Out of Gloucester


January 23, 1935

Crew of Elise Forces to Row to St. Pierre
Twenty-Five Year Old Craft Once Trophy Defender
Succumbed When Seams Opened Up

Fighting a storm-swept, frigid sea, Capt. Levi Kearley and his crew of six men in the former local sch. Elise, renamed the Elise E., rowed for 48 hours to land at St. Pierre, Miquelon, late Monday night, after abandoning their craft 48 miles offshore when she opened up her seams and sank.

The 25-year-old schooner, built at Essex by the late Arthur D. Story, was unable to withstand the constant battering of the sea that she had taken since she left this port, Sunday January 13, bound for home in Belleoram, in ballast.  The Elsie was commanded by Capt. Marty Welch in the international race off Halifax, N. S., against the Canadian champion sch. Bluenose, Capt. Angus Walters in 1931, when the Bluenose wrested the trophy away from Gloucester.  The craft was insured through a Canadian company.

Capt. Kearley's crew included al Newfoundlanders as follows:  Albert Mills, mate; Nathan Rose, cook; Horatio Kearley; Harold Sheaves,; Cyril Osburne and William John Poole.   The craft was owned principally by William A. Burdock of Belleoram who bought her for $5000 from Gorton-Pew Vessels company of this city.  The latter had received her with the purchase of the Frank C. Pearce Fish company.

The Elise E. came here from  Bay of Islands, N. F., last month with a cargo of herring for Gorton-Pew.  She had a stiff skirmish with the sea on the trip, losing both her dories, and having one of her sails ripped and torn.

She sailed on the 13th of this month, catching a fair wind and had almost arrived at her back door when the continual smashing of seas over her, opened up the seams and filled her in quick time during late Saturday night, while she was 48 miles off St. Pierre.  Capt. Kearley ordered the men into the two dories at once, and they began the long hard pull to land.  It was a grueling battle with the elements doing their best to end their struggle at sea, but their years of training on the water stood them all in good stead, and they suffered the privations of hunger, and bitter cold, to finally sight land late Monday night, almost 48 hours later.  They were all given food and shelter and cared for by the island's fisherfolk, and then left for their homes in Newfoundland, glad to be alive after their valiant struggle.

Capt. Kearley's brother, Capt. Aaron Kearley, had the misfortune of losing his vessel, sch. Jean Smith, off Codroy, N. F., on Sunday, December 23,1934, while en route to Gloucester from Bay of Islands with a cargo of herring.  He and his crew also had to row to shore, only they had but eight miles to got before they touched land.  The Smith's rudder post broke, causing the boat to wallow helplessly in heavy seas, and she filled quickly and sank, taking cargo and all.

The Elise has had  a most colorful history.   She was built for the Atlantic Maritime company of this port in 1910, being launched on May 9th of that year.  Her first commander was Capt. William Forbes, who went dory handlining.  She had no engine at the time.   Capt. Alden Geele then took her in the bait bank codfishing game, and it was not very long before she gained the name of being the queen of the fleet, because of her speed.  When she was secured by the Frank C. Pearce Fish company about 1919, they installed a 100 horsepower engine in her, and fitted her out for dory trawling with Capt. Joe Sears, now of sch. Babe Sears, as skipper.  Capt. Morton Selig, now skipper of the Boston beam trawler Illinois, afterward took her and sailed from this firm.   The late Frank C. Pearce, an enthusiast and zealous worker in the interests of international racing, was very fond of this craft, and always regarded her highly as a well-built and fast schooner.

Then came the second year of the revived international fishing races, when everyone was excited over the event due to the sterling victory by Capt. Marty Welch in sch. Esperanto over the Canadian sch. Delawana the preceding Fall.  Capt. Marty, who at present is convalescing from a grave illness, was again sought to take the wheel of the races and with him she won the local elimination race off Gloucester against four able contenders.  Capt. Ben Pine was in the sch. Philip P. Manta in that elimination series.

Meanwhile, Capt. Walters had beaten eight contenders in an elimination race off Halifax in his craft, sch. Bluenose, and was ready for the event with the Elise which was held Saturday, October 22, 1921, and again the following Monday.  The Bluenose took both races, though they were hard fought.  The Elise's engine was removed in 1931 for good.


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