Sandy Exposes Ship: Schooner History Revealed

By iScience Times Staff Reporter on November 19, 2012 12:16 PM EST

Aftermath of Hurricane Sandy
Aftermath of Hurricane Sandy (Photo: Reuters)

Hurricane Sandy exposed a nearly century-old ship on Fire Island. And now historians are starting to piece together the puzzle of Bessie A. White, a four-masted coal schooner.

Built between 1919 and 1922, the Canadian ship lost its way in a heavy fog about a mile from Smith's Point, Long Island. All the men on the ship escaped, but one small boat capsized, injuring a crew member, according to Long Island Boating World.

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Believed to be one of the last four-masted coal schooners built, the 200-foot-long ship was owned by Charles T. White & Son of St. Johns and was only three years old. The crew set out from Newport News, Virginia heading to St. Johns, Newfoundland with 950 tons of soft coal. But at 4:30 a.m. on February 6, 1922 the boat was found at the bottom of Smith's Point.

After the shipwreck punctured the ship's seams, eight to ten feet of water started pouring into the boat. Crew members called for the Coast Guard, but they had to wait for some time. Distress signals weren't easily visible by the Bellport station four miles to the West, or the Forge River station four miles to the East.  

When the Coast Guard arrived the first priority was attending to Seaman Rynburgh who was hurt when the smaller boat capsized. The Coast Guard then transported him and Captain Leslie T. Merriam to a hospital in Brooklyn.

Other people on board included First Mate Harry McNally of St. Johns, New Brunswick, Second Mate B. F. Porter of Spencer Island, the captain's son, Spencer, and a crew of ten.

© 2012 iScience Times All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

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