Ireland Old News

The Times
London, Middlesex, England
January 20, 1880


The Italian barque Giacomino, Captain Bonifazio, from Aberdeen; which arrived at Baltimore on the 3d of January, landed there five passengers and six of the crew of the British steamer Borussia, abandoned at sea on the 2d of December. The names of the passengers, who were all steerage, are – John S. Sullivan, formerly of County Cork, Ireland, but for the past 30 years resident in America; Owen M'Cabe, of County Cavan, Ireland, for the past nine years a resident of New Orleans; Rosandro Gonzalez, a Spaniard; Gretano Cetral, an Italian; and D. Fronde, a Frenchman, who embarked at Liverpool. The names of the crew are – E. W. Sutherland, of Glasgow, second engineer; J. Lorsen, quartermaster; Bernard Garrity and William Fisher, seamen; and Patrick Saver and John Callahan, firemen. They give a more vivid account of the abandonment of the steamer than that which has already been published. The experience of those on board, as described by the survivors, was of the most thrilling nature. The first intimation received that anything was wrong was in the morning of December 1, when a large leak was discovered in the engine-room, which rapidly increased, and the water in the hold of the vessel soon began to accumulate with alarming rapidity. The whole of the crew were put to the pumps, and were urged on in their work by the officers, who appreciated the danger. The water gradually gained on them and soon flooded the engine-room, extinguishing the fires and stopping the engines. The situation of the steamer by this time was critical in the extreme. The heavy weather which had been prevailing during the day gradually increased to a hurricane, and by night the sea swept over the decks. M. Rosandro Gonzales, one of the passengers, who says that he was on deck the whole time, describes the scene as appalling. The steamship was repeatedly swept from stem to stern by the sea. She would rise on the crest of a wave, and as their position was revealed to them by a vivid flash of lightning, her bow could be seen to suddenly drop and the hold [?] to plunge into the waves. An accident which caused a thrill of horror occurred at midnight. The officers of the vessel had insisted on the lady passengers remaining below decks, which they had apparently quietly submitted to. At the time named a group of male passengers and seamen, who were clinging in a half-drowned condition to the bulwark aft, were horrified to see one of the lady passengers appear at the head of the stairway leading from the cabin, carrying in her arms a child apparently about five years old. The vessel was pitching and rolling at a tremendous rate, rendering the woman's position extremely perilous. Four of five seamen and several passengers, about 75 men in all, started to her assistance. When within a few feet of her the bow of the steamship again sank, a great volume of water bore down on the woman and her rescuers, all of whom were borne towards the side of the vessel. The nest instant the shrieks from the entire group rose above the roar of the waters as they were swept away in the darkness. A desperate effort was made by those on board to rescue them, but it only resulted in two more seamen being swept overboard. This was only one of the many heart-rending scenes which occurred during the night. When daybreak appeared, the conditions of the Borussia was found to be such that arrangements were made for abandoning her. By nightfall the small boats that had not been destroyed were got ready and the crew and passengers embarked, leaving the vessel to its fate. Mr. Sutherland, second engineer, says that the party was in the metallo [?] lifeboat No.3. They got into the boat about 4 on the evening of December 2. Lorsen, the quartermaster, and Garrity, boatswain's mate, took charge alternately in steering and managing the boat, which was well provided with crackers, canned meats, and water. After leaving, the gale increased, and during the night, which was pitch dark, the sea ran very high, and the boat drifted at the mercy of the wind and waves. On the following day, December 3, the gale continued. At about 3 o'clock in the afternoon a barque was seen about seven or eight miles distant, crossing the bow of the boat, and blankets were raised on oars and other signals made to attract attention, but she passed on without discovering the signals. No other sail was seen on that day. When night came on it was still blowing fresh from the west with a high sea, but at midnight the wind ceased and the sea calmed down. Atthis time they supposed the boat had made about 120 miles to the eastward, and they were steering for Fayal [?]. From midnight until daybreak of the morning of the 4th the sea continued to calm and the temperature to moderate. During the entire day, the 4th, it was very calm and the sea smooth. No sail was seen. The party took off their clothes and dried them in the sun. A number of sharks followed and kept near the boat, and one made a rush and struck her violently, and they did not leave until one was pierced by a boat-hook. The night of the 4th closed in with clouds, fog, and heavy mist, and at about midnight a fresh breeze sprang up and continued until daybreak. For the past 24 hours they supposed that about 80 miles had been made. On the morning of the 5th the wind blew very hard from the east. Their course was changed and the boat ran before the wind to the westward, and so continued until 4 o'clock in the afternoon, when a sail was discovered about eight miles off, bearing directly towards their boat. The blankets used for sails were lowered, and a signal, made of four pocket handkerchiefs, was hoisted on an oar, and the boat pulled for the barque. At about 5 o'clock the boat was seen by the look-out on the barque, which proved to be the Giacomino, and they were taken on board. As the captain of the barque did not have room for the lifeboat, on which they were saved, it was cast adrift. All the rescued men speak in the highest praise of the kindness of Captain Bonifazio, who supplied every one with clothing and other necessaries.

Submitted by: County Cavan Newspaper Transcription Project

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