|Abstract||Nowadays it is quite common to read of venturesome and hazardous
voyages completed single handed or with crews, but it is not generally
known or has been forgotten that at least three epic voyages were completed
successfully by men of this village. In 1911 the schooner "Sunshine"
re-rigged as a ketch, sailed from Rickus Creek bound for New York having
been purchased by an American. Skippered by Capt. Harry Pettican with
Ernest Appleton as Mate, Uriah Lewis, Cliff Rice, Harry Redhouse, Sydney
Mills, Harry Milgate and Peter Owen, the last two named from Mersea, the
vessel took its departure from Falmouth in April of that year. The yacht
was subjected to gales right from the start and for days on end was under
jury rig or laying to a sea-anchor. After fourteen days the storms
abated, but a more serious problem was discovered. The standard compass
situated amidships and the chronometer in the saloon had developed serious
errors. Consequently Capt. Pettican was not sure of their position.
A change of climate for warmer weather and the presence of quantities of
"Gulf weed" in the sea confirmed his opinion that they were too far south
of their estimated position, and a more northerly course was set. On the
28th day at sea, provisions were getting low, but they saw their first ship
made signals and closed with her, finding that they were 500 miles south-east
of New York, where they safely arrived on 1st June 1911. For years afterwards
Capt. Pettican with mainly a Tollesbury crew went out to New York to
sail "Sunshine" for its owner Mr Newcomb Carlton, head of Western Union.
Another long and hazardous voyage was that of the schooner "Dwyn-Wen",
skippered by Capt. Isaac Rice, Junior, with Jack Townsend as Mate,
Dan Clarke, Lew Barbrook, Sam Gurton, John Reuben Frost, Christopher Elmer,
Clarence Rice and two men from Southampton, sailed from Weymouth on 8th
August 1921 for Hong Kong, where they arrived on 28 Februry 1922
after many adventures in the Mediterranean, Red Sea and Indian Ocean.
The full stories of the aforegoing two voyages make most interesting
reading, and I am indebted to Miss Birdie Pettican, daughter of the late
Capt. Harry Pettican, and Messrs Clarence Rice and Sam Gurton for full
details and photographs which have enabled me the write the full accounts
of these epic which it is hoped can be published in due course.
One voyage which can be recalled by three survviving crew members in
this village, viz. Ted Heard, Horace Chatterson and Cyril Coates, is
that of the "Endeavour I" which acted as a pace-maker for "Endeavour II"
the America Cup Challenger in the races of 1937 off Rhode Island,
U.S.A. At the conclusion of the races, Endeavour I left Rhode Island,
U.S.A. on Sunday 12th September 1937 escorted by the motor yacht "Viva"
which later took "Endeavour I" in tow, ostensibly for return to Gosport
England. On Monday 13th September the vessels encountered a southerly
hurricane. At midnight it was found that the tow-rope had parted, and it
was impossible to raise "Viva" by signals. Capt. Edward Heard decided to
ride out the storm raging to a sea-anchor. On Tuesday 14th September the
sotrm abated, but it was still impossible to contact "Viva" or any other
vessel which might have been in the vicinity, and Capt. Heard decided to
set course for home taking advantage of the prevailing westerly wind.
In the meantime "Viva" had returned to Rhode Island to report that
"Endeavour I" had broken adrift, and a search by Coastguard vessels and
aircraft was organised. By Sunday 19th September it was feared that
"Endeavour I" had foundered, there was no trace of her to be found.
Prayers were offered in the local churches, but on Monday 27th September
the s.s. "Cheyenne" reported having sighted "Endeavour I" under sail
26 miles S.W. of Fastnet, and found "All Well". The "Lutine Bell"
was rung at Lloyds. On Friday 1st October 1937 "Endeavour I" arrived
off Portsmouth to the sounds of much jubilation, ship's syrens, etc,
after a most momenous voyage of 19 days.
I am most grateful to Messrs. Ted Heard, junior, Cyril Coates
and the late Neville Gurton for details of the hazardous voyage
which has enabled me to write the full story for publication with
those of "Sunshine" and "Dwyn-Wen".
The framed photograph of "Endeavour I" leading "Endeavour II"
signed by Capt. Heard and his crew was given to me by Capt Heard,
and is now displayed in our Club premises.
There are two articles on the voyage of the "Sunshine":
DJG_SH1 by Douglas Gurton
DJG_SH2 by Harry Redhouse.
For the voyage of "Dwyn Wen" see DJG_DWW .