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
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.