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ID DJG_SH1 Article from Mersea Museum

TitleVoyage of the SUNSHINE
AbstractSOME NOTABLE VOYAGES
VOYAGE OF THE "SUNSHINE'

For some years prior to 1910 a beautiful schooner yacht named "Sunshine", skippered by Capt Richard Page, invariably laid up each winter at Rickus Creek. In 1910 the schooner was purchased from its previous owner by Mr Weston Carlton, an American gentleman, who was vice-president of the Western Union, and Capt. Harry Pettican of Tollesbury became master. For the 1910 yachting season the yacht remained in home waters, but Mr. Carlton was so impressed by her performance and comfort that he decided to have the yacht sailed over to New York for the next season. Capt. Pettican recruited a Tollesbury crew namely Eric Appleton - mate, Uriah Lewis, Cliff Rice, Harry Redhouse, Syd Mills, augmented by Harry Milgate from Mersea and Peter Owen of Southampton, for the voyage across the Atlantic. The yacht was well found but had no motive power so would have to rely entirely upon her sails. Before leaving Southampton in April 1911 the services of a qualified navigator were obtained for the run across.

Unfortunately the yacht was dogged by ill luck and head winds right from the start of taking its departure from Falmouth. Cliff Rice, who was mastheadman at the time, and is now 84 years of age (1972) says that when they had made a few hundred miles westing of Lands End gales were experienced continually with thunder, lightning and torrential rain. For days on end, they were under jury rig and could not set much sail. More often than not they had to lay to a sea anchor with main topsail and trysail set to allow the vessel to ride the waves which he estimated between 50 to 70 feet from trough to crest. However these were the least of their troubles, strong winds from the north-west drove the yacht far to the south, and to make matters worse it was later discovered that a serious error had developed in the standard compass, also the chronometer was not running true or keeping good time. It must be remembered that this voyage was undertaken when small vessels did not have the benefit of wireless or the sophisticated aids to navigation as vessels do to-day.

The buffeting the yacht had received, had taken heavy toll of the sails and gear. In spite of parcelling and chafing gear some of the lighter spars were badly chafed and worn. However as soon as it was prudent to do so, Capt Pettican had as much sail as was possible to set, hoisted to take advantage of the fresh breeze from the north.

After some four weeks at sea, provisions were getting low, and all were rationed to sea biscuits and hard tack, all fresh provisions having been expended some two weeks earlier. Fortunately they were able to conserve a good supply of fresh water.

During the voyage they had not sighted one solitary ship, but early on the morning of the 28th day a bright white light was seen low on the horizon fine on the port bow. Capt. Pettican immediately had the yacht put about, as according to his reckoning there was no fixed white light shown on the chart, and repeated compass bearings proved that the light must be somewhere inland. After some hours sailing on a north easterly course, a vessel bound south was sighted and the two vessels closed to exchange flag signals. It was then discovered that the yacht was some 250 miles south of estimated position and about 50 miles east of Cape Henry. The long haul northwards to Long Island took some days, but eventually the yacht and crew arrived safe and came to anchor in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty in New York harbour, five weeks after having left Falmouth. No one suffered ill effects from the long and arduous voyage, and all were glad to once again taste the pleasures of fresh food and have a pipe of tobacco, all such luxuries having been long expended.

After a most pleasant yachting season in American waters, the captain and crew returned home by passenger liner, and were booked to return in the "Titanic" in 1912, but Providence was kind and they returned in the sister ship "Olympic". For many years afterwards, Capt. Pettican took his crew out to the U.S.A. each year...

There is another acccount of this voyage by Harry Redhouse at DJG_SH2

AuthorDouglas J. Gurton
SourceMersea Museum / Cedric Gurton
IDDJG_SH1
Related Images:
 SUNSHINE rigged as a yawl.  CG6_271
ImageID:   CG6_271
Title: SUNSHINE rigged as a yawl.
Source:Mersea Museum / Cedric Gurton Tollesbury
 Captain Harry Pettican and crew of SUNSHINE.
 L-R Captain Pettican, Harry Milgate, Syd Mills, Eric [sic] [Ernest] Appleton (Mate), Uriah Lewis.
 L-R seated - Harry Redhouse, Peter Owen, Cliff Rice.
 Caption has more names than the photograph.
 The Book Tollesbury in the year 2000 says Captain Harry Pettican became skipper of the 70ft schooner SUNSHINE in 1908. She was owned by Newcom Carlton, the President of Western Union. With brother in law Harry Redhouse as steward, Captain Pettican brought Tollesbury hands out to the USA to sail SUNSHINE through the summer. These included Ralph Frost, Joe Heard, Dick Holder and Tom Sampson. Mr Carlton sold SUNSHINE during WW1.  CG6_273
ImageID:   CG6_273
Title: Captain Harry Pettican and crew of SUNSHINE.
L-R Captain Pettican, Harry Milgate, Syd Mills, Eric [sic] [Ernest] Appleton (Mate), Uriah Lewis.
L-R seated - Harry Redhouse, Peter Owen, Cliff Rice.
Caption has more names than the photograph.
The Book "Tollesbury in the year 2000" says Captain Harry Pettican became skipper of the 70ft schooner SUNSHINE in 1908. She was owned by Newcom Carlton, the President of Western Union. With brother in law Harry Redhouse as steward, Captain Pettican brought Tollesbury hands out to the USA to sail SUNSHINE through the summer. These included Ralph Frost, Joe Heard, Dick Holder and Tom Sampson. Mr Carlton sold SUNSHINE during WW1.
Date:1910
Source:Mersea Museum / Cedric Gurton Tollesbury
 An interesting but unidentified yacht - a photo in the Appleton family album.  PBIB_APP_281
ImageID:   PBIB_APP_281
Title: An interesting but unidentified yacht - a photo in the Appleton family album.
Source:Mersea Museum / Jenny Bibby Collection
 Yacht SUNSHINE R.V.Y.C. - an unidentified member of the crew.  PBIB_SH1_001
ImageID:   PBIB_SH1_001
Title: Yacht SUNSHINE R.V.Y.C. - an unidentified member of the crew.
Source:Mersea Museum / Jenny Bibby Collection
 Yacht SUNSHINE R.V.Y.C. - an unidentified member of the crew.  PBIB_SH1_003
ImageID:   PBIB_SH1_003
Title: Yacht SUNSHINE R.V.Y.C. - an unidentified member of the crew.
Source:Mersea Museum / Jenny Bibby Collection
 Thought to be Ernest Appleton, Jenny Bibby's grandfather, who was Mate on SUNSHINE.  PBIB_SH1_005
ImageID:   PBIB_SH1_005
Title: Thought to be Ernest Appleton, Jenny Bibby's grandfather, who was Mate on SUNSHINE.
Date:c1910
Source:Mersea Museum / Jenny Bibby Collection


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