|Abstract||SOME 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