Willie Martin

Reprinted from the Evening Telegram
2 December 1911

Schr. Driven Off.

The schr. Willie Martin, Skipper W. Martin, of Little Heart’s Ease, T. B., was towed in the Narrows this morning by the Ingraham and is now at Steer’s wharf. With eleven men and three women (passengers) the schooner left St. John’s last Wednesday morning early for Heart’s Ease with a load of general winter supplies below decks. A smart clipping breeze from the southwest brought the schooner down off Baccalieu in about seven hours. There a heavy sea struck her quarter and broke off the rudder at the upper pintle. She was going under double reefed canvas at the time. There was no chance of looking up for Trinity Bay, and as the wind had increased, the only thing to do was to give it to her before the wind for Cape Bonavista and try to steer her by the canvas. With a skirt of the mainsail and a double reefed foresail the skipper ran her before the wind, hoping that there would be a chance of the wind favoring him enough to look up for Catalina. The wind quickly chopped from the west and they had to douse the foresail. The wind increased, night set in and the rudderless schooner was driven off the land. To ‘ease her in the drift the anchor was dropped from the bow with 60 fathoms of cable attached. This kept her head to the wind. The night was bitterly cold and the watch on-deck spent a terrible time. When morning broke the schooner was conceived to be 40 miles to the S. E. of Cape Bonavista. The wind kept veering further to the north and the schooner drove south all day Thursday and the following night. Yesterday morning the wind veered round to the N. E., and later in the day more easterly. There was now a chance of getting back to the land if they had any help in steering. The genius of the Newfoundland fishermen now came to the surface. Samuel Martin, the skipper’s brother, invented a yoke made of five-eight iron, a supply of which happened to be on board, and attaching lines to it and passing it out on each side of the quarter, let it go overboard, and by means of a short rope and a buoy attached to the yoke and brought up through the rudder trunk, made the yoke clip tightly around the broken rudder under water and held it in position. The lines on each side of the schooner were used to move the udder in steering. By using this they steered the schooner west all day yesterday and last night, and when daylight broke they saw land and recognized Sugar Loaf. They had been driven off about 60 miles from Cape St. Francis. They saw a steamer last night and flared up a distress signal, but she came towards them for a short while and then passed away to the S. S. E. Mr. Martin deserves to be congratulated on his invention. He no doubt saved the lives of the people on board.


Reprinted from the Evening Telegram
December 7, 1921

Death and Destruction Wrought by Storm

Many Marine Disasters, accompanied by loss of life

…OTHER DISASTERS. Mr. W. R. Dove, of Steer Bros., received a message last night from Bay de Verde stating that the schooner “Willie Martin,” Willis [William] Martin, master, was a total wreck, but the crew had landed safely on the back of Bay de Verde. The vessel left Steer Bros’ wharf Monday morning for Little Heart’s Ease with a full cargo of provisions, and was lost in the storm while running for shelter. 


Transcribed by Wanda Garrett, May 2017

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