Sunday, April 1, 2012

Schooner Zaccheus Sherman ~ 28 February 1913

Annual Report of the Operations of the United States Life-Saving Service for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1913:

The case of the schooner Zaccheus Sherman, set forth here, furnishes a good illustration of the difficulties sometimes encountered by the crews of the service in establishing and maintaining communication with wrecked vessels lying several hundred yards offshore.
     Caught in a fierce southerly gale while beating up the North Carolina coast from Port royal, SC, for New York, with a cargo of lumber, the schooner named, a 767ton vessel, carrying a crew of 8 men, was swept ashore on the night of this date 2 miles south by east of the Gull Shoal (NC) Station, taking bottom in the breakers 400 yards from the beach. She was discovered by the south patrol from the station named, and three life saving crews—from the Gull Shoal, Chicamicomico, and Little Kinnakeet stations—went to her assistance with breeches buoy gear.
     After much difficulty, due principally to the darkness of the night and to the swiftness of a longshore current, which interfered with the work of getting lines to the vessel, the apparatus was set up.
     Owing to the distance at which the schooner lay from the beach, the three station keepers present decided that the life car offered a better means of effecting a rescue than did the breeches buoy. Accordingly, some time after the corps arrived abreast of the vessel a team was dispatched to the Gull Shoal Station for a car. As a measure of precaution—well taken, as it proved—the Gull Shoal surfboat was also brought to the beach.
     Two trips between ship and shore were made by the car without accident, three sailors coming in on the first trip and two on the second. As the car was traveling seaward for the third time the whip line was parted by the strain of current and surf.
     Convinced that the three men still on the schooner would not be equal to their part of the task of putting the lines again in position, the life savers now launched the surfboat and completed the rescue.
     The keeper of the Gull Shoal Station, who was in charge of the corps at this wreck, was called upon to explain why the ship’s crew were not all landed in the two trips made by the life car, which would have obviated the use of a boat, and avoided subjecting to extra hazard both those who manned the boat and the men still on the vessel when the whipline parted. In his letter of explanation the keeper says:
     “I wrote on the car for four men to get into it, and the message was understood by the wrecked crew, but not being in the habit of coming ashore in a boat like the life car they decided that three men was a load. I made signals for four, but the only reply was to haul away. This we did. When the car reached the beach I was informed that three men were all that would get in it at one time. The captain—a very large man—was barefooted and suffering so much from swollen feet that he could not help himself very well. So he and one man got in the car for the second trip. I again signaled for more men to get in, but they again signaled to haul ashore, which we did.”

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