Wreck Hunting in Patagonia | Past Adventures

The Search for the Wager

On the 13th of May 1741, on a deserted island in Gulfo de Penas (the gulf of pain) in the cold, stormy Southern Patagonian coast the HMS Wager was wrecked. What followed is one of the most interesting naval stories. After a mutiny two seperate groups, one heading North, the other South endevoured to get home to England. The last of the survivors made Portsmouth six years later and the tales of their journeys contain all the best finests elements of a Robert Loius Stevenson novel.

On 02nd of November 2006 a team of divers where dropped off by the Chilean Navy to search for the wreck and any remains of the survivors. They began by searching the island for the goegrahical clues mentioned in the old accounts which would help locate the bay the ship was wrecked. Unfortunatley there have been numerous earthquake in the last 250 years including one reaching 9.4 on the richter scale, one fo the largest ever recorded. All this meant a drop in relative sea level of up to 7 metres. This meant the coastline had changed dramatically.

After weeks of scouring the island, weathering days of storms and changing base camp location the team finally located what they believed to be the right bay but more searching showed no evidence of wreck or camp.

Searching an inland lake, which would once have been part of the bay, the team swam back down river. They had spent 10 days camped by this river, using it as their water supply. It was right by their tents that one of them literally stumbled on a piece of wood in the river bed, uncovered by a recent storm. After franticilly clearing the sand away they found part of a hull containing a number of diagnostic structures and even a musket ball. With days to go before they were evacuated from the island they had finally found the Wager.

The site and finds werehanded over to a team of Chilean archarhaeologist and has been confirmed as the warship.

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