The Cellardyke Echo – 1/4/2016


Skipper Alex Davidson, of Cellardyke and his young companion, the son of Skipper William Watson Jack, had a narrow escape on Thursday, for while scudding past the romantic cliffs of St Abbs a violent squall struck the sail and nest instant threw the yawl on her beam ends filling her at the same terrible juncture gunwale deep with water. Providentially a friendly boat was soon alongside, and the gear and nest were saved, but the yawl named ‘Nil Desperandum’ was totally lost. William Davidson was landed at Burnmouth, where he purchased another yawl, and has once more sailed to resume the fishing at the Tyne.


About dusk on Sabbath the German galiot Anna was stranded on the rocks near Anstruther Harbour, when the vessel became a total wreck, but the crew were rescued by the gallant services of the lifeboat. The unlucky craft was on a voyage to Burntisland for the loading of coals, and, wafted before the freshening sea breeze all went well till the master, Captain William Rinck, mistaking, as he says, the Isle of May for that of Inchkeith, and the red light of Anstruther for that of his port of destination, steered his schooner stern on to the shore. The wild misapprehension was seen all but too late, for though the anchor was dropped, the surf rolling in from the North Sea drove the schooner on the dangerous ridge known as the West Gatt, where bewildered and frantic by finding their frail hulk at the mercy of the foaming breakers, they gave vent to their feelings in wild and heart rending cries for assistance. These, however, were not in vain, for in quick response to the signal gun at the lifeboat house, crowds of hardy fishermen left their firesides in Cellardyke, or betook themselves in their Sunday clothes, just as they were returning from church, to the scene of action, where a hundred willing hands lost not an instant in the dragging of the boat over the rugged basin of the new harbour. It was dead low water on the shore, but the long pull was effected without pause or rest, when a volunteer crew with Skipper John Pratt as Coxswain, having sprung to their places, the little craft shot out into the darkness and the storm on the errand of deliverance. It was a critical task, for on nearing the wreck the utmost skill was demanded for to preserve the boat from being dashed against the thickly set skerries and detached rocks on every side of the galiot, and on which the boat, notwithstanding every precaution more than once struck her keel. Eventually, however, a rope was thrown from the vessel, and the lifeboat being steered through an open chasm in the rocks, the four men composing of the crew dropped from the jib boom, when a few minutes sufficed to land them at the new sea pier on their way to a place of shelter for the night…. The disaster is only to be explained by the ignorance of the master of the navigation of the coast, and he is also reported to have mistaken the time of high water… she is well covered by insurance…. The sea wind and heavy surf during Tuesday reduced her to driftwood…


Alexander Keith, carter, Cellardyke pleaded guilty to assaulting James Jack on the 10th Instant on the public road between Anstruther and St Andrews by striking him a number of severe blows on his head with his fists.. 30s or 21 days imprisonment.


Fears are being entertained in Peterhead for the safety of the ‘Progress’, belonging to that port. It is now over three weeks since she left Cellardyke for the Baltic, and several vessels leaving after her have reached their destination.


At St Monance on the 27th, by the Rev Gabriel Smith of Anstruther, John Trainer Fishcurer to Isabella youngest daughter of the Late John Nicol, Merchant Cellardyke.


Just published.  Fisher Life, or the The Memorials of Cellardyke and the Fife Coast by George Gourlay


On Wednesday Morning as the Cellardyke boat Southern Cross, Alexander Fowler, master was running home from the great lines she was struck with a tremendous sea, while crossing the Murray Bank, some ten leagues or so from the Isle of May. Two of the crew Andrew Fleming, who was at the helm and Andrew Brown who was standing on the hatchway, were washed overboard and drowned. Thomas Keay was also severely crushed between the spars, which had been cast loose by the same fatal sea. Skipper fowler with great presence of mind cast loose the sheet on the boat, or one and all would doubtless have been engulfed in destruction. Fleming leaves a widow and five children, and Brown a widow and two children, all of whom are more or less helpless and dependant.

Another melancholy disaster occurred on board the Cellardyke boat Onyx, Robert Meldrum master. The onyx like the Southern Cross was homeward bound, and while close reefed in mid ocean she was struck by one of those treacherous billows only too well known in the navigation of the North Sea. At this instant one of the crew, Andrew Muir, was swept into the sea, and though for a time he sustained an unequal struggle with the storm, he perished before the boat could beat up his rescue. Another of the crew David Wood, was severely cut on the forehead, through a blow dealt by the heel of his lost comrade, while in the clutches of the sea, which threw him over the gunwale. Muir leaves a widow and five helpless children.



At sea on the 16th January in his 56th year on his passage home from Calcutta to Liverpool, Captain James Webster of the ship Mary Stenhouse, a native of Cellardyke. His body was consigned to a sailor’s grave. He served his time as a carpenter in Dundee before taking to shipboard.


The haddocks have been seldom so plentiful, in particular a Cellardyke yawl landed 50 dozen of the sea dainties the other morning, the lines having been cast with skellie to St Ironic, a haddock haunt famous in the fishing annals of Fife  for the last 3 centuries. Seven boats forming the Cellardyke squadron this season sailed on Friday.


About seven o clock this morning a collision between the Gleaner, No 1800 belonging to Cellardyke, and the yawl Flowery land of Arbroath, by which the former was so seriously damaged she sank. Skipper of the Gleaner, David Corstorphine left Cellardyke on Monday morning for the great line fishing and arrived about 33 miles east of the bell rock about 3 in the afternoon. About 12 o clock last night they got their lines hauled and when about 7 miles off the bell rock bearing west by south they were run into by the Flowery land, which struck her between the foremost timber and stem with such a force that the Gleaner filled and sank within minutes. The crew were taken aboard the Naomi of Arbroath. The skipper of the Gleaner states that although he saw the Flowery land he was unable to alter his course in time to avoid the collision. It appears that the crew of the Flowery Land did not notice the Gleaner until they struck her, and they asked why the Gleaner crew did not cry out and give them a warning. The Gleaner was lost with all tackle, lines etc and none of the crew was able to save anything. Neither the boat nor gear was insured and the loss will fall upon the captain whose property she was.. The crew are Skipper David Corstorphine, George Corstorphine, William Watson, George Doig, David Moncrieff, John Moncrieff and William Falconer.



Captain George Barclay at Liverpool native of Cellardyke, in his 75th year. His first cruise was as one of the 80 young fishers on the season on board the Greenland whalers. Resolving to be a sailor, he studied navigation with so much success that after once and again crossing the line as mate, he obtained a command of his own, but at the very moment that the highest honours of his profession were lying like an open door to his hand he was seized with an alarming ailment, which compelled him to forsake all and live ashore. He was invited by the late Provost Tod to superintend the fish business built up by the lifelong labours of Mr William Davidson. In this way he was induced to move from the East of Fife to Liverpool where in private as well as commercial circles he won the esteem and confidence of all whom he had to do with. He is survived by a widow and three sons, one of whom is a partner in the well-known firm of Lindop and Barclay.

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