The steamship Lidador (1878)

Paulo Monteiro

 

Drawing of the Lidador by Kevin Crisman

Drawing of the Lidador by Kevin Crisman

    The steamship Lidador, now on the bottom of Angra Bay, Terceira Island, Azores, was typical of the transitional, sail-to-steam style of vessels in trans-Atlantic service in the second half of the nineteenth century. According to Lloyd's Register of Shipping, July, 1877 to June, 1878 edition, Lidador was built in London in 1873 by a shipbuilder named Walker. She was an iron-hulled steamer measuring 258 feet, 5 inches (78.76 m.) in length, 31 feet (9.44 m.) in breadth, and 22 feet, 6 inches (6.85 m.) in depth.
 

 Kevin Crisman draws the stern of the Lidador
The vessel had four bulkheads, two decks, and was listed in Lloyd's as being 1208 registered tons. The ship's single screw propeller was powered by a 140 horsepower steam engine built by J. Penn & Son of London.  Like many steamships of this period, Lidador was also fitted with masts, two of them, and a combination of square and fore-and-aft sails. After construction, Lidador was surveyed for insurance in Cardiff, Wales, and her anchors and chains were proved.

    Lidador entered service with Empresa Transatlântica de Navegação (Transatlantic Navigation Company) and her home port was in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In the late nineteenth century population pressures in the Azores and the expanding economy  of Portugal's former colony of Brazil resulted in the migration of many Azoreans to South America.   During her short career, Lidador assisted this flow of people on regular voyages between the islands and Brazil.

 

      Kevin Crisman draws the stern of the Lidador
                        Photo: Cristoph Gerik
 

     In late January of 1878 the Lidador anchored off the city of Angra do Heroismo, Terceira Island, Azores, to take on passengers and baggage bound for Brazil. The deadly southeast wind known locally as the carpinteiro or "carpenter's wind" arose on February 6, and before the Lidador could get up steam and escape from Angra Bay she tore a hole in her plates on the rock reef in front of the fortress of São Sebastião. The sinking vessel drifted westward, across Angra Bay, and finally settled in about 25 feet (7.6 m.) of water below Fort São João Baptista.

 A diver surveys the loose debris of the Lidador's bow.

A diver surveys the loose debris of the Lidador's bow.

Photo: Cristoph Gerik

    Today, the Lidador lies crushed and flattened, her sides broken away and her bow twisted over to port. The engine and propeller are missing and were presumably salvaged, but the propeller shaft and the shaft alley are visible amongst the ballast stones in the after end of the vessel. Further forward, a pile of rusted iron pipes and curved iron plates are evidence of the boilers, Lidador carried a large mass of stone ballast in her forward hold, a somewhat surprising feature for a vessel of this type and recent vintage (ballast of iron, concrete, or lead was more compact and left more space for cargo in a ship's hold).
 

A side scan sonar by Marine Sonic Technology, Inc., of the Lidador. The white arrow points to two divers that were photographing the wreck at the time of the survey.

A side scan sonar by Marine Sonic Technology, Inc., of the Lidador.

The white arrow points to two divers that were photographing the wreck at the time of the survey.

 

    The remains of the Lidador underwent preliminary recording during a joint Azorean-U.S. INA archaeological survey of Angra Bay in 1996 and the wreck was further documented in 1997 with videotape footage and a side-scan sonar image generated by Marine Sonics, Inc.

 

Kevin Crisman