Newburyport, MA boat sinking, Aug 1857
Rescue of the Missing Newburyport Pilot.
The Newburyport Herald of the 25th inst. has the following account of the arrival home of the missing and mourned pilot:-
The day of miracles is passed - so it has, and let it go; but so long as Michael Stevens, Jr., shall live, we shall look upon him as one risen from the dead. While we were all lamenting that this worthy man was gone, and the flags had drooped in mourning for the dead - while people were stopping each other at the corners of the street to talk over the matter, and some were raising a subscription for the benefit of his family - after we had published his obituary, and already had another paragraph written, calling for a material testimonial to aid the widow and orphans - as suddenly as though he had fallen from the heavens above, Captain Stevens, yesterday, at noon, appeared in our streets. Wildly the story goes about town; speedilyhe is rushed home to a family mourning his demise; instantly the flags from half-mast are run hard up, and gladness is upon all faces, for the lost is found and the dead is alive again. With the tide of men moving to the south end, we go to greet him and learn his sotry. Almost immediately after his companions had retired below, as he was standing in the qarter with the spyglass to his eye, the main boom jibbed over, striking him in the back of the neck and sweeping him into the sea. Instantly the boat [illegible] away, and sailed off with a six knot breeze. He turned in pursuit; but one hundred yards swimming satisfied him that that way useless. He hallooed; but the noise of the sails, the rushing of the water, and the intervening decks, shut off all communication. There he was in the midst of the ocean; the boat receding, and no friendly sail in sight; it is not desirable to die, and he lay for some time upon the surface, when, by and by, five miles away, a sail appears standing towards him - it is his only hope - a faint hope, but the last; he did not swim for her, but reserved his strength; and when she was within two miles it was evident that she was going a long way to the windward. He then coolly - oh, how can a man be cool with deep water below and naught but the deeper heavens above; - coolly he struck out to head her off. For three quarters of a mile or more, he swam for dear life; but now he begins to fail. His legs are already cold and stiff, and he hangs down deep, the waves breaking to his mouth. 'Tis the last chance; he raises his head and shouts; and a woman - a woman's ears are always open to the cry of distress; God bles her, - says, "I hear a voice." All hands look round. It is now or never; and as a last effort he stretches himself above the waves and says - "I am drowning!" They hear - they see. "Ease off sheets! up helm! man the boat!" It is done as quick as said - quicker than written. " I shall drown," calls the brave, struggling, but sinking man, before the boat can row. The captain turns to craft full upon him, and minus of help gives the helm to his wife, while with the coil of rope he stands in the bows. The rowers pull strong, but many yards are yet between them and the sinking man, when the fvessel's prow nears the spot, and with the Captain's call, "Catch hold," the rope falls upon his head and is turned around the wrist. The rope is paid out, the sails shake in the wind, and in two minutes more - after he had been in the water an hour and a half - the captain and his wife pull him over the side, helpless, and for a long time clouded and wandering of mind.
This yacht proved to be the Bloomer, from Salem, Capt. Dudley Davis, who was taking his family on a trip to Portland, Me. He rendered Capt. Stevens all the assistance needed, landed him in Portland on Sunday, and with the first train that reached here at noon on Monday he was returned to his family - returned to startle, to gladden, to change. Great God! What a change! The father, with three score and ten years upon him, the young wife, stricken to the soul, the little children, to whom home was gloomy - they can tell, we can't.
The New York Herald, New York, NY 27 Aug 1857