Out of Gloucester


December 15, 1960

Dragger Missing at Sea - Local Man is Skipper
Huge Search for Agnes & Myrnie

Coast Guard planes today were searching a white-capped sea off Block Island for a 57-foot dragger feared lost in this week's storm.   A local skipper is one of three men aboard the Gloucester-owned Agnes and Myrnie, last seen at the start of the blizzard Sunday afternoon.   The 34-year-old vessel is captained by Francis Foote and owned by his father, Capt. Frank Foote of Gloucester.

The Agnes and Myrnie formerly a Gloucester boat, fishes out of Newport.  The vessel was last sighted about 40 miles south of Block Island by the dragger Dauntless.   The Agnes and Myrnie was hauling back at the time, and planned to follow the Dauntless to shelter at Block Island.

When the Newport-based craft did not arrive at Block Island, the Dauntless skipper figured she was riding out the storm at sea.  Attempts to contact her Monday by radio were unsuccessful, however, and the Coast Guard was notified yesterday.

The search area extends about 100 miles south of Block Island and is 200 miles wide, Coast Guard Search and Rescue in New York said this morning.  Two planes, one from Brooklyn and the other from Quonsett, are combing the area.  The Coast Guard said that the Agnes and Myrnie was not broken down or in difficulty when sighted by the Dauntless at about 4:30 p.m. Sunday.

A radio check of ports from Newport to New York failed to find any boat that had seen the Agnes and Myrnie since that time Sunday afternoon, the Coast Guard said.

The two men aboard with Francis Foote are Bill Sampson of Dorchester and John Mansell of Newport, according to Capt. Frank Foote here.  Capt. Foote usually skippers the boat himself but has been reportedly ill recently with a virus.   The 38-year-old Francis has been fishing aboard this father's boats for the past 14 years, according to brother Earle Foote of Gloucester.  Francis frequently takes over as skipper, he said.

Capt. Foote purchased the dragger from A. C. Weiderman of Gloucester in August 1959.  She was built in Kennebunkport, Me., in 1926 by Capt. William Harting, also of Gloucester, who named her for his mother, Agnes, and his wife, Myrnie.

December 19, 1960

Disappearance of Dragger A Mystery; Search Still On

The Coast Guard in New York and a worried Gloucester father sitting at home by his telephone were still trying today to solve the mystery of the disappearance of the dragger Agnes and Myrnie.   She was last reported by another fishing vessel as hauling back her nets just before the blizzard struck eight days ago, off Block Island, R.I.

A search by Coast Guard ships and aircraft covering 27,000 square miles has not provided any clue, although several pieces of wreckage have been found.  Such wreckage is described over the telephone to Capt. Frank Foote, but by this noon he had not identified any of the wreckage as from his vessel.

A life ring found, for example, had no name.   Capt. Foote said the life rings on the Agnes & Myrnie had the name of his vessel on them.  A portion of the cabin of a boat was another example.  "They told me this noon they were still searching, " said Capt. Foote.  "I'm still clinging to hope for good news.  There are a lot of steamers down that way.  In the snow, a steamer might have run her down and no one on the steamer know about it."

Aboard the Agnes & Myrnie were Frank Foote, 38, skipper, William Sampson, 55, of Dorchester, and Charles Mansell, 60 of Newport, R.I. 

The elder Capt. Foote said there were two new dories on the Agnes & Myrnie.  She was recently painted and a new propeller installed.  She had a new fathometer, and all the usual electronic navigation aids except radar.  "I heard from her twice on this trip," he said.  "But the night of the storm I never heard form her."  He assumed that she was on the way into port.

December 21,1960

Debris No Clue to Missing Dragger

Two life jackets and a boat bailer were tantatively identified yesterday as belonging to the Gloucester-owned dragger Agnes and Myrnie when they were found floating in Point Judith Harbor.

However, this morning the Coast Guard said that the owner, Capt. Frank Foote of Gloucester, and an unidentified ex-crew member had both said that all life jackets and equipment aboard the vessel were "clearly marked".  Neither the life jackets or the bailer were marked, according to the Coast Guard.

A formal Coast Guard invesitgation has been scheduled for January 4 at the Castle Hill Light Station here (Newport). Last night the Coast Guard told Capt. Foote that shipping vessels on the coast have been nitified to watch for wreckage of the dragger.  The Coast Guard search and rescue headquarters in New York told Capt. Foote that shipping has been notified.

Capt. Foote said he thought it strange that no trace of the vessel has been found.  "If she went down, it seems as though there should be some wreckage," he added.  "Those two new dories should float, and life belts and other stuff like that." 

Foote has refused to give up hope that the dragger may be found.  His son, Frank, 38, and William Sampson, 55, of Dorchester and Charles Mansell, 60, of Newport, R.I., were aboard when the craft was last reported December 11.

Also aboard was a big dog, a five year old boxer named Nicky, on the boat since he was a puppy.

[No trace of the vessel or crew was ever found.]


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