I sat on the sea wall at North Bay in Scarborough; looking out to the North Sea and thinking about my previous visit and how I put the spirit of a young girl to rest; as told in the story “The Ghost of St. Mary’s,” available to read in my book of the same title.
Some people may think me silly for saying this, but in the past I had come to realise spirits can help if you let them; all you need to do is have an open mind.
I sat on the wall and watched the waves; my mind resting with the pleasant sounds of the sea rolling in from afar and the sights and sounds of the seas, in these circumstances you can imagine things which are not real. My mind was not thinking of anything in particular when I thought I saw something. I only caught the slightest glimpse of something out of the corner of my eye. There appeared to be a boat heading towards the lighthouse and harbour, but how could I be sure, I hadn’t been concentrating on anything. Trust your senses to tell you the story. I sat there for an hour or two, wave watching and thinking of what I had witnessed. A ship going into the harbour and making good time, but something amiss about her and at this time I couldn’t place what was wrong, which is where my story starts.
The image of the ship heading into harbour stayed with me all day; I replayed the scene in my mind and every time I did, the mystery remained. A piece of the scene did not fit and I had to find out why, no matter how many times I thought about the scene, the ship appeared wrong to me.
Later that night I was out having a stroll along the sea front, enjoying the spring salty air and feeling good about things. I was in Scarborough, a town I loved since my childhood. Although the town centre has changed and is full of shops you can find anywhere, the old town by the harbour had changed little with the passage of time, or maybe my mind wanted to remember the good old days. I was wandering around the old winding streets; a far cry from last autumn when I almost got blown down one steep street, the wind and rain driving so hard I was unable to see my hand to hold onto the railing. Tonight I walked with the moon glinting on the damp cobbles and reflecting the images of the fish market, closed for the day, but never out of business.
The walk from the new centre down to the old area by the harbour could not have been more different; going down the cobbled streets reminded me of novels by Charles Dickens, with the cobbles and the old shops which had not moved on with time; yet remained in business.
In the distance I heard the familiar clanking of ship’s bells, even if you didn’t know the town, the sounds are able to guide you on your walks. You walk passed the newer housing estates on the way to the old quarter; the harbour life is similar to the pictures from pictures by Frank Sutcliffe at Whitby, which is not far up the coast from Scarborough. Times may change, but fisher folk and their habits don’t; they still wear the same thick knit cable stitch sweaters to keep the cold winds of the North Sea out.
The path to the quayside is very steep and unless you are sure footed, I recommend using the handrail provided, at least this time the weather was fine and I had no driving rains to chill me. I exited the street and was greeted by the sights of the South Bay, this area is the tourist part of the town, filled with the arcades and novelty shops you get at most seaside resorts, but the children like it; I recall I used to love playing on the sands.
The night air was filled with sounds of the callers in the bingo halls and on the bumper car rides, I remember the days when they would used to be a port of call for me, but no longer. I had kicked my fascination with the reels a long time ago; which is why my family had been amazed I brought so little money for the trip, as I said when I left, “All I need is some money for food during the day and a few souvenirs. I won’t be going in the arcades at any time as this is a spiritual release and a working holiday; most nights I’ll be writing in my room.”
The lights of the arcades reflected like glistening jewels on the calm waters of the harbour as the tide came in, the varied colours making me think of Christmas. I left the arcades behind me on the way to the fish and chip shop to get my evening meal, when at the seaside, eat fish and fries. In my opinion you can’t get any fresher fish than at the source and here I had proof-positive, I could taste the salt on the fish. I sat on the front looking out to sea, the only sounds registering were the waves rolling in across the harbour, as the jetty jutted out and the last of the gulls cawing for the fries. The night light began fading and a chill breeze carrying the salty spray came in from the sea, so I decided to make my way back to the guest house for the evening; the walk takes you along the path side of the harbour and during the day I would have gone via the harbour walls, but with the lessening light I thought the route via the footpath to be safest walk.
My walk back took me along the road opposite the beach and I remembered in the autumn the motor trials had been held along this roadway and the rough seas breaking across the road, so violently half of the road was awash.
I turned up the cliff path and headed along the path behind the rears of the hotels along the drive, for some reason I stopped and looked out to sea and for a moment and I thought I caught sight of a ship’s lantern in the distance, “No, I must be tired!” I thought. Before I had the chance for a second thought I saw the lamp again; this made me believe I had seen a ship’s lantern flickering past the point. This lamp hadn’t been rocking gently to and fro, as it should be if the boat had been running the tide, this lamp waved in a frenzied sideways action as though somebody was trying to attract my attention, I observed the lamp twice before it went out.
