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The Raymonde

 

February 17, 1938

Local Halibuter Hove Down;
One of Crew Swept to Doom
Sch. Raymonde Limps Back to Port After Harrowing Experience on St. Peter's - Albania Muise, Unfortunate Man
Cook is Badly Burned

Lashed by an 80-mile-an-hour gale and heavy northwest snowstorm while at anchor on St. Peter's bank last Friday morning, the local 84-foot auxiliary schooner Raymonde, Capt. Carl O. Olsen, was hove down.

Albania Muise, 44 years, was swept to death, all 12 dories smashed, the entire starboard rail from the forerigging aft ripped away, and damage to the extent of $10,000 done the vessel before she righted herself an hour later.

Six hours later, the craft was again hove down on her port tack but came out of it without further damage.  The 23 men in the crew were forced to bail out the ship which had filled with water over the top of the engine, when the pumps were temporarily put out of commission.  Robert Spinney of Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, cook, was badly burned on both arms, and his face battered when he was caught as he was preparing breakfast in the galley.  He was given first aid.  Three men, including the captain, came close to being drowned in their bunks when the seas smote the vessel, while Charles "Pickaxe" Deveau, 50, who was swept into the waters with Muise, barely managed to survive as he clung to the stanchion and was later rescued by his dorymate, Jimmy Dover.

The crew fought the storm for 24 hours more and finally set their course for home, steering by a dory compass at 12 noon Saturday, arriving at Boston Fish Pier at 3 o'clock yesterday afternoon, their American flag at half mast.

The Raymonde was dogged by hard luck from the time she left here Tuesday morning, January 25 on her first halibut trip of the season.   They  had no sooner arrived on the fishing grounds when the engine gave trouble and they were forced into Sydney, N. S. for repairs.

The craft make one set on St. Peter's last Wednesday, securing about 3000 pounds of halibut, and another Thursday, taking the same amount.  The sea abounded with halibut, the skipper said.  The storm began about 6 o'clock Thursday morning when a southeasterly breeze gave them promise of what was to come.  The Raymonde had 400 fathom of cable out and intended riding out the gale.  Then the breeze swung over to the northwest accompanied by blinding snow, and the wind whipped up the sea at an 80 mile an hour clip.  The seas increased in fury and at times swept over the top of the masts.

Deveau and Muise were assigned to the watch early Friday morning, with Deveau on the weather side, and Muise on the lee side of the pilot house.  Theirs was a bitter experience as the wind-swept spray froze on the rigging in the sub-zero weather.  Along about 4, the storm reached its height, and one mountainous sea smothered the vessel and hove her down until the tip of the masts were bathed in the sea.  The pilot house was ripped off its base and was carried into the sea along with Deveau, while Muise was crushed below the waves by the force.  He was never seen again, for weighted down by his boots and oilskins, he didn't have a chance.  Muise was unable to swim, but no amount of skill in swimming would have saved him from his fate.

The sea raked the vessel from stem to stern, and tore off every scrap of rail on the starboard side, leaving the stanchions bared to the attack.  Deveau though stunned vaguely recalls grasping a wire holding the pilot house and then being slapped back by the receding sea to a point where he could make a frantic grab for a stanchion.  His cries of "Save me! Save me!" though heard above the roar of the wind by some, could not be answered, as all men below decks were tumbled from their bunks into a rising tide of water flooding their quarters, and had to look sharp to save themselves.  They thought their day had come.

Capt. Olsen recalled that as he was slammed from his bunk to the opposite side of the ship, he was pinned there by the force of the water.

The skipper recalled a similar experience happening to him on this same spot at about the same time of the month of February in 1915 when he was in command of sch. Fannie M. Prescott, halibuting.  The vessel was hove down, but she snapped back quickly.

This time, however, the craft was more gradual in coming back, and only returned to a 45 degree list, remaining in this perilous position for all of a half hour.   It was not until she started to return to this tricky position that the men were able to go above deck.  Johnny Sheehan managed to reach the deck and succeeded at great risk to his life, reaching after section and smashing away cable to give the vessel a better chance to right herself.  The skipper had the vessel brought around before the wind, and finally the vessel came to, and the first part of the danger was over.

The cook was badly hurt but refused to surrender, taking a hand with the rest to save the vessel.  Randall Babson and Adolph Burke in the same bunk forward, came close to being drowned when the seas filled their quarters, but they managed to lift themselves higher than the waters until the craft righted itself.   William Shields, the engineer, was in the engine room at the time, and was hit in the eyes by both hot oil and water, and was partially blinded for several hours.

The coal pen had broken open in the mad crash and coal had filled the pumps putting them out of commission, while the engine, its top even covered by water, could not be operated to start the pumps going in that quarter.  The skipper ordered every man to bail with buckets with all speed to clear the ship.  They worked like Trojans for seven hours at this, and it was not until noon Friday that the sea was poured from the craft.

The storm was still raging and at 11 0'clock Friday noon, the Raymonde was hove down on the port tack to a pitch of 45 degrees.  It looked as if her final hour had come and that all hands would be lost.  They had no dories, their riding sails had been ripped clean away, and the foreboom and foregaff torn off as if so much kindling.  The craft snapped out of it quickly on the second narrow escape, however, and for 24 hours more they ran the vessel off to escape the pounding seas.  The compass was lost when the pilot house went overboard.  With a dory compass, Capt. Olsen guided the vessel toward Boston.

The force of the sea that smote the vessel that morning can best be estimated by the fact that the foregaff was twisted around the top of the foremast as if it were matchboard.  On the second attack that day, the metal doghouse leading to the fo'c'stle was skewed around and twisted out of shape.

Every tub on deck, all other gear, the pilot house, 12 dories, were swept into the sea by the mountainous waves.  Capt. Olsen states that it is the worst experience he has had in all his time of fishing.  He did not expect to return home in her.  He had the highest praise for his men and their conduct.   It was their courage and hardihood that brought the vessel back to her home port.   He felt they should be rewarded by the proper parties for doing this, when they could have more easily landed her at St. Pierre, only 100 miles away, with consequent added expense.

Hundreds visited the Atlantic Supply company wharf this morning to see the crippled vessel, which came here last night after selling her 6000 pounds of halibut at Boston for close to $1000.  The crew were busily breaking away the ice from the rigging here, tons of it being smashed away and shoveled into the harbor.

Insurance on the Raymonde is carried through the local agency of Warren A. Elwell.

 

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