Annual Report of the Operations of the United States Life-Saving Service for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1885:
Just before midnight of the 28th the south patrol of the Wash Woods Station (6th District), North Carolina saw a schooner close in, about a quarter of a mile south of the station. The sea was running high, and the weather was thick and foggy. He hurried to the station and reported his discovery to the keeper, who at once turned out the crew and had the beach apparatus hauled down the shore to a point abreast of the vessel and placed in position. Several shots were fired, but they failed to effect communication. Her red and white running lights were burning, but no signals of distress were seen. The sea was so bad that it was deemed hazardous to launch the surf boat before morning. After daylight it was seen the vessel was anchored just outside of the breakers and badly crippled. The keeper tried to communicate with her by means of the International Code, but no answer came, for the reason, as was afterwards ascertained, that she had no signals on board. She, however, set her ensign union down, as a signal of distress. By this time the crews of the False Cape and the Currituck Beach Stations arrived on the ground to render assistance. The surf boat was soon successfully launched and the vessel boarded. The keeper provided each of the vessel’s crew with a cork life preserver and placed them and their baggage in the boat, and at 9 o’clock had them all safely landed. The schooner proved to be the Ario Pardee, of Perth Amboy, NJ, from Rondout, NY, bound to Chester, PA, with a cargo of cement and a crew of four men. An hour later she parted her chains and drove upon the bar, where she soon began to break up. The crew were sheltered and fed at the station 12 days. The captain, having lost his shoes, was provided with a pair from the stock donated by the Women’s National Relieve Association. The vessel and cargo were a total loss. The following statement was handed to Keeper Corbel by the captain of the schooner:
WASH WOODS, NORTH CAROLINA, December 31, 1884
I sailed December 8, 1884, from Perth Amboy, with a crew of five men, all told, on the schooner A. Pardee, of Perth Amboy, bound from the port of Rondout, New York, to Chester, Pennsylvania, with a cargo of cement. Sailed at 7 a.m. Wind northwest. Passed Sandy Hook 11 a.m. When abreast of Long Branch, the wind shifted to north, and commenced to snow. At 6 p.m., wind blowing a gale from the north, took in sail, and run the vessel before the wind under a reefed mainsail and jib. Gale lasted fifty-six hours, in which we had continuous high seas, washing everything movable from deck; stove water casks and split sails. Afterwards took a gale from south, lasting about twenty-four hours, and run before that. Then took a gale northwest, and run that out. Then, wind shifting to northeast, made what sail we could and run for land. Made lightship off Five-Fathom Bank. When about five miles off took westerly gale, lasting twelve hours. Hove vessel to. When wind abated, made sail again and stood for land. Made Indian River Inlet, Delaware. Wind hauled to north. We tried to beat to Delaware Breakwater. When about five miles southeast of Cape Henlopen, blew away jib. Hove the vessel to again, wind blowing a gale and snowing. The next day, our boat being stove and the vessel leaking badly, spoke to steam Chattahoochie and asked to be taken off. The steamer made two attempts to take us off. They got one man by life buoy and line. The sea running very high and night coming on, she left us. We lay hove-to about sixty hours, when gale abated. Made what sail we could and steered west for land. Weather very foggy. At midnight December 28 we sighted a bright red light ahead [probably Currituck Beach light] and saw breakers. Let go both anchors. In a short time saw lights on shore and heard guns fired at intervals during the night. Heard two shots pass over the vessel, but could not find any line. At daylight 2th we discovered that we were near a life saving station and saw signals by flags. We had no code to answer signals. Set our ensign in distress. Soon life boat was launched and we were rescued, (about 9 a.m.) Vessel still afloat, but sea running very high. At 10 a.m. vessel parted chains and came ashore, and soon began breaking up. Vessel was about a quarter of a mile from shore, in two and a half fathoms of water, when we were rescued by Captain Corbel and his brave crew, and only for their aid we would most likely have all been lost. We, the master and crew of the schooner Ario Pardee, desire to return our most sincere thanks to Captain Corbel and his men for their timely rescue of us from our perilous position and their kind treatment of us since. HENRY A. SMITH, Master ; JOHN W. COMER ; OLE JENSEN ; JOHN FORCE
The Anna May headed out of Hatteras Inlet at 2:30 a.m. the morning of December 9, 1931. She was loaded with fish and headed for Hampton, VA. Captain of the 70-foot trawler was 22 year old Ralph Carmine. His crew consisted of his father, J.E. Carmine, Sr.; a brother, J.E. Carmine, Jr.; his brother-in-law, Rideout Lewis; and a man named M.R. Johnson.
Long before they passed out of Hatteras Bight the trawler’s gasoline engine stopped and for the next hour and a half the crewmen took turns at trying to remedy the problem, while the Anna May drifted slowly toward Diamond Shoals. Captain Carmine recalled that all 5 men were bent over the engine box when the vessel lurched to a stop and they looked up to find themselves in the midst of towering breakers. Their vessel swamped, filled with water and settled on the shoal, leaving only her single mast above the breakers. All five crewmen—thinly clad and without distress signals and life jackets—clung to the swaying mast in the darkness above the wild surf of Diamond Shoals.
Soon after dawn the next morning, the Cape Hatteras lookout station sighted the trawler’s mast and the men hanging to it. Repeated attempts were made to launch a surfboat from the beach, but it was thrown back each time. At two o’clock that afternoon a mist settled over the shoals, completely obscuring what remained of the craft. By then the power lifeboat from the Hatteras station had finally managed to pass through the inshore breakers but on reaching the shoals found no trace of the trawler. Newspaper headlines the following day reported: “Fishing Trawler Is Believed Lost In Hatteras Quicksands, Entire Crew Going to Deaths.”
As the sky brightened the next morning, Coast Guard binoculars were trained on the spot where the wreck had last been seen. A vague shape slowly came into view of a tall thin pole sticking up out of the breakers. The mast still stood and men still clung to it.