The mystery of the lamp roused my curiosity and my mind was racing with ideas of what might be out at sea. Still on my mind was the mystery of the young girl; the records of the Maritime research project held no official record of a Betty Moffet and here obviously in distress at the rocks of that name, I thought I glanced the sight of a ship’s lantern waving, could this be a link? I had many questions, but no answers and if I did find out what this is about, would the answers help solve the mystery of the rocks, or would they only solve the riddle of the lantern?
On my arrival at the guest house I met Andy the proprietor on his way back from taking his dog, a lovely collie cross, for her evening walk, “Evening Al, we’ve had a lovely day again today,” Andy commented.
“You’re right, Andy, and the weather appears good for tomorrow too, judging from the skies tonight.”
We walked up the steps and entered the house; inside we talked about what I planned for tomorrow. Andy and his wife are new to the area and I didn’t think they would have heard or read about the mystery, so I let things ride for the night as I climbed the stairs and went to my room as my mind began racing at the possibility of another mystery to solve.
In the morning, my fellow guests were all chatting about where to go and what to do; today a trip to Whitby was planned. The town is lovely, situated on the river Esk but what people forget is Whitby is and will always be; the area is a working fishing port. Whitby is also known for its shipbuilding yards, which can be seen, if you walk back up the river half a mile to see the sheds across the river. Whitby is not a seaside resort like Scarborough and being honest, there isn’t much to keep you there more than a few hours, even with the new Dracula exhibits on the dock side. To view the town of Whitby, you need to look up river to the houses on the hills, I remember the town well as I had an uncle who lived there and was a fisherman for many years.
Further up the coast is a more interesting prospect in Saltburn-by-the-sea, the problem is unless you own or rent a car or go on an organised trip, the trip involves a long train journey of two to three hours and unfortunately the town’s pirate museum is closed but the links to history are still strong. Edward VII is supposed to have met Lily Langtree here in one of the hotels on the promenade and Saltburn’s history is steeped in piracy; one of the most infamous of her sons, ran the Ship Inn on the sea front, a pub which still stands today.
Most visitors to the area take the trip to Bridlington, as it is at the other end of the Whitby route and only an hour by bus from Scarborough and worth the trip. My mind had been going through some possibilities, when I got disturbed by a guest, “Alan, you appear to be in deep thoughts, what’s on your mind?”
I turned to see who was speaking and replied, “I was thinking of what to do next, I planned a day of enquiries. I wish to revisit St. Mary’s church and talk to the Father I met last year and I wish to visit a grave at the church; also I hope to go to the library as I arranged to view some maps with a curator.”
“Sounds like you are in for a full day, what prompted this activity?”
“I came for a visit last autumn after losing a close friend in Canada. For many years I tried to find out why the rocks out by Scalby Mills are called Betty Moffet, there is no record to say why, maps going back as early as 1850s have them named but nobody knows why. Last year I was contacted by the spirit of a lost soul, a little girl who lived a sad life and even in death she found no peace; she is at peace now and her grave is the one I will visit today.”
“That is a lovely tale and so moving.”
“I have another mission as well as researching the rocks, last night at the same spot, I saw a ship’s lantern swinging, and wondered if I might find something in the library which may help to explain the sighting.”
“All the best in your researches; I need to go and get ready for the trip now.”
“Thanks, I hope you have a nice day.”
Two pots of coffee and some more toast later, I left the table and went to my room to think my plans through, the town centre is only a short walk from the guest house, once you get your bearings, so I decided to go to the library to discuss the matter with the curator, a lady called Cate.
I walked through the town centre and turned right at Woolworths on my way to the library, after introducing myself to the assistant curator, I was left for a few minutes while she went to fetch the curator. Cate became interested in the varied reasons for my researches and was most helpful but after about an hour we decided, that helpful as maps could be, the search was us getting nowhere. All the maps had the rocks named but e found none which gave an idea of when the rocks had been named; Cate said IF I did find something she would be interested in the findings. This search had become more of a quest than just trying to find some random bits of information about odd things happening, which drove me on.
Anybody who knows me, will tell you, I go through stages from mild curiosity to great interest into obsession; I had the feeling this project was heading into the area of obsession as curiosity gave way to a driving passion for finding out about the rocks, at the same time I had the sense to realise I may run into a dead end as information is so scant for the period, I became determined to find something out.
After leaving the library I took the walk back to the guest house to rest and gather my thoughts before setting out again, after a short walk back to the main road, I crossed the road and took the path behind the hotels and walked over to the cliff top and stood looking from the top of the cliffs up to the point, I wondered what it must be like to be the captain and why had he run so close to the shore, surely he would remember the rocks location, all the maps and charts had them clearly marked and you were able to observe the waves crashing on them from his position, so why did he bring his ship so close to them?
