Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Steamer Ea ~ 15 March 1902

Annual Report of the Operations of the United States Life-Saving Service for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1902:

Stranded during thick weather on Lookout Shoals, moderate SE. wind, rough sea. The vessel was dimly sighted through the mist by the lookout at 3.30 p.m., and the lifeboat at once pulled to the position indicated and searched for several hours, but owing to the thick weather prevailing could find nothing, and returned to the station at 1.35 a.m. of the 16th. The keeper had telegraphed the revenue cutter Algonquin, and she arrived early the morning of the 16th, towed the lifeboat out, and succeeded in locating the wreck. The tug Alexander Jones also arrived, and later the wrecking tug I.J. Merritt. The stranded steamer was surrounded for several hundred yards by high and dangerous breakers that rendered in impossible for any boat to reach her, and the steamers and life savers stood by through the night waiting for a chance to rescue the imperiled crew. On the morning of the 17th the lifeboat was towed by the wrecking tug as near as possible to the wreck, but council was held on board the tug and it was decided that no boat could live in the breakers. Another night was spent in anxious watching, and at daylight on the 18th it was seen that the Ea had broken in two. The sea still ran high, but the wind had shifted and was flowing from N., making the chance of boarding somewhat better. It being impossible to breast the wind and sea from leeward, the lifeboat was towed to windward and pulled through the weather breakers to the wreck. Meantime a boat had launched from the Ea and passed through the lee breakers in safety, carrying 17 of the crew. At the first trial the lifeboat missed the wreck, but a second attempt was made, and the remainder of the ship’s company, 10 men, was brought safely through the breakers, thus completing the rescue of all hands, 27 in number. The shipwrecked people were taken to Morehead City, NC, by the revenue cutter Algonquin. The steamer and cargo proved to be a total loss.

“Everything went well until the morning of Saturday, the 15th, when in trying to feel our way through a thick fog we grounded on a sand bar off Cape Lookout Lighthouse. The sea was smooth at the time, and I immediately ordered full speed astern, but it was no use, and the Ea did not budge. At high tide we tried to get off again, but the attempt, as in the first case was to no avail, and the Ea remained hard and fast. Monday the gale was still raging with unabashed fury. On this day our water tanks burst and we were without any drinking water. The Alexander and Algonquin were still trying to get to us, but found the feat impossible owing to the rough sea and our perilous position.” ~Captain W.V. Garry

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