A picked crew under Keeper B.R. Balance of Cape Hatteras launched a surfboat from the beach there at the point. The crew of Hatteras Inlet Station, under Keeper Levene Midgett, boarded their power boat once more and moved out through the inlet. Meanwhile, after 30 hours on the constantly swaying mast, Captain Carmine and his four crewmen had about given up hope. Soaked to the skin, nearly frozen by the December cold, they began that second day with little thought of being saved when suddenly two boats appeared nearby. As they shouted and waved in an attempt to attract attention the mast swayed far over to one side and dipped lower and lower until it toppled into the surf. Without hesitation both Balance and Midgett turned their boats toward the breakers and pressed on into the midst of the tumultuous sea.
“We came down once between two giant waves, striking the bare sand,” Midgett said. But this did not deter the surfmen: Midgett’s boat, larger and faster, swept in, picked up one man, then a second, finally a third; Balance’s surfboat was right beside, reached the other two, turned about even as they were dragged aboard; and all five crewmen were saved.
On January 17 the 32-year-old schooner Anne Comber sprung a leak while offshore. She was enroute from Norfolk, VA to New Bern with a load of coal. The captain intentionally grounded the vessel on Standard Point Shoal, 6-3/4 miles from the beach and 7 miles NNW of the Portsmouth Station. She was discovered shortly after 8 a.m. by both Portsmouth and Ocracoke crews and both stations displatch lifesaving crews.
There was a strong NE blowing and the cargo and vessel could not be saved. However, the Portsmouth crew brought the four crewmen to their station where they were cared for for four days. The vessel was stripped of rigging, sails and stores and all was taken to the station. The crew of the Comber were Captain J.H. Hunter and G. Baker of North Carolina; J.F. Frost and J.K. Buck of Virginia. The vessel was completely lost.
The Aurora came ashore in moderate weather in June 1837, her crew having been saved through their own efforts and with little difficulty as there was little excuse for losing a vessel under sailing conditions as they existed at the time.
The real story behind her loss came to light the following January, when the New York Courier published the following brief news item:
“On Thursday last, Mr. Waddell, the United States Marshal, arrested Richard Sheridan, late master of the schooner Aurora of New York, John Crocker, mate, and James Norton, seaman, on the charge of the most serious nature, and which, if proved, will place the lives of the offenders in jeopardy. The prisoners are charged with willfully wrecking and losing on Ocracoke Bar, the schooner Aurora, bound from Havana to New York, in June last, and they are also charged with stealing from the vessel after she was wrecked $4000 in doubloons, which had been sent on board in Havana, consigned to Don Francis Stoughton, Spanish Consul in New York.”
The Marshal specifically charged that Captain Sheridan had enlisted the aid of the two crewmen, and together they had carefully planned the shipwreck and stolen the 264 doubloons, which had then been entrusted to the Captain by his henchmen for transfer to the north where they could be converted into American money. About the time this charge was made public it may have become obvious to Crocker and Norton that they joined forces with the wrong man, as on meeting him in New York they were told that he had been robbed of the doubloons and there was no loot to divide.
When the Captain was brought to trial in New York in February he was found guilty—the doubloons had been discovered in the hands of yet another accomplice—and he was ordered to pay costs and to repay the Spanish Consul, $4,919 in all. Captain Sheridan was kept in jail for an undetermined period as further punishment.
Annual Report of the Operations of the United States Life-Saving Service for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1883:
The barkentine Angela, of Genoa, Italy, bound with a cargo of iron ore from Cartagena, Spain, to Baltimore, MD, and having a crew of 10 men, stranded at midnight 300 yards from shore, and a quarter of a mile south of the Paul Gamiel's Hill Station (6th District), North Carolina. The vessel had sprung a leak, and, being in a sinking condition, was run aground to save the lives of her crew. At the time the sea was high, the surf raging, and the wind blowing freshly from the north. The wreck was immediately seen by the two patrolmen then starting away from the station on their respective beats, and one of them promptly fired the red Coston light as a signal to those on board, and gave the alarm. The keeper, William H. O'Neal, at once roused all hands, and they turned out with the surf boat and beach apparatus, and speedily got abreast of the wreck, with which from that time until morning they were engaged in efforts to effect communications. The steepness of the beach at this particular locality, which lets the sea break almost without intervention directly on the shore, causes, in any roused condition of the waters, a surf of great fury; and on this occasion the incessant torrents flung upon the sands made boat service impossible. Operations were therefore confined to the wreck gun. Two shots fired in succession fell short of the wreck, and a third parted the line; a fourth reached the vessel, and the life saving crew waited, wondering why the sailors did not haul the line on board. The solution came at daybreak, when the barkentine's men were discovered out at sea in the ship's boat, beyond the line of breakers, having abandoned the vessel under the conviction that sh was going to pieces. In a little while, seeing the group of station men upon the beach, they proceeded to make a series of attempts to land, but were warned off in each instance by the life saving crew waving before them a red flag. It was still impossible to launch a boat, but the sea was beginning to fall very fast, and the keeper was sure that if he could only keep the sailors away from the surf, entering which they would certainly be drowned, he would be able by 10 o'clock to pass the breakers in the surf boat and save them. At 9 o'clock, however, the sailors rowed away up the beach, outside the breakers, toward the Caffey's Inlet Station, several miles north of the station at Paul Gamiels Hill. Keeper Austin, of this station, was on the beach with Keeper O'Neal and his men, watching the sailors, and instantly telephoned to his crew to be on the lookout for them, and then hurried away to his post. Upon arriving he found his crew beside the surf boat, ready for a launch. The beach at this station, unlike that at Paul Gamiels Hill, is flat, so that the surf was much less violent, and, besides, the sea had now fallen considerably. The surf boat crew, therefore, were enabled to fight their way successfully through the mob of breakers, shipping in the passage about a barrel of water, and after rowing half a mile to the southward, met the wrecked sailors, too off five of them, and put back for the shore, shipping another barrel of water in the return. After waiting a few minutes they again essayed the passage. This time they went through with the shipment of but little water, reached the boat from the wreck, took in the remaining five men, together with the captain's chest of books, papers, and instruments, and returned safely to the shore. It was then 11 o'clock in the forenoon. The men thus happily rescued were in a pitiable plight. The sea had drenched them, one might say, to their very hearts, and they were famished and half frozen. Some of them were nearly naked, and the remainder had not clothing enough to keep them warm under ordinary circumstances. No time was lost in making them comfortable with food and cordials, and dry clothing was procured for them from the Poyners Hill Station, next above, a supply being on hand there, donated by the Women's National Relief Association. The men thus succored poured forth gratitude in their profuse Italian way, and called down blessings on the life saving crew for rescuing and caring for them.
