Filey, Yorkshire – On the 10th of Feb., 1871 a very severe gale was experienced here, accompanied by a tremendous sea. About noon a vessel, which proved to be the schooner Mary, of North Shields, was seen inside the buoy off the Filey Brigg. She was dismasted and altogether in a disabled state, having been overtaken by the storm when off Flamborough Head. It was thought she must go down immediately, with all hands, as no Life- boat, it was considered, could get to her. Nevertheless it was at once resolved to make a strenuous effort to prevent such a sacrifice of human life. Accordingly, without loss of time, the Life- boat, which was all ready mounted on her carriage, was quickly drawn by six horses to the northward about half a mile, and was then launched, There was no difficulty in getting a crew from amongst the fishermen, for the brave fellows almost fought in their anxiety to get the life-belts and take part in the work of saving life. Meantime the vessel was drifting on through a frightful sea ; the Life-boat followed, and after a very severe pull gained her, just as she was going ashore, took off the master and crew of three men, and safely landed them amidst the cheers of hundreds of spectators. The poor men had given up all hope of being saved, although, to use the mate’s words, te he knew there was a gallant Life-boat and crew at Filey.” Their vessel sank soon after they had been saved by the Life-boat.
Donna Nook, Lincolnshire – On the 19th of Oct., 1869, during one of the worst gales experienced on this coast for years, the steam-whaler Diana, of Hull, was observed stranded on the Slate Run. The wind was blowing a perfect hurricane from the north at the time. The Life-boat North Briton was quickly manned and launched, and succeeded in bringing safely ashore twenty-five of the crew. The next tide the vessel went to pieces, and the valuable cargo of oil and whalebone was strewn along the shore. On the 27th of Oct., 1869, another severe gale sprang up from the N.N. E., and the barque Bertolemeo Cerruti, of Genoa, which was riding at anchor, was observed to drift rapidly on shore, the sea soon making a complete breach over her. The Life-boat was promptly launched ; but the sea, wind, and tide drove her to the southward at a fearful rate ; she was therefore run ashore again as quickly as possible, and plenty of help being at hand, she was taken on her carriage to windward of the wreck and launched again, but with the same result at first, all attempts to throw a line or buoy being of no avail. With heroic determination, however, the crew strenuously renewed their exertions, which were at last crowned with success, for, amid the most intense anxiety on the part of the crowds on shore, the boat, which was frequently seen to be thrown almost end-over-end by the heavy sea, was ob- served to linger, by which it was evident she answered to her anchor, which had been thrown out. She was then allowed to drift right under the bows of the wreck. Some of the shipwrecked men were on the bowsprit ready with ropes and chains, which one of the Life-boat men succeeded in grappling and in making fast to the boat. The sea at this time was running over the ship in a fearful manner, and two of the crew had a very narrow escape of being washed overboard. Now commenced the difficulty of getting the men into the Life- boat. It was a hard task, as they could only reach the Life-boat when she was under the bowsprit, and then only by lowering themselves by ropes. One fell into the sea, but was quickly hauled into the boat. One after another they dropped into the arms of the Life-boat men, until the whole of the vessel’s crew, fourteen in number, were got into the boat, which brought them safely to land. The vessel almost immediately began to break up, and soon afterwards not a vestige of her was to be seen ; and had not the Life-boat succeeded in reaching her at the time she did, all these shipwrecked foreigners would most probably have perished.
CaIste, Norfolk – On the morning of the 1st of Dec., 1869, about seven o’clock, the beachmen, during a strong wind from N. by E., with squalls, saw what appeared to be a dismasted vessel at the back of the Scroby Sands with signals of distress in the rigging. They at once proceeded off in the large Life-boat, the Birmingham, and found the upper part of a barque which, it appears, had struck on the Hasborough Sands about half-past ten o’clock the previous night. This portion had broken away, and drifted to the spot where it was seen from the shore, and by the time the Life-boat reached it, it had floated down the coast as far as Yarmouth. It consisted of the bulwarks (which on the lee side were under water), deck, and a few planks below, and was little more than a raft, but it had on it the whole of the crew, numbering fourteen men, of a wrecked barque of 447 tons, named the Helsingoe, of Elsinore. The poor fellows had been nine hours adrift on it in a terrible sea with the weather very cold. The difficulty of getting them off, in the midst of the heavy sea, was great, and the Life-boat was a good deal damaged, for, on account of the ship’s broken mainmast, spars, &c., the boat could not approach the wreck to leeward, and had to be taken to windward, and to get at the crew she had to drive alongside, and time after time she grated with great violence against the wreck, from which the ship’s bolts were projecting. Some of the Life-boat men said the boat would be dashed to pieces ; but others replied, “We must save the poor fellows !”‘ And ultimately, after gallantly exerting themselves for nearly an hour, the crew of the Life-boat had the great satisfaction of saving the whole of them. None but daring and experienced men could have accomplished this rescue. The boat was subsequently towed into Yarmouth harbour by a steamer, each side of the pier-head being lined with spectators.
The rescued men were then landed and taken to the Sailors’ Home. They were respectable and well- behaved men. The mate had his shoulder injured, and was taken to the Hospital, where he was afterwards seen very cheerful and happy. The hull of the ship, which had been left behind, afterwards floated off the sand, and finally came ashore southward of Gorleston Pier.
