March 12, 1923
Sch. Elizabeth Howard
Loses Four of Her Crew
Men Swept Overboard by Monster Sea
Last Thursday Off Sable Island
16 Members of Crew of Sch. Helen M. Coolen Saved
Sch. Elizabeth Howard, Capt. Daniel
MacDonald, limped into Halifax, N. S., yesterday forenoon battered, her flag at
half-mast for the loss of six men , four of her own crew, and two from the ill-fated
schooner Helen M. Coolen of Lunenburg, N. S., and 16 members of
the Coolen on board.
The famous fisherman, rival of the Henry Ford
in the elimination races last autumn, brought in a terrible tale of the sea, of a battle
with terrific seas in effort to escape disaster on Sable Island, the graveyard of the
Atlantic. The men were lost and the Lunenburger foundered during the fearful blizzard of
last Wednesday and Thursday.
The lost ones are:
John McLeod, single, 42, of St.
Peters, N. S.
James Murphy, single, 48, of Canso, N. S.
Herbert Blondin, single, 45, of Newfoundland
Miles OBrien, single, 26, of Bay of Bulls, N. F.
Capt. MacDonald, skipper of the local
schooner, his weather-beaten face plainly showing the stress under which he was laboring,
described in husky tomes yesterday afternoon the loss of his four men. Racing under bare
poles before a 90-mile gale near Sable Island at 8 0clock last Thursday morning, a
great sea struck the craft, sweeping her from stem to stern. Driven on beam end by the
smothering wave, the Howard shipped a lake of green water from
Of nine of her crew who were then engaged in trying to lash
the foreboom, four did not reappear from the welter of the sea. They had been carried
overboard to their death. Their cries were faintly heard through the storm, but their
mates, devoting their whole effort to saving their craft from sinking, were powerless to
Battered by the storm, the Howard
was only a plaything for the gales and high seas. Not a stitch of canvas could be set; it
was futile to attempt to throw out anchors to check her course straight for the sandbars
of Sable Island. For hours the gale drove the Gloucester schooner straight towards the
bars. Then just when the crew, exhausted and short-handed, had almost given up hope, the
wind abated and the men were able to set a reefed foresail and the schooner sailed away
from the menacing lee shore.
Friday morning the Howard
encountered the Helen M. Coolen, battered and sinking. The Coolen,
too, had lost men in the great gale. The Nova Scotian parted her hawser from her anchorage
on West Bank. When the crew tried to set the trysail, the gale blew it to pieces.
As the men attempted to lash what remained, a huge comber
broke over the schooners bow, raced aft and washed overboard Steward
Boutillier and Joseph Laut, both of Hubbards, N. S. They were
never seen again.
When Capt. MacDonald was told of the
plight of the survivors of the Coolen, he offered to take them
off. The Nova Scotians scams had worked open in the gale and the deck planking was
spring. She was taking water much too frequently for the efforts of the weakened crew. The
16 survivors of the Coolen left their wallowing craft and rowed
their dories through the heavy seas to the safety of the Howard.
The Coolen foundered shortly after.
According to Capt. MacDonald, "Herbert
Blondin had been fishing out of Gloucester for about nine years and OBrien
for not quite that length of time. James Murphy, who has sailed on our
vessels for 30 years, and John McLeod, a veteran of 24 years experience
on Gloucester bankers, were also dorymates. We all keenly feel the loss of our men."
A wire from Capt. MacDonald to Capt. Benjamin
Pine this forenoon states that the craft was not damaged by the storm. She has
refitted and will resume her trip halibuting.