February 27, 1952
Another Dragger Sinks
Three Fishermen Saved Northeast of Thachers
Mary Alice Sprang A Leak Following Fire
Men Rescued by St. Francis
Three Gloucester fishermen forced to take to their dory after their 48-foot auxiliary
fishing dragger Mary Alice had filled and sunk, six miles
northeast of Thachers, Rockport, about 8 oclock last night, were rescued an
hour or so later by the 70-foot auxiliary fishing dragger St. Francis
whose crew was attracted to the survivors by the rays from a flashlight held by the sunken
boats owner-skipper, Capt. John M. Francis, Jr., 38, of Gloucester.
Capt. Francis crew included his son, John M. Francis 3rd,
18 and Frederick R. Sheehan, 52. The trio were landed at the State Fish
pier in this port at 10.45 oclock last night by the St. Francis
whose skipper is Capt. Tony Bertolino. Capt. Francis estimated
the loss at $17,000 partially covered by insurance.
Capt. Francis, who has been skipper of much larger fishing draggers
and who plans to return to them as skipper, bought the Mary Alice
last July from parties in Point Judith, R. I. They were shore dragging, and left early
yesterday morning for the fishing grounds off Thachers.
They had some 700 pounds groundfish aboard when about 4.30 oclock, there was a
short circuit in the wiring, causing a flash fire. It looked serious for a moment, and the
skipper ordered the crew into the dory. However, no real fire resulted, and the skipper
got aboard again and took care of it, and the others returned aboard.
They were proceeding along, towing the drag for fishing when about 5 oclock, the
skipper said, "The dragger slowed down suddenly and rumbled like everything. We must
have struck something submerged but when she came out of it all right, I didnt give
it any more thought. Somewhat later, Sheehan went down into the engine
room and saw a lot of water there. He reported to me right away and we manned the pump.
Whatever struck us, must have forced a leak through the outside stuffing box around the
wheel. Then the pump went out of kelter and while we were making repairs to it, the
incoming water got ahead of us. That was close to 8 oclock. Our only chance was to
get into the dory again and we did. The Mary Alice sank within a
minute or so afterward. She went down mighty quick.
"The only thing I was able to get off the Mary Alice was
a flashlight and I kept this on, flashing it in every direction in an effort to attract
help. We must have been in that dory at least an hour - it seemed like ages, when the St.
Francis came down by us, bound for Boston with a trip of fish. They had seen
the rays of the flashlight. But for that, we would have spent the night out there."
Meanwhile, news of their plight was radioed into Boston division of U.S. coast Guard by
the St. Francis, and a party in New York picking up the message
on the short wave, telephoned to the skippers wife in this city that the three men
were rescued. It was the first news she had that anything was amiss. However, her anxiety
was not relieved until she learned that the three men were landed at the State Fish pier.
Capt. Francis said he had bought the boat primarily to help teach his
son how to fish and to have a boat for him to help him make a living. He himself had
planned later to return to the offshore draggers.