January 3, 1917
Saved Crew in Teeth of Gale
Capt. Archie McLeod's Sturdy Lads of
Sch. Catherine Dared Death
to Pick Off Frozen Men of Sinking Collier
Life seems sweet to five beggared castaways
from the British sch. Lena F. Oxner, brought in at Boston
yesterday by the fishing sch. Catherine after being rescued from
what seemed certain death by Capt. Archie McLeod and his husky crew.
They had endured fearful exposure and privation while the tiny coaster succumbed to
a blizzard miles off the coast of Nova Scotia.
Hope had fled when the nearly frozen men were
rescued, clothing frozen to bodies, losing all except the icy tatters in which they stood.
That was on Friday, last, 32 days out.
The rescued, Capt. Edward Hook,
Halifax, N. S.; Mate Robert Percy, St. John's, N. F.; Cook Richard
Maitland, New York city; Seamen Henry Jones and John
The Oxner was bound
from New York for Halifax with 170 tons of coal. Cook Maitland
declared a hoodoo pursued the schooner from the moment she passed through Hail Gate, and
subsequent events appear to bear out the cook, who insists he was never born to be
drowned, though this recent experience almost caused him to hedge in that respect.
And Maitland has been 12 years at sea, never experiencing anything like
what befell the Oxner.
After rough experience with several gales,
twice near being lost, the craft was caught off Cape Sable last Thursday in the fierce
northeast blizzard that swept the coast.
No sooner was the Oxner well
away from land than the blizzard smote her, the temperature dropped and the sea was
running white and gray in tumbling processions. The beleaguered vessel began to
leak, then water crushed into the hold, as if she had spewed her oakum or slunk a butt.
Two men clanked at the pump till they dropped, when two more took their job, with
the sea from the hold cascading from scuppers.
That night water froze where it struck and the
pumps could not be forced to suck. The crew chopped to no purpose and the Oxner
was settling. Clothing became stiff as sheet metal, the fresh water cask was washed
from the deck and it was impossible to start the galley fire.
Thus, the Oxner's
crew knelt in prayer, the sea clamoring and the cutting blast screeching in disheveled
rigging. Nothing remained but scant hope. The Oxner
might stay on top till a schooner, a long way off, would send a boat. The freezing
men saw the schooner heave to, but no boat was put overboard, the captain evidently
thinking the sea too rough. All the while the Oxner was
setting quietly, as if posing for the final plunge. Another sail was sighted, and
the Oxner's flag, union down, snapped its appeal. This
vessel came up rapidly and circled about the Oxner. She
was the Catherine, Capt. Archie McLeod.
The spectacle of masterful seamanship fanned a
spark of life in the benumbed sailors as the Catherine was
maneuvered and dropped two dories. Fishermen moved quickly in this work of rescue
for the Oxner was now a sodden hulk against which seas breached
in clouds of spray. Two men in a dory they crept across the mad waste and under the Oxner's
lee. The freezing men dragged themselves to the battered rail. All were in one
dory, which proved to be overloaded and nearly swamped. Unless a transfer to the
other dory could be effected all must be drowned. In midst of mountainous combers
the fishermen dragged two of the Oxner's almost helpless men
into the more buoyant boat. They reached the Catherine
with 15 men overhanging the rail to haul them on board. This took place 50 miles off
Shelburne, N. S., and the Oxner soon foundered.
Capt. McLeod and crew
provided the poor fellows with dry clothing and food. At Boston the British consul
took them in charge. Last night the men were sheltered at the Mariner's House North
square, and wanted everybody to know that Capt. Archie McLeod's a prince, and so's