Margate – About half-past three o’clock on the morning of the 25th of Jan., 1871 while the wind was blowing strongly from the east, and during a heavy snow- storm, the brig Sarah, of Sunderland, bound from that port to Southampton with coal, and having a crew of six men on board, went on the Margate Sands. The wreck was not observed from the shore until about noon, the hull of the vessel being under water. As soon, how- ever, as it was noticed, the Quiver Life-boat was immediately launched, and proceeded to the spot, when the crew were found to have taken refuge in the foretop. With some difficulty, on account of the heavy sea running alongside the wreck, the six men were happily rescued from a watery grave ; two of them were very severely. frost- bitten in the legs, and it was not without much difficulty and danger that they were got into the Life-boat. However, the efforts of the boatmen ultimately proved successful, and all were safely brought ashore, and the two injured men at once placed under medical treatment. The Snow was lying some inches deep in Margate at the time. A lugger had attempted to get to the rescue of the Shipwrecked crew, but was unable to get sufficiently near to the wreck, through the heavy breaking seas, to render assistance and, no doubt, the poor men would have perished in the absence of the Life-boat and her gallant crew. About a fortnight later, the same Life-boat was able to effect the rescue of another Shipwrecked crew. A strong gale from the E.N.E. was experienced there on the 10th of February, and, about ten o’clock at night, a vessel was observed burning a tar barrel as a signal of distress, she apparently being on the Walpole Rock.
The Quiver was at once taken along the shore on her transporting-carriage to the lee side of the Longnose Rock, and launched through a very heavy surf to the vessel, over which the sea was then breaking. With some difficulty the crew of nine men were taken off by the Life-boat. The vessel was the brig Thessalia, of Whitby. The horses used to draw the Life-boat on its carriage, although accustomed to the work, could hardly be got to take the boat to the water’s edge on account of the strength of the wind and heavy rollers setting in, which at times completely covered them.
Walmer, Kent, Most admirable service was performed on the morning of the 16th of Oct., 1872, by the Walmer Life-boat Centurion, as will be seen by the following report furnished by her coxswain :–He says, “It was blowing hard from the southward, with a heavy sea on the beach, when I observed a vessel] on the Goodwin Sands ; I immediately assembled the boat’s crew and launched the Life-boat, and proceeded towards the Sands under a reefed storm foresail. On crossing the South Sand Heads in a tremendous sea, the boat filled seven or eight times, and two of our men were nearly washed overboard. After crossing the Sands we kept away towards the wreck, and on nearing her saw she was full of water, with the sea making a clean breach over her. Feeling it would be dangerous to go alongside, we let go the anchor to windward and dropped down towards her ; we could see the crew huddled together before the foremast, with the seas breaking over them, On reaching as near as possible, we managed – with the assistance of the loaded cane and line- -to get a rope to the vessel, and each man fastening it round his body, we hauled them through the broken sea ; but the foremast going, and the seas running higher, when two only had been saved by this means, the remaining two men took to the mainmast, where there was great difficulty in communicating with them ; but in about half an hour the main topmast rigging gave way, and having hooked the wreck of this, the men were induced to slip down it into the sea, and get hold of the rope that we had secured to the wreck. In this way the remaining two men were saved, making in all four men, the entire crew of the vessel. They were very much exhausted when taken into the boat. The wrecked vessel was the schooner Hero, of London, bound from Newcastle to Truro with a cargo of coal. In less than five minutes after the men were rescued from their perilous position, the wreck dis- appeared, and there was not a vestige of her to be seen. We lifted our anchor and proceeded towards the shore, where we hove up at 11 A. M., in the presence of a con- course of people who took hold of the capstan rope and hauled the boat up to the boat-house amidst the cheers of the people.” The crew spoke in great praise of the performance of the Life-boat on this occasion.
Kingsdowne, Kent – This Life-boat performed, in conjunction with the Walmer Life-boat, a very gallant and praiseworthy service a year or two since, as will be seen by the following account, which is taken from the depositions made by the coxswains and crews of the Walmer and Kingsdowne Life-boats : –
“On the morning of the 17th Dec., 1872, we were summoned by the firing of minute guns and other signals of distress from some vessel on the Goodwin Sands, and at 3 A.M. we launched from Talmer and Kingsdowne simultaneously in the Centurion and Sabrina Life-boats, the wind blowing heavy from S.S. W., weather thick with rain. We proceeded in the direction of the signals, and, after encountering a fearful sea, we discovered a large steamship on shore on the inner part of the Goodwin, known as the Callipers. At 4 A.M. boarded the said vessel, which proved to be the Sorrento screw steamship from the Mediterranean, with a cargo of barley, and bound to Lynn. The master asked us to remain and float the vessel, if possible. We put on board the greater part of both Life boat crews, who threw over cargo and carried out an anchor, with a view, if possible, of floating her off the Sands at flowing tide, but the wind and sea increasing, as the tide flowed, she soon became a total wreck, filling with water, and the heavy broken waves making a clean breach over her. At 11 A.M., thinking the two Life-boats, the Centurion and Sabrina, were insufficient to rescue the whole of the steamer’s crew, her ensign was hoisted, Union down, for more assistance, but none came, and at noon the Centurion Life-boat, which was then lying alongside, together with some of the steamer’s boats were swept away, and the Life-boat was much damaged in her bows by a huge wave breaking bodily over the steamer, sweeping all before it, and causing some of the ship’s boats to come in collision with the Centurion, which was immediately swept, with the rest of the floating wreckage, into the surf, and to the back of the Sands altogether, leaving the greater part of their crew on board the steamer. The Sabrina Life-boat was anchored a short distance to windward, and the coxswain seeing the disaster happening to the Centurion, and feeling assured that a heavy loss of life must immediately follow, and that amongst the sufferers must have been his three sons, who had voluntarily accompanied him in the Life-boat, and were put on board the steamer, to try and float her from off the Sands, ordered the Sabrina to be immediately run alongside, though it should cost his own life and the rest of his boat’s crew. This act was so successfully performed that the steamer’s captain and his crew of twenty men, together with the pilot and the Life-boatmen, immediately leaped on board the Sabrina, which, with the whole party of no less than forty-six persons, immediately sheered off, set a close-reefed foresail, and steered through the heavy boiling surf to the off edge of the Goodwin, where our brethren in the Centurion were awaiting us at anchor, and to whom we transferred a necessary portion of the steamer’s crew and Life-boatmen from the Sabrina, and then immediately proceeded, in company across the Sands in a very heavy sea, round the North Sand Head for Broadstairs, where we arrived in safety at 2.15 P.M.’
