Bass Strait Maritime Centre

The S.M.H.T. aka the Annie

Built in Auckland in 1879, the Annie, as she was then known, was a 41 ton ketch with a chequered career.

In 1895 the Annie had a close call while anchored in the Mersey. She dragged her anchor in a big sea and struck ground, losing part of her stern. Her lifeboat and a crewmember were washed overboard, but luckily the crewmember was saved and she was refloated.


The Annie at Wood’s Slipyards. BSMC-1098

In 1899 the Annie sank with everyone on board. She had set sail from the Mersey without cargo, in a near-gale, under the command of Captain John Rockwell. It was reported that the Annie was seen off Penguin, sailing fast ahead of the gale, when she heeled over until her topsail was nearly in the water. She managed to right herself, but almost immediately the masts dipped to water level and she keeled over.

Horrified onlookers on Penguin beach reported what had happened and a volunteer crew immediately launched to try and save those onboard. By the time the Annie was reached heavy seas were washing over her and no one was found in the water. It could also be seen that the lifeboat was still lashed to the ship.



There was nothing more to be done so the volunteer crew turned back. They were unable to reach Penguin beach and ran before the gale, finally reaching land at Preservation Bay. The Annie finally went aground between Penguin and Burnie. After some difficulties righting her, Harry Wood, using draught horses and block and tackle, raised her and she was safely secured. She was then towed to Devonport by the S.S Dorset.

Sadly the Captain, the crew of four and the ship’s dog were all lost, and none of their bodies were ever recovered.

Annie was bought by William Taylor, who lengthened her to 66ft, increasing her tonnage to 57 tons and renaming her the SMHT. The new name was based on the names of his children Sylvia, Madeleine and Hedley Taylor. For the next twenty-odd years she sailed regularly between Tasmania and Victoria, carrying Tasmanian timber. She was finally retired in 1928.






Bass Strait Maritime Centre File number 105

The Advocate, Wednesday 9th August 1899, page 33

The Advocate, Wednesday 11th August 1899, page 3

The North Western Advocate and the Emu Bay Times, Friday 18th August 1899

The Mercury, Wednesday 10th August 1927, page 4

The Sydney Morning Herald, Thursday 5th April 1928, page 10