The Wreck and Rescue of a Scotch Fishing Crew
The sea has many charms and attractions, and has afforded to many, of all classes, much joy and real pleasure. But alas! alas! It has caused much sorrow, and many have painfully proved the truth of God’s Word when He says- “There is sorrow on the sea, it cannot be quiet” (Jer. xlix., 23). What thrilling adventure and terrible peril, what exposures, privations, and hardships through howling winds, raging waves, and ships on fire are recorded.
Let us introduce our readers to a most thrilling and
touching incident, which occurred on the 24th day of September, in
the year 1866, in an arm of the sea called the Moray Firth, on the Banffshire
Does our reader know this? If not, why not?
Amongst the villages referred to is the well-known fishing
village of Findochty, and here lives the well-known and notable family of the
“Sutherlands”; notable because of their devotion to Christ, and leading men in
every good work; but especially in their efforts to spread the Gospel, speaking
publicly and privately of Jesus and His love. On the day referred to,
this family, five brothers (Willie, John, Jamie, Sandy, and Joseph), a nephew
(a boy), and a man named Smith, seven in all, had gone to sea in a small boat
to prosecute their daily and dangerous calling. All went well as they
sped to the fishing grounds in their tiny craft across the waters, and in a few
hours they had their lines “shot and hauled” again, and their boat fairly laden
with haddocks and other fish. All was soon in readiness for the homeward
journey. The sail was quickly set, and once more the little barque was
making for the
As the seven clung for support to the keel of the boat; the
boy James was supported by Sandy, his uncle, who, being the strongest of the
seven, felt it his duty to look after the boy, his father not being able; and
in this way they tried to withstand the waves that dashed with their relentless
fury over them. It became evident the boat could not support the weight
of the seven. What was to be done? Life was dear to all alike. The
We now leave for a little, Sandy, Jamie, and the boy, and witness the cowardice and cruelty of the passing boat’s crew. The four who got aboard rightly expected that an effort would be made to rescue the other three, and that at once they would turn their boat and make an effort to save the others. But alas! alas! Their fond hopes were doomed, and as the boat sped on, Joseph said, “Aren’t you going back for the others?” “No, we can’t; the sea is too heavy for our boat,” was the reply. “Oh, you will not leave our brothers to perish?” was the vain appeal. A threat of being thrown overboard was the only answer. Once more, imploringly, they cried, “Oh, don’t leave our brothers, oh, save them; make one attempt, make one “take,” and I will give you $l00,” said John. But their piteous appeals were all in vain. Almost demented, and filled with grief and despair at the thought of leaving the others to perish, Joseph seized a large ballast stone, and holding it in both hands above his head, by way of a threat, he cried, “We shall all drown together” (meaning he would put the stone through the bottom of the boat and sink it), when one of the cruel crew felled him with a stick. Both appeal and resistance were useless, and utterly exhausted from exposure and filled with the deepest grief, they lifted their hearts to God in prayer for them they had left to perish; and with heavy hearts and weeping eyes they were soon landed at Buckie Harbour (to which port this port belonged): “We must thank you, that through your boat we are rescued and spared from a watery grave to-day. But what can we say to the public about your conduct towards the others, in leaving them to drown?” They looked at each other, and one said, Didn’t I tell you what it would be?” For he, more cowardly than the others, had proposed to let all perish, rather than run any risk in an attempt to save them; and to add sin to crime, they all swore there were only four on the bottom of the boat, and that they rescued them all. This lie they told to hide their cowardice and cruelty. “Be sure your sin will find you out.” God says so, and be sure it will; and with them it was so, as the sequel will show.
Let us now return to Sandy, Jamie, and the boy who had been
left to perish. They gladly saw their brothers and Smith get aboard, and
gladly hoped that the moment of their deliverance was at hand, and eagerly they
watched for the boat to make a “take” and rescue them. But alas! With horror
and surprise they saw the boat pursue its course, leaving them behind.
They could even behold the efforts and vain appealings of their brothers on
their behalf. They saw their brothers overpowered and beaten down, and
the boat fast receding from their sight. What anguish now seized them,
and despairingly Jamie said – “Oh,
What is this that steels upon my frame? Is it death?
Which soon will quench the vital flame – is it death?
If this be death, I soon shall be
From every pain and sorrow free,
I shall the King of glory see, All is well.
I now am stepping on the shore, All is well,
My struggles here are nearly o’er, All is well.
My soul is free from every fear,
My hope is full, my title clear,
And best of all, the Lord is here, All is well.
Cease, cease to weep, my friends, for me, All is well.
My sins are pardoned, I am free, All is well.
The monster Death has lost his sting,
My happy soul is on the wing,
Beyond the grave I soon shall sing, All is well.
The sweat of death is on my brow, All is well.
My feet are in the river now, Al is well.
There’s not a cloud which does arise
To hide my Jesus from my eyes;
I soon shall mount the upper skies, All is well.