Annual Report of the Operations of the United States Life-Saving Service for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1910:
Stranded during a dense fog at 11.10 p.m. on the 20th, 5 miles south of station. Discovered by patrolman on the morning of the 21st. Life saving crew went to her assistance with beach apparatus, and made 5 unsuccessful attempts to shoot a line on board. Seeing that they would not be able to effect a landing with the breeches buoy, the keeper sent the crew to the station for a surfboat. While thus engaged the steamer’s crew of 30 succeeded in making a safe landing in their own boats, the keeper directing them as to the best place to come ashore. Four of them were furnished dry clothing and 28 were sheltered from the 21st to the 27th. The master and mate were sheltered until Mar. 1. The master and part of the crew were carried on board 6 different times in surfboat to save the crew’s personal effects. The underwriter’s agent was also taken out twice. The vessel became a total loss. (See letter of acknowledgment.)
The Heidritter was the last of the great 20th century sailing ships to wreck on North Carolina’s coast.
Built in Bath, ME, the Cohasset burned to the waterline on January 22, 1907 while in Baltimore Harbor. She was rebuilt in Maryland as the Anna R. Heidritter and launched in 1910. She had survived a U-boat attack in WWI and carried bullets in her masts from the encounter. Captain Bennett Coleman commanded her since 1919.
Tracking the Anna R. Heidritter
An article appearing in the New York Times on November 15, 1928 indicated that the schooner had sent out an S.O.S on Tuesday night. However, owner Edward L. Swan (of 26 De Koven Court, Brooklyn) reported it was in no danger. A communication from the Navy station at Norfolk, VA forwarded a message from the steamship K.R. Kingsbury reporting, "Passed four-masted schooner Anna R. Heidritter at 5:45 p.m. Schooner flying signals of distress. Boats gone, also provisions. Request one boat and provisions from revenue cutter. Position: latitude 31:58 north, longitude 75:08 west. Holding under easy canvas." The Kingsbury said that the schooner resumed course after relaying the message. This position would have put the schooner about 30 miles off Fernandina, FL, indicating she had blown off course during a storm.
The New York Times reported on February 12, 1936 that the Heidritter, which had left New York for Charleston, SC 32 days prior with 1,200 tons of coal, was in tow the evening of February 11 and on her way to St. John's Light, FL after having been battered by storms. At the time of her rescue she was 300 miles S.E. of Charleston and about 300 miles off course. Mr. Swan reported that the ship had most likely been blown by a northeast wind across the Gulf Stream and required an easterly wind to get her back. Earlier weather reports told of gales in the Southern waters. The Coast Guard reported that the ships plight had been observed and reported by the passing steamship Raleigh Warner at Jacksonville, which then sent out the Coast Guard cutter Yamacraw to take her in tow. The New York offices of the Coast Guard reported that the schooner had lost her sails and her supply of water was gone. Otherwise, she was in good condition.
On November 28, 1937 the Coast Guard reported the cutter Champlain had taken in tow for New York the Anna R. Heidritter. Apparently the night before she had collided with the Red Star liner Pennland about 40 miles east of Sandy Hook. The schooner suffered damage to the bowsprit and fore-rigging.
While carrying log wood from Charleston to Pennsylvania she hit a storm off Ocracoke and was washed up on a bar on May 2, 1942.After seeking refuge near Hatteras Inlet her anchors parted and she was driven ashore. With her back broken, the crew lashed themselves to the masts. All 8 on board were eventually saved.
Nine days after being rescued, Captain Coleman died in an auto accident in New Jersey. He was 63 and the youngest of his 8 crewmen. “He was one of the most able shipmasters I ever knew and a gentleman at all times,” wrote Mr. Swan. “None of us carried insurance. Captain Coleman was our insurance policy.”
Annual Report of the Operations of the United States Life-Saving Service for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1909:
Became water-logged, and drifted ashore 2-1/2 miles S. of False Cape and 2-1/4 miles N. of Wash Woods stations. Her distress signal was discovered by the patrols from both stations, who burned a Coston in answer and gave the alarm. The Wash Woods crew hauled their apparatus to a point on the beach abreast of the wreck, where they were met by the surfmen from the False Cape station. The first shot line went beyond the reach of the imperiled seamen, but a second line landed directly on the schooner’s cabin. The whip and hawser were then hauled off with little difficulty, and the crew of 6 men were taken off. By this time the boat wagon from the False Cape station had arrived and the lifesavers went aboard the schooner for the men’s clothing and personal effects. The shipwrecked crew was cared for at the Wash Woods station until November 3, when they were furnished transportation to Knotts Island to obtain passage to Norfolk. The schooner was a total loss.
Manteo, Feb. 21 -- The 372-ton Albatross, deep sea trawler out of Wilmington, Del., was abandoned off Ocracoke Inles today as she began breaking up in a pounding northeaster.
A life saving crew from Ocracoke Inlet station removed Capt. Dan W. Hayman and a crew of 15 from the craft. Capt. Hayman stood by ashore and watched his vessel break.
Rocket signals from the foundered vessel were observed from the Ocracoke station early this morning. A station surf boat was dispatched to her side but Capt. Hayman thought the trawler was in no immediate danger. The coast guard cutter Modock also was on the scene.
The trawler stuck at high tide and when the tide ebbed she toppled over on her side, with 10 feet of water in her hold. She was carrying 600 barrels of fish taken aboard during the last three days off Diamond Shoals.
The Albatross, 149 feet lone, was built in 1918. She recently was overhauled and a new engine installed.
