Yaquina, OR Ship ATALANTA Wreck, Nov 1898


Twenty-Three Lives Lost - Only Three Sailors Saves - A Survivor's Story.

Yaquina, Ore., Nov. 20. - Additional particulars of the wreck of the British ship Atalanta, Captain Charles McBride, from Tacoma to Capetown, Thursday morning, five miles south of Alstead, were brought he (sic) by a correspondent of the Associated Press who went to the scene. Twenty-three lives were lost, including all the officers of the ship, and only three sailors survived to tell the terrible story. The survivors are:
Francis McMahon, John Webber and George Fraser.

The lost are:
------- HUNTER, first mate.
N. C. HUSTON, second mate, all of Greenock, Scotland.
------ JACOBSON.
Two cooks, a carpenter, sailmaker, second mate and one sailor, names unknown.

Wednesday morning the ship stood off on the starboard tack, the course being southeast, half east, until Wednesday night about 12 o'clock. She kept backing off, steering southeast by east and running under full sail, when suddenly the lookout sang out "breakers ahead." Almost at the same time the ship struck with a tremendous crash. She arose again on the heavy ground swell, lurched forward, struck again, was carried further by the seas, struck a third time and began settling at once. The seas by this time were washing completely over the vessel and the decks were quickly cleared of everything movable. The crew had taken to the rigging, most of them to the mizzenmast. Within half an hour after striking the hull broke in two. The mainmast fell and this started the mizzenmast, in which nearly all the crew had taken refuge. At this moment George Fraser, a sailor, plunged overboard, preferring to take his chances by swimming. He succeeded in catching hold of the main hatch and held on for a few minutes when he was told that the port lifeboat was near him. Fraser swam to the boat after a desperate struggle and succeeded in climbing into it. After helping Webber and McMahon into the boat they soon drifted to shore.

Fraser, in telling the story of the wreck, said:
"The first thing I knew the first mate called me and said the ship was on the beach. The other men came to the door and sang out, "All hands lay aft; we are going to wear ship.' The second mate shouted, "Clear away the boats; that's out (sic) only chance now. 'The second mate and myself jumped upon the boat skids to clear away the port boat. I shouted for some one to give me a hand to the mizzen rigging. As soon as I reached the poop. I was swept from it, but grasped a rope, held on and then climbed into the rigging. It was ten minutes before the ship righted and then listed over. I crawled across the crossjack yard and got into the port rigging when the ship broke in two. Shortly after the mainmast went by the board and it started the mizzenmast. I then took to the water and swam to the main hatch, which floated close by the ship. I remained on the hatch about twenty minutes. The sea was throwing wreckage up, hitting me over the head until I drifted clear of the ship. Another fellow swam to the hatch, but I told him to get off and look for one of his own. He would not do it, so I got off myself as it would not hold two up. There was another hatch nearby and I swam to it, but the breakers washed me off. The men in the rigging were watching me and told me the boat was coming. I swam to the boat and got one arm over the gunwale, the crew in the rigging cheering me all the time. I crawled into the boat, which was full of water, and looking around, saw Webber on the other side. McMahon was attached to the wreckage and we hauled him into the boat. We had no oars but soon drifted clear of the wreck and the breakers started us ashore. I looked toward the wreck to see if I could see anybody, but only one man was visible. We were then soon washed ashore."

Titusville Weekly Herald, Titusville, PA 25 Nov 1898