Amesbury, MA Schooner Florida Wreck, Feb 1896

The Men Went Down With Schooner.


AMESBURY, Mass., Feb. 10 - Schooner Florida, coal laden, for an eastern port, is a wreck half a mile off Salisbury beach. The Plum Island lifesaving crew reached here last night and attempted to reach the vessel with a line for the breeches buoy. Seven men were soon in the rigging when she came ashore yesterday afternoon.

The Florida went to pieces at 10 o'clock last night, when the masts gave way, letting the seven occupants into the sea. Two of the bodies were washed ashore. The lifesaving crew could do nothing, as no boat could stand the sea. The vessel hailed from Belfast, Me. She struck the sandbed, near where the schooner Jennie M. Carter was wrecked a year ago, in a treacherous spot.

Big bonfires were built on the beach and attempts made by fishermen to reach the fated schooner. Bombs with lines attached, thrown by lifesaving crew, were not caught by the sailors on the Florida, who were in a benumbed condition. Five of them were on the mizzenmast, one on the mainmast and the other on the bowsprit. During the evening hatches and portions of the Florida's boats came ashore. A portion of the lifesaving crew will patrol the beach on watch for other bodies. Several hundred people saw the wreck go to pieces.

The lifesavers made a gallant effort at rescue. The hardy fellows pushed their lifeboat out into the towering breakers, and, manning the oars, pulled with zeal to make way, but their effort was futile. The boat was caught in the trough of the sea, was overturned, and their attempt to go to the schooner had to be abandoned.

In the meantime, during all that long wait, almost an eternity to the poor fellows in their perilous place in the rigging, with death awaiting them on all sides, they could be seen. What their feelings were as they saw darkness settling may readily be conjectured.

Lifted by the surging sea and moved by the gale, the vessel had been slowly forced farther toward the shore. Then the lifesavers made an effort to save the imprisoned and imperilled[sic] crew. They made her position as best their trained eyes and ears could place her, and fired the lifeline. Experiences told them that they had reached her, but that was the only result attained.

Either the men had already succumbed to their fearful sufferings or had become so benumbed with cold that they could do nothing to make the lines fast, and the lifesavers were forced to abandon their efforts to save.
In the meanwhile the seething, foaming and battering sea had been at its work breaking and tearing at the vessel's side. At 10 o'clock she was rapidly becoming a mass of broken planks and splinters, and her masts had gone by the board. Another sea grave had received its victims.

The Lowell Daily Sun Massachusetts 1896-02-10