Basuto

BASUTO was built in 1873 by Oswald & Co. at Sunderland with a tonnage of 1034grt, a length of 220ft, a beam of 30ft 5in and a service speed of 9.5 knots.

A vessel with a long poop, a short well and a forecastle, Basuto was acquired, like Zulu, for the Natal - Zanzibar Line.

She had an unpleasant reputation form the commencement of her career. The passengers who travelled in her when she first came out from England wrote a letter of complaint to the Cape press in which they related how their cabins were deluged whenever the decks were washed, how the paint in their cabins stained their clothes and how, generally, they suffered from heat and coal dust.

She was no good advertisement for the Union Line, which, as it was then so much in disfavour, and the Cape Argus did not hesitate to say that she was “an utter disgrace”, being moreover, “both ugly and slow!”

Captain Crutchley summed up what seemed to be the general opinion regarding her by saying that “of all heart-breaking ships that were, she was the worst!”. He describes also her “playful habit of half filling her after hold with water” and tells how he andhis fellow officers used to have great sport shooting the rats with which she was infested.

She was disposed of in 1876 to a French firm and while on her first voyage under her new ownership she foundered in a gale off La Coruna on 11 October 1876. According to Captain Crutchley (unverified) her French crew did not wait to stop the engines before abandoning her, so anxious were they to leave this unloved vessel.

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