Sunday, February 12, 2012

Schooner Minnie ~ 12 April 1882

Annual Report of the Operations of the United States Life-Saving Service for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1882:

The schooner Minnie, of and from New York for Charleston, SC, with a cargo of guano and empty barrels, stranded on Frying Pan Shoals, Cape Fear at 3 o’clock in the morning, during the prevalence of a severe northeast rain storm. It was high water on the shoals when she struck and the sea was very rough. There were 8 persons all told on board the schooner, including the captain’s wife. The captain had mistaken his position by supposing he was to the southward of the Frying Pan Shoals lightship and did not discover his error until the vessel grounded in the breakers about five miles south of Smith’s Island. The crew of Station No. 25 (6th District), Smith’s Island, North Carolina, discovered the vessel at daylight (5:30), and at once went off in the surf boat to render assistance, reaching her at 7 o’clock. It was at first thought that by throwing cargo overboard the vessel might be saved. The men, therefore, bent their energies in that direction, keeping the pumps going to free the vessel of water. They soon found, however, that she had bilged and that all efforts to relieve her would be futile. Her abandonment was therefore reluctantly determined upon by the captain, who was part owner of the vessel. After consultation as to the safest way of reaching the island, it was decided to use the schooner’s yawl in conjunction with the surf boat. The former was therefore hoisted overboard and five men took passage in it, while the rest, including the captain’s wife, went in the surf boat, and after a hard and dangerous pull for nearly three hours all hands raced the shore in safety, the life savers beaching their boat first and then assisting the other boat to land. The rescued party were sheltered at the station until the next day (13th), when the weather having moderated they were conducted to Smithville, Cape Far River. A wrecking company was employed by the captain to save all the property possible, but beyond the recovery of the sails and rigging and some empty barrels nothing could be done, the vessel and the rest of the cargo becoming a total loss. This simple narrative of the rescue of the Minnie would be incomplete were the statement omitted that the entire affair, in the opinion of seafaring men in the vicinity, reflected much credit on the crew of the station, some of the bar pilots at Smithville marveling greatly that such a gallant feat as reaching the vessel through so rough a sea and boarding her in the midst of the breakers during the severity of the tempest could be accomplished.

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