Cape Breton's Magazine

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Page 17 - The Wreck of the "Watford"

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1977/6/1 (687 reads)

around following the vessel as she came ashore;) Duncan Irvine, Donkin: It was a terrific gale blowing on shore. And there was a mine up here • Dominion Number 6 Colliery~it had closed down around 1925 but a lot of the buildings were here and there was a great big tall smokestack • and the captain of the ship said he saw the stack here and mistook it for a stack in Sydney Harbour. That morning we saw the ship passing here very close • and we followed down. We ex? pected her to hit a rock down there they call Schooner Pond Rock but she missed that. (You knew she'd wreck?) Oh, yes, she was in close and she kept blowing her whistle, //e followed her around and she cetme in--and they claim if she'd have been out another 30-40 feet she would have made it all right. If she got around that point she had a big channel into Morien Bay and she'd be fairly well sheltered then. We were walking. Terrific gale. You could try and jump over the bank, I imagine, it would blow you right back on<, One of the men had jumped overboard and he got ashore --and I don't know how in the world he ever got up the bank • he was completely exhausted. They shot a line ashore. Th'n we pulled a big cable ashore and tied it just on some trees. Then they put a bosun's chair on the cable and sent a small line ashore to pull the chair back and forth • and the chair was just a stick suspended from two ropes. i;Vhen the man fell, it just happened. You can picture on a day like that, big heavy gale, spray and everything flying--and then you see him starting to The last remains of the WATFORD. et in the chair • and in an instance he's gone. They found his body round in Morien Bay; 2 or 3 weeks later they found him on Long Beach. I can remember somebody saying to the cap? tain that the whole gang of them were safe enough on the boat and he said--he was English • he said, "The crew thought they'd be better off on terra firma." But doing that they lost a black fellow and one of the officers. They were all in there at Bailey's. Every? one of them got a good ducking because the sea was so heavy and you couldn't tighten the line • we only tied it to scrub--no big solid trees around there--couldn't tighten it suiymore than they dare and the weight of a person going on, they went right down in? to the sea. Martha Bailey: I can remember all the men coming here. We were in the kitchen. We were chased out of the kitchen into the dining room, out of the dining room into the bedroom, from the bedroom upstairs. You know, as they were coming. They were wet and frozen, standing by the stove. It was a bad day • oh, yeah • the front door blew in and windows were blown in. And as they were coming in, they had a gallon of rum on the table--and as they came in my mother gave them hot rum and dry clothes and put them in beds, the ones that wanted to go. Sid Simons from Halifax bought the wreck but it was here a long tirae, really. First, Standard Pavement Company was hired to cut her up and take her • that must have been in the thirties. They were taking it and loading it on boxcars at Number 6 and send? ing it to the steel plant and other places. Between 1945 and 1950 is when they took the last of it. ITiat's when the boilers went. Our thanks to Sara MacLean of Glace Bay for her story, "The Wreck of the Watford," which received Honourable Mention in Cape Breton's Magazine Contest in Local His? tory, and for providing the opening photo of the Watford driven ashore. Our thanks to Martha Bailey for the photos of the final days of the WatfordT Cape Breton's Magazine/l7
Cape Breton's Magazine
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