Capt. Ben Pine Dies After
Funeral Services Thursday P. M. For Gloucester's Famous
Capt. Ben Pine, of
international fishermen's racing fame, beloved by thousands everywhere, passed away in his
70th year, yesterday morning at 7.50 o'clock at his home, 24 Wonson street, Rocky Neck.
He was a real Gloucesterman in every sense of
the word. Gloucester's interests were first and foremost in his every action
throughout a life that was dedicated for good to his fellow-man. His loss will be
mourned wherever true sailor-men gather.
Ben Pine was born at
Belloram, Nfld. on September 10, 1883, the son of the late Owen and
Sarah (Cluett) Pine. He came to Gloucester at the age of 10. For
years, he went fishing out of Gloucester in the dory haddocking business, and took his
chances in winter fishing on the banks of the North Atlantic in all-sailing schooners
along with his dory-mates of Gloucester.
His sincere admiration for the Gloucester
schooner under canvas was begun in these early days and remained with him throughout his
day. Along with other leading Gloucester business men, including J. Norman
Abbott, Joseph Langsford and Charles A. Steele, he formed the
Atlantic Supply Co, in 1922 at 33 Rogers street, opposite Porter street. Here for
many years, the firm outfitted fishing vessels, including mackerel seiners, dory
haddockers, halibuters, swordfishermen, and in later years, the modern Diesel-powered
draggers. Capt. Ben himself owned into many of the fishermen of the
past and present.
"Piney", as he was
familiarly known to many of Gloucester's skippers and fishermen, was always ready to lend
a helping hand to a young fisherman who wished to start on a career of commanding a
fishing vessel. There are several leading Gloucester skippers active today who got
their first opportunity to take the wheel because Ben believed they
should be given a chance to try their fortune. Ben's knowledge of fishing
in its every phase was profound and he imparted it willingly to all.
His ability to properly dock a vessel, no
matter what the conditions was marveled at by waterfront men everywhere. His
knowledge of fishing, of boats, and of men was of such a degree as to win the respect of
leaders in the fishing industry. His counsel in this regard was sought by such blue
water sailors as Commander Donald H. MacMillan of Arctic fame, by Capt.
Irving Johnson of the world-encircling voyager Yankee,
and by many other Gloucester men.
Gloucester had already come to love and esteem
this quiet-spoken Newfoundlander long before he came into national prominence. It
was the international fishermen's races which focused nation-wide attention on him.
These races had hit the headlines back in the Fall of 1920, when a hardy old Gloucester
salt, the late Capt. Martin C. Welch, came home
from a fishing trip, then sailed the sch. Esperanto to Halifax,
N. S., there to accept a challenge from H. W. Dennis, publisher of the
Halifax Herald, to meet the Canadian fishing sch. Delawanna,
Capt. Tom Himmelmann, out of Lunenburg, N. S. for a trophy and a $4000
Mr. Dennis had in mind,
promotion of international good-will. Out of these races came a sincere exchange of
good fellowship between the two Gloucesters, that of Massachusetts and that of Nova
Scotia, for Lunenburg from which the racing craft came, soon was hailed as the
"Gloucester of the Maritime Provinces."
Marty took the Delawanna
into camp and in the following year, the celebrated Lunenburg salt banker Bluenose
with the argumentative Capt. Angus Walters, now a dairy-man
in Lunenburg, at the wheel, wrested the trophy in a tow-out-of-three series against
another noted Gloucester schooner, the Elsie, again with Capt.
Welch at the helm.
Capt. Ben had been actively
interested in the reaching from the start. He was himself a master in handling a
vessel under sail. He had no trouble whatever in mustering a crew of old sailor-men
to shi side when in the Fall of 1922, he entered the Gloucester sch. Columbia
in the international race against Capt. Angus and the Bluenose.
Ben has often spoken of the
Columbia as " the finest piece of wood" ever to show its
"highs" out of Gloucester. He would argue for hours with anyone who
thought otherwise, nor would he ever admit that the Dutchman Bluenose
was its superior. Ben and his men sailed the Columbia
to Halifax, in the Fall of 1923 to get that trophy away from the Lunenburger.
