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Six Days Astray


July 5, 1910

Stray Fishermen Six Days and Nights in Dory on Banks
Picked Up By Norwegian Collier and Landed at St. John's, N. F.
Had No Food and Only a Pint of Water While Astray

Edward P. Somers and Robert Babcock, two of the crew of sch. Richard of this port, went astray from their schooner on the Grand Banks June 18, and after six days on intense suffering from hunger and thirst, were picked up by the Norwegian topsail schooner Carl, bound from Glasgow to St. John, N. B., with a load of coal.  Two days later they were landed at St. John and taken in charge by the American consul and sent to Halifax on the Allan line steamer Siberian, and thence to Boston, arriving in this city at their home last night.

The schooner, which is commanded by Capt. Niles Somers, a brother of one of the rescued men, was fishing on the northern edge of the Grand Banks June 18, about 110 miles from the Newfoundland coast, and Somers and Babcock left in their dory to overhaul their trawls.  When they pulled away from their schooner the fog was dense and in trying to locate their trawls, which were about two miles distant, they missed their buoy.  After a fruitless search for it they started to return to their vessel, but the fog was so dense that it was impossible to see any distance ahead.

The men realized that their only hope was to try and locate the vessel, and they rowed on in what they thought to be the direction of their ship.  They had a small compass in the boat which they made use of, but at nightfall they had not located their craft, and decided to anchor for the night.

The next day the fog was just as thick, but a search for their vessel was kept up, and at nightfall the men decided to make for the land, taking a northwest course, which they hoped would bring them in the vicinity of Bay Bulls.  With a fair wind they sailed all that night and the next day, rowing at times also, but for the other nights anchoring, excepting on Thursday night, when they again sailed all night.

All this time they had not a bite of anything to eat.  They had no fish, having, as stated, missed their bouy and not reaching their trawls, and their only nourishment was the small quantity of water, which was carefully nursed along, until Thursday, when rain fell and by spreading out their oil clothing they were enabled to save some.

At night the cold chilled them to the marrow, for in those latitudes there is almost a frost every night.  Lack of food and water was beginning to get in its work, however, as there is a limit even to the endurance of the most hardy.  Babcock suffered most.  His new rubber boots "drew" his feet, which became swollen to twice their normal size, causing excruciating pain.  He was nearly all in when rescued.

On Friday evening they had just anchored for the night and were about to lay down to sleep when a vessel loomed up out of the fog, which had continued nearly all the time they were out.  They signaled to her with an oar, and the vessel, which proved to be the sch. Carl, bound to St. John's from Scotland with coal, bore down on them and hoisted dory and men aboard.   They were given food and drink and everything possible done for their comfort.   When picked up they were 65 miles from land, so that in the six days they had gone a little more than half the distance from where they went astray to the nearest coast.   Somers is about the house, apparently all right, although he shows the effect of the strain.  Babcock, however, was well used up.   He walks only by the aid of a cane and is resting in bed for a few more days.

Their compass was proved to be two points out, and this would account for their missing their vessel, and also their failure to make the land.  They were sent to their homes by the American consul.


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