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Pumped Seven Days

 

January 29, 1929

Pumped Seven Days to Keep Craft Afloat

For seven days and seven nights, each 24 hours seemingly but a few steps nearer to eternity, Capt. Wallace Parsons and his crew of seven men on this local schooner Thomas S. Gorton worked with might and main to keep their craft afloat, and finally reached a point of desperation where each donned a life preserver and was willing to take his chance with the seas rather than remain on the nearly submerged craft, according to the latest information reaching here from Halifax, N. S., telling of the horrors the men went through before they were rescued.

The Gorton, with about 1000 barrels of salt bulk herring below decks, left Bay of Islands, N. F., on January 19, bound home.  Barely had she poked her nose into the gulf, than a smashing 75 mile storm hit her fair and square, staggering the vessel and causing her to be blown off of her course.  That night, with practically no letup in the velocity of the wind, the little craft, depending wholly n sail power to keep her on her course, was smashed and battered until the jib and foresail were torn to shreds and the foreboom smashed.  And as though this were not damage enough, a heavy sea boarded her and carried away both dories, the only avenue of escape from the thoroughly beaten craft. With that courageous spirit so many times exemplified by those who go down to the sea for their livelihood, Capt. Parsons kept his crew at their task, striving with might and main to win an apparently losing battle with the elements.

Another wave pounded at her hull followed by a "mountain of water" and her planks, badly weakened by the strain, gave way allowing the water to pour in torrents, soaking into the salt of the herring, and causing the craft to settle still deeper in the seas which washed her deck at every plunge and kept the men busy hanging on to life lines to keep from going over the rail.

For seven days and seven nights, Capt. Parsons and his crew pumped until they were nearly exhausted, the pumps having to be worked at a rate of 2500 strokes an hour, the vessel running before the wind with but a reefed foresail, itself tattered some by the force of the blow, and narrowly escaped being blown ashore at Cape Anguille, on the Newfoundland coast.

What happened on the following days will not be known until Capt.. Parsons and his crew arrive home, but early yesterday morning, while H. M. S. Dauntless was patrolling off Halifax, she came upon the Gorton, rail deep in the water, flying a signal of distress with the American flag Union down in the rigging.  Steaming close to the Gloucesterman, the ships' crew found the fishermen with life preservers around their body, and as the British destroyer hove alongside, and the men realized that rescue was at hand, they broke down completely.

The Dauntless radioed ashore for assistance and stood by the Gorton until the Canadian government steamer Margaret came out from Halifax, and took the Gorton in tow.  It was a happy gang of fishermen who went up Halifax harbor, where they knew there was food and sleep awaiting them after their struggle.  Capt. Parsons, in an interview said, "It was the happiest moment in my life when the rescue ship hove in sight, for without her we would have all been lost."

The Gorton will haul out on the marine slip at Dartmouth today, and all details of repairs have been left in Capt. Parsons' hands by the Gorton-Pew Fisheries Company, owner of the vessel, who stated today that the craft would be repaired and her journey homeward resumed.

 

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