Wreck of the HMS Phoenix

Wreck of the HMS Phoenix

Although there have been countless shipwrecks at East point over the centuries, the wreck of the British warship “The Phoenix” is significant since it necessitated the move of the Lighthouse.

On September 12, 1882 the ship struck the reef in a heavy storm, and was too badly damaged to be salvaged. Due to the quick work of some locals her guns and some other equipment were saved.Roughly 400 officers and sailors were on board with no loss of life, and were warmly welcomed by the community where they spent the winter.

When the British government investigated the wreck, blame was placed on the captain. In his defense, it was found that he could clearly see the lighthouse at East Point, but it was farther inland than it appeared. Unavoidably, it struck the reef. The next year, the lighthouse was lifted and moved closer to the Point, where it lined up with the Admiralty charts.

The story goes that a local lady was about to give birth, and unable to locate the midwife, her husband found the surgeon from “The Phoenix” who safely delivered a baby girl. Instead of payment he said, “Just name her after the ship.” So her parents named her Mary Ellen Phoenix MacDonald, and she lived in the community all her life.