Penzance – The magnificence and terror of a gale on the rock- bound coasts of Cornwall can scarcely be exaggerated. The long impetuous swell of the great Atlantic, flinging itself on the rugged granite cliffs which guard the shores, is by its own violence broken into seething foam, and wakens up a wild roar of deepest diapason, full of majesty and strength. In the many sandy bays and coves which stud the sea board, the scene, though somewhat different, loses none of its fearful power. There the ocean billows dash onwards, until, with sound as of thunder, they burst upon the beach. When to the tumult of the elements is super added the struggle of some ship, whose crew in the very grip of death, strive for life, the excitement becomes intense. A few years since, on the 6th December, during a fearful gale from S.S. W., a horse, reeking with foam, galloped into Penzance, bearing a messenger with intelligence to Mr. Downing, the active and intelligent Hon. Sec. of the Life-boat Institution in the town, that a barque was embayed and in peril. The Sabbath bells were ringing, and congregations were assembling to worship Him whose voice was upon the waters ; but on the news, “Life in danger “‘. the quiet of the sanctuary was exchanged for the tumult of the storm, and hundreds were soon anxiously watching for the devoted ship, so that help might be afforded. “There she is !” cries one. “No, ’tis the mist.” Again and again are the watchers deceived, until at length a momentary lifting of the cloud shows the doomed vessel heading westwards, but making fearful leeway. And now nearer and nearer she approaches. “She is saved!” shout some : but the experienced saw that her fate was near. Good seamanship, stout anchor- chains, well-found gear–all were unavailing in that terrible strife, and soon she was drifting helplessly to the shore. “The Life-boat. -The Life-boat.”‘ Away, rumbling through the streets of quiet Penzance, manned by her brave crew, drawn by horses urged to full speed, away, hastens the boat of mercy adorned with the trophies of many saved crews. Not a moment is lost. She has been for hours in readiness, and now pursues her way to the rescue. Brave men are with her who have learned to look on danger without fear, and think only of duty. Husbands, fathers, brothers, sons, are in that breaking vessel in the jaws of death, and all other feelings are absorbed in the desire to save them. Tom Carbis, the coxswain, and Higgins, the second coxswain of the boat, are at their posts. The Hon. Secretary and some of the Committee are at theirs. Thousands of persons of every class and degree, includ- ing scores of women of all ranks, line the shore. The boat, borne by the rush of men and horses, traverses the yielding beach, the launching lines are manned, the boat dips her prow into the heavy seas, and cheered to the echo by the vast crowds around, she speeds on her perilous way. Not a word is spoken by the crew. Carbis holds the tiller, his firm face speaking his strong resolve, that he, like a true British sailor, will do his duty ; by his side Captain Cay, R.N., the Inspecting Commander of Coastguard, and Higgins, Coastguard man, the second coxswain ; and on they go with their brave crew, daring danger and death, to the rescue. While this was going on to the westward of the North Britain, a terrible event occurred between the barque and the shore to the eastward, at a distance of more than half a mile from the Life-boat. The captain of the barque had seen two open boats vainly attempt the rescue: Alas, he did not see the Life-boat. He therefore gave orders to lower one of the ship’s boats, which was immediately upset and stove in against the sides of the ship. The jolly-boat, of 22-feet keel and 6-feet beam, was then got out of the davits, and with great difficulty nine men and the captain got into her, to try to reach the shore. The captain kept her head well to the northward, and on she rushed, driven as if by an irresistible impulse, amid the cheers of the crowd and the prayers of many that she might safely. reach the land : she was nobly manned, and struggled hard for the shore, but all in vain. Behind her is an immense breaker. “She will be swamped !” “She must go down !’ “God save her l” are the cries of all around. And in less time than it takes to write these words, or even to read them, the wave holds her in its Strong grasp, whirls her round, turns her keel up, and her precious freight of ten human beings are struggling in the sea some three hundred yards distant from the shore. If ever a picture of child-like helplessness was presented by grown men, this was one. No man could get near them, no one could help them. They were as straws and waifs on the ocean. As if to mock all human effort, the sea immediately around them was, for a moment, almost as calm as a glassy lake, and the half-score of drowning men were in a gulf of smooth water ; but, alas ! to the greater number it was the dark gulf of death. Three of them seized the keel of the boat, but three times were they driven from their hold by the heavy breakers. Two or three make for the oars, but the rest beat about in despair, or are carried away by the under-current. The captain, a fine muscular sailor of fifty years of age, swims for the shore, and four or five others struggle on behind him. Scores of men join hands on the beach, and stretch into the sea, to meet some breathless swimmer fortunate enough to get within range. One brave man, by name William Jeffery, an athletic wrestler, a fine boatman, and a bold swimmer, throws off coat and waistcoat, and, close followed by many others, heroically dashes into the teeth of the breakers, in defiance of danger, resolved that, if it were possible, he would rescue at least one fellow-creature from a watery grave. Near him is one of the drowning men. He makes a tremendous dash, grips his prize with a determined grasp, and turns towards the shore. Others now take the seaman from him, and again and again the brave man, at imminent risk, rushes out and stays not until he saves three from all but certain death. Five men reached the shore, one only to survive a few moments, notwithstanding all that cordials, and rubbing, and medical skill could effect. Four only of the ten men who left the ship in the