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130 Miles to Mainland


Monday April 16, 1923

Rowed 130 Miles in Dory to Reach the Mainland
Leo MacDonald and George Hemeon Mourned as Lost
by companions on Deck
When Sch. Oretha F. Spinney Arrived Yesterday

Adrift for two days, without food and but little water, forced to bail out their dory to keep it from sinking beneath them. Leo MacDonald and George Hemeon, members of the crew of the sch. Oretha Spinnery, Capt. Lemuel Spinney, of this port, landed at Port Micheau, Richmond county, C. B., yesterday, after having rowed 130 miles. The schooner arrived in Portland Saturday with her flag at half mast and came to this port yesterday but the men for whom the colors were half-masted were waiting for her at the dock when she came in.

MacDonald said that he and Hemeon went astray from the schooner while fishing off Sable Island, April 6. The trawls were set in the morning, and although it was a light for at the time, neither paid much attention to it. Along the latter part of the afternoon, after the trawls had been hauled and the dory nearly filled with halibut, they started for the general direction of their schooner. They rowed around and could not locate her in the blanket of fog, which by this time was getting thicker. Darkness found them still hanging around the spot, waiting for the possibility that the schooner might pick them up, but at midnight they gave up this idea and started to row.   They headed in what they thought was the direction of Whitehead, N. S., that being the nearest port from them, but became bewildered in the heavy mist, and shot down to the eastward.

The dory was constantly filled with water, and it was found necessary to bail continually to keep it from filling. Finding that with the fish on board the dory was taking in too much water for comfort, and making it hard to row, they dumped the fish overboard and lightened the craft, heading her all the while toward the land. Saturday morning broke and the day passed with the men now feeling the pangs of hunger, and a swelling of hands from continuous rowing. All day Saturday, and all Saturday night they rowed, eyes tired from lack of sleep, and limbs numbed from the constant posture assumed in rowing.

Sunday morning the roar of surf was heard ahead of them, and through the first gray break of the Sabbath dawn, the jagged line of the Cape Breton shore loomed ahead of them. Extra effort was bent to the oars, now well worn form rowing, and the men landed in a benumbed and exhausted state from want of food and sleep, and were cared for by the residents of the locality.

Everything to relieve their distress was done by kindly hands, and on Wednesday the men, supplied with funds, took a train for Port Hawkesbury, where the American consul sent them home. They left Halifax on Saturday morning and came overland to Boston, arriving there yesterday noon. The men were congratulated by their shipmates on having found land, and reaching home in safety.


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