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Nine Fishermen Dragged into Briny


Wednesday, July 31, 1935

Carried Under Water with Seine
When Sunk by Load of Fish
All Saved from Impromptu Plunge

Nine fishermen members of the crew of the local mackerel seining sch. Mary F. Curtis, Capt. David R. Keating, had a thrilling experience Monday morning when attempting to purse a large school of fish 40 miles southeast by south of Highland Light.

The school estimated to have included close to 80,000 pounds of mackerel suddenly went to the bottom and took the seine, seine boat and every man in the boat under the water and out of sight, until fortunately the seine broke apart sufficiently to let the fish escape, and release the captive fishermen who came to the surface, clinging to the corks on the seine.

The seiner which had been fishing since a week ago Monday made a sorry trip, arriving yesterday afternoon with but 13,500 pounds of mackerel, caught before the accident.  She discharged them at the Pew branch of Gorton-Pew Fisheries.

The Curtis sighted the large school about 9 o'clock Monday morning, and immediately began setting around the fish.  In the seine boat were William Nickerson, John Clark, the dean of them all, Alphonse Herrick, Joseph McPhee, William Clancy, Alton, son of the late Capt. Percy Firth, a well-known seiner, William Frelick, Spurgeon Rayfuse and Otto Kappano.

Capt. Keating had hardly stepped aboard the seiner from the seine boat when the accident occurred.  The heavy sea which was running at the time gave the men a tussle to complete their work, when all of a sudden, the 40 tons of mackerel took it into their heads that a ton of seine was not going to deter them from escaping capture, and as a unit, they plunged for Davy Jones locker.  With them went the seine and the seine boat, and none of the nine men had a chance to jump before the boat was submerged in a hurry.

Capt. Philip S. Keating, the engineer, had hardly left the deck when returning, he looked overboard, and was struck dumb when he failed to see any sign of the men or boat.  He says that less than a minute transpired before up shot the seine with everyone of the men clinging desperately onto it.  All were clothed in their heavy oilskins and rubber boots and had no chance to strike out for the boat.  Some had presence of mind to cling to the corks to keep themselves afloat, while others were soon advised to do so by the engineer.

Bill Clancy, one of those who were unable to swim, even if he could have shaken off his hip boots, heard Capt. Phil's cry to rest on the corks, and move his feet as if he were walking.  He did so, and when picked up by the skipper, Capt. Dave, he remarked that he didn't mind it a bit, and could have kept afloat for a week.   Nehemiah Worthern, the cook, was the third man aboard.

Capt. Dave, with the others' aid, soon had a small boat launched and within 10 minutes, all were safely aboard again, getting dried before the range.  Only one of the nine suffered any ill effects from the undesired submarine voyage, but after a rest and nourishment, he regained his usual good health.

The crew labored all day to save what was left of their seine, and also their seine boat, which shot from the ocean bottom soon after they had come up with the seine.  The boat appeared at the surface of the water, standing up on end.   After gathering their apparatus, they made for post, arriving here yesterday afternoon.


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