jolly-boat, half an hour before, now survived. And now a momentary pause ensues. Whispers of disaster are abroad. The ship- wrecked men are still on board, and the Life-boat is turned head to shore. What can it mean ? The story of her struggle, disaster, and final victory is forcibly told by Mr. Downing :–After a pull of more than an hour she reached the vessel. As she was pulling under her stern a great sea struck the boat and immediately capsized her. All on board were at once thrown out. The noble boat, however, at once self-righted. The coxswain was jammed under the boat by some wreck, and very nearly lost his life, having to dive three or four times before he could extricate himself. When dragged on board he was apparently dead, and in this state was brought ashore. Another man, Edward Hodge, pulling the stroke-oar, was lost altogether from the boat, and the men were all so exhausted that they could not pull up to rescue him. But his cork jacket floated him ashore, when a brave man, named Desreaux, swam his horse out through the surf and rescued him. Captain Cay, R.N., who expressed an earnest wish to go off on this occasion, was also on board, and, with others, suffered severely. It is due to him to say that his great coolness and judgement, as well as his exertions, greatly conduced to the bringing of the boat, with her exhausted crew, to shore. The second coxswain, Higgins, also behaved like a hero, and though scarce able to stand, managed the boat, when Carbis was disabled, with consummate skill. Judge of our dismay on seeing the boat returning and no rescue effected. We knew at once that some disaster had happened, and when the boat came near we rushed to meet her. There was the coxswain, apparently dead, a stream of blood trickling from his wounded temple, one man missing, and all the crew more or less disabled. At once I called for volunteers. Higgins then shouted, “I’ll go again, sir !” and by his bravery produced a wonderful moral effect. This I would not allow ; and his place was at once most efficiently filled by Mr. Blackmore, Chief Officer of the Coastguard at the Penzance Station, and a braver and a worthier man never took the tiller of a Life-boat. Mr. S. Higgs, jun., also volunteered, and thus, in a short time, another crew was formed. I cannot describe in anything like adequate terms the struggle which now followed. The boat had to be pulled to windward in the teeth of a tremendous wind and sea. Sometimes she would rise perpendicularly almost to the waves, and we looked on with bated breath, fearing she must go over, and then again she would gain a yard or two. The way was disputed inch by inch, and at last the victory was won. But no one who beheld the struggle will ever forget the manner in which the boat was managed by Mr. BLackmore. Loud and long rang the cheers as the boat neared the shore, and quickly the “shipwrecked mariners and their brave rescuers were safe. It was afterwards found that one of the second crew, named Pascoe, had three ribs broken ; but both ‘Pascoe, Hodge, and Carbis were well cared for, and after a while recovered. The vessel was the North Britain Captain John Rogers, with 950 tons of timber and deal on board from Quebec.
St. Ives, Cornwall – At daylight on the morning of the 28th October, 1865, the wind blowing strong from N.N.E., with a heavy ground sea, a vessel was observed on shore on the western spit of Hayle Bar, from three to four miles distant from St. Ives. The sea was making a clean breach over her, and the crew were supposed to be in the rigging. The St. Ives Life-boat was at once launched. In crossing the bar, with the drogue or drag bag in tow, which carried her safely over two heavy surfs, a tremendous sea broke over the stern, and the drogue-rope breaking, from the immense strain on it, she few before the crest of the surf in almost a perpendicular position, and running her bow under water, broached to and upset ; she soon however righted, and all managed to get on board.: Two oars, grapnel, anchor, and rope, were lost, and two crutches broken. Although rowing four oars only, the crew contrived to get her under the lee of the vessel, which was the French brig Providence, of Granville. With a heavy sea and strong under-current, however, they found it impossible to get alongside. Nearly an hour passed in signalling to the French crew to send a rope by means of a spar or raft ; when this at last was done, the coxswain signalled to haul on board the life-buoy, intending to take the men off through the water, but he could not make himself understood. Two of the crew now endeavoured to reach the Life-boat by means of the connecting rope ; one was being dragged on board, and the other was within four or five yards, when a fearful sea broke on the broadside of the boat and upset her a second time. She righted instantly ; but the poor fellow who was on the rope lost his hold, and was never seen again. The other held fast to the boat, and the crew once more got into her without accident. The communication with the vessel had not been broken, and the Life-boat again hauled up as near as possible to her. The captain and remaining two men then took to their boat, when the second wave capsized them. Through a fearful sea the Life-boat was hastily hauled ahead, and the three men were most fortunately picked up. The crew of the Life-boat landed at Hayle thoroughly exhausted. A more heroic service has perhaps never been rendered by any boat. In admiration of it, a local contribution was raised to present a suitable acknowledgement of their bravery and endurance to the Life-boat’s crew, in addition to the awards of the Life-boat Institution . The amount collected exceeded £100, giving to each man between £12 and £13, and we feel sure none will be found to say that it was not well deserved.
The late Emperor of the French was so highly pleased with the conduct of the St. Ives Life-boatmen on this occasion, that he signed a decree- for the first time in the case of Saving Life from Shipwreck- granting a Gold Medal of the First Class to Mr. Nicholas Levett, the coxswain, and a Silver Medal of the First Class to each of the crew, viz., Paul Curnow, Thomas VEale, William Veale, Richard Curnow, Nathaniel, Oliver, William Perkins Veale, Ishmael Job, and John Blewett.
