Out of Gloucester


 

April 14, 1943

Theodore Wolf Lost Life When Comber Raked Columbia

Swept overboard by a freak sea which struck the local dragger Columbia on Western bank about 12.20 o'clock Sunday morning, Theodore Wolf, 47 years, second engineer, was carried into the ocean to his death.

Announcement was made of the tragedy by Capt. Mathew S. Sears of this city, skipper of the Columbia on the latter's arrival at Boston Fish pier shortly before 8 o'clock this morning.  The Columbia's flag was at half-mast in tribute to the late engineer.

It was a cold and blustery night on Western bank, with a wet, driving snow and hail adding to the discomfiture of the men.  The crew were on deck dressing their day's catch of groundfish, when the sea, which did not appear to be much rougher than usual, suddenly "kicked up" and a heavy comber crashed aboard, knocking down Capt. David J. Pino, badly bruising him about the mouth, legs and arm.

"It had been snowing heavily for two days and a night," said Capt. Pino, "and shortly after midnight Sunday, the crew were amidships dressing the catch, while we were still towing the drags fishing.  Wolf and I were at the after hatch aft, trying to get the hatch opened so that we could put the dressed fish below in the hold.

"My hands were working at the hatch while Wolf was trying to pry off the metal ring securing the hatch.  The first thing I knew I saw this crazy sea coming at us.  I was between two wires and grabbed hold of one of them for support.  The sea that hit seemed to weigh a couple of tons onto me.  I was knocked flat, and the next thing I knew I heard the crew hollering that two men were overboard.  They thought I had gone overboard along with Wolf.

"I never saw what happened to Wolf after that sea hit, even though we had been right next to each other before that.  I know the crew came over to me and helped me to my feet.  The sea had flooded the schooner but the worst force of the sea had hit aft and so the rest of the crew were unhurt and the boat was all right.  My mouth was bleeding and my legs and arms were all black and blue and I was soaked through."

"Capt. Sears had us cruise around the area for a long time trying to sight Wolf but no one ever saw anything of him afterward.  Then we decided it was best to cut the trip short and return home.   We were all upset by what had happened, for Wolf was very much liked by all the gang."

The craft had fair weather on the trip home and docked at Boston Fish pier with 70,000 pounds groundfish between 7 and 8 this morning.

Theodore Wolf was well liked along the entire waterfront and was rated as a first-class marine engineer.  Born in Berlin, Nova Scotia, near Liverpool, he had come to this port as a young man and gone fishing much of the time.   He had also been employed at the Atlantic Supply company wharf for nine years and was Capt. Ben Pine's "right-hand" man in seeing to it that the vessels were kept in condition and engines were in order.

When the Columbia, high-liner of the local dragger fleet, started fishing this past January, Wolf was selected as second engineer to assist Bertram L. Hemeon, chief engineer.  Wolf had gone engineer in the past aboard several vessels including the dragger Ruth and Margaret.  He had gone with the late Capt. Ralph Webber in the Florence K., years age.

 

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