The Evening Express Los Angeles Saturday 10th February 1894
BAD WRECK AT REDONDO
A HEAVY GALE
The Berk Jewett Blown Ashore at Redondo
Crew Finally Rescued With Difficulty
A Heavy Loss – The Wharf Also Damaged
The Blow at Santa Monica Causes No Damage
The Lumber Vessel Prosper Grounded at Newport
Graphic Details of Effects of Wind and Wave
The bark J. W. Jewett, Captain Sprague, ladened with 600,000 feet of lumber, from Portland, Or., was moored off the north side of Redondo wharf last night, with her lines fast to a large iron buoy, some distance from the shore, and with her starboard down. The vessel was not alongside the wharf, but was out free of it. It did not appear firmly anchored. As the vessel was, there could be no possible chance of her slipping her moorings however hard the wind might blow.
The storm of last night increased in intensity as the night grew on, and the sea became very heavy, so that all hands were called on board the bark in apprehension of possible danger.
There were nine men on board including Captain Sprague and the first mate. The wind was increasing, blowing heavy from the north-west with a clean sweep down on the bark and the pier under the lee. The surf on the beach was rolling almost mountain high and with deafening roar this, in the dense blackness of the night relieved only by the phosphorescent whiteness of the great breakers, gave the scene a grandly terrific aspect.
Gradually the breakers extended outward, the water which is usually still because it is with ordinary winds too deep for breakers, became a rolling mass as the heavy waves plowed in from the sea and rolled with a great roar and swept to the beach.
Suddenly, amidst the din and the roar and the howl of the wind, a crashing sound was heard, and Captain Sprague, on the deck of the bark, perceived through his night glass that a small end of the Redondo pier had been carried away.
The gap in the wharf could be distinctly seen as well as the piles and debris that were being dashed about in the white foam. This had been expected by the Captain for during a whole hour heavy seas had been breaking clear over the end of the wharf, and it was only a question of time when a part of the structure would have to succumb.
About this time Captain Sprague perceived also that the bark was leaving her moorings, he had an hour before let go the port anchor and every foot of chain which could with safety be paid out was out.
Notwithstanding this it was apparent that the holding ground was not sufficient for the vessel to hold on and the close contiguity it was to shallow water rendered the waves so high that it was impossible for her to withstand the weight of the successive bodies of water that were hurled against her.
Much to his dismay Captain Sprague saw his vessel moving down on the wharf, and himself powerless to prevent it. All moorings were gone and the vessel was swiftly carried to leeward. To add to its speed some of the sails came adrift and these were flapping and filling in the wind blowing out f their bolt ropes, snapping to pieces and assisting to carrying the doomed bark further leeward.
Within a few minutes after the moorings had fully gone the bark came broadside on the wharf, striking about midships with her stern toward the shore. The great concussion stove in the ship’s side and swept part of the piles away from the end of the wharf. She paused only for an instant and then veered as through her bow would go around to port. Captain Sprague had been, meanwhile, endeavouring to get sail on and get out to sea. The lee sheet of the main topsail was hauled home, and if he could have only held on a little longer at anchor he could have slipped the anchor and gotten out; but there was no time. In a moment almost the vessel was on the wharf; her bow went off to leeward and she turned around and swept broadside on the shore, laying on her port beam, the breakers rolling almost over her starboard side.
Her keel was carried away by striking bottom and the main mizzenmasts were carried overboard.
A large crowed had meanwhile gathered on the beach, and as soon as the vessel struck shore efforts were at once made to rescue the men on the vessel. She struck close to the wharf and it was plain to see that their positions were very perilous. A tar barrel was hastily procured and this was taken out on the end of the wharf, a small line was tied to it and it was thrown overboard and drifted down to the vessel. It safely reached the bark and the men made it fast to the foremast and the end on the wharf was carried ashore from the vessel. This was made fast and the small line was used to haul ashore the men from the vessel who came along the hawser lashed in a boatswain’s chair.
The first man gotten ashore in this manner was nearly drowned. The chain did not slide well along the hawser, and stuck fast in the middle of the breakers, so that the poor sailor remained in the midst of the breakers for several minutes, and at one time it was thought he could not be rescued. By this time, however, day had fairly broken and the wind was abating, and the difficulty being remedied, the man was safely gotten ashore. The other men were brought ashore in like manner and in quick succession, until all were rescued. The vessel, however, fast began to go to pieces, and her cargo began to drift about in the surf. She will be a total loss and her value is about $20,000, the cargo, however, being lumber, will be mostly saved. The cargo was consigned to the Redondo Lumber Company.
During all this scene the most intense excitement prevailed on shore; nearly the whole town was on the beach, and the situation found many stalwart volunteers among the people, who did all they could to rescue and relieve the distressed.
Likely to Die.
The report comes late this afternoon that one of the sailors on the Jewett named Stewart is likely to die from exposure.