Newquay, Cornwall – On the 21St of Dec., 1871 the Greek brig Calamidas was in a very perilous position in Newquay Bay, during a strong N.N. W. gale, accompanied by a very heavy sea. The coast guard attended with the rocket apparatus, but the ship was too distant from the shore to be reached by the rocket lines. The Life-boat James and Elizabeth was launched, and proceeded as quickly as possible to the spot, a distance of about six miles. Before, however, she arrived at the wreck, ten of the crew had taken to their boat, and rowed along the shore outside the breakers, seeking a place where they could best try to beach their boat. Arriving abreast of Mawgan Porth, they turned to run the boat in, and in a few minutes every man would inevitably have perished, owing to the tremendously heavy cross seas running in the Cove and the resistless under- tow. At this moment the Life-boat was running up the coast under canvas on her way to the brig, on an oppo- site but parallel course to the ship’s boat, and about 300 yards further from the shore. The boats were passing each other at the time the ship’s. boat turned to run for the beach, but the sea was then running so high that the crews of the two boats could not see each other, although so near, despite the signals from the people on the cliff. At this juncture, when a minute later would have been too late, the ship’s crew caught sight of the dark brown sails of the Life-boat, as she was lifted on the crest of a wave. They at once proceeded towards her, and were speedily on board the Life- boat, which was then only about a hundred yards from the brig. A few minutes afterwards the ship’s boat, although a very fine boat, was struck by a heavy sea, which turned her over, filled her with water, and sent her among the rocks in fragments. The ten rescued men were all Greeks. They were safely landed at Newquay Pier. Just before they reached the shore, the master gave the coxswain of the Life-boat to understand, by signs, that one of the crew had been left on board the ship, he declining to leave at the time the others made for the land. Having put the ten men ashore, the Life-boat again proceeded at once to the brig, and after an absence of three hours, returned with the man.
Padstow, Cornwall – On 2nd April, 1872, during a strong gale from the N.N.W., and in a tremendous sea, the barque Viking, of Sunderland, went ashore in Harlyn Bay, near this place. The City of Bristol Life-boat, Abbert Edward, was taken on its carriage to the bay and launched. After a severe struggle the wreck was reached, and the boat began to take off those on board from the bowsprit, the only accessible part of the vessel. An infant was first lowered onto the bows of the boat, one of the ship’s crew holding it. The child was saved, but the sailor was unfortunately washed overboard and drowned. The boat itself was at the same time driven away from the ship on the rope parting, and by a succession of seas was forced ashore, when the infant was landed, and another and successful effort made to reach the wreck. The master’s wife and boy, and four of the crew, were taken into the boat that time and safely landed. One man missed falling into the Life- boat from the ship, but fortunately he was washed ashore, although in an ex- hausted state. The remaining three men of the crew had been saved before the arrival of the Life-boat, with the praiseworthy and venturesome assistance of the per- sons on shore. This Life-boat service was indeed one of a very exemplary character, as will be at once conceived when we consider the length of time the service occupied, the difficulty of launching the Life-boat from the flat sandy shore, and working her when afloat when she was never free from heavy seas and surf; the very great exertions the crew were required to make to reach the vessel, from the seas on either side of her meeting at the bow and driving her back ; and from the boat having had to approach the wreck three times, in consequence of the connecting ropes having parted on two occasions. It should be mentioned that double the ordinary reward was voted on this occasion by the Institution to the brave Life-boat men, together with the Silver Medal of the Society, and a copy of the vote, in- scribed on vellum, to each of the two coxswains. It is also gratifying to know that Captain Thomas Gentles, the master of the Viking, wrote expressing his gratitude for the kind services and sympathy all had shown him on the occasion ; and he added, “We are completely unable to express our grateful feelings to Coxswain Corkill and the crew of the Life-boat, for their deter- mined and gallant conduct on the occasion, in again and again bringing the Life-boat to the Viking, after being so many times driven back by the tremendous sea which so continuously broke around the ship.”
Fishguard, South Wales – During a strong gale from the N.N.E., and in a heavy sea, on the 21st Feb., 1871, two vessels were at anchor in this roadstead. One of them was labouring very heavily ; and at last she exhibited a signal of distress, which being observed from the shore, the Life-boat Sir Edward Perrott was at once taken off to her aid, and the splendid way in which the boat got through the broken sea was much admired by all. When she got alongside the vessel, she proved to be the schooner Ialswell, of Bridgwater, and the master wished for assistance to get her into harbour ; but this not being practicable, there not being then ‘sufficient depth of water, he refused any other aid. The boat then went to the other vessel, the schooner J. W. A., of Newquay, but her services were also declined by that crew: whereupon the Life-boat returned to the shore, and was placed in her house. The crew were about to disperse when the signal of distress was once more hoisted. Without any hesitation, the boat was again got into the water, and after some little difficulty in getting her off the beach, they proceeded to the two vessels, and found the crews then wished to be taken ashore, as the sea had become heavier. Accordingly the men, ten in number, were taken into the Life-boat and safely landed. On the 16th March it was blowing a whole gale from the N.N. E., accompanied by a terrific sea, when the Schooner Ann Mitchell, of Newquay, came into the bay in a distressed state, and after a narrow escape of being blown on the rocks, where all hands would inevitably have perished, the crew succeeded in running her on the Goodwick Sands. The Life-boat quickly went to the assistance of the crew of five men, who were found to be quite exhausted and helpless. With some difficulty they were saved by the Life-boat. The boat had not been long ashore before the schooner Carnsew, of Hayle, which was at anchor in the bay, parted both chains, and also went on to the Goodwick Sands. The Life-boat was again launched, and fortunately succeeded in saving the lives of this vessel’s crew of four men. In both these services the Life-boat and crew behaved admirably.
