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> Issue 54 > Page 14 - "Cap" Cowley - A Salvage Tug Captain

Page 14 - "Cap" Cowley - A Salvage Tug Captain

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1990/6/1 (346 reads)

And a loaded ship, full of petroleum spir? it. And she was asking for help. So I thought, "I'm not in a very good posi? tion to help." Now, this captain that the Foundation Company had sent over, he was with me--I was giving him a passage back. And we were talking about it. He said, "Oh, no," he said, "we can't do that." I said, "Oh. We can't, eh?" I told the quartermas? ter, I said, "Steer a course"--I gave him the course to head back to this ship. (Back?) Yeah--turn round and go back to the ship, to the Fpssularga. So, after two days steaming, in the middle of a snowstorm, we found the ship, just by luck, came right onto it! And got a rope on board. And the first thing I did was ask them to send a message to the Founda? tion Company in Halifax telling them that we had them in tow and give them our posi? tion, and tell them that I was heading for St. John's, Newfoundland, which was the nearest port.... Well now, for that one job, the president of the Foundation Company told me, he said, "We got (insurance) awards suffi? cient," he said, "to cover our whole cost of getting the ship and bringing it over. And on top of that," he said, "we've made a handsome profit." And then, of course, you have to take the wind into consideration. The angle you lay--sometimes you lay ahead, sometimes you lay to one side, sometimes to another. You have to weigh up the weather very carefully before you approach her. And then, your first line you get across with a rocket. ("The first line is fed across with a rocket." What does that mean?) You have a--you know, a gun. You have a gun with a small line attached to a rocket. So you fire the rocket with the gun, and it flies across the bow of the ship. And they grab this small line, and you put a messenger onto that small line, and they heave that in. And then you (bend) a much heavier messenger onto that, and they haul that in. Now, if there's no men on the (stricken) ship, before you do this, you have to put some of your own men on board to do it. Put them over in the dory. This is another thing the Newfoundlanders were good at. Put them over in a dory, and they would go forward on the ship to hook up. Then of course, you had to get them off again-- after you got hooked up, then you had to get the men off again--bring them back to the tug. Most of (the ships) had men on board. But the odd time I've had to put my own crew on board. ' We arrived in St. John's. And in St. John's I had to get our damage repaired there to make it seaworthy. We arrived in Halifax at 2 o'clock in the morning. And I'd never been in Halifax before, so I took a pilot. He put me along the Founda? tion wharf. And here was a delegation come down to meet us, and the old boy gave me a cheque for a thousand dollars! (So that was your first rescue with the Josephine as the Josephine.) As a civilian ship, yeah. (The way you make it sound, as though there's nothing delicate about it, as though there was nothing special about it. You put your line on, and you haul it away. But I get a feeling it was a little bit different from just getting a car out of a ditch....) You know, you can have your rough moments. But there's just things you do, and if you do them right, you're going to be success? ful; if you do them wrong, you're going to make an awful mess of it. Like, you could end up by getting a tow wire around your own propeller. Or you could end up by get? ting the bow of the ship you're hooking up to coming down and smashing you to pieces at the stern. Yeah, there's all kinds of things can happen, but if you know what you're doing.... Well, the Leicester, the one the book (The Serpent's Coil by Farley Mowat) is written about, was an example of that.... "CAP" COWLEY CONTINUES ON PAGE 70: THE SALVAGE OF THE SHIP LEICESTER
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