Saturday, March 17, 2012
Schooner Hilda ~ 6 February 1907
Following is the log of attempts to rescue the crew of the three-masted schooner Hilda, February 6, 1907. She grounded on inner Diamond Shoals 5 miles offshore in a heavy gale about 4 a.m. A heroic effort was made by crews from both stations to save those on board but all 7 perished:
2:15 a.m.—Surfmen B.F. Etheridge and U.B. Williams of Cape Hatteras Station discover vessel in the direction of Diamond Shoals. Burned three Coston signals.
2:30 a.m.—Keeper P.H. Etheridge, in the lookout tower of his station, could see the vessel in the moonlight. Was slowly moving southward.
4 a.m.—Vessel stopped, presumably anchored. Made no signal of distress. Lifesavers fired rocket to let her know they had her under surveillance.
6 a.m.—Lookouts at both Cape Hatteras and Creeds Hill stations reported distress signals from vessel. Rockets fired in response.
6:30 a.m.—Cape Hatteras surfboat launched.
7:20 a.m.—Creeds Hill surfboat launched.
8:00 a.m.—Two surfboats met near inner Diamond Shoals. Northwest wind blowing at gale force. Sea very rough. Temperature below freezing and still falling. Vessel a three-masted schooner hard aground on inner shoals five miles from Cape Point, and surrounded b huge breakers for half a mile in all directions.
8:15 a.m.—Surfboats attempted to go through breakers to stricken vessel, but thrown back by raging sea. Vessel now sunk, waves sweeping over her fore and aft. One man seen clinging to remnants of cabin.
9:00-12:00 a.m.—Repeated attempts made to reach vessel. All unsuccessful. Surfboats frequently almost submerged by tremendous breakers.
12:00 noon—Having exhausted every means of rescue and in constant danger of capsizing, surfboats head for shore.
12:30 p.m.—Mast of Creeds Hill surfboat breaks off. Boat wallowing in waves. Impossible to use oars because of size of waves and force of wind. Mast finally hauled aboard and patched up.
1:30 p.m.—Cape Hatteras surfboat reached shore safely.
4:00 p.m.—Damaged Creeds Hill surfboat finally beached near Cape Point.
February 7, 1907:
6:00 a.m.—Crews from both stations again assemble on beach to attempt rescue. Weather murky.
7:00 a.m.—Sky clears. Wind still blowing strong. Surf high. Schooner has completely disappeared, presumably broken up with loss of all hands.
That is the final entry. It was learned later, however, that the vessel was the 647-ton schooner Hilda of Philadelphia, which had been en route from Philadelphia to Savannah with a cargo of coal an crew of seven—all presumed lost. Just another routine entry in the lifesavers’ log.