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The John Lachlan and the August Gale - 1873

The following account is quoted from Cape Breton Ships and Men by John P. Parker, MBE, master mariner1:
"This Livingstone vessel was commanded by Lauchlin, son of Sandy, and she was somewhere in the vicinity of St. Paul's Island on the day of the August Gale of 1873. . . . (T)he effects of this storm were far-reaching. It has been said that over one thousand Nova Scotia seamen were lost as well as a great many ships. This gale and a previous big storm, the Saxby Gale of 1866, are said to have been contributing factors in the decline of the great shipping enterprises of the Maritime Provinces. The wind force of this storm exceeded 100 knots and the centre passed through Cape Breton from Ile Madame to Boularderie then veered north-east(sic) and crossed the Avalon Peninsula in Newfoundland.

When the storm struck the John Lachlan, Lauchie ran before it to the westward for several hours, then realized that he was running out of sea-room. He ordered all hands below, battened everything and lashed himself to the wheel. He defied the rules of seamanship by putting his broad-beamed little ship in the trough of the sea and kept her there all night. Every time she would fall away and race before the hurricane, he would put the wheel hard over and bring her up broadside to the sea again. Two days later he brought his battered little wreck into North Sydney with all hands safe."

1Parker, John P. Cape Breton Ships and Men. Hazell Watson & Viney Limited, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire.

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Updated 7 January 1997

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