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
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
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.