On this day in 1857 the Russian ship of the line Lefort was lost in a squall en route from Tallinn to St Petersburg. She went down with 756 crew, 53 wives and 17 children. Press reported that there was 1 survivor.
Rated for 84 guns she carried 95 which would make her top heavy. The board of enquiry noted that her cargo was not balanced properly so she did not have enough ballast low down in the hull to help the ship right herself. When the squall struck she leaned hard over. There was speculation that the gun ports were open to provide ventilation, in which case they would have allowed the water to flood in as she heeled. This is exactly how the Mary Rose is thought to have floundered.
A shipping disaster in a far away sea a long time ago comes sharply into focus when your own son is travelling on a ferry on the very anniversary en route from Helsinki to Tallinn, through the same waters, with a storm warning in place.
Excerpt from “The Loss Of The Eurydice”; by Gerard Manley Hopkins
Too proud, too proud, what a press she bore!
Royal, and all her royals wore.
Sharp with her, shorten sail!
Too late; lost; gone with the gale.
This was that fell capsize,
As half she had righted and hoped to rise
Death teeming in by her portholes
Raced down decks, round messes of mortals.
Then a lurch forward, frigate and men;
‘All hands for themselves’ the cry ran then;
But she who had housed them thither
Was around them, bound them or wound them with her.