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Skipper saves crew of seven in high seas

Year 1923

Read by Lois Smith – Supporter, Royal Humane Society

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Watkinson, William J., Skipper, Stem Drifter Silver Line.

At 3.30 a.m. on the 17th February,1923, the Steam Drifter Silver Line was driven on a submerged rock under the cliff at Ravenscar, about ten miles north of Scarborough on the Yorkshire coast, the rock on which she struck being about 20 yards from shore. It was almost dark at the time, a fierce gale blowing with heavy rain, the sea being exceedingly rough and the water icy cold.

It was found impossible to launch the small boat as the seas were breaking right over the vessel. The skipper, Mr. Watkinson, issued life-belts, and there being no response to the flares which had been lit, decided to try to reach shore with a line.

Lowering himself over the side he was caught by a heavy sea and hurled against a rock, to which he clung. He then waited for the next sea, by which he was fortunately washed ashore.

Communication being thus established, the crew, seven in number, were successfully landed, two of them being so badly bruised that Watkinson had to go in and assist them to shore, where unaware of their situation, they remained drenched and terribly cold until daylight came some four hours later.

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