Abersoch, North Wales – On the afternoon of the 5th Jan., 1872, information reached this place that a large ship, with her foremast gone, was in distress in Cardigan Bay, about eight miles to the southward of Pencilan. The wind was blowing very strong at the time, with terrific showers and squalls, and a very heavy sea was running. Nevertheless the Abersoch Life-boat Mabel Louisa, was most promptly got out and launched, and in about three hours she succeeded in reaching the vessel, which proved to be the ship Ireland, of Liverpool, 975 tons, bound to that port with a valuable cargo of rice and cotton. It afterwards appeared that on New Year’s Day she had been abandoned by the master and crew, all of whom were landed at Cardiff and Newport. At that time the weather was very bad, and she was said to be in a most perilous condition, the cargo having shifted, and there being a quantity of water in her hold. The vessel afterwards drifted along at the mercy of the wind and waves ; and, on the weather moderating somewhat, two or three steamers took hold of her at different times, and tried hard to tow her into harbour, but failed to accomplish their object. Six men belonging to one of them –the Egret – managed to board the ship, but four out of the six abandoned her again at the command of their captain. The two others remained on board until she drifted into Cardigan Bay, when she was seen by the steamship Rebecca, or Portmadoc, which endeavoured to tow her from her dangerous position. By that time she was fast driving, broadside on, towards Sarn Badrig which was only about two or three miles under her lee. The moment the hawser became tight, however, it snapped, although it was a nearly new 6 or 7-inch Manilla rope. There was no other hawser available, and as the weather would not allow the ship to be boarded from the steamer, a gale of wind still blowing from the S.S.W., she could only remain by her for some time, until the Abersoch Life-boat was seen approaching; when the steamer took the boat in tow to the ship : and, after a long time, some of the crew of the Life- boat succeeded, though with considerable danger and difficulty, in getting on board the Ireland, the wind by that time having shifted to the N.W., although it blew with unabated violence. Another tow rope was then got to the steamer, but it quickly parted, and the Rebecca then proceeded to St. Tudwall Roads, where some vessels were lying at anchor ; and from them she procured two fresh hawsers, one of which was then attached to the Ireland by means of which she was towed as far as the Roads but before she could be brought to an anchor that hawser also parted. With the fourth one, however, she was eventually got to a place of safety. Meanwhile, those of the Life-boat crew who had boarded the ship, and others who were transferred to her from the Rebecca, had put things in order on board and set some sail ; and with their help the vessel was safely anchored at sir o’clock on the morning of the 6th January. towed to Liverpool by a steam-tug employed by the She was ultimately owners, after the water had been pumped out of her. It is hardly necessary to add that the crews of the Steamer and the Life-boat, and those who had gone to her from the Rebecca, encountered considerable risk, besides which they underwent very great exertion and fatigue but, fortunately, their bravery and perseverance were rewarded by their saving from total loss a vessel and cargo which were admitted to be worth over 12,000. In addition; the two men of the Egret would certainly have been lost with the ship but for the services of the Life-boat.
Another excellent service was performed by the Abersoch Life-boat, on the night of the 23rd November, when she was the means, while the wind was blowing a furious gale from the W.S.W., at times approaching a hurricane, of saving the crew of four men from the schooner Maria, of Aberystwith, which had stranded on Castellmarch Beach. It was said that this was the worst weather the boat had ever been out in, and, owing to the heaviness of the gale, the very high sea that was running, and the darkness, it was not until three unsuccessful attempts had been made that the Life-boat was enabled to reach the wreck ; and while performing this gallant service, she was three times filled by the heavy seas, which were, however, speedily self-ejected through her patent relieving valves. The Life-boat was out all night engaged in this perilous work, she having been launched at nine o’clock in the evening, and not getting back to her station until six o’clock on the following morning.
Holyhead – About nine P.M. on the 1st Dec., 1867, the barque Bayadere, of Rouen, parted from her anchors, and struck on the rocks near the lighthouse, at Holyhead. It was blowing at the time a most terrific gale from the N. The Princess of Wales Life-boat was soon launched in the face of all difficulties- heavy sea and lee shore –and brought safely ashore the crew of twelve men. The vessel soon afterwards became a total wreck. The Life-boat then went out three separate times to the ship Lydia Williams, of Liverpool, which had sunk near Salt Island, and brought thirty-four persons on shore. The crew of the ship were in the rigging, and among them was a lady passenger, with an infant seven months old. After two trips, two men were found to have been left in the fore-rigging, So they again had to return. At 5 A.M. on the 2nd, the Life-boat was again manned, and went off to save the crew of the schooner Seetland, .of Chester. The men were, however, saved by means of ropes from the breakwater. On this occasion the boat beat off in the most wonderful style to the breakwater, through some terrific squalls of snow and hail, her sailing powers proving very great. The last time the life-boat went off in reply to a signal of distress, she brought ashore seven persons from the schooner Elizabeth, of Liverpool, making fifty-three in all saved–a good twenty-four hours’ work. Six separate times the boat was manned and did good service with her veteran coxswain, William Rowland.
