Posted by: Karlee A. Turner | August 16, 2014

13-14th August 1849 – HORRIBLE STORM at SEA!!

Mary Brewster, MONDAY [August] 13th [1849]: “Wind increased to a gale. At 4 AM Mr. Brewster got up and told them to put out the fire [built to render the blubber into oil]. I got dressed and got everything snug in the [deck] house. By this time wind was blowing a gale — I had just laid down when a sea struck the house, stove in [broke/damaged]  two boards on the side and it filed it half full of water. I was not long getting on my feet but the water was knee deep. From the noise on deck I thought everything had been washed overboard — Made my way to the door and looked out. I had only time to see that everything was confusion on deck when husband made his appearance and said, go right below; leave the house for it may go next — there was no chance to get dry clothes and it was rough so I could hardly stand. The ship lay on one side rolling and pitching. Anchor out but of no use — ship dragging – I went below — the sea had gone down  and the cabin was half full of water then. The deadlights were not half-latched and it was pouring in from that source — I got into the berth and by holding on made out to keep there but I was cold enough. The stove had fallen down and could not be put up — fire all out in the galley [ship’s kitchen] — no breakfast not dinner save a piece of hard bread. They tried to get up the anchor but found it was no use — another ship in sight and we were dragging and fearful we could nor clear her — could not right the ship for blubber had shifted to leeward and was obliged to stay as we were….Latter part it moderated….6 PM wind more moderate but the sea running very high and every way….At 9 PM I came up a fire being built to dry up….Put our trunks below — but they were soaking wet….charts all wet….”


Mary Brewster, TUESDAY [August] 14th [1849]: “Did not sleep much during the night and an early hour was up and commenced regulating — had the floor scoured up, cleaned the dirt from the sides of the house, had a great fire made in the stove — then up came the trunks &c. — oh sad array of dresses, gloves ,ribbons; hardly a garment but what wanted drying, some completely saturated with salt water — I could have cried but made out to keep quiet — stretched a line and hung up the things. The weather was better but the ship pitched badly owing to a bad sea — coal would not burn — had some pitch pine covered with oil, this made a dreadful smoke — and kept the house full of smoke. Opened the door, then it was try [works] smoke which covers every object it touches [VERY greasy smoke from the whale blubber; produced when trying out the blubber into oil] — I felt very uncomfortable for several hours to see my things so spoilt and in such condition till better feelings prevailed; and I think at the close of the day  I felt thankful we had been kept from the danger which the sea might have done us, for had it [sea waves] not broken before it struck the house, they all said it would have swept the decks taking the house and perhaps some of our number. As it was, we were all spared and what was a few paltry clothes in comparison –“


Mary Lawrence’s husband’s ship, the Addison arrived at her homeport of New Bedford, MA at sunrise on June 14, 1860


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