HMS Boreas was just 12 months old when wrecked on the reef at Hanois, having been launched on 16 November the year before. Her loss, along with 120 crew, contributed to public calls for a lighthouse to be constructed on the reef. Work on such a lighthouse eventually got underway in 1860 and was completed two years later.

HMS Boreas wrecked

Boreas was a gunship, carrying 28 cannons, but was on a mercy mission at the time of her loss. She had sailed out from St Peter Port to rescue a pilot boat at around 6pm. In the words of James Saumarez’s letter to the Admiralty, “the wind at the time [was] blowing very hard at NE”. The pilot boat was having trouble in rough waters and, having attached the two boats so that the Boreas could tow the cutter, HMS Boreas’ captain, Robert Scott, turned about and made for Guernsey. It was then that Boreas struck Requiers rock.

The captain ordered his men to abandon ship. Some of them took lifeboats to Hanois rock, but others simply deserted. This meant that, having dropped off their passengers, the craft were unable to return to rescue others. This contributed to a very high death toll, which included the captain himself.

As for the pilot boat that the Boreas had been trying to save, its crew cut the lines securing it to HMS Boreas and sailed away to safety on their own. They did nothing to save the crew of the Boreas themselves. Neither did they raise the alarm once they got to shore so that boats could be dispatched to help.

James Saumarez had been alerted to the sinking of the Boreas at around 2am the following morning. He sent boats to help it, but by then the ship was going down fast and little could be done. Just 30 men were rescued from Hanois rock, and even some of the boats sent to help went down in the rough seas.

Diver Richard Keen retrieved one of the Boreas cannon from the wreck in 1974. It is now on display at Fort Grey, where it has been positioned so that it points towards Boreas’ final resting place.


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Other events that occured in November

Car plane air crash caused airport fireball 1st
A hospital worker stood accused of murder 2nd
Sark’s vineyards were vandalised 3rd
The original Torteval church was consecrated 4th
Sibyl Beaumont married Robert Hathaway 5th
The papers were excited by a Guernsey execution 6th
The States agrees to pay the Bailiff 7th
States of Guernsey hired its first independent vet
The Little Theatre was reprieved… for a while 8th
Guernsey was declared free of cholera 9th
Guernsey optician Specsavers was founded 10th
The court considered a Guernsey porn dealer’s testimony 11th
Guernsey Yacht Club was founded 12th
Guernsey aimed for equal adoption rights 13th
Jethou’s tenant fell off his own cliff 14th
Dad’s Army actor John le Mesurier died 15th
A Guernsey recruit regretted signing up 16th
Horticultural painter William Caparne was born 17th
German forces confiscated Guernsey’s radios 18th
A plane crashed on Crevichon 19th
Sark featured in the music charts 20th
Guernsey recruits caused concern in Parliament 21st
First Guernsey competitor took part in Miss World 22nd
A Lancaster bomber crashed on Sark 23rd
Sark women get the right to inherit 24th
Spanish flu arrived on Guernsey 25th
Guernsey held its first full marathon 26th
Admiral Thomas Le Marchant Gosselin died 27th
HMS Boreas sank at Hanois 28th
Radio station Contact 94 went off the air 29th
Royal Guernsey Light Infantry memorial was unveiled 30th