This is one of the most unlucky ships to sink in Bermuda waters. A 300-foot, steel-hulled English steamer built in 1872, she was on her maiden voyage between Portugal and New York with a cargo of wine, dried fruit, bales of cork and 160 pound lead ingots when she sank in 1873.
Unfamiliar with Bermuda’s reefs, the Captain edged his new ship toward the shore, where she collided with a submerged reef and ground to a halt. An attempt to back the ship off the reef only resulted in it sinking.
The wreck is one mile off Horseshoe Bay on the South Shore, in depths ranging from 35 to 70 feet. Still visible are the ship's huge steam boiler, parts of the wheelhouse, the ship's steering quadrant, a four-bladed propeller and her rudder.
The wreck lies on the edge of the reef with the bow in 45 feet of water broken up and taken over by the coral. Going down the reef the boilers and parts of the engine sit amidships. Behind these going down the reef and along the sand in 70 feet of water the remainder of the ship is semi intact with her rudder quadrant rudder blade and propeller still attached to the clearly defined stern of the ship.
The wreck was never lost and was always known as a fishing site.
She was first salvaged by BW Walker and Company and the Lusher Brothers between 1873 and 1874 who came to Bermuda from Philadelphia with their salvage ship the Gleana.
The Gleana was in fact lost during the salvage of the Minnie Breslauer when she was left at anchor at the site while the crew came ashore to sit out a storm and drink the wine they salvaged. She broke free and sank, smashed against the reef close to shore between East Whale Bay (also known as Princess Beach or Whaler Inn) and Cross Bay. Some of the objects salvaged were the 160lb lead ingots bearing marks from a Portuguese foundry. Several of these were in the collection held at the Aquarium prior to its move to the Bermuda Maritime Museum.
This is an extremely popular dive site being visited sometimes twice daily by the dive operators during the summer. It is also regularly visited by archaeological field schools.
There are reports that in the1980’s a bottle of Malaga Sherry, still corked, was found after a storm in the sand-hole surrounding the site.
This wreck is part of the Bermuda Shipwreck Certificate Program instituted by the Department of Tourism. It is also buoyed under the Bermuda Dive Sites program established by the Marine Environmental Committee of the Bermuda National Trust in association with the Ministry of the Environment and is a protected site with a 300m no fishing limitation.