Monday, April 2, 2012

Barkentine Walter S. Massey ~ 18 January 1889

Annual Report of the Operations of the United States Life Saving Service for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1889:

The barkentine Walter S. Massey, of Philadelphia, from Pernambuco, Brazil, on her way to Hampton Roads, VA, for orders ran upon the Outer Diamond Shoal off Cape Hatteras, NC, at half past 4 o’clock in the morning of the 18th during a very dense fog, and soon filled with water. She carried a crew of 10 men and a valuable freight of sugar. As the accident occurred some 9 miles southeast of the Cape Hatteras Station (6th District) the thick weather prevented the vessel’s being seen until half past 10 o’clock, when the fog lifting the surf man on the lookout discovered her situation. He at once notified the keeper. The latter telephoned to the neighboring stations—Big Kinnakeet on the one hand and Creeds Hill and Durants on the other—for assistance, then made preparations to go to the rescue as soon as the two surf men who had been sent on patrol because of the storm, should return and give him a full crew. It was therefore nearly noon before a start could be made. The keeper of the Durants Station now arrived with the Creeds Hill crew and boat, and the force was shortly further increased by the arrival of the Big Kinnakeet crew with their boat. The three surf boats were now launched and pulled out through the heavy surf, shipping several seas in the attempt, but getting safely across the bar. They proceeded toward the wreck and upon reaching the outer slew met the bark’s crew making for the shore in their own boat. The station man hitched their boats together and taking the other in tow, set out on the return. Getting inside the outer bank, 5 of the sailors were taken into the Cape Hatteras boat, the others into the Big Kinnakeet boat, and the third life-saving crew took charge of the ship's boat. The landing through the surf was affected shortly after dark without greater mishap than the over ending of the empty boat, though not without difficulty and danger. The captain was sick and exhausted and all the men were wet. They were conducted to the station, provided with dry clothing and made as comfortable as circumstances permitted. The storm continuing for several days, the vessel went to pieces and became with her cargo a total loss. On the 20th shipwrecked people desiring to proceed to their homes were put on board a wrecking steamer bound to Norfolk. The captain, before his departure, wrote to the general superintendent of the service as follows:

CAPE HATTERAS LIFE-SAVING STATION, January 20, 1889

SIR: I wish to tender my thanks to Capt. B.B.  Daily and crew, of this station, Capt. Z. G. Burris, of Durrants, the surf men of Creeds Hill, and Capt. D. M. Pugh and crew, of Big Kinnakeet, for their prompt assistance rendered to me and my crew of nine men wrecked on Hatteras Shoals January 18th. We struck the shoal at 4.30 a.m., the vessel breaking up. It being thick, we could not be seen from the shore. We had to leave the ship and a long-boat, and were taken up at sea by the above named live-saving crews, taken to the station, cared for, and treated with the greatest respect. We lost everything we had, and without the assistance of the lifesavers it is more than likely we would have been lost, leaving no one to tell the tale; but by their hard work our lives were saved. Very respectfully, THOS. P. PHELAN, Master of Barkentine Walter S. Massey

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