The Maggie and May
Nine Lives are Lost in Crash at Sea
Capt. Alexander McEachern and Eight of Crew Went Down
With German Warship Freya Struck Sch. Maggie and May
Disaster Happened in Fog Saturday Night and All
Gloucester Mourns Today
August 8, 1908
The saddest news that has come to this city for a long time
flashed over the wires late last evening telling of the loss of Capt. Alexander
McEachern of this city, and eight of his crew, by the sinking of sch. Maggie
and May of this port, on Le Have bank, Saturday night, by the German
According to Robert Years, one of the four
survivors of the disaster, the vessel sailed from Gloucester the previous week, bound for
Arichat to take on their hired men. Off Cape Sable they struck the fog and light wind and
ruddered along until Saturday night just before the accident, they were about 30 miles to
the southeast of Halifax. The accident happened at 10.30 o'clock by the schooner's clock
and 11.30 by that on the Freya, a German schoolship. Yearn was
in the watch, with Walter Fiander and Fred English,
the latter being at the wheel. The schooner was practically becalmed and did not have
steerage way. It was so dark and thick of fog that he could not see the length of the
The men heard the whistle of the steamer and called the
captain, who quickly called all hands as soon as he struck the deck. The vessel's horn was
going properly and the captain of the Freya afterward said that
he heard it all right, but could not locate the direction of the sound.
As the steamer drew nearer, Capt. McEachern
waved the flare torch, but all to no purpose, for within a minute after they saw the Freya's
light she was into them, striking on the starboard side, just at the nose of the nest of
Capt. McEachern shouted to clear the dories and the gripes were quickly
cut, but they could not seem to clear the boats. It was thought that the starboard dories
were smashed by the impact.
After the attempts to float the dories was abandoned, it
became desperate, as the vessel then was practically under water and sinking fast. All
hands were aft, and Yearn was alongside the skipper, who still held the torch in his hand.
He turned to him and said, "Leo, we will every one of us be drowned." As he said
it, both he and Yearn slipped and went overboard together.
Yearn never saw the skipper after that, nor any of the crew, until he met the other three
rescued ones on the deck of the the Freya. Yearn says that the
schooner sank in two minutes after she was struck and that the other three survivors were
rescued by boats from the Freya.
According to Captain Vincent Nelson, of the schooner Senator
Gardner of Gloucester, Alex McEachern told him in
Gloucester that he intended retiring from the sea at the conclusion of this trip.
In 1912 the German government turned over $36,000 to the
American and British ambassadors, to be paid to the claimants.
Lost on the Maggie and May
Alexander McEachern, of
Gloucester, leaves a widow and three children
Alister Wentzell, steward, 36, native of Lunenburg, N.S.
Walter Fiander, 24, single of Codroy, N.F.
Edward P. English, 35, single, of Conception Bay, N.F.
Reuben Porter, 45, of Eel Brook, N.S., leaves a widow and family
Dillon Porter, 20, son of Reuben Porter, of Eel Brook, N.S.
Alfred Muise, 36, of Eel Brook, N.S.
Augustus Loegold, 26, of Cape Breton
Thomas R. Muise, 36, single, of Cape Breton
The survivors were:
Robert Years, 28, of Belloram, N.F.
John Muise, 32, of Nova Scotia
Sylvian White, 32 years, of Yarmouth, N.S.
William Muise, 31, of Eel Brook, N.S.