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Historical Information

Notre Dame Bay - Fogo District

The Sinking of the "Erema H."

The Erema H, built in La Have, Nova Scotia, was a 70 ton schooner, which in 1929, was owned and skippered by Theophulus Blackwood of Carmanville, and engaged in hauling freight between St. Johnís and ports as far north as Botwood.

The fall of 1929, was a particularly stormy fall, and it will be remembered that on November 18, 1929, an earthquake at sea caused a tidal wave that swept the South coast of Newfoundland causing wide spread damage and loss of life, especially in the area around Burin. At the time of the earthquake, the Erema H. was tied up in St. Johnís, loading freight, and the tremor was noticed by the Captain of the vessel who thought that someone may be shaking the shrouds or walking on the bowsprit. It was not until later, that they found out what had caused the vessel to vibrate.

The Erema H. got under way from St Johnís on Thursday, Nov. 21, 1929, and in company with the UNDINE, skippered by Captain Stephen Goodyear of Carmanville, The CATHERINE P. skippered by Captain Timothy Collins also of Carmanville, and several other schooners, encountered heavy going and Nort West gales and finially made port that first night in Catalina. Captain Timothy Collins decided to abort the season, and turned back to catch a passage on the SS HOME, a coastal Mail Boat on the St. Johnís Change Islands run.

The Erema H. was storm bound in Catalina for four days, finially managing to get along as far as Port Nelson, where they were again storm bound for a week. Finially, in company with the UNDINE and the TUKALU skippered by Captain Jasper Chaulk also of Carmanville, they again headed North. Again a fierce storm battered them until they finially took refuge as best they could, by dropping anchor at Lumsden. Captain Aquilla Hicks in the ELARE, also from Carmanville, had been in Lumsden for almost a week, waiting for the weather to abate to make a dash to Carmanville, so now, there was four Carmanville schooners, all seeking what shelter they could at Lumsden.

Just before daylight, while still riding out a raging storm, one of the Erema Hís anchor chains broke, and the strain being too great, soon parted the second anchor chain, so that she drifted back on to South Cat Island and was totaly smashed to matchsticks!

The crew managed to launch their motor boat, before the schooner hit the rocks, and escaped with little more than their lives and the clothes they were wearing. The other three crews managed to get back to Carmanville three weeks later.

On a subsequent trip North, The SS HOME, took the UNDINE, the TUKALU and the ELRAY in tow, attempting to tow them to Carmanville, but the towing rigged to the three vessels almost tore them apart and almost demasted the one in the center. The UNDINE, which was closest to the SS HOME, was towed to Carmanville, while the TUKALU got towed home to Carmanville next trip, and the ELRAE made it back on her own.

Many schooners were lost in this sequence of storms, including the HELEN VAIR owned by William Collins also of Carmanville, and the NEPTUNE II with Captain Job Barbour, which drifted all the way across the Atlantic to Northern Scotland.

In the Fall of 1929, the crew of the Erema H. was as follows: Theophlus Blackwood, Skipper, Carmanville, his brother Stephen Blackwood, mate, Carmanville, his brother Charles Blackwood, Carmanville Pierce Blackwood, cook, Carmanville Roland Abbott, passenger and nephew of Theophulus Stephen and Charles, cousins of Pierce Blackwood

Written by Roland W. Abbott in his book entitled ďThe Three SeasĒ
Transcribed by George White

© 1999 George White and NL GenWeb