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The Alice and Wilson

 

Saturday, August 30,1924

Tuesday’s Hurricane Took Toll of Three More Lives

Another Sworder Brings Grim Tale
Sch. Alice and Wilson, Almost a Complete Wreck,
Towed in Last Evening
Skipper Swept Overboard and Washed Back Again
Five Children Left Fatherless by Tragedy

Further evidence of the fury of Tuesday’s storm was brought to port last night when the battered hull of the swordfishing sch. Alice and Wilson, Capt. John Hall, was towed in, in a little better than sinking condition by the sch. Mary H. of New Bedford, Capt. Ambrose Smith, and tied up at the end of the Atlantic Supply Company’s wharf, where another story of the terrific onslaught of wind and sea which carried three more men to their grave, swept everything above decks, including spars, rigging dories, gear, and left the vessel a veritable derelict for the skipper and four surviving men to battle out as best they could the buffeting of the gigantic seas and the ravages of the terrible hurricane was told.

Even worse that the sch. Dorcas, which made port on Thursday afternoon in tow of the Funchal with flag at half mast for her captain, Joseph F. Silveira, if such a thing could be possible, is the condition of the Alice and Wilson. Even the forecastle hatch and gangway was carried away. Her stem is cracked, bowsprit, both spars, all rigging and practically everything was swept away. The boom was splintered like kindling wood. The vessel drifted for 62 hours before succor reached her and for 16 hours the men were without food or water unable to reach the forecastle, pumping furiously all the while to keep the vessel free.

The lost men are:
James Holland, 32, of Prince Edward Island
Joseph King, 38, of Willow street
Manuel Marks, 40, of Friend street

The vessel was fishing six miles southeast of the Lightship at the time of the storm broke upon them, and all sail had been ordered in. The men were at work on this task when the fury of the heavens broke upon them in a horrible wall of water and gale of wind, and with a crash, the nest of dories were ripped from their cleats and carried over the stern. With them went the skipper, Capt. John Hall, but the backwash of the wave sent the Alice and Wilson drifting down upon him, 20 yards astern and a line thrown by his brother, James Hall, was seized. He was hauled to deck, suffering from two injured ribs, and numerous bruises. When all hands were trying to get the ship straightened out, the mainmast snapped clear to the deck and went by the board, taking Joseph King and Manuel Marks with it. By a freak of circumstances, the men were rescued as the wave receded and left them struggling near the side of the vessel. Lines were thrown to them and they were hauled back to the schooner’s deck.

When the sworder was hit the first time, she was under riding sail with engine going, and the captain was trying to get off shore and into deeper water. The foresail had been blown away. Then came the gigantic wave which sent the little vessel reeling over and practically on her beam ends. At one time the cross trees were level with the water. Work of clearing away the tangled main rigging from the deck was started and everything was thrown overboard. While the crew were engaged in this work another mountain of water came descending upon the craft, and carried away the foremast, shooting the pig iron ballast up from the bilge through the floor of the cabin and forecastle. This time three of the crew went over the side and were lost in the angry swirling foam, which swallowed them completely.

This time the Alice and Wilson started leaking and she began to fill rapidly Her engine and rudder went out of commission, so that she would not steer. The crew went to work again to clear the tangled rigging from the deck and to start the pumps going. They couldn’t find any handle to use on the pump, so two draw buckets were used and for eight solid hours, without a let up, the men bailed for their lives. Finally a piece of wood was obtained and a pump handle fashioned out of this. Repeatedly the improvised handle broke, but after desperate efforts, the vessel was pumped enough so that she could be kept clear. She was leaking then at the rate of 1800 strokes an hour.

All day Wednesday the vessel drifting helplessly. Twice the members of the crew sighted steamers and once a tanker. The other steamer passed within a mile but apparently neither saw the floating wreck or distress signal of flag union down flying from a pole tied to the stump of the foremast. The fog horn was kept pealing out its distress calls. Things began to look pretty had for the little sworder, for it seemed as though aid would never come. Without food or drink, for they could not get into the forecastle to cook anything, the men were well nigh exhausted and ready to drop when aid came to them.

About 1 o’clock Friday morning the New Bedford fishing schooner Mary H., Capt. Ambrose Smith had just appeared around the vicinity of Sankaty and heard the sound of a fog horn. Bearing his craft in the direction from whence the sound came, Capt. Smith sent the Mary H. at full speed, arriving alongside of the Alice and Wilson when the vessels were about 40 miles east by south from Sankaty light.

After passing a line, the first thing Capt. Smith did was to take the men aboard of his craft and give them food and warm drink and dry their clothing. They were in a pitiful condition. Hardy as they are, their nerves were racked from the terrible ordeal. It had been a struggle with death. It was their most trying experience during their entire fishing career and none cared to venture he would risk going through a similar trial.

The Alice and Wilson presented a sad appearance as she was docked at the wharf, for everything was gone from her deck. Her forecastle gangway had been carried away and for 16 hours the men could not enter this place, on account of the depth of the water.

Spars were snapped as clean cut as though sawed, her stem was ripped open and her bowsprit shattered and swept away. All sail was gone except a small piece, and this was nailed and lashed to the jumbo boom which in turn was lashed against the foremast, and the flag half-masted on this improvised pole as the vessel drifted along awaiting succor.

The Alice and Wilson is practically a new vessel of 30 tons and measures 68 feet overall. She is owned largely by Capt. Hall and also by the Atlantic Supply Company. The surviving members of her crew are James Hall, a brother of the skipper, Chester Perkins, engineer, Fonce Malloy, and Antione Silva.

 

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