September 24, 1932
Look For Local Craft Three Weeks From
Sch. Patara, Capt. Matt
Critchell, of this port, laden with fish and a hundred barrels of cod oil, is
overdue, although her owners say that the situation is not unusual, on account of the
Wreckage of a dory known to have been carried
by the Patara, was found off Drum Head, N. S., giving rise to
reports that the schooner had been wrecked.
The craft left Labrador three weeks ago.
It is chiefly because of the presence of the oil that Capt. Ben Pine,
part owner of the craft, believed the craft safe. "She is one of three last New
England fishing schooners depending on canvas alone, " he said., "and recent
winds have not been favorable to a fast passage. We know that she covered at least
half the distance home and that would mean she was becoming lighter all the time, as brine
from the salted fish was being pumped overboard. Also, she had two recent spells of
heavy weather, and if she did encounter heavy going, her skipper had only to open a barrel
of oil to abate the seas.
"If the Patara had
foundered the barrels would have broken up and the oil spread all along the coast and some
one would have reported it. The Patara was well bound.
She was re-rigged and caulked before she sailed for Labrador and she was wearing a
new suit of sails. I am not giving her up."
October 7, 1932
Give Up Overdue Sch. Patara
Craft with Six Men and Boy Believed To Have Perished in
No Trace of Wreckage
Overdue a month today, the local freighting
schooner Patara, largest two-master on this coast, has been
officially give up as "lost" by Capt. Ben Pine of the Atlantic
Supply company, from which firm the vessel sailed. She carried a crew of six men and
a youngster from California, here on a vacation, and making his first trip to sea.
On August 13, in command of Capt. Matthew
L. Critchell of Dorchester, the Patara sailed form this
port for Labrador coast to load salt fish and cod liver oil. Her destination was
Domino Run, and at that port, she took on board 700,000 pounds of salt fish and 105
barrels of cod oil. She left Domino Run on September 3, headed for home, but was
forced into Long Point, Quebec, and left that port on September 7.
From then on, no one knows what happened, for
she simply seemed to sail straight into the atmosphere and disappear. No portion of
her cargo or broken oil barrels have been found, and the only definite evidence that the
owners have that she went down was the finding of a dory from the L. A. Dunton,
which was carried on the Patara's deck, off Drum Head, Nova
Reports have reached here from Halifax
recently that the master of the British steamer Hazelwood had
passed a wooden superstructure of a schooner off of Southern Labrador, and this is in
Capt. Pine's mind, the location where she would have been.
How the Patara went
to her doom no one knows, and no one probably will know, for there is not the slightest
possibility that the crew were picked up, for had they been, their whereabouts would be
known by now.
Just before the Patara sailed
on her last voyage, a youngster named Arthur Schmidt, 18 years old, asked
permission to sail on the schooner. He told Capt. Pine that he was
on a vacation, and his home was in San Francisco, and this is verified by the fact that
Capt. Pine has received a telegram from the boy's mother, asking if he
had sailed on the schooner. Capt. Pine wired back that he had
sailed on the Patara as a "guest."
The Patara was one of the
very few remaining schooners which depended wholly on sail. She was built about 10
years ago in Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia, and was used first in the fisheries and then for
rum-running. As a rum runner, she was apprehended by the Coast Guard and taken to
New York, where she was sold and purchased by the Atlantic Supply company, and later
brought here and sent salt fishing.
For about a year, however, she has been tied
up at the wharf of the John Chisholm Fisheries company, and early in August was put on the
railways, her seams caulked and made sea-worthy.
Capt. Matthew Critchell
signed on five men before he left here, all of whom gave their residences in this city,
except Schmidt, the boy passenger, and William Delaney,
who claimed Waltham as his home.
The crew list, as registered at the Custom
House, is as follows:
Capt. Matthew L. Critchell, Dorchester
James F. Hallett, Gloucester
Francis Lloyd, a native of Maine, but rooming in Gloucester
John Rose, Gloucester
William Delaney, Waltham
Philip Mason, Gloucester
Arthur Schmidt, San Francisco, California.
The Patara, aside from her cargo
of fish and oil, was valued at $12,000, and was partially covered by insurance.
Additional information provided September 1999 by James Johnson.
The Loss of
the schooner Patara
Many of us are intrigued, yes, fascinated by stories of the
sea...the joys the sorrows, even tragedies. This event which occurred off Drum Head in
September of 1932 is a story of loss, by the sinking of the schooner Patara and
her crew. In spite of this terrible tragedy, the resilience of the human spirit prevails.
During a recent visit to Port Bickerton I was given the
name of a vessel and a few facts about this ship. In an effort to find out more I started
searching for information which eventually led me to Blue Rocks in Lunenburg and
Gloucester in Massachusetts.
The schooner Patara was built in
Mahone Bay in 1921, owned by Ernst Shipping Company of that Town. She was typical of a
Lunenburg County vessel, well founded and well built. She was 132.8 feet long and weighed
180 gross tons.
She was pressed into the saltfish trade, and as all
Lunenburg vessels of that time, was soon fishing on the Grand Banks. Little is know about
her success or failures but as time passed we discover that the Patara
was soon engaged in running rum and illicit alcohol from St. Pierre to the U.S. Atlantic
East Coast. Prohibition was at its peak and fortunes could be made if one could
successfully land spirits on the coast without being apprehended by the US authorities.
Alas, the fate of the Patara was sealed after she was seized by
the US Coast Guard. Towed to New York she was sold to Atlantic Supply Company.
Gloucester became her home port and under the stewardship
of Captain Ben Pine she was once again in the saltfish and cod liver
trade. Her voyages would take her to Labrador for fish and many barrels of cod livers
which were destined for the markets of New England.
In 1932 while under the command of Captain Matthew
Critchley, originally from Belleoram in Newfoundland, she sailed from Labrador
loaded with fish and cod livers. Bad weather forced Captain Critchley to
put into Long Point, Quebec to wait out a storm. Accompanied by another schooner they
departed the St. Lawrence passing through the Straits of Canso. Again bad weather hampered
their passage but Captain Critchley pressed on.
The Patara completely disappeared
, although a dory bearing the name "L.A. Dunton" was
found off Drum Head along with some barrels of cod livers. The dory was know to have been
carried by the Patara. Sixteen men went down with that schooner,
mostly Maritimers. Captain Critchley left a wife and family in Bucksport.
I recently enjoyed a visit with Jean Critchley
Clothier, the youngest of Captain Critchley's daughters, a lady
now in her 70th year. She visited Drum Head and gazed over the ocean from a commanding
viewpoint... trying to make sense of her loss, some sixty six years ago.
She discussed with me at length the hardships she and her
family experienced with the loss of their father. Her mother... in later years told Jean
that on the day she was advised of the loss of the Patara, she had 10
cents in her pocket.
The strength of the human spirit knows no bounds... the
passage of time heals the wounds but the search for meaning continues in our lives.
Jean Critchley Clothier returned to Canada
after many years living in the US, residing in Murphy's Cove, Halifax County, she
continues to piece together the events of so long ago.