Sunday, April 15, 2012

Schooner John S. Wood ~ 7 April 1889

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

About 8 o’clock in the morning of the earliest of these dates a three-masted schooner was discovered ashore two miles south of the Wash Woods Station (6th District) North Carolina. The wind was blowing a hurricane*, as already stated in the record of the days’ operations at other stations in this district. The surf man first seeing the vessel at once gave the alarm, and the life-saving crew started out as quickly as possible, taking with them the beach apparatus. The tide was over the beach far beyond the ordinary high-water mark, and the rain fell in torrents, making all the work especially difficult. It was 9 o’clock when the surf men reached a point abreast of the wreck and began the attempt to establish communication.  They were assisted in this work by Mr. James Evans, who was fortunately present. The vessel was about 200 yards from the shore, but the first fire from the Lyle gun lodged the shot line in her main rigging. The strong current forcibly sagging the lines rendered the task of hauling off and setting up the gear and also of landing the crew extremely difficult, and it was half past 2 o’clock in the afternoon when the last of the 7 men reached the shore. The schooner was the John S. Wood, of Camden, NJ, bound to Philadelphia with a cargo of lumber, which she had taken on board at Pensacola, FL. The rescued men, accompanying the surfmen to the station, received dry clothing from the stock supplied for that purpose by the Women’s National Relief Association, and in every way were made as comfortable as possible. Three days later, the storm having passed, the life saving crew took the seamen to the schooner and assisted them to reclaim the clothing and other movable articles of value on board. They also lent their aid in subsequent efforts to save the cargo, upon which the ultimate loss was about one half. On the 13th, the vessel having been condemned, was sold at public auction. Six of the men were at the station four days after the accident, but the captain remained until the schooner was disposed of, leaving for home on the 14th. The agent of the underwriters while superintending the saving of the cargo was also entertained for some time at the station. The following account briefly details the circumstances attending the wreck and expresses the gratitude of the rescued:
    
While blowing a hurricane, with mountainous seas, vessel lying badly, we lost control of her, and could do nothing but let her go on port tack at midnight (6th). All hands at the pumps since 4 o’clock in the afternoon. Wind east-northeast. At 3.30 a.m. (7th) we tried to wear ship, but failed, and the mainsail blew away. At 7 a.m., in 14 fathoms water, tried again to wear around, but on slacking off spanker it blew to ribbons, and the vessel would not wear. Sounded, and got 10 fathoms. The sea had begun to break, and it became evidently impossible to keep the vessel off the beach. We struck the outer bar at 8 o’clock and remained half an hour, when we saw the life saving crew coming to the rescue. They made a successful shot, and with hard and dangerous work—as they were compelled to work in water sometimes to their waists—succeeded in landing all hands, exhausted, half drowned and chilled. We wish to express our sincere thanks to Captain Corbel and his brave crew, also to Mr. Evans, for the prompt and courteous treatment we received at the station. But for their persevering and timely assistance we would all have perished. J.B. MORRIS, Master ; JAMES MASKELL, Mate ; JOHN B. DEMARIS, Steward.

(NOTE: *Hurricane known as the Gale of April 7, 1889.)

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