On April 14 a grounded vessel was spotted in Pamlico Sound about 10 miles WSW of the station. The vessel proved to be the schooner Addie Henry, on passage from New Bern to Ocracoke Inlet with a load of lumber. The Henry, under the command of Captain B. Hill, had been built at New Bern in 2864. She was a complete loss and only about $300 worth of the cargo was salvaged. Keeper Howard's report of April 20 follows:
Lookout cited sch. Look like she was anchored in Pamlico South. But taking rainge found that she did not move. No signal hoisted. Near Ocracoke Island on the inside. No. 2 tuck supply boat started to scene to assertain the trubble. Reaching the scene about one 30 pm found sch sunk full of water, laden with lumber and crew had left sch in there boat, went ashore at Ocracoke vilage all right. Count not do eney thing for her not untill sch could get lighter, so returned to station 4 pm. The wind blew hard before the capt of sch could get lighter. The sch went all to peaces, sch totle lost, cargo part saved but bad order. No assistance rendered.
The schooner A.P. Richardson drug anchor and came ashore on the beach about 1/2 SW of the Ocracoke Life Saving Station during a strong easterly gale and a high tide. She was under the command of Captain Newton with a crew of four, all from Long Island, NY. She was enroute to New Bern to pick up cargo. The following wreck report was filed by James Howard on October 8:
Sept. 26 about 10:30 at night No 6 surfman on his beat from 10 pm to 2 am south sited sch on beach about 1030 on his way south did not go his beat but returned as early as posable reported vessel on beach. Burned coston signal before he left her to let them no that she was sene. Keeper cault out crew hitch up mule to apparatus cart. As sea was verry high and verry strong gail and raining verry hard sand blowing almost puting our eyes out. Left station 1030 arrived to wreck 11 pm. The schooner was light come high on the beach. Went at work tuck the heaving stick waded in surf and threw on board the sch. The heaving stick hault of whip line and brought them on shore one at a time all safe. Tuck them to station wher they were cared for gave them dry clothing and made them as comfortable as posable. On 28 went to wreck sch to save capt and crew things. 29 tuck Capt of sch to Hattress to send telagram to oners. Oct 8 Capt sold vessel materiels at public sail. Sch total lost. Capt gave open thanks to the service.
Annual Report of the Operations of the United States Life-Saving Service for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1895 OCRACOKE LIFE-SAVING STATION, NORTH CAROLINA, September 26, 1894
DEAR SIR: I desire to express thanks to the keeper and crew of the Ocracoke Life-Saving Station for the timely assistance rendered to the schooner A.P. Richardson, September 26, when stranded here on Ocracoke Beach, in landing through the surf all on board. We were taken to the station house and cared for, with dry clothing and kind attention. S.B. NEWTON, Master ; NAT. GODLEY, Mate, schooner A.P. Richardson
Annual Report of the Operations of the United States Life-Saving Service for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1899:
About 3.40 a.m., patrol discovered this vessel about 2 miles NNE. Of the station. He at once reported to the keeper, who called up Little Kinnakeet and Chicamacomico stations, asking their assistance. Arrived with beach apparatus opposite the vessel in about ½ hour. The gale was very heavy and the surf too high to make an attempt to board the vessel; the keeper accordingly fired a line over her. The line was found and the crew bent on a heavier line which was hauled ashore. Then sent off the whip, but, owing to strong current, it fouled so much that great delay was occasioned in clearing it, and the same trouble occurred in sending off the hawser. It was early 11 a.m., before the gear was in readiness for work. Then made 8 trips of the breeches buoy, landing the 8 persons who comprised the crew of the schooner. Took them to the station an supplied them with dry clothes from the supplies of the Women’s National Relief Association. Next day boarded the wreck and brought off all of the personal effects. The vessel was a total loss. He master remained at the station for 18 days; the remainder of the shipwrecked men remained but two days. (See letter of acknowledgment.)
NORFOLK, VIRGINIA, March 22, 1899
DEAR SIRS: I desire to express thanks to the keeper and crew of the Gull Shoal Life-Saving Station for the timely assistance rendered to the schooner Alfred Brabrook on March 7, when she was stranded 2 miles from their station, in landing all safely in the breeches buoy. We were taken to the station and cared for with dry clothing and kind attention. Very respectfully, R.W. GARLAND, Master
Annual Report of the Operations of the United States Life-Saving Service for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1885:
At about 7 o'clock in the morning the patrol of the Ocracoke Station (6th District), North Carolina, discovered a schooner which appeared to be ashore, about 10 miles southwest from the station and two miles north of Ocracoke lighthouse. He soon reported at the station, and the keeper ordered out the crew with the beach apparatus. At this time the wind was blowing fresh from the west and a high sea tumbling in on the beach, which made the transportation of the apparatus a very tedious and laborious task. At times the water rushed up so far on the shore that they were obliged to retreat back of the sandhills. Progress under these trying and exhausting conditions was necessarily slow, and the keeper, fearing that the vessel's crew might become disheartened at not receiving assistance and attempt to land and lose their lives, proceeded on ahead as rapidly as possible to signal to the vessel that assistance would soon arrive. Before proceeding far he met a man on horseback, who, thinking the vessel had not been seen by the patrol, was hastening to give the alarm. The man kindly loaned his horse to the keeper, in order that he might reach the wreck more speedily, and returned himself on foot. Arriving abreast of the schooner, the keeper found a number of citizens congregated on the beach impatiently waiting for the life saving crew. The vessel lay nearly half a mile from the shore, with the sea breaking completely over her. The keeper, seeing that the people on board were in a very precarious situation, decided that something must be done instantly to save them without awaiting the arrival of his crew, who could not come up for some time. He therefore called for volunteers. To this appeal 6 brave men responded, and, with the schooner's yawl, which had previously drifted ashore, they went off with the keeper and rescued the crew of 8 men, making two trips. The volunteers were Christopher O'Neal, P.C. Howard, Robert Gorkins, Zorobabel Gorkius, John Gorkins, and William Williams. The expedition they undertook with so frail a craft, was a hazardous one, and the men are entitled to great commendation. The schooner proved to be the A.F. Crockett, of Rockland, ME, from Savannah, GA, bound to New York, with a cargo of lumber. The sailors lost all their personal effects. They were sheltered and fed at the station for several days, until transportation could be obtained on passing vessels. The vessel with cargo were a total loss. The following letter of thanks was received by the station crew for the part they took in the affair: OCRACOKE, NORTH CAROLINA, February 20, 1995
