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FINDING THE LOCH MAREE. THRILLING STORY OF THE SEA. So much interest has been excited in ship- ping circles by the abandonment and subsequent recovery of the Loch Maree, and so many re- markable rumours are afloat concerning the cir- cumstances of her re-capture, that I, as captain of 'tho tug, William Jolliffe, which succeeded in discovering her whereabouts when so many had failed, consider that the public may be in- terested still further in hearing the actual details as I know them. As the chief agent in her recovery, my account (written for the "Liverpool Mercury") will at least have the merit of being first hand- In 'that, I am afraid, will lie its chief, if not its only, merit, for as a master mariner, certificated since 1868, it will be easily understood that the art of literary composition is not much in my line. From the beginning of this year to the 22nd of February I was off duty, being confined to the house with sickness. My newspaper told me that the Loch Maree, of Dundee, bound from Charlestown. to Bremen, with a cargo of cotton, had been abandoned off the coast of Ireland on the 11th of February, facts familiar to everyone who takes any interest in shipping at all. I learnt that the Black Ccck, amd subsequently a uoat trom the. Clyde, had been despatched by the owners in search of her, and that the underwriters had sent out the Ranger on the same errand. I also heard that the William Jolliffe, when lying at Waterford under another command, had received orders to try and discover her whereabouts, but that she, like the other boats, having failed to find the missing vessel, had returned to Liverpool. On the 21st of February I received a letter from the owners of the William Jolliffe asking me to go down and see the manager. When I got to Tower-buildings the next day, the manajger inquired very considerately about my health and asked whether I felt sufficiently recovered to go to sea again. If so, he would send me in search of the Loch Maree. If other- wise, he declared lie would not send the hoat out again on what appeared a wild goose chase. I told him I felt quite fit for duty. "Then what do you think about the job?" he asked. I told him I thought it was a forlorn hope, as the had been so long abandoned. Anyway, she was a valuable prize, and,^ "nothing venture, nothing win." "Where do you think. she is?" he next queried. I said that if she were still afloat, I judged her to be somewhere off the Island of Lewis. I put in the proviso because 1 had heard that she was seriously damaged on the quarter. I mentioned the Island of Lewis because I remembered several vessels abandoned off the West Coast of Ireland, which had gone north. In particular I recollected the James- town, which drifted from the West of Ireland across the track of Allan's boat?, and even- tually went ashore on Iceland. I considered that she got into the drift of the Gulf Stream, and so was carried northward. Now, when the Loch Maree was abandoned, there ware extraordinary spring tides setting right in for the Irish coast; but the effect of these I thought would be counteracted by the south-east gales which .had prevailed during the same period. In this way I thought she would clear Iceland, get, like the Jamestown. into the Gulf Stream, and drift on towards the Hebrides. It is, of course, well known that if a long ship gets her head north, and has a south-east wind on her quarter, she is bound to forge ahead. The manager and 1 then went to the newsroom and to the under- writer's rooms to make a thorough examina- tion of the course of the Gulf Sfrei.n. I felt pretty sure that the Loch Maree hid got into that part of the stream which sets past the Island of Lewis. I studied the chart in- tently, and we returned to the office, where it. was determined that next morning I should set off. In the meantime 200 tons of coal were put on board the tug. and two extra hands from another of the firm's boats were shipped. On Saturday morning, after a night of Loch Maree on tho brain, I called at the office before sailing. "Where do you think she is?" I asked the manager, wondering whether he had any special information, "How do I know?" he aSSwered. "You go where you like and do w'hat you like. There are eight more ships out there. Fetch any of them in?" "Wha-t!" said I, "an old Norwegian barque loaded with timber, for instance?" "Yes," he replied. "brine her in. Anything you like." This was n roving commission with a vengeance. I men- ticn this interview in some detail because there are. whispers that we had secret information and exact knowledge as to the place where she had been recently seen. I had absolutely no information whatever beyond what I have stated here, and my conclusions were purely a matter of reason and experience. At two o'clock on Saturday, the 23rd, we left the. landing-stage, in fine weather, with a light northerly breeze, which ireshft<ncd as we ran down the channel towards the Island of Inishtrahull, 37 miles north-west of Rathlin. I had selected Inishtra- hull as my point of departure. Before we sighted the island, tho sea wa.s running wry high, and the William Jolliffe, at .no time a. steady boat, was shipping a lot of water. On Friday, the day before sailing I had, of course, been having a bif nk over t-kji matter, and had decided in my own mind to get W.N.W. from Inislitrahull so as to J.rc:t a big sweep and then to zigzag N-E. to the Butt of Lewis. Of course, I decided to lav to at night. If that were not feasible I nwiuit to go dead slow and put my helm hard over, so as to keep on traversing the same circle. When wo arrived off Inishtrahull I went be- low and had another good look at the chart. The result was I decided to alter my plan and steer per a jxrint 