Clipper Ship Yatala - Messrs Anderson Thomson and Co Owners and Messrs Thos Bilbe and Co Builders RMG PY8573.jpg
Yatala by Thomas Goldsworthy Dutton and William Foster, about 1865
United Kingdom
OwnerAnderson, Thomson and Co
Port of registryLondon
BuilderThomas Bilbe, Rotherhithe
CompletedJuly 1865
FateWrecked, 27 March 1872
General characteristics
Tonnage1,127 GRT
Length203.4 ft (62.0 m)
Beam34.6 ft (10.5 m)
Depth of hold21.1 ft (6.4 m)
Sail planfull rig

Yatala was a British clipper ship that was built in England in 1865 and wrecked on the north coast of France in 1872. She spent her seven-year career with Anderson, Thomson and Co's Orient Line, sailing between London and South Australia.

Until the advent of Torrens in 1875, Yatala was arguably the fastest ship on the route.[1] Her only master was Captain John Legoe, previously of Celestial and The Murray.[2]


Thomas Bilbe built Yatala at Rotherhithe on the River Thames, completing her in July 1865. She was a composite ship of 1,127 GRT, length 203.4 feet (62.0 m), breadth 34.6 feet (10.5 m), and depth 21.1 feet (6.4 m).[3]

Anderson, Thomson and Co registered her in London. Her United Kingdom official number was 52737 and her code letters were HRKF.[4]


Yatala in Port Adelaide
Yatala in Port Adelaide

The great race

On the eve of departure of Yatala for England after her second voyage to Port Adelaide it became clear that City of Adelaide, a similar though somewhat smaller vessel, was to leave on the same day, and would most likely make a race out of it. Crowds of spectators made their way to Port Adelaide; supporters of Captain Legoe and Yatala staying at one hotel and those of Captain Bruce and City of Adelaide another. Yatala got away at 6 a.m. on 27 December 1866 but City of Adelaide was delayed some five hours due to some oversight.[5]

The pair were evenly matched, and at the Cape of Good Hope the difference had was only three hours,[6] but the larger Yatala reached The Downs a day ahead of City of Adelaide which lost a further day getting to the docks.[7] This was David Bruce's last voyage in command of City of Adelaide; he was succeeded by his son John Bruce.[8]

The seven voyages of Yatala

Year. Left Plymouth Arrived Adelaide Days Out
1865 4 August 27 October 84
1866 2 August 14 October 73
1867 10 August 15 October 66
1868 9 July 24 September 77
1869 7 August 23 October 77
1870 11 August 26 October 78
1871 6 July 2 October. 88

End of Yatala

On 18 December 1871, Yatala left Port Adelaide in company with the Elder Line clipper Beltana, which she beat to Cape Horn by a day. Beltana arrived in London safely after a tedious light weather run from the line, but Yatala ran ashore near Cap Gris-Nez shortly after midnight on 27 March 1872, when almost in sight of home. It seems that in the heavy weather that prevailed at the time Captain Legoe mistook the Cap Gris-Nez light for that of Beachy Head on the other side of the Channel. There were no deaths or injuries, the passengers sheltering at the nearby town of Audresselles. Much of the valuable cargo (mostly wool) was saved, but the ship subsequently broke up and was totally lost. The Board of Enquiry found Captain Legoe fully responsible but in view of his long and faultless service and high character, was given the relatively light sentence of six months suspension of his certificate.[9]

Legoe supervised the construction of Hesperus at Greenock, Scotland, completed 1873, as a replacement for Yatala, subsequently serving as her master.[citation needed]

Other vessels named Yatala

Yatala was also the name of:

See also


  1. ^ "Well-known Clippers". The Register. Vol. XCIII, no. 27, 030. Adelaide. 3 April 1928. p. 11. Retrieved 10 April 2017 – via Trove.
  2. ^ "Some famous Clipper Ships of Olden Days". The Observer. Vol. LXXVIII, no. 5, 841. Adelaide. 1 January 1921. p. 26. Retrieved 5 April 2017 – via Trove.
  3. ^ "Yatala". Shipping and Shipbuilding. Shipping and Shipbuilding Research Trust. Retrieved 24 May 2022.
  4. ^ Mercantile Navy List. London. 1871. Retrieved 24 May 2022 – via Crew List Index Project.
  5. ^ "Sailing of Ships for England". South Australian Register. Vol. XXX, no. 6289. Adelaide. 29 December 1866. p. 6. Retrieved 3 April 2017 – via Trove.
  6. ^ "Talk on the Flags". Adelaide Observer. Vol. XXV, no. 1333. Adelaide. 20 April 1867. p. 2. Retrieved 4 April 2017 – via Trove.
  7. ^ "The Ocean Race". Adelaide Observer. Vol. XXV, no. 1342. Adelaide. 22 June 1867. p. 2 (Supplement to the Adelaide Observer.). Retrieved 4 April 2017 – via Trove.
  8. ^ "Bruce, John - I2005". City of Adelaide History and Genealogy. Retrieved 9 August 2018.[dead link]
  9. ^ "Loss of the Yatala". The South Australian Advertiser. Adelaide. 2 July 1872. p. 3. Retrieved 4 April 2017 – via Trove.
  10. ^ "Loss of the government schooner Yatala". South Australian Register. Vol. XXIX, no. 5706. Adelaide. 13 February 1865. p. 3. Retrieved 11 April 2017 – via Trove.
  11. ^ "The Names of Adelaide, South Australia". Pocket Oz Guide to Australia. Retrieved 18 October 2021.
  12. ^ "Arrival of the Tug Yatala". Adelaide Observer. Vol. XXXV, no. 1911. Adelaide. 18 May 1878. p. 20. Retrieved 11 April 2017 – via Trove.
  13. ^ "Steam to Sail: an Old Tug's Conversion". The News. Vol. I, no. 68. Adelaide. 10 October 1923. p. 9. Retrieved 11 April 2017 – via Trove.
  14. ^ "Concerning People". The Register. Vol. LXXXII, no. 21, 923. Adelaide. 13 February 1917. p. 4. Retrieved 11 April 2017 – via Trove.

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