Tuesday 28 January 2014

Fatal Boat Accident.

Boats are by their very nature craft that require a great deal of knowledge and awareness of safe practice. With experience comes the problem of letting down your guard even momentarily. This is an article lifted from the Sheffield and Rotherham Independent. Dated 24th February 1866 which highlights such issues.


A melancholy accident occurred at Great Yarmouth on Friday week, resulting in the loss of the master and four hands belonging to the smack Spitfire. About seven p.m. a man named Harper, in the employment of Mr. Brown, merchant, was directed by his master to proceed across the river Yare on a business errand. Mr. Brown's private residence is at Smithtown, while his office is in Yarmouth, the river, which is about 200 yards broad, running between. 

There was a strong flood at the time, but Harper rowed a small boat across in safety, and, having executed his commission, he was about to return from the Newcastle and Hull Steam Packet Wharf, when Mr. S. Barber, master of the smack Spitfire, a man about 45 years of age, his son, about 15, Filler, his mate, a man named Taylor, and another fisherman, requested to be ferried over to their boat, lying near Mack's Yard, on the Southern side. Harper assented, and rowed them over, but imprudently agreed at their desire to take them back again. 

Three of the men stood up in the frail craft, and Harper, perceiving that he could make but little headway against the current, told them to sit down. In doing so these men caused the boat to heel over, and it at once capsized. Harper, who is a good swimmer, contrived to grasp be master's bag, which contained charts, and swam for the shore; but he was compelled to drop the encumbrance, and he landed much exhausted upon the quay. The other men and the youth were carried down by the stream and drowned; the boat was also lost. Barber leaves a wife and a numerous family; the mate Filler was single, but Taylor was married.

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