Shipwrecks on the south west coast of the Isle of Wight


Irex
Came to grief: January 1890 at/near Scratchells Bay
Captain Hutton
Cargo: iron pipes
Crew of 36
Lifeboats present:
The Totland Lifeboat

The Irex, a new full-rigged ship bound from Glasgow to Rio de Janeiro, had been battered by storms for some 20 days, first in the Irish Sea and then in the Bay of Biscay. With some of the crew injured and a shifted cargo, the captain decided to run back for shelter.

The weather was still bad when the ship neared the Needles and she ran aground in Scratchells Bay, quite near the lighthouse, where she lay overnight before being spotted from the shore.

The Captain, Mate and four sailors were swept overboard or disappeared during the night, a disappearance about which there were ugly rumours and stories which could never be proved.

On Saturday morning, the Totland lifeboat attempted a rescue but could not get near the ship. The rocket aparatus company fired a rocket from the clifftop, some 400 feet above the vessel and carried a line right over the ship. After a struggle, a hawser was rigged and the crew were hauled up by coastguards, soldiers and civilians, in a breeches buoy.

A few days later, the survivors and the N.C.O.s of the Royal Artillery who assisted, were received by Queen Victoria and congratulated for their bravery.

To this day, the fate of the Captain, Mate and four sailors remains a mystery, although one of the crew reported seeing them swept overboard by a huge sea when attempting to launch a boat. The ship's log was never found.

Fatalities: 6