The ‘Alberta‘ was a St. Dogmaels Schooner of 90 tons, built in 1861 at Aberystwyth. The vessel was owned by the Stevens family of Llechryd and was originally used for transporting slate. In 1868 Captain Thomas Owens was the master of the vessel, later succeeded by Captain William Finch of St. Dogmaels. On 7 November 1875 the ship foundered on the Cardigan Bar, but the crew survived. The ‘Aberystwyth Observer‘ of 20 November 1875 reports the following:
During the violent storm that visited this coast on Sunday a schooner laden with coal, and bound from Glasgow to Cardiff, was driven—in spite of all efforts on the part of the crew—on the rocks known as Cerigdun, on the Pembrokeshire side of the mouth of Cardigan Harbour. The sea ran fearfully high at the time. The vessel was carried sideways towards the rocks, where she was soon nearly capsized by the force of the sea, the tops of the masts being brought into close proximity to the rocks on the shore. The crew— four in number – having crept along the masts, were rescued from their perilous position by the aid of ropes, &c. The master, Mr. William Finch, is a native of Saint Dogmell’s, a village on the coast within a mile of the scene of the wreck. The mate was injured and is under medical treatment. A correspondent writes as follows:-
About four o’clock on Sunday afternoon, during the heavy gale which then blew from the N.N. West, information reached the Coastguard Station at Dogmell’s that a schooner was in distress running for Cardigan Bay. The crew of the life-boat were immediately assembled, as were also the volunteers of the rocket apparatus, the latter being dragged a considerable distance by men, women, and children, before the arrival of the horses. On arriving at the scene of the disaster it was found the vessel had gone ashore at Quaybach, under Penrhyn Castle, the waves making a complete breach over her. In striking, the vessel had heeled over towards the rocks, with the lower yard arm resting thereon, over which, assisted by those on shore, the crew of four men, had managed to leave the vessel, and were saved by means of some life-belts and lines, taken from the life-boat house by persons residing at farms in the neighbourhood. The schooner proved to be the “Alberta,” of this port Capt. William Finch, St. Dogmell’s. She was of 90 tons burden, and was built at Aberystwyth in 1861. She left Glasgow on the morning of the 6th inst., with a cargo of gas coal for Cardiff, valued at £150., she experienced a severe gale of wind on the same evening, and receiving some injury on Sunday morning, put into Belfast for repairs, from which place she sailed on Monday.
From this time until Sunday, with the exception of some shelter at Kingston, the “Alberta” was beating about, baffled by repeated changes of wind, until at last about 5 a.m. on Sunday morning, the wind blowing a perfect gale, the ship was found to be rapidly making water, at the same time shipping repeated heavy seas, being at the time, by calculation, about 25 miles N.E. of the Bishops. The water still continuing to gain, at 2 p.m. a consultation was held with the crew, and it was decided to bear up and run the ship to some place with the view of endeavouring to save life, being then, it was supposed, about seven miles from Cardigan Head, and the vessel being driven rapidly on a lee shore and night coming in. In about twenty minutes, land was sighted, which turned out to be Cardigan Head, and she was run as near as possible to Quaybach, for the life-boat house, being the only place available at the then state of the tide. The crew were all on shore about twenty minutes after the ship struck, and every attention was paid them by the inhabitants. The vessel immtediately broke up, and on Monday morning there was nothing to be seen of the ill-fated craft, but her broken timber scattered among the rocks, and for a considerable distance on the beach towards Cardigan.
The “Alberta” was insured in the Newquay Club for £540. It is stated that the sea in the bay was never before seen in such terrific fury, consequent upon the rapid change of wind from the S. E. When first seen reaching the point to where she struck, the waves were fairly beating over the ‘Alberta’s top mast, completely submerging her, and the only wonder is that she bore up so long as was the case. Most of the effects of the crew have been lost, and but a small portion of the cargo has been washed ashore…”