Annual Report of the Operations of the United States Life-Saving Service for the fiscal year ending June 20 1886:
At about noon, during the prevalence of a fresh easterly gale, with rain, the three-masted schooner Ada F. Whitney of Thomaston, ME, was driven ashore on the coast of North Carolina, about two and a half miles south of the Poyners Hill Station (6th District). She had a crew of 7 men, and was on her way from Boston, MA, to Brunswick, GA, in ballast. The crew of the station had watched her movements for some minutes before she struck, she appearing to be unmanageable from the loss of canvas. When, therefore, it became manifest that she would soon be ashore, they set out with the beach apparatus, and in half an hour were on the scene, although great difficulty was encountered in getting there, the high tide of the morning having covered the beach and left it in a very soft and bad condition. By the time of their arrival she had driven in to within 120 yards of the shore and swung broadside to, with the seas breaking over her deck and the spray flying half mast high. She was also rolling very deeply. The first shot from the Lyle gun lodged the line in the mizzen-topmast shrouds, and, as soon as the gear could be rigged the 7 men were brought safely to shore one by one in the breeches buoy. Their transit from the vessel was attended with considerable risk, as the schooner was gradually working nearer, and it was only by keeping the setting up tackle manned that sufficient strain could be kept on the hawser to prevent the men from being washed out of the buoy. While the rescue was in progress the district superintendent, Mr. T.J. Poyner, and Messrs. John C. Gallop and Josephus Baum, residents of the vicinity, joined the party and lent valuable aid. The keeper of the Caffeys Inlet Station, to the south, also came up and rendered good service. The latter had been watching the vessel from his station, and started with the apparatus as soon as she struck, but finding travel so bad with the heavily loaded cart he had pushed forward alone on horseback leaving his men to follow, and arrived in time to get the people ashore. The captain and mate were taken in charge by Superintendent Poyner and conducted to his home, while the rest were given quarters at the station, where they remained 5 days. During the succeeding night the schooner worked closer in and bilged, and on the following day, when the station crew boarded her to recover the people’s effects, she was full of water and in such condition as to preclude the possibility of saving her. The station crew a few days later assisted in saving the water casks and part of the rigging, the anchors and chains and other heavy articles being recovered by the Baker Salvage Company, of Norfolk. The wreck was condemned and sold at auction.
Annual Report of the Operations
of the United States Life-Saving Service for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1879:
The Norwegian bark Admiral stranded at midnight about one mile south of Station No. 5, Sixth District, North Carolina. She was promptly discovered by the patrolman, but on the arrival soon after of the life-saving men, the crew of the vessel, fourteen in number, came ashore in their own boats, the sea being smooth, but subsequently returned to the vessel. At ten o’clock in the morning the keeper boarded the vessel and advised the crew to come on shore, as the sea was rising; they refused, and the keeper and his men regained the beach where they remained ready to render assistance. At 4:30 p.m. the crew of the vessel signaled for a boat, and the life-saving crew again went off and brought them ashore. The vessel became a total wreck.
Annual Report of the Operations of the United States Life-Saving Service for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1889:
Three of the crew of the wrecked schooner Allie R. Chester, of New York were succored at the Ocracoke Station (6th District), North Carolina, for a week at this time. As they had been taken from their vessel in a destitute condition, the keeper supplied them with a partial outfit of clothing from that sent to the station by the Women’s National Relief Association. The loss of the Chester on the Outer Diamond Shoal about 8 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras was attended by very painful circumstances which were quite beyond the powers of the Service to control. The casualty occurred on the night of the 20th during a strong southeast gale with fog, the schooner having been driven onto the shoal while on her way from Charleston, SC, to New York with a cargo of phosphate rock. Five of her crew, including the captain and mate, were almost immediately washed overboard and lost. The vessel was seen from the Cape Hatteras Station the following morning and closely scanned with the telescope. She was taken to be a schooner which had been wrecked some days before on the same shoal. No signs of life on board could be discovered, but in any case a boat could not have gone to her, so violent was the sea off the cape. The next morning, the storm having moderated somewhat, the crew launched their surf boat, started for the shoal, and pulled out within half a mile of the vessel. At the same time a wrecking steamer employed in the vicinity passed within the same distance and also scrutinized the wreck. A little later a schooner sailed through the slue. As nothing could be seen to indicate that there were men on the wreck, the two vessels kept on their way and the life saving crew returned to the shore. The same steamer again went by a short time afterwards discovering no evidence that a part of the crew were still on board. This confirmed the surfmen in their belief that all hands had been lost. Later in the day the schooner James E. Kelsey, of Chincoteague, VA, passed near the wreck, discovered and saved three men who, having been wrapped in the gaff topsail for shelter, had not been previously seen. They remained on board the rescuing vessel over night and on the 23d were taken to the Ocracoke Station and cared for as stated above.
Annual Report of the Operations of the United States Life-Saving Service for the fiscal year ending June 30 1881:
The last fatal wreck of the year, within life-saving limits, was that of the schooner A.B. Goodman, of Seaford, DE, bound from Baltimore, MD, to New Berne, NC, with a cargo of guano, and having on board 5 men, including the captain. The wreck took place on April 4, 1881, at about half-past 6 o’clock in the evening, the vessel striking during a northwest gale, upon the outer edge of the inner shoal off Cape Hatteras, and being at once boarded by the sea, there was only time in the overwhelming rush of waters for the men to fly to the rigging; in the effort to gain which, one of them, Louis Beck, was swept overboard, and drowned.