New Brighton, near Liverpool -On the 26th Sept., 1869, the barque Empress, of Prince Edward’s Island, bound thence from Liverpool, with a general cargo, struck on Taylor’s Bank, in Liverpool Bay. There was a heavy N.W. wind blowing, and a strong tide run- ning. The tubular Life-boat Willie and Arthur put off under canvas, in reply to the signals of distress from the ship, but owing to the strength of the tide and wind, was unable at first to fetch the vessel. The steam-tug Rock, however, took the Life-boat in tow, and she was soon alongside the wreck. The Life-boat then took off eighteen persons, consisting of the master, crew of fourteen men, two passengers, and one “stowaway,” who were all afterwards transferred to the steamer, and conveyed to Liverpool. The vessel subsequently became a total wreck. The tubular Life-boat was likewise the means of rendering good service to another shipwrecked crew on the 19th October. During the previous night a very severe gale had swept over Liverpool and its neighbourhood, and, although it abated the next morning, the sea continued very rough, dashing over some of the lowest piers at the entrance to the port. About seven o’clock the schooner Elephant, of Ulverstone, struck on Taylor’s Bank, and became a total wreck. One of the Life- boats belonging to the Liverpool Dock Trustees, had the first intimation of the wreck, and went down to the Sand Bank, the Willie and Arthur afterwards following in tow of the steam-tug Resolute, and arriving at the spot nearly an hour after the Liverpool boat, which, how- ever, had not been able to approach the wreck. The tubular Life-boat being taken to windward by the steamer, was slipped, and at once proceeded to the rescue of two men who were seen in the rigging. They saved one, and the coxswain of the Life-boat was in the act of ascending the rigging to save the other, who was the master, when the foremast, to which he was lashed, went overboard, and being held by the rigging, it could not float, and the poor fellow belonging to the schooner was unfortunately drowned. It was reported that great credit was due to the captain of the steamer for his skill in putting the tubular boat into position for getting alongside the wreck.
Port Logan, N.B – On the night of the 16th Dec., 1867, the barque Strathleven, of Glasgow, was wrecked, during a strong wind W. by N., half a mile North of Float Bay, about seven miles from Port Logan. The vessel was under double-reefed topsails when she struck, and the night was very dark. An attempt was made to communicate with the land, and a boat was lowered for that purpose, but it immediately broke adrift with two men in it, who were thrown upon the rocks, and after great exertion, succeeded in gaining the shore. In- formation was at once forwarded to Port Logan for the Edinburgh and R. M. Ballantyne Life-boat, which was quickly launched and on her way to the wreck. She found the shipwrecked crew, fifteen in number, clinging to the rigging on the starboard quarter, which was nearly under water, with the sea constantly washing over them. They were safely got into the life-boat, and brought ashore in a very exhausted state early in the morning. They said they could not have held on much longer, and expressed great gratitude for the services of the Life- boat, and spoke in high terms of the manner in which she was handled. [Mr. Ballantyne himself relates a most remarkable coincidence that occurred in connection with this service. The Life-boat was exhibited in Glasgow on the 16th December, before being sent to her station, and the wife of the master of the Strathleven, accompanied by her children, went to see the boat and put an offering into the subscription-box. Exactly one year after, as above narrated, the captain’s vessel was wrecked, and on the following morning he and his crew were providentially rescued by the very boat which his wife had contributed to support !]
Montrose, N.B – The ketch Friendship, of Goole, having sprung a leak off St. Abb’s Head, would not steer and could not fetch a port, and she consequently drifted on the Annat sandbank, off Montrose, early on the morning of the 15th Jan., 1871. The Life-boat Mincing-lane went off through a heavy surf and rescued the crew of three men, who would in all probability have been lost had they attempted to land in their own boat. As it was, on account of the darkness of the night, it took the Life- boat men some time before they could discover the wreck,–and such was the strength of the wind and tide, that the Life-boat could not be pulled back through the surf, but had to be beached about a mile from the Boat- house. Again, on the 31st January, one of the most gallant of the many gallant Life-boat services that are from time to time recorded took place in the neighbourhood of Montrose. For two days previously a strong gale had blown from the south-east, and a tremendous sea was breaking everywhere on the coast. At daybreak a partially, dis-. masted schooner, which turned out to be the Dania, of Æroskjobing, in Denmark, was observed to be at anchor in Bervie Bay, about twelve miles north of M ontrose, in a very dangerous position. The rocket apparatus from the nearest coastguard station was soon on the spot, but the vessel being too far from the shore to be reached by it, a telegram was at once sent to Montrose for the Life- boat and a steam-tug to come to the aid of the vessel and crew. As soon as practicable, the Life-boat Mincing- lane, was launched, manned by the well-known and skilled Ferryden fishermen, and was towed to the harbour’s mouth,. when it was found that the sea on the bar was too heavy to admit of the steamer being taken through it. After some consultation, and an only natural slight hesitation, the coxswain and crew of the Life-boat determined at all risks to cross the bar, if possible, and perform the service without any other aid than that of their own strong arms and wills, and off they went, fol- lowed by the anxious gaze and hopes of the spectators on shore. The sea on the bar is said to have been terrific, yet as each broke heavily over the boat, one throwing her almost perpendicularly, she, nevertheless, steadily sur- mounted them, and when over the heavy lines of surf on the bar her oars were taken in and sail set, and in an hour more she had reached the distressed ship. Owing to the heavy sea it was ‘still a work of no slight difficulty to get her crew on board, who, standing on the stern, had to avail themselves of the brief moments when the boat was raised high on the summit of a wave, and thus, one by one, they jumped into her, and all got safely on board. It had been thought that the Life-boat would then have had to run to Stonehaven, ten miles further north, with the five rescued men ; but fortunately the wind had veered more to the east, and they were enabled to return to Montrose, to the no slight joy and relief of those who, with anxious and wistful eyes, had been watching for her return. The Life-boat’s crew were loud in their praises of the behaviour of the Life-boat, both under sail and oars ; yet what would be the value of even such boats without the daring courage and skilful management of such men When the character of this service is considered, against the specially dangerous seas which in on-shore gales of wind break wildly on the bars of all rivers on so exposed, a coast, and the long distance of twelve miles on a rocky lee shore, which had to be traversed, it will be readily conceived that it would be difficult to speak in too high terms of the noble courage and hardihood of the brave fellows by whom it was performed.
