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Today a dramatic and tragic message-in-a-bottle story came my way. Janis Blower, writing in the Shields Gazette, tells the story of a bottle that washed up in 1861 in South Shields, downstream from Newcastle upon Tyne in Great Britain. The whole story is here, but below are some excerpts:

The letter, which was dated February of the previous year, began: “Dear Friends, when you find this, the crew of the ill-fated ship Horatio, Captain Jackson, of Norwich, is no more.” It went on to say how the vessel had left Archangel, in north-west Russia, on January 8, 1860.

All was well at first, but then the ship found herself scudding before a gale for 10 days non-stop.

After a failed rescue attempt, the crew was reduced to eight, plus the master and mate, second mate, and two boys:

“We are not able to keep her up,” Capt Jackson wrote, describing 8ft of water in the hold and the vessel’s hatches all stove in. “We are worn out.”

He went on: “I write these few lines and commit them to the foaming deep in hopes that they will reach some kind-hearted friend who will be so good as to find out the friends of these poor suffering mortals.

“Death is welcome.”

He concluded the letter by listing the names of all those aboard.

Blower hasn't been able to find a ship called Horatio that was lost at that time. “Did she go down, was she saved? We'll probably never know,” she writes.

ETA: oiktirmos has a link to the complete text of the message in the first comment, below.

ETA 2: But quite likely this is just a dramatic hoax; see this comment, below.

Blower says that this image, which accompanies the story, is from the area where the bottle was found, but probably dates to the interwar years in the twentieth century.



Comments

( 40 comments — Leave a comment )
asakiyume
Apr. 20th, 2015 06:07 pm (UTC)
Wow, awesome--thank you!
xjenavivex
Apr. 20th, 2015 06:52 pm (UTC)
wow
asakiyume
Apr. 21st, 2015 12:36 pm (UTC)
right???
sartorias
Apr. 20th, 2015 08:11 pm (UTC)
Wow. I can't help wish that they made it, and got a few good years.
asakiyume
Apr. 21st, 2015 12:36 pm (UTC)
Of course--and sometimes dramatic rescues are made--like this one.

The other possibility, discussed below, is that the whole thing is a hoax.
sovay
Apr. 21st, 2015 01:49 am (UTC)
Elsewhere in the world of Pen Pal: a documentary on the Bajau.
asakiyume
Apr. 21st, 2015 12:30 pm (UTC)
Yes I've seen that! Or rather, I haven't seen the actual documentary, but I've seen it exists.
khiemtran
Apr. 21st, 2015 03:41 am (UTC)
I guess the other possibility is that it was simply a hoax. I would guess it would have been easy enough in 1861 to find out if a ship of that name had been lost, so it makes me wonder what there aren't any other details of what happened.
amaebi
Apr. 21st, 2015 11:39 am (UTC)
One of the things the story makes me think about is how a novel is like a message in a bottle-- and how often we readers think (or want to think) that it's Secretly True in a street sense. I speak as on who was once convinced that there were "still" ents and dwarves and orcs in the Rocky Mountains. (Having been an utter goop has been extremely life-enriching.)
(no subject) - asakiyume - Apr. 21st, 2015 12:29 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - amaebi - Apr. 21st, 2015 12:32 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - asakiyume - Apr. 21st, 2015 02:08 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - amaebi - Apr. 21st, 2015 04:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - khiemtran - Apr. 21st, 2015 09:23 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - roseneko - Apr. 21st, 2015 04:12 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - asakiyume - Apr. 22nd, 2015 12:47 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - roseneko - Apr. 22nd, 2015 12:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - asakiyume - Apr. 22nd, 2015 12:51 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - roseneko - Apr. 22nd, 2015 12:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - asakiyume - Apr. 22nd, 2015 12:58 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - asakiyume - Apr. 21st, 2015 12:15 pm (UTC) - Expand
shewhomust
Apr. 21st, 2015 10:19 am (UTC)
The writer unhelpfully says just 'Shields', but that's the long beach running from Tynemouth to Whitley Bay, so I think she means North Shields, not South.

But what an awful story; yet I don't want to believe it's a hoax.
asakiyume
Apr. 21st, 2015 12:18 pm (UTC)
Yeah, in her story she mentions North Sands--do you think that's a tacit admission that it's North Shields? Should I edit the entry, maybe?

Someone on Facebook pointed out that there ought to be a registry of ships one could check. And certainly details of the note--which oiktirmos found--could be checked (i.e., is there any record of this person, and did they truly go missing at sea).
(no subject) - shewhomust - Apr. 21st, 2015 07:52 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - asakiyume - Apr. 22nd, 2015 12:47 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - khiemtran - Apr. 21st, 2015 09:25 pm (UTC) - Expand
cmcmck
Apr. 21st, 2015 10:39 am (UTC)
The Shields?

That was wor gran's part of the world.

Lloyd's register should be able to provide the ship's name if it wasn't a hoax

asakiyume
Apr. 21st, 2015 12:19 pm (UTC)
And the names of the sailors, recorded in the actual note (linked to in the ETA) ought to be checkable, too.
(no subject) - cmcmck - Apr. 21st, 2015 12:22 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - cmcmck - Apr. 21st, 2015 12:42 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - asakiyume - Apr. 21st, 2015 12:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - cmcmck - Apr. 21st, 2015 12:46 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - oiktirmos - Apr. 21st, 2015 06:28 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - asakiyume - Apr. 21st, 2015 06:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - oiktirmos - Apr. 21st, 2015 07:34 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - asakiyume - Apr. 22nd, 2015 12:48 pm (UTC) - Expand
oiktirmos
Apr. 21st, 2015 07:12 pm (UTC)
The dates don't match either, but it is interesting that the Horatio would shipwreck near to the time of the finding of the bottle. If a hoax, was it concocted by someone connected with the Horatio before or after the shipwreck? Where is a time machine when you need it?
vasma_pr
Apr. 22nd, 2015 06:06 am (UTC)
A very dramatic story! The mame of the port "Archangel" soinds strange to me. Did the author of the letter mean "Arkhagelsk"?
asakiyume
Apr. 22nd, 2015 12:50 pm (UTC)
I think he did, for sure. Arkhangelsk is sometimes referred to in English as Archangel.
( 40 comments — Leave a comment )

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