The point at which the disaster took place was about three miles from shore, and six miles east of Life Saving Station No. 22 (6th District), North Carolina. This station is built upon the rise of an eminence known as Creeds Hill, and its north patrol reaches for 6 miles around the edge of the dreaded cape. Looking from the station, the view toward the cape presents to the eye the aspect of an immense desert of sand, strangely and fantastically sprinkled all over with gnarled and twisted trunks of black, dead trees. In winter, or during the inclement season, nothing more dismal could well be imagined than this Sahara, with its thin remnant of a former vegetation killed by the salt tides. The level is only diversified by occasional mounds of sand, and, here and there, pools of sea water, left by some overflow in the hollows. Behind, or to the west, a forest of pines and live oaks, dense and almost impenetrable, stretches away northward to Hatteras light house. All around the cape for two miles, in storms at flood tides, a heavy sea swings across the low and somewhat shelving beach, in among its bordering hummocks, and back again with violence, ploughing gullies as it runs. The surf makes the sand a quag, quick-sands form in the gullies, and the solitary patrolman, making his way along the top of the beach in the darkness by the dim light of his lantern, faces the chances of destruction, being liable to be swept off his feet by the rush or refluence of the surf, sucked down in the gullies by the quick-sands, or struck by some fragment of wreck-stuff shot forth by the breakers. Yet this dreadful watch is made necessary by the presence of shore of a nest of shoals, range after range, which are the terror of navigators. The first, a mile wide, stretches from the point of the cape between two and three miles seaward, covered with a depth of only seven feet of water, which in storms are miles of raging foam. This formation is, in fact, a submarine prolongation of the cape. Beyond it, separated by half a mile of channel, is another formidable shoal, the Diamond, two miles long; and beyond this again, another range of shallows, the outer shoals. For 6 or 7 miles out from shore, these terrible bottoms spread their ambush for shipping, and hence the watch in this locality for vessels in danger requires to be particularly kept around the point of the cape, no matter at what toll or hazard to the sentinel. On the evening of the disaster to the A.B. Goodman, the patrolman, pursuing his journey through the floods sheeting across his way, in the midst of a squall of rain and snow, saw far off, despite the distance and thick weather, the dim outlines of a vessel, and knew by this indication that there was some sort of a craft in the neighborhood of the shoals, though exactly where, or whether in danger, it was impossible to determine. The fact was reported by 10 o’clock to the keeper, B.B. Daily, who was up at dawn, and saw the schooner evidently aground, and, in fact, sunk, on the outer edge of the first range of shoals. He at once ordered out the surf boat to the rescue.
Benjamin B. Daily
The storm of the evening before had been brief, and the wind, blowing freshly from the north-northwest, had beaten down the surf upon the beach. The sea, therefore, was smooth for launching, but beyond, it was very heavy. Heaps of rough water incessantly tumbling, and thickets of bursting form, filled the offing, and the current running one way, while the wind was the other, made an ugly cross sea. The little group of surf men about to enter upon this stormy field had still a more serious peril before them than the chance of being overswept or capsized by the colliding waters. Their boat being light and flat-bottomed, the breeze, which was strong, and off shore, might make return impossible, and force them out to sea, where they would almost certainly be lost.Nevertheless, as the stout keeper naively said in his testimony, “they knew it was their duty to do what they could, so they did it.” The group was composed of the keeper, B.B. Daily, and Surfmen Thomas J. Fulcher, Damon M. Gray, Erasmus H. Rolison, Benjamin F. Whidbee, Christopher B. Farrow, and John B. Whidbee, the last named a substitute for a member of the crew absent on leave. One of the crew, Z. Basnett, was left in charge of the station. It is certain that none of the others counted upon returning alive. The disposition of their slender effects was a part of the charge given to surfman Basnett by his companions in case they perished. Having thus made each his simple will, as men facing the issues of life and death, they entered the boat and gave way.
For a long way out the surf boat kept the lee of the cape, where the surf, flattened by the off shore wind, was comparatively smooth. Once beyond the point of the cape, they entered the rough water, and their gravest peril was encountered when, rounding the end of the inner shoal, they gained the slue or channel, lying between the inner and Diamond Shoals, down which they had to row for perhaps a mile to the locality of the wreck. In this channel, all there was of the cross sea was in full career, and the greatest circumspection was necessary in the management of the boat. Finally, at about half-past 7 o’clock, two hours after starting, the life saving crew arrived near he wrecked schooner.
She was completely sunk, her hull all under. Only her two masts stuck up from the swirling water, and perched up in the main cross-trees, wrapped in the main-gaff topsail, were huddled the four wretched survivors of her crew of five. After three or four daring and dangerous attempts to get near, baffled by the strong current and the vast commotion of the sea above the sunken hull, keeper Daily hailed the wretched group up on the mast, telling them to keep good heart and that they would be rescued as soon as possible; then dropped astern about three hundred yards and let go the anchor, having decided that it as necessary to a successful effort to wait. The efforts already made had consumed much time, and the boat anchored within an hour of noon. An hour afterward, the flood-tide somewhat smoothed the break of the sea over the sunken hull, and the life saving crew got up their anchor, worked p to the windward of the vessel, where they again moored, and then slowly and cautiously, by slacking on the anchor line, let the boat veer down toward the main mast of the wreck. Once within range, the keeper hove his boat hook, by a line attached, into the rigging and held on. The fateful moment had arrived, the boat was slacked in, so that the keeper could get hold of the first man hat came down from aloft, and the first mate slowly descended the rigging. As he came within reach, the keeper, standing n the stern of the boat, seized him, but the man, terrified at the frightful rush and roar of waters beneath him, and doubtless unmanned by cold and hunger, and the may hours of horror he had undergone, broke from the keeper’s hold and clambered up the rigging again. The boat was hauled back a little, and the keeper spoke up cheerily, encouraging the men in the cross-trees, and declaring they would all be saved. Presently, the line was again slacked, the boat veered down, and the mate once more descended. His fright again seized him, but the keeper, forewarned, got a mighty hold, and by sheer force, jerked him out of the rigging and landed him in the boat. The captain then came down, was seized by the keeper the moment he came within reach, and torn from the shrouds. The other two men, emboldened by this energetic succession of deliverance, slid down the rigging and jumped into the boat without aid. Quickly the keeper then let slack his warp, recovered his boat hook, and gave the word to haul back to the anchor. Three of the rescued men were seated on the thwarts, the captain in the stern sheets, the anchor was got up, and the hard work of the return began.
