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May 12, 1935

Stray Fishermen Return Home
Lendley McComiskey and Joseph Rose
Adrift Three Days and Nights Without Food or Water

Lendley McComiskey and Joseph Rose, tow members of sch. Grand Marshal, who strayed from their vessel and rowed into Clark's Harbor, N. S., last Sunday have arrived home.  The men were lost at sea for 72 hours and had a long, hard struggle for existence in a battle against mountainous seas in their dory.

The men arrived Monday evening from Clark's Harbor, where they landed on Sunday morning after a most harrowing experience of three days and nights in an open boat.   The men were brought to Yarmouth by M. A. Nickerson, Esq., who with Mrs. Nickerson took them into their home on Sunday, provided dry, warm clothing, carefully attending to their wants.  Mr. Nickerson, on arrival at once took them before United States Consul, McCunn, who for the night and next day put them up at the Commercial Hotel.

Met at the Commercial Hotel, the men gave a reporter the first real story of their experiences.  They said the Grand Marshal, skippered by Capt. Simon Theriault, formerly of the Yarmouth sch. W. G. Robertson, left Provincetown, Mass., the week before on Tuesday morning on the southwest edge of Brown's Bank, the weather was a little hazy, but the dories were put over and McComiskey and Rose went far to the windward.

About 10 o'clock they started to haul their traps and return to their vessel, but the haze had turned to thick vapor and the men were unable to locate the schooner.  For an hour they sailed or rowed with the hope of locating the Grand Marshal, but were unable to do so, although on one occasion they are now positive of hearing the vessel's horn.  At the time, however, they took it for the horn of the Flora L. Oliver, Capt. Ansel Snow.   After cruising for an hour, the men let go their anchor and laid for another hour with the hope that their vessel would find them.  On Thursday afternoon, they again put up their sail and stood off in an easterly direction.  About 4 o'clock they made a vessel's sail far to the eastward and the craft appeared to be jogging.  They watched it sharply and in a few minutes saw the schooner was sailing away from them and it soon disappeared.

Toward night the wind increased to a fresh gale and they were obliged to take in their sail.  The men decided for the night to lay to on their oars and just at dark a big sea broke over their frail craft, almost swamping it.  The dory filled to gunwales, but by desperate bailing the two men succeeded in freeing the craft and saving it from sinking under them.  The sea washed away one pair of oars, the compass, and Rose narrowly escaped going overboard.  McComiskey, when the sea struck the dory, was standing up in the bow, and he was hurled over his mate, into the stern.  Following that, the sea, for a hew minutes, flattened some and the men succeeded in getting the lost oars and compass.  After they had bailed the water from the dory and it was practically free, McComiskey and Rose took their two trawl buoys and solidly lashed them to the "risings" of their craft.  By that means, although the dory on Thursday night was filled on two other occasions and on Friday night three times, the little craft remained very buoyant and well above the water.

Later on Thursday night they anchored in order to get a little rest.   At an early hour on Friday morning, another big comber broke over them, parting the line and they lost an anchor.  All of Friday the weather was most severe.  In the morning a cold northerly gale prevailed, which during the afternoon somewhat subsided, only to freshen again at dark.  The sea, Rose said, was the worst he had ever encountered in his 21 years of experience as a fisherman.  The gale was accompanied by a cold, driving rain.  The position of the men was made even more appalling from the fact that neither of them could locate just where they might be, whether they were in track of vessels or making on to some land.  Rose stated that all through the time they were out they managed to keep their dory on soundings and consequently could at any time come to anchor.

On Friday night the sea was even worse than on Thursday night and the men say that it was only a miracle or the guidance of a kind Providence that they are here to tell their story.  All of Friday night the men worked strenuously with bucket and bailer to keep the water out of the craft.  Before daylight on Saturday morning, while they were lying to, a sea boarded them, parted their anchor line and their second anchor was gone.

At daylight the weather broke fine and the men removed their oil skins for the purpose of drying out their underclothes which had been continuously soaked with salt water from the time the big sea of Thursday evening broke over the dory and almost swamped them.  All this while they had had nothing to eat or drink since about six o'clock on Thursday morning.  Their mouths became sorely parched and their tongues so swollen that McComiskey was unable to talk, while Rose's speech was very thick.  On Saturday their thirst was so intense that the men lapped with their tongues the dew and moisture from the topsides and the thwarts of the dory.   With that they apparently swallowed some paint, for shortly after they became deathly sick.  All the time the wind was northerly and ahead consequently they were unable to use their sail.  With what strength they had, however, the men used their oars and kept their little craft headed north with the hope of making some land.

At sundown on Saturday evening they made Seal Island light, which they judged was about twelve miles distant.  The weather continued fine and that night a strong flood tide carried the dory into Lobster Bay where fog again shut down.  McComiskey being now somewhat familiar with his surroundings worked the dory in near John's Island, where they anchored by making their "girdy" fast to a trawl line.  After that the two men laid down in the bottom of the dory, covered their faces with pieces of board to protect them from t he cold wet fog, and for the first time they slept.

On awakening it was daylight Sunday morning.  There was a light air moving and McComiskey and Rose, in their terribly weakened condition, managed to get their sail up and the latter steered the craft into Clark's Harbor, reaching M. A. Nickerson's wharf about 8 o'clock.   They were completely exhausted by their harrowing experience and so weakened for the want of food and water that both were powerless to help themselves and practically had to be lifted from the dory and carried to Mr. Nickerson's home.

Both McComiskey and Rose said they had about concluded that the fates so far as being picked up by a vessel was concerned, were against them, for on Friday they sighted two schooners and on Saturday two more.  On the former day they rowed to one of the schooners and were within a quarter of a mile of where the craft laid when the fog shut down and the vessel was lost to them.

On Saturday they attempted to row to one which was lying at anchor.   They got so close the the craft that they could plainly see the man at the wheel and McComiskey with an oil jacket lashed to an oar, stood on a thwart and waved it as high as his strength would permit, but just at that time they heard the throb of the vessel's motors starting and it steamed away and again their hopes were gone.   To add to McComiskey's discomfort, he lost his cap during the first night they were adrift and for a head covering Rose cut the front out of his sweater.  That McComiskey put on his head, then tore the lining from his oil jacket with which he covered the piece of sweater and then tied it securely with a piece of trawl line.

McComiskey is marred and has a wife and four children living here.  He has been over 30 years fishing, 13 of them out of Gloucester and Boston.  This was, in all those years his first experience in going astray, but during the war he was in a vessel which fell a victim of a German submarine operating off this coast.  That experience, he said, positively had nothing on the one through which he had just passed.

Rose is unmarried and resides with his mother.  He has been fishing out of this port and Boston for 21 years and has had three previous experiences in going adrift, but the longest of those was only for a day and a night.   Several years ago, Rose states, he was for a few years dory mate with Capt. Theriault.

After arriving at Clark's Harbor it was learned that Capt. Theriault put into Pubnico on Friday to report the loss of his men.  By telephone he made enquiries all along the coast, but was unable to get any tidings.  Early on Sunday morning the Grand Marshal left Pubnico and must have passed out of Lobster Bay about the time that McComiskey and Rose made into Clark's Harbor.  The men are loud in their praises of the people of Clark's Harbor and the hospitality which was given them.  On their arrival doctors were summoned and as McComiskey showed symptoms of a fever, every care was given him.  To Mr. and Mrs. Nickerson, who so generously took the men into their home, providing clothing and beds, they are deeply grateful.


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