Skerries, Co. Dublin – On the 14th Nov., 1858, the Austrian brig, Tregiste, 333 tons, of Trieste, anchored for shelter, during a terrific gale from the east, under Lambay Island, near Dublin. On the 15th she had dragged her anchors nearly half way across the sound between the island and the main ; and, being then in imminent danger of driving on shore on the Portrane Rocks, by direction of the English pilot on board, her masts were cut away. The Skerries Life-boat having been sent from that place by land on her transporting carriage, was, at about 2 P.M., launched from the strand south of the town of Rush, in charge of chief boatman of Coastguard, Joseph Clarke as coxswain, Henry Alex. Hamilton, Esq., Honorary Secretary to the Institution, at Skerries, also going off in her. As the boat got out into deep water, she shipped several very heavy seas ; “twice,” says Mr. Hamilton, ” many of us were nearly washed out of the boat, the “green water” falling at these times unbroken on the top of us.” After two hours’ fruitless exertion to reach the vessel, the boat’s crew were So fatigued that it became necessary to return to the shore, lest the Life-boat herself should be driven on the rocks. Mr. Hamilton accordingly directed the coxswain to bear up for the entrance of Rogerstown Stream, where, after running considerable risk of broaching to in crossing the bar, she safely arrived at 5.30 P.M. As it was evident that the Life-boat could not be rowed to the ship where she then lay, until the wind had somewhat abated, Mr. Hamilton decided to wait for the first lull, hoping to reach her, and in the interim to watch her night and day, keeping the crew together in readiness to man the Life-boat again at a moments notice, in the event of the ship’s cables parting and her being driven on shore, or of her further dragging, her anchors until much nearer to it. The boat was kept afloat within the river, and her crew located in the Coastguard watch-house, Mr. Hamilton providing them with food, and sending for their dry clothes. The hull rode out the gale through the night, the wind and sea remaining as violent as before. On the morning of the 16th, a large steamer which had been sent for to Holyhead, bore down towards the distressed vessel, in order, if possible, to take the men off the hull; but as the sea broke completely over her several times, she was unable to get sufficiently near to her, and was compelled to give up the attempt, and to bear up for Kingstown Harbour, slipping her cables and leaving her anchors behind. As the second night set in, the crew of the ship were seen to be working hard at the pumps, but the gale continued and the sea broke still more heavily than before. At 3 o’clock on the morning of the I7th, the wind began to lessen, and preparations were made for another attempt to reach the ship. At 4.30 A.M., the Life-boat again put off with Mr. Hamilton and the same crew, none of whom had left the spot since their first attempt on the 15th. For the first hour the sea broke with the same violence over the boat that it had done on the former occasion but then being through the worst of the heavy seas, at the end of two hours and a-half the dismantled vessel was reached, and the crew and the pilot, thirteen in all, were safely taken in by twos and threes, as opportunity offered, over the vessel’s stern, and all safely landed at Rogerstown at 9.30 A.M.
Courtown, Ireland – Early on the morning of the 13th of Jan., 1872, intelligence was received that a vessel was showing signals of distress off this place. On the Life-boat Alfved and Ernest being taken to the spot, it was found that the ship Idaho, of Bath, U.S., 1226 tons, bound from Liverpool to New Orleans, with a general cargo, had stranded near the harbour, she having previously gone on the Lucifer Shoals. At the entreaty of the master, the Life-boat brought ashore his wife and child ; and nine of the crew also came into the boat on the same occasion. In two other trips she afterwards landed, through a very heavy sea, the master and the remainder of those on the vessel, being twenty-three lives in all, the boat was fortunately enabled to save from the wreck, The boat had to make three trips from the shore to the ship, as the master only sent part of his crew each time, and consequently she had to be launched three separate times through the surf. The American ambassador afterwards addressed a communication to the Institution, through the Foreign Office, in which he stated :– “I am instructed to express the grateful acknowledgements of the President of the United States, for the valuable assistance rendered by the crew of the Alfved and Ernest, to those unfortunate seamen, and to request that an expression of the high appreciation entertained by my Government of the humane and generous conduct of the rescuing crew may be communi- cated to them.”
Tramore, Ireland – On Jan. 12th, 1868, a large iron ship, the Oasis, of Liverpool, struck on the rocks west of the Metal Man, Newtown Head, in a south-easterly gale. The Cambridge University Life-boat, Tom Egan,. was launched, and reached the wreck about midnight. Twenty men were taken off on the seaward side of the vessel, which was found to be the most suitable: The wind increased very much, and the work of reaching the shore was difficult. In this situation the drogue was of great advantage. Captain J. W. PIm, the then Hon. Secretary of the Tramore Branch, joined the crew as a volunteer, and showed conspicuous gallantry. At daybreak, it was discovered that a man still remained in the rigging and the Life-boat was again despatched to rescue him. He was on the cross-trees of the fore topmast, where he lay motionless, and was only roused by the cheers of the spectators on shore. In this crisis it was necessary to board the vessel, and this was done by James Norris, who succeeded in catching a rope that was hanging from the bowsprit. He lashed a rope round the body of the sailor; and threw one end to the Life-boat crew and kept the other himself. He then threw him into the water, from which he was soon hauled into the Life-boat. Norris’s presence of mind and success were greeted with deafening cheers by the spectators. He got safely back to the boat, which then returned to land. Seven of the crew, who had launched the ship’s Life-boat soon after she struck, got safely into Slade Harbour. The captain of the vessel had been washed overboard and drowned before the Life-boat was got out, and two or three other men who were sick, were drowned in their berths.