Records show that Capt. Ben and the Columbia won
the series but as happened often in this international racing, Capt. Angus
failed to agree on several points, and sailed for home "in a huff."
Because of the dispute, Capt. Ben declined the trophy and left for
dory haddocking, was lost with all hands off Sable Island in 1927.
The thought of that trophy remaining in Nova
Scotia, was always a thorn in the side of the Gloucester waterfront. Many including
Capt. Ben Pine knew that the Bluenose
could be beaten. Among these was another racing enthusiast, Mrs. Gertrude L.
Thebaud of New Jersey, a summer resident, who decided that another Gloucester
fisherman should be built on Arthur Dana Story's stocks in Essex, to
challenge the champion. Thus the racing fishing sch. Gertrude L. Thebaud
was born. The cost was some $80,000. Capt. Pine was delegated
as its manager and co-owner.
The Thebaud from
that snowy St. Patrick's day in 1930 that she slid down the cradle in Essex town, became
one of the best known Gloucester
fishing craft of all time. Its picture along with that of Capt. Ben
hit the front pages at various times of newspapers all over the world. She went
fishing out of Gloucester that year and by Fall was raring to meet the Bluenose.
The races were held off Gloucester in October 1930, and the Thebaud
with Capt. Pine in command was the winner. But the trophy was not
Capt. Pine again challenged
the Bluenose in the Fall of 1931, the races to be held off
Halifax. With a fair and brisk wind all the way, the Thebaud established
a new record time for sailing vessels in that run to Nova Scotia, taking only 30 hours, in
what to all aboard, was a memorable voyage. However, honors off Halifax went to
Capt. Walters, and the Bluenose and the trophy
remained in the Maritimes.
Thousands upon thousands of inches of news and
magazine copy were written about all these fishermen's races, mostly because both Capt. Pine
and Capt. Walters were colorful mariners, both ready for a
genial argument, both possessing the full color of the sea and of seafaring men.
Both knew sails in all its potentialities, knew hull design and how to get the most out of
their craft under light or heavy wind conditions. Ben with his
kindly expletives could punctuate his remarks with a heatedness that drove home every
point he wished to make. Ben's nautical choice of expletives was like a blessing to
all on the receiving end.
It was not until seven years later that the
final series of races were held between the Thebaud and the Bluenose.
Capt. Angus brought her to Gloucester where she hauled out on
Parkhurst's marine railways in October for an overhauling before the big event.
Again it was Bluenose
vs. Thebaud, Angus vs. "Piney"
and the latter two kept the newsboys a whirling with copy that flooded the telegraph
wires. The course was twice around which caused Angus to dub it the
"merry-go-round" course and he wasn't going to have any part of it. The
Bluenose retained her championship. To cap it all, some celebrated
pranksters managed to "kidnap" the famed and beautiful trophy, which came close
to causing an "international crisis" of a sort. The trophy, however, was
later restored and went back to Halifax.
Both the Thebaud and
the Bluenose came to inglorious ends in Caribbean waters.
The Bluenose was wrecked on the Haitian coast in 1946, while the
Thebaud came to grief on the breakwater at LaGuaira, Venezuela
Capt. Pine sailed the Thebaud
to the nation's capital in April 1933 with a delegation of Gloucester leaders aboard to
plead the cause of the Gloucester fisheries to President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
The latter with Mrs. Roosevelt, came down to the pier to meet Capt. Pine
and his delegation. Later that year, Capt. Pine took the Thebaud
to the World's Fair in Chicago as the Bay State;s official exhibition. The Bluenose
was there also. When President Roosevelt sailed into Gloucester
harbor in the sailing yacht Amberjack, in the early 30's, Capt. Pine
was a guest aboard the craft and presented the nation 's chief executive with an oil
painting of the Thebaud, which later graced the executive
The late Capt. Pine is
survived by his widow, the former Ray Adams, by a son, Wilson C.
Pine, mettalurgist with Universal Winding Co. of Cranston R. I.; a daughter, Alice,
wife of Roy G. Sutherland of King street, Rockport; a brother Roger
Pine of Reading, train dispatcher at North Station, Boston; Three grandchildren,
and two nephews.