Shiver Me Timbers !!
24 March 2012 | Terrence Bay, Lower Prospect
Alex, sunny and cool.
Today Dave and I decided to do some exploring, on land, in our own backyard. Whoa, what ??
We were heading to Polly's Cove, a hiking trail just a tad before Peggy's Cove. We had even packed a snack and some coconut water to quench our thirst (nothing like getting ready for our future caribean travels !)
The reason we got sidetracked, is that four summers ago, when we were sailing on Dave's then lovely Illihee II, we spent a wonderful night in Grovers Cove, where we had hiked by some waterfalls. Today we were driving by, on our way to Polly's Cove, Dave did a double turn and hmm, mentionned that those "rocks looked familiar" and so we did another double turn and went for a look-see. Now only a "true" sailor would understand this term "the rocks looked familiar". Maybe, given that I knew exactly what Dave was talking about when he said that, could I be that much closer to becoming a sailor-ess ?
In any case, that's how we got sidetracked. We parked in a very small area just off the road, and found ourselves in this waterfront park, stumbled on the boardwalk littered with benches everywhere and stopped for a moment at the gazebo. We started reading the interpretive panels and discovered a very interesting piece of history that neither one of us knew anything about.
On 01 April 1873, the sail and steam fueled SS Atlantic was on its 19th voyage across the Atlantic Ocean, (from Liverpool (U.K.) and on its way to New York (U.S.), needed to refuel and was heading to Halifax to replenish its coal supplies (why did it leave UK with not enough coal?). The (typical) stormy seas and foggy nights of Nova Scotia had the Capt fooled (and there seems to be a bit of question as to the Capt's actions), thinking he was near Halifax, zigged when he should've zagged, and so in the wee hours of the morning, the ship smashed into some underwater rocks off Marr's Head...
It was considered "the worst marine disaster off the Canadian Coast prior to the Titanic". Of the 952 people on board less than half were saved. Lifeboats were lowered but were mostly washed away or smashed by the rough seas. The ship quickly filled with water and rolled over on its side. All the women and children died including 2 babies that were born on-board during the voyage. One child survived, a young boy by the name of John Hindley. The few survivors owed their lives to the very small and brave community that kept the frozen bodies alive during the dark and cold night. Many divers spent weeks diving and recovering the bodies. One newspaper tells an interesting tale : that one of the found crew was discovered to be a woman instead of the man that she was pretending to be - (s)he had served as a "common (male) sailor" for 3 of the SS Atlantic's voyages. Shiver me timbers !!
There stands a commemorative monument, erected in 1915, on a mass grave for the unidentified victims of the wreck.
As Dave and I meandered off the beaten path, we came across more gravestones laying helter skelter in the bushes, enough to shiver me timbers and hush us into solemn pensiveness. What is it about discovering a bunch of gravestones that gives one the creepy crawlies ? Either way it was an interesting detour and a wonderful day spent discovering a little piece of history in our own backyard.
On a side note, the offer and counter offer fell through and our house is back on the market, so we came home after our adventures for (another) thorough cleaning, getting it ready for more showings !! And it's back to the books for this "true sailor-ess" for the upcoming reviews and Coastal Navigation exam this week.
Keep your fingers crossed, shiver me timbers !!
Photo: One of the descriptive panels fond at the Heritage Site aptly named "Cry of the Sea". As always if you've liked SV Banyan on Facebook, you can take a peek at a few more pictures.