The coastal waters in the vicinity of Newcastle had always been treacherous for mariners and there were often reports of shipwrecks and accidents however the year 1816 seems to have been particularly unfortunate in the loss of colonial craft.
Estramina and Elizabeth & Mary
In January word was received in Sydney of the Estramina and Elizabeth and Mary -
We are extremely sorry to learn from Hunter's River, that His Majesty's colonial schooner Estramina, and Mr. Underwood's schooner Elizabeth and Mary, went both on shore near the entrance of the River, and that no hopes were entertained of saving the former; the latter it was expected might, with persevering effort, be preserved, but not without considerable expense and trouble.
The two vessels sailed from the settlement of Newcastle in company on Sunday last; the Estramina with coals and cedar, and the Elizabeth and Mary with coals only, for Sydney. The Elizabeth and Mary in standing over to the north Shore, in the act of staying got sternway, and hung aft, and with a strong N.E. wind and ebb tide, found it impossible to get her anchor out in her boat. In five minutes after, the Estramina went on shore a little to windward; she soon filled and at 7 in the evening she upset. The Elizabeth and Mary was once got afloat by the exertions of her people, but unfortunately drifted again upon the point where she had at first touched, and broke away her rudder, stove in part of her counter and also filled. She still lies aground; but the master informs by letter that with proper assistance he expects she may be got off. The Sydney Gazette 27 January 1816
The Elizabeth Henrietta was launched in Sydney June 1816 and was a welcome addition to the colonial vessels however the Elizabeth Henrietta was upset at her moorings at Newcastle in August 1816 and would have taken some time to set to rights again.
In addition this winter there were several shipwrecks including two in July near Newcastle and to the northward.
In March 1816 the Nautilus was driven to the north and severely damaged in gales and Captain Edward Edwards was brought into Sydney in a state of severe indisposition. The following notice appeared soon afterwards.....Notice is hereby given that the very fine Coppered India Brig Nautilus, burthen exceeding 100 tons, built at Calcutta, and now upon her first voyage, having two Suits of Sails, three Cables, and well supplied with all necessary Stores, is to be disposed of by Private contract, should any acceptable Proposal be made previous to her intended time of departure, which will not exceed 21 days. - She sails fast, carries a great burthen, being built by an European Architect on the plan of a London Trader, equally consulting velocity and accommodation. If not Sold, she may be either chartered or freighted for Calcutta or elsewhere ; and particulars known of Captain Edwards.
After being wrecked again in November the remains of the vessel were put up for Sale (for the Benefit of the Underwriters) the Hull of the Brig Nautilus, wrecked at Hunter's River, with her Masts and standing Rigging, two Cables, an iron stocked Anchor, a Number of Sails, and other Articles of the first Consequence to Ship Owners.
Two years later in November 1818 Captain Edwards died by his own hand......On Thursday morning last Mr. Edwards, late Commander of the Nautilus from Calcutta, unhappily put a period to his existence by strangulation, in a fit of insanity, leaving four orphan children to deplore the melancholy catastrophe