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> Issue 10 > Page 25 - The Sinking of the 'Caribou' Ferry

Page 25 - The Sinking of the 'Caribou' Ferry

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1975/3/31 (850 reads)

raft?) Oh, no, no, no. He was on a boat and the boat broke up • leaked, see • our boats were old. And then he was on a raft. I was aboard two hours before he was picked up. I didn't know whether he was gone and he thought I was gone. Jack Hatcher: When they got the bodies they had lifebelts. I had no lifebelt. If I had a lifejacket I wouldn't be here today. I'll tell you why. The boat I was on • the first boat • she'd accommodate 45. That's what they told me in the immigration office. 45. There was 80 on it. 80. I got on the lifeboat. You had to squeeze your? self to get in • there was that many. And boy, over she goes. I went down under wa? ter. I went down under water. But if I had had a lifebelt I wouldn't've went under water. I'd've been caught in under her. After I broke water, I made a few strokes and my chest brought up to the boat. I got on the bow • welX, I never got on the bow but I got a hold onto her keel. And in the water three or four others, and they had hold of my legs, tugging at my legs. As the sea struck her, I was fading out, fading out and then • I got ahold again. Yeah. A hard sight. Only 6 of us saved out of 80. I could hear them in under the boat, tearing the strips out of her. You s6e, when they turned over with lifebelts on, they had to stay there. They couldn't get away. I could hear thumping, thumping....When she come over • there was so many people, drowned, in their lifebelts. They floated away afterward, I suppose. I saw a woman, or a girl, next morning • and if she come out of the beauty parlour her hair wouldn't be no better. She was shot up in the water, her lifebelt took her up. But she was dead. Ah, it was tough times, my son. Tough times. And I've had tough times in my days. Oh, yes. I seen the ship go down. Head first. She was some boat. Awful explo? sion aboard of her. You know, that was when the water got to her engine. Boilers. The lifeboat had turned over • then she come back and we got into her. It was only 6 of us got into her. She turned over again and I got onto her again • on her bow • they had big tanks on the lifeboats, so they wouldn't sink. And the starboard tank come out of her, and she was on her side. She was sunk down but the one tank kept her a- float. I held onto the boat all the time. And that's what I was took off of, the next morning. (The Cape Breton Post-Record said the torpedoing of the Caribou brought the war to Canada, and that at was one of the worst Atlantic disasters in history. 137 lives were lost. Gnr. A.R.Fielding was asleep in the lounge when she struck: "My first thought was of my wife. I rushed down and got her up on deck and put a lifebelt on A Tradition of Welcome and Comfort Pine Food by the Fire Telegraph House & Motel overlooking the Bras D'Or Lakes at Baddeck 295-9988 OPEN ALL YEAR 'ROUND
Cape Breton's Magazine
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