By this time the wind had changed to the west-southwest, blowing freshly, and so roughening the water on the south side of the shoals—which was the side on which the approach to the wreck had been made—and the keeper decided it would be safer to attempt the landing on the north side, or near Hatteras lighthouse. The men gave way with a will, wind and sea against them. The light keepers watching them as they toiled upon the running swells, had some time before made up their minds that they would not be able to get to land that night, if they ever did. But the strenuous effort conquered, and somewhere about 2 0’clock the life saving crew, dripping and exhausted, gained the beach, near the lighthouse tower, with the sailors they had saved.
These sailors were at once taken up to the lighthouse by the keepers, where a meal was set before them. No food had passed their lips since about 11 o’clock of the day previous, and they were nearly perished with cold and hunger. Their rescuers were in little better case, having eaten nothing since 4 o’clock the day before, a period of about twenty-two hours. Nevertheless, without waiting to share in the repast of the sailors, they set off to their own quarters, a tramp by the shortest cut across the cape of nearly five miles. Thy reached the station greatly exhausted. All of them had been out on the tempestuous patrol or some part of the night before, some of them from 2 o’clock in the morning until dawn. From this night of broken rest they had passed abruptly to 8 hours of tragic labor under the shadow of death upon the sea. Their valiant rescue achieved, there still remained this long trudge, which left them finally at the station, a group of haggard, worn out men.
Descant is unnecessary upon the feat they performed in saving the four sailors. Such deeds attest themselves; and there are few scenes in human life more deeply affecting than the spectacle of this crew of poop men making their wills upon the beach, and leaving their small store of effects in charge of a comrade for the benefit of their families before entering upon a struggle of deadly peril for the lives of four unhappy creatures, who, in their dying misery, must have thought themselves abandoned forever by men, if not beyond all human aid. To have done this—to have quietly resigned the certainties for the chances of existence in such a case and under such circumstances—was more than noble; and there are no hearts, however cold, that will not feel that in this action the unassuming surfmen of an obscure coast reached again, as many low-down and almost nameless men have often reached, the full stature of heroism.
The Norfolk Virginian April 6, 1882
A schooner also went ashore on the Diamond shoals yesterday, in regard which two messages were sent to the chief signal officer, the last one, dated 3:20 p.m., reading as follows. Schooner ashore on Diamond Shoal proves to be the two-master schooner A.B. Goodman, G.F. Seward captain, bound from Baltimore, Md., to Newberne, N.C., loaded with guano; five men all told, saved; one seaman lost; crew saved by Life Saving Station No. 22 who started for the wreck at 6 a.m. today; vessel struck at 7 p.m. yesterday and crew taken off at 11 today. She will probably be a total loss; going to pieces now.
Winds from a hurricane on this date
clocked southeast 45 mi/h then southwest 50 mi/h at Wilmington and southeast 75
mi/h at Cape Hatteras. The destruction was very great in the Wilmington area,
with large trees uprooted and carried a considerable distance. At places along Water
Street the waves on the Cape Fear River were above the wharf. At Smithville
(Southport) the storm was reported very disastrous, with several houses blown
down, the warehouses on the garrison wharf completely destroyed, and the Ocean House demolished. The Spanish barque Arrina was blown over in ten
fathoms of water.
Annual Report of the Operations of the United States Life-Saving Service for the fiscal year ending June 30 1892:
On February 22, 1892, the schooner Annie E. Pierce, of Somers Point, NJ, bound from Bogue Inlet, North Carolina, to New Bedford, MA, was beached by her master at a point two and one quarter miles south of the Little Kinnakeet Station (6th District), North Carolina, and the death of Alonzo Driscoll, the mate of the vessel, occurred in consequence. As the schooner came into view from seaward through the rain and mist of that stormy February morning, she was espied by a small boy, who called attention to her. At once the keeper saw from the direction she was steering that the vessel would soon be aground, and he made immediate preparations to render assistance. The adjoining stations were spoken by telephone, and in response the keeper and crew of the Gull Shoal Station immediately repaired to the spot indicated, while the keeper of the Big Kinnakeet Station came with horses to assist in hauling the beach cart. In about three-quarters of an hour from the time the vessel was first seen the three life saving crews were upon the beach near the vessel, which had stranded about 150 yards out. Operations began forthwith, under the direction of the keeper of the Little Kinnakeet Station. Communication was soon established, and in less than an hour the entire crew were landed with the beach apparatus, excepting the mate, who had been killed by a heavy sea before the vessel stranded.
It appears from the testimony of the master that in the forenoon of the preceding date, when off Cape Henry, VA, the weather became thick and the wind came out from the northeast, increasing to the force of a gale and creating a rough sea. The vessel was then hove to under a close-reefer mainsail, and made good weather until the straps of the main sheet block suddenly parted, carrying away the main boom. This unfortunate accident made it necessary to run back down the coast before the wind, but finding that a course clear of the Hatteras Shoals could not be made, as the soundings on the morning of February 22 indicated that the current was sweeping the vessel toward the land, the master resolved to beach her as a final means of safety. The beakers were seen at about 11 0’clock, although the land was not then visible. Putting the helm to port, so as to run head on, the captain ordered all hands into the cabin, as the safest place when passing through the breakers. While going over the outer bar an immense sea broke over the stern, smashing the yawl and bursting into the cabin with terrific force. At this time the mate, Alonzo Driscoll, of Atlantic City, NJ, stood within the cabin holding the doors together, and was therefore directly in the path of the wave, which tore away the doors and sent one of them with fatal violence against him, to all appearances causing instant death. The crew rushed out of the cabin and climbed into the rigging. The captain followed, after hastily examining the mate; but while he was making his way forward the vessel was again swept by a sea, which left him helpless with a broken leg. By slow and painful movements he crawled to the cabin and remained there until two members of his crew placed him in the buoy, which by this time had been sent off. Upon landing, the captain was carefully wrapped in blankets and sent to the Little Kinnakeet Station in the keeper’s cart, where he received all possible attention, the keeper doing the best he could with the appliances and remedies of the station medicine chest in dressing the injured limb and alleviating its pain.
