In December 1876 the east coast of Scotland was hit by a huge storm that resulted in multiple shipwrecks and a death toll that ran into three figures. The coast at Kincardineshire, although short in length, had more than its fair share of wreckages during this storm.
According to reports in the press there were at least a dozen shipwrecks between Aberdeen and Stonehaven alone and it was estimated that probably around 50 men lost their lives. One remarkable coincidence was that practically all of these vessels were Norwegian. The local press stated that this shouldn’t have been put down to any lack of nautical skills on part of the Norwegian crews however, in my opinion, local knowledge goes a long way and it’s doubtful if these foreign seamen would have been as well acquainted of the pitfalls of the Kincardineshire coast as the local seafarers would have been.
Early press reports can be confusing and it’s difficult to ascertain which wrecks they are reporting, or if they are discussing the same wrecks twice but at different places and some wrecks don’t even get a mention at all.
In these press reports the following vessels and circumstances were reported. There were three vessels wrecked around Stonehaven which included the Johanna at Cowie, the barque Foldin at the back of the old pier and another Norwegian barque, coincidentally also called Johanna, at Cowie later on the same day.
There is mention of a vessel going ashore at Newtonhill and becoming a wreck.
Two vessels were in sight two miles off Portlethen, one of which was in distress but it was later reported that they were last seen making their way out to sea so its unknown if they ultimately escaped the storm or not.
The largest losses occurred around Muchalls where no less than three vessels struck the rocks with an estimated loss of 25 lives. Amongst these vessels were a Prussian galliot, the Christine Marie; an unknown vessel where distress signals had been seen during the night but only the masts and wreckage found in daylight; and another vessel whose chains were found across the May Craig some distance away from the other two vessels.
Two vessels also perished in the vicinity of Cove Bay, their wreckage being strewn around the area and found as far north as the Bay of Nigg.
Finally, we have a wreck near Findon, which was reported as being at the Broadshore at Findon. The assumption being that the actual location is at Broadhaven bay, midway between Portlethen and Findon. There were no reported distress signals for this vessel sighted in either village and the first indication that a wreck had taken place here was when one of the coastguardsmen, on returning to his beat at Cove from Portlethen, saw the remains of the wreckage lying at “Broadshore”. Part of the wreck had washed ashore at the foot of the rocks, while other portions, consisting of a piece of yard and spars were entangled amongst the rocks.
This particular vessel was likely to have been the Frederick II which was reported “wrecked near Findon Ness” in Ian G. Whitaker’s “Off Scotland - A Comprehensive Record of Maritime and Aviation Losses in Scottish Waters”.