Dangers of the Deep

Reprinted from The Evening Telegram, July 15, 1889

The Orion in Contact with the Rocks

Thrilling Experience of her Officers and Crew

Gazing in the Face of Death


We have had occasion more than once to speak in commendatory terms of the record of Captain Edmund Seward as a planter and banking commander; he it is who is associated with the take of the jubilee trip on the Grand Bank two years ago.

At present comes mention of an action which speaks volumes for the man’s skill and bravery in circumstances of peril on the sea, and heroism and integrity of character. These qualities were strikingly brought out during his last run from this port to his home, Fox Harbor, Trinity Bay. He had arrived here toward the end of last week in his schooner, the Orion, 96 tons, from the Banks, with five hundred quintals of fish on board, and, having received some needed articles of outfit, started for home.

About ten o’clock on Saturday night they ran out of the wind; the tide and sea bore the vessel near the land. They cast anchor, but before she brought up, her mainboom struck the cliff and broke off. At the same moment, the vessel being swayed to and fro violently in the raging surf, the stern was stove in.

In that supreme moment captain and crew felt that they were gazing in the face of death, but their resolution to battle for their lives never faltered. Captain Seward gave the word of command, ” Every man is at liberty to do the best he can to save his life.” They apprehended that the craft’s spars would next strike the cliff and go by the board, leaving them standing on a helpless, sinking hulk. This, however, did not happen; if it had, it would have been all over with them and their schooner, too.

They managed to launch their dories and abandon the doomed craft. While laying by they saw the schooner give a spring outward, clear of the line of imminent peril, and then she settled back again into her former position, the anchor still holding her fast.

The captain addressed his crew: if they would board the schooner with him they would save her yet; but none would volunteer except the two who were in the dory with the captain. As Gooseberry Cove and Heart’s Ease were nearby, the rest of the crew went for shelter there in the two dories they had manned, leaving the captain and the two hands with him standing by the tempest-tossed vessel.

For some time Captain Seward stood watching his schooner being slowly ground to a wreck by the relentless surge. Eventually he prevailed on the two men to land him on board. The first thing he did was to weather-bit the chain and bar the companion doors. He was then alone; not a single man of his crew of twenty had the courage to go so far as their daring commander. He took off his clothing to be prepared to jump into the sea and swim for his life in the last emergency.

Happily this was averted; the anchor held the vessel securely from drifting further. He then tried to unshackle the chain, and would have saved his vessel in ten minutes if could he have done so, but it was impossible; there were no means to enable him to liberate the rusty link.

By this time the schooner was leaning very heavily against the cliff, and the captain was then on board three quarters of an hour, trying in vain, single-handed, to effect the release of his ship. He then asked his two men in the dory to come on board and assist him, and they did so.

Within another half hour he had the chain unshackled, and the end being let go, the schooner came out “from the jaws of death” in safety. She was very much broken in about the stern and quarter to within six inches of the level water. The steering gear was broken, but the vessel underneath was intact.

Captain Seward managed to steer his rescued schooner with the pump bar, for, although a frightful sea pitched in against the land, yet, without, a smooth swell prevailed. In a few minutes he had his vessel at safe anchorage in his own port of Fox Harbor, close to which the stranding occurred. The pumps were tried and no water was found in the hold.

Captain Seward at once mailed particulars to his owners here, the firm of Edwin Duder, Esq., stating that he had his vessel under repair, and would be ready to sail again the next Friday (12th instant)


Captain Edmund Seward_Sch Orion_July 15, 1889


These transcriptions may contain human errors. As always, confirm these as you would any other source material.

Transcribed by Lester Green, March 2016