The crew were also cared for at the station, where they remained for a period of 9 days, until the state of the weather permitted their departure across the sound to the mainland. The isolation of the narrow strip of land on which the life saving station is situated is such that no physician could be secured to give the captain needed treatment. Efforts were made to obtain surgical aid from the mainland, but the severe gale and high sea which continued several days prevented until March 1, when the revenue cutter Winona, from Newbern, bearing a surgeon of the Marine Hospital Service, reached the station in response to a dispatch from the Department. The master then received proper professional care, and on the following day was conveyed to Newbern on the cutter. The high surf prevented the launching of the boat until the third day after the occurrence of the wreck, when a successful trip was made to her, and the mate’s body and the clothing of the crew were brought on shore. The body was prepared for burial at the station, and then carefully laid to rest in the cemetery of the neighborhood, after funeral ceremonies befitting sad occasion, in the presence of his late comrades. The clothing supplied by the Women’s National Relief Association was drawn upon for the urgent necessities of the master, as well as in preparing for burial the remains of the mate.
In addition to many verbal expressions of gratitude for the kind attentions received while sojourning at the station, written statements were made by the master and crew of the lost vessel. A disposition, executed February 25, 1892, before Samuel R. Hazen, a notary public, previous to the official investigation of the unhappy accident is given below:
We, the undersigned, captain and crew of the schooner Annie E. Pierce, which was wrecked near Little Kinnakeet Life-Saving Station, despose and say that the made, Alonzo Driscoll, was instantly killed by the sea as the schooner was crossing the outer bar; also, just before the vessel stranded, the captain’s leg was broken by the violence of the sea. This loss of life and injury to limb happened before the vessel struck the shore, and was in nowise the fault of the life-saving crew. We also state that the crew of the Little Kinnakeet Station were promptly on hand and rendered all possible assistance. JOSEPH R. SOMERS, RISLEY SOMERS, GEO. J. LODER, EDWARD DRISCOLL, of the schooner Annie E. Pierce
Annual Report of the Operations of the United States Life-Saving Service for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1879:
The next fatal wreck of the year, relevant to the operations of the service, was that of the stanch ship A.S. Davis, which took place in the memorable gale of October 22 and 23, a mile and a half north of Life Saving Station No. 2 (6th District), North Carolina. A brief reference to this singular and terrible disaster was made in the last annual report, and also to the storm in which it occurred; one which will long be remembered in the middle region of the Atlantic seaboard, along which its track was marked by peculiar havoc.
“The surf was the biggest I ever saw, and ran full with the hills. I have been on this coast all my life and had to do with the surf since I was old enough, and I know I never saw such a night or such a surf before.”
It was at the height of all this fury that the A.S. Davis drove ashore. The ship had sailed from Callao, Peru, on the 23rd of July, for Hampton Roads, VA, with a cargo of guano. She was quite a large vessel, her burden being 1,399 tons; was nearly new, her age being three years, and was very strongly built. Of the 20 men on board, comprising her captain and crew, her wreck left only one survivor, William H. Minton. It is from him that the particulars of her loss are derived.
After the tempest began she sailed under only her upper canvas until the wind blew a whole gale. By midnight her lower main-topsail, which was new, was blown out of the bolt-ropes and the mizzen lower topsail was taken in. Finally, with only her fore-topsail and fore-topmast stay-sail set, she was racing through the darkness with headlong velocity, amidst the roar of the hurricane, when suddenly, with a shivering shock, she plunged aground. It a moment all was over with her. “There was time for nothing after the ship struck,’ says the witness, “except for all hands to get into the rigging.” The unhappy men sprang for the main and mizzen shrouds. At once, behind the vessel, held by her bow as in a vice, the sea arose like a mountain and fell down with a stunning crash upon the stern, which it stove in at one blow, filling the vessel and sweeping over her end to end. A few moments of horrible confusion and uproar, and the ship was torn to pieces.
Those who saw the fragments marveled at a destruction which had been as utter as it had been speedy. “I visited the scene of the wreck about sunrise on the morning of the 23d,” says the wreck commissioner of that region,” and could not conceive it possible that a ship could be so completely broken up.”
The surviving witness sets the hour of the striking of the vessel at two o’clock. Little more than an hour later the beach patrolman found her scattered in pieces for a mile along the shore. In the utter gloom which enveloped the whole scene of convulsion, no eye could have descried from the beach the brief and dread dismemberment, nor, had an army of men been gathered there, could any help have been afforded to either vessel or crew. From one of those on board, the survivor, the sea tore all his clothing, save the fragment of a shirt, and threw him, bruised and bleeding, upon the shore. Of the other 19 men there were only found, within 40 hours later, the dead bodies of 17, grotesquely clad in tatters of their former garb, and horribly mangled by the wreckage. They had voyaged for 3 months, and over 10,000 miles, to perish within 3 hours’ sail of their haven.
On this day in 1826 the packet schooner Amity wrecked on the Ocracoke bar while en-route to New Bern from New York City. The vessel was eventually destroyed by waves, but not before the Captain George Dixon and others on board were saved, as well as the cargo salvaged.
Annual Report of the Operations of the United States Life-Saving Service for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1893:
Wrecked on shoal. Boarded her, and after assisting wreckers for two days in an unsuccessful attempt to float her, landed them in surfboat. Crew of Oak Island landed 9 of the crew with lifeboat on 28th, and on following day took master ashore. Later, master and three wreckers having returned to vessel and threatening weather setting in, took them ashore with surfboat.
Annual Report of the Operations of the United States Life-Saving Service for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1889:
Between 9 and 10 o’clock in the morning of this date the keeper of the Cape Lookout Station (6th District), North Carolina, saw a small boat, containing several men, land about a mile and a half north of the station. Upon investigation he found them to be the first officer and four men from the steamship Aberlady Bay, of North Shields, England, which had stranded on the outer end of Lookout Shoals, some 10 miles to the south-eastward. They desired to forward telegrams for assistance. These the keeper conveyed to Beaufort, the nearest office, about 11 miles distant, and the following day several tugs arrived from Wilmington and Norfolk, but their efforts to save the vessel were fruitless, as she broke in two and became a total loss.