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The Mary F. Curtis


February 19, 1952

Another Dragger Lost  
Seven Men Stranded on Roseway, Near Shelburne
Mary F. Curtis Piled Up During Blinding Snowstorm Sunday Night

and Is Total Loss

Seven Gloucester fishermen are reported to be stranded on Roseway Island, near Shelburne, N. S., since Sunday night, when in a blinding snowstorm, their 49-year-old 101-foot Gloucester auxiliary fishing dragger Mary F. Curtis ran hard aground on the island and became a total loss, the latter being estimated at $60,000. Capt. Philip Giamanco, 54, of this city, was still seeking transportation to the mainland today, so as to return home. The loss was partially covered by insurance.

The Mary F. Curtis left here at 2 o’clock last Saturday afternoon bound for a trip of ocean perch along the Cape Shore region off Nova Scotia. She ran into the storm last Sunday and Capt. Giamanco decided to make for harbor at Shelburne and in the increasing fury of the storm grounded on the island. The seven men succeeded in getting shore. Details of their rescue were not available at noon.

First report of the vessel’s loss was received here yesterday afternoon by Mrs. Philip Giamanco, co-owner of the craft with Mrs. Rose Frontiero of Commercial street. Mrs. Giamanco received a telephone call from a Mr. Cheakston, agent of the Canadian Department of Transportation at Dartmouth, N. S. who advised her to contact the U. S. Coast Guard to take the men off the island. The men were being housed at the lighthouse on the Island from what could be learned.

In the crew were Capt. Giamanco; William Frank Ashburne, 57, engineer; Harold M. Wagsatt, 54, cook; William F. Enos, 32; Michael A. Favazza, 34; Robert Goodick, 32; and James Harris, Jr. of Gloucester.

Mrs. Giamanco telephoned to the Coast Guard headquarters at Boston where she was advised that since the men were safe and were outside of the United States, the task of attending to them was out of the jurisdiction of the Coast Guard and they advised her to contact the Canadian authorities to perform the mission. Mrs. Giamanco sought the aid of Lawrence J. Hart, manager of Gloucester Chamber of Commerce.

The Mary F. Curtis was launched at Essex in 1903 as a dory trawler for Gloucester parties. She spent her summers mackerel seining out of Gloucester, and for many years Capt. Dave Keating of this port was the skipper, while she was owned by Gorton-Pew Fisheries Co. Ltd. The latter firm sold the craft in 1939 to her present owners who had the boat converted into a dragger. Capt. Giamanco has been the skipper since then and went seining during the summer months, and dragging for ocean perch the rest of the year.

Mrs. Giamanco reported at noon that she had just received a telephone call from Capt. Giamanco at 11.40 o’clock this noon from Shelburne. The skipper said that he and his men were brought to the mainland in a lobster boat. He told her that the craft went ashore at 9.30 Sunday night, during the blinding snowstorm with a gale of some 50 to 60 miles an hour. The dragger was "smashed to smithereens" as he expressed it. He and his crew were barely able to escape with their lives, having to jump into the seas and wade a short distance to shore to save themselves. They lost all their possessions with the vessel. Capt. Giamanco reported that all the men were well, however, and had been cared for by the lighthouse keeper at Roseway Island. He said they would try to secure clearance so they can return home within a couple of days.

Manager Hart of the Chamber of Commerce talked by telephone this forenoon with Cabot Coville, United States Consul General at Halifax, N. S., who assured Mr. Hart that a cutter from the Royal Canadian Air Force was proceeding to Roseway to remove the skipper and crew to Shelburne where the ill-fated dragger’s owners could forward funds for passage home for the men.

[Later is was learned that the schooner hit a shoal about two hundred yards from shore and her crew were forced to take to a  dory.  Their boat capsized about thirty years from shore and the men had to swim through raging, bitterly cold seas to reach the beach.  After landing on shore, they had to walk three miles through brush, woods and swamps to get to one of the few buildings on the island.  There they were cared for by the lightkeeper.]

[The Mary F. Curtis was used in the filming of the movie Captains Courageous in October of 1935.  Commanded by Capt. Donald McCuish, she carried the cameras, film and other equipment.  The Curtis, in company with the schooner Imperator, sailed from Gloucester October 17 for Newfoundland waters, where scenes for the movie were filmed.  They returned to Gloucester November 22, 1935.  About 38,000 feet of film were shot on the voyage.]


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