40 miles N.W. of the Island of llockliall. When abreast of Rockliall I in- tended to make it, and then go 150 miles fur- ther on mv N.W. course. Then I hoped to work in zigzags of 200 miles, gradually ap- proaching E.N.E. to the Butt of Lewis. Off Inishtrahull the sea was so heavy that I was obliged to slow down till there was only steerage way on tho boat. As we got further west, however, the wind sank, and I increased my speed to ten knots. At twelve o'clock on Sunday night I went to lie down, previously tellW the man who had the morning watch to call me at daybreak. I further gave him in- structions to go up the masthead every half hour when light broke and report to me. At eight. a m. I was aft taking the log, when T l, l thp ma-n at the masthead shout out that he made out two masts away on the star- board bow. I ordered the man at the wheel to'«teer straight for the sighted vessel, and ran at once to the bridge with the long glass. Of course I did not expect to fall in with the object of my search thus early At first sitrht 1 took the vessel for another search st 'ajn'-r but as we could make out no smoke, I came' to the conclusion that we were m luck's way at all events. The excitement on board was intense as we gradually drew £ r "If that's not the Loch Maree,' I -a-cP''it's one of the other derelicts; we are all ri'dit" Closer and closer we came up, i we could make out t.he yellow funnel with the black top. There was no mistake u about it now. It was assureclly t^ big pnze Loch Maree. The e&ec-c or the dis- cover W-JIS electrical. My heart waa thunip- i„e 'aW^t mv ribs, and it was as much as I~'could do to hold the gflass steady. Pre- sently we could make out the name on her stern. Then, and not till then, the most confirmed doubter's misgivings were set at rpt-b She was lying, when we saw her, in the" trough of the sea, rolling in the frssh north-east wind. h?r head lying north-west, about ten miles off. It was halt-past nine on the Monday morning when W3 sighted liec and we were th?n 185 miles north-west from Inishtrahull. We had spoken nothing, had heard no news, and had got no special information of any kind to direct our search. Our good fortuim was, therefore, all tlie more astounding. With all wg steamed to leeward of her stern, and pot our boat out. The tu"- was rolling heavily, and the business wad 1!1.0<5t difficult. Just as we eofc the boat lewd with the rail the tug gave a big roll, which ur'.ooked the after fall. It was lucky that tho two men, and I who were in her at tho time w&re. ready far contingencies or that would have been the end as far as we were con- cerned. The' boat shipped a lot of water, but by immediately letting go the fore Ml we man a wed to save, her from Kwainpm<T I got soma food, an(* 1 nr,he boat, ?nd Atserinsr lier tvitli an oar m* soon f*nt, to the 'side of the ship. The falls were dangling cyer gide, just as tlisy had been left, but the hlocks had been washed away. A line fas- tened to cue of 4&vite wm friso hanging over the side. Probably it was down this line that the last man left the ship. One of my men "shinned" up, and found a, rope ladder en deck. As we tossed by the side of the chip my feelings were indescribable. The pathos of that deserted vessel was something to remember for a lifetime. The silence, the absence of any life, the masterless way she swung about, made me feel a kind of supersti- tious dread, tempered, however, by the delight of having been instrumental in saving such a valuable property from premature destruction. Directly I got on deck I hurried to the wheel, or rather to the wheels, for there were two wheels on the one spindle. To my satisfaction I found the hehn all right. My next care was to make suitable arrangements for towing. Fortunately there was a wire hawser already placed in position. The arrangement, however, did not suit me. In the end, with much diffi- culty, I shackled our own hawser on to the wire one, and prepared to tow her overall. Then I went below. Everything was orderly, but there was not a scrap of coal or food in the ship. In the engineer's room there were two small birds dead in a cage.. On the floor in the mate's room were a few feathers, probably all that the rats had left of a parrot. Though we had got the ship, the anxious time was to come. I decided to remain on board the Loch Maree myself. I had not a -n.+r. +- .+ 'J. IIIUIC lV JHUl All charge, and besides, now I had got hold of the ship, I didn't mean letting her go with- out a big struggle. I could easily direct both ships from my position on the Loch Maree. I made the course south-east for Inishtrahull, and a few minutes to twelve we commenced towing. Until four o'clock she steered well, but when the wind freshened from the north- east to a moderate gale, she yawed badly, and I began to fear that the hawser would part. By paying 50 fathoms more of the wire hawser, making 170 fathoms in all, I managed to make things more comfortable, though my attention had to be unceasing. By eight p.m. on Tuesday we got the light- house of Inishtrahull abeam, having at the time three or four men at the wheel. At two o'clock on Wednesday we passed Rath- lin, and by noon we were safely anchored in Carrickfergus Roads. My anxiety, which had been truly terrible since I took charge of her, was practically now over. That (Wedneseiay) night I got my first moment of rest since 9.30 on the previous Monday morning. The resrfc is detail. The whole voyage, with its slender hopes, its fortunate development, its excitement, its physical and mental strain, and its happy conclusion, fills out such a big event in my life that I am fain to believe that most readers will peruse my simple account, if not with interest, with, at lfast, the toleration usually extended to sailors' yarns.