Tune, tune your harps, ye saints in glory, All is well,
I’ll repeat the pleasing story, All is well.
Bright angels are from glory come,
I hear them whispering in my room;
They wait to waft my spirit home, All is well.
Hark, hark, my Lord and Master calls me, All is well.
I come to see Thy face in glory, All is well.
Farewell my friends, adieu, adieu,
I can no longer stay with you,
My glittering crown appears on view, All is well.
Jamie was too weak and exhausted to sing, but when
My Jesus I love Thee, I know Thou art mine,
For me all the glory Thou did’st resign;
My gracious Redeemer, my Saviour art Thou,
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ‘tis now.
I love Thee because Thou hast first loved me,
purchased my pardon on
I love Thee for wearing the thorns on Thy brow,
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ‘tis now.
When Jamie had finished,
The warm, noble-hearted Sandy felt keenly the imploring cry of his little nephew, and knowing there was not a moment to lose, he said, “Wee, Jamie, my laddie, ye ha’e the same chance as the deein’ thief,” and he told him of the thief who was dying in his sins on the cross by the side of the Son of God who was dying for his (the thief’s) sins, and how he turned his dying eyes to the suffering Saviour and cried, “Lord, remember me when thou comest into Thy kingdom,” and how Jesus at once replied, “To-day shalt thou be with me in Paradise”; and in this manner Sandy encouraged the boy to put his trust in Jesus, and receive Him to be his Saviour, and that if he trusted Jesus they would all go to Heaven together. And again Sandy lifted his heart to thank God, saying, “Oh, my Father, I thank Thee for the salvation Jamie and I are enjoying, through our Saviour’s precious blood, for our sure hope and sweet home beyond this watery grave. But oh, Father, the boy’s nae saved – wee Jamie’s nae ready tae dee. Ye saved the deein’ thief, oh, save the drooning laddie for Jesus’ sake!” Never was prayer more earnestly offered, and never was prayer more quickly answered. The boy called out, “Oh, Uncle Sandy, I’m saved, I’m saved; I’ve trusted Jesus and I know I’m saved,” and with tears of joy and hearts full of gratitude they praised God for hearing and answering their prayers in saving “the drooning laddie.”
Thus their fast – expiring strength, the little that
remained, was employed in praise, prayer, and thanksgiving to God, and
encouraged by the immediate answer to prayer
As the boat approached, their consternation grew. What
could it mean? A Portessie boat. Why is it coming here? There is
something strange about it. What is it? She glides betwixt the pier heads and
all eyes are upon it. No explanation was required, the Sutherlands’ boat has
been wrecked. The Portessie boat has saved Sandy, Jamie, and Willie’s
Jamie, the others are drowned. These were the hurried and natural
conclusions of all the on-lookers. The rescued were brought ashore.
The aged, weeping mother of the five brothers was the first to cry-“Where’s the
John lived to see his family become men and women and trust their mother’s Saviour and truly serve their father’s God. He fell asleep in Jesus about ten years ago. Jamie’s only child rejoices in Jesus as her Saviour. Jamie departed to be with Jesus two years ago. The boy Jamie is now a man with boys and girls of his own, and he, his father, Joseph, and Sandy, with their wives and families, still live and love and serve their Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, who died to redeem them with His precious blood. May we all trust and serve the blessed Saviour, and may we all meet at last where there will be no more sea and no more sorrow.
Where the child shall meet its mother,
And the mother meet her child,
And where friends that death divided
Shall be gathered from the wild.
Brothers, sisters, may you and I meet and rest
Amid the holy and the blest.
A very few years after that memorable incident, during the
herring fishing season at Peterhead, a terrible storm suddenly burst while the
boats were at sea. With all speed every crew sought to reach the
harbour-one crew, the skipper of which was a great friend of the Sutherlands,
and a very devoted Christian man. As they made for the harbour they saw a
boat apparently in a helpless condition. “Let us bear down upon that boat,
boys,” cried the Christian skipper; “perhaps they need our help.” And surely
they did need help. Their mast had been broken by the fury of the wind,
and in its fall had broken the skipper’s leg and hurt and injured others of the
crew, and in that plight they lay a helpless prey to a devouring ocean and
destructive gale. The Christian skipper and his crew were soon
alongside, and seeing their plight, boarded their boat to render what aid they
could. Only one thing could be done, and that at greatest risk-make fast
a rope to the stem of the wreck and tow it to the harbour. At once this
was done, and the work of rescue at greatest peril begun. Oh, what must
have been the feelings of the skipper (who lay moaning with his leg broken) and
the other injured members of the crew, when this heroic Christian skipper,
looking at him, said, “Aren’t you the skipper and the crew that left my
friends, the Sutherlands, to perish in the
May all this thrilling incident and narrative richly magnify the love and grace of God in the eyes of every reader, and endear the Lord Jesus our Saviour to every heart. This will fully accomplish the object for which it is written, and gratify the heart’s desire of all concerned. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John )