Thinking back to last night and the light, why had I, of all the visitors to the town seen it, and what was its purpose?
Was the light a warning?
Did the man waving the lamp use it as a sign of danger for the future mariners or a desperate plea for help?
I found one reason, one equally as mysterious as it was perplexing.
Standing on the footpath looking to the point at the edge of North Bay, you can see the rollers and the draft a boat can take, even taking a close line there is plenty of water for a boat or small ship to make it safely to harbour.
My journey to St. Mary’s is only a short walk and took but a few minutes, as I stood at the grave of the young girl, I wondered, is she at peace? And did she find her family after all this time?
I was so lost in deep thought I did not see the father come out to greet me, “Hello my son, I see you have returned to us, and I hope with a clearer conscience, as you eased that young girl into the great beyond.”
“Hello Father, I’m sorry I didn’t see you come out, I was so lost in thought.”
“That is all right, my son, I can see that and knowing you from last year, I know how you feel, but also why do I have the feeling that this is only a part of the reason for your journey?”
“Even though we only met for a short time father, we got to know me well enough to sense my moods, and to know when I am on a mission.”
“My son, what is puzzling you this time?”
“I know this is going to sound really weird father, but this is exactly how it happened. Last night as I was walking back to the guest house along the cliff path, for some reason, I stopped and looked out to the rocks, at first I wasn’t sure, but I thought I saw a ship’s lantern swinging wildly to and fro, as though being waved by a hand. I say this sounds odd, as it is the same spot we found the head last year father, and as much as I want to believe my eyes, my mind has doubts, as to why the two spirits should choose to contact me, at the same point.”
“Nothing odd, firstly any ship going into the harbour needs to come close to the point, to get the tide right, secondly as you had been contacted from beyond, the spirits know that you like others believe in the after life, and are open to contact. I have a feeling I know the question you are going to ask.”
“Yes, Father, I believe you do. Are there records of sailors buried here, who have unmarked graves or whose bodies were not claimed?”
“If you come back tomorrow, I might be able to help you. No promises.”
“Father, any bit of information is a great help to me as you know, I thank you for your time.”
As I left the churchyard, the talk had settled a few doubts, but still some remained, it is true that spirits connect with believers and that once you make the connection there is a great chance of the link opening again, but I was still not totally convinced
Was I the first to see the light? Or just the first to wonder about its meaning, as people in the area, often take things for granted, that a visitor would pick up on.
Walking along the same sandy shoreline as previously, what a change it was now, instead of a howling 3 - 4 wind, there is a gentle breeze and no sand in your face
When I got to the sea life centre, I stood for a while, looking at the mysterious platelets of rock and wondering, “Would I solve the riddle of how they got named? “
Here in the calm of a lovely spring morning, with the tide gently lapping them, it was hard to think ships could have floundered on the platelets of rock, as the tide barely covered them, and they were so easy to see. As the father said, a ship going into the harbour needed to come close to the point; that was plain to see as I looked back to the headland from point.
If you were too far away, you ran the risk of missing altogether or having to heave to, and hope you could make the harbour. If you came too close, the tide would drive you into North Bay and the sharp edged rocks therein, where the rocks would tear the timbers from any ship if you took a chance and missed the current, so there is a fine line twixt making it safe, and the watery depths below. Could this have been the reason for the mysterious light I saw?
The captain of a lost ship, signalling from the grave to warn other sailors, if this was on the south coast, I might have considered the other possibility, the light was designed to draw ships onto the rocks, as the coast around Devon & Cornwall is known to be the haunts of wreckers. Men who would move the warning beacons along the coast, so ship’s captains thinking they had safe channel would sail and find their boats wrecked; hence the story to the poem- “Pook of Pook’s hill.”
But here in the north, even though the area is a smuggling haven, the sea is so open, there is no way a ship could be drawn close in, unless she was coming to port anyway.
Was the light left from the grave as a warning to sailors?
If so why had I seen it on a calm night from the land?
As the day was young, and inquisitiveness high, I decided to try and find the Maritime records office, to see if any records of the light had been reported before, as the Maritime Heritage centre here deals with the sea history of Scarborough.
Recalling the area from childhood and with days ahead, I decided I might try to widen the search area this week, maybe she was from Whitby or further up the coast?
The day went on and my thoughts wandered to the meanings and did the date have a link? This was something I would have to delve into later, for now my thoughts were more on the ship’s history and route, there was no record here, so maybe she had come down from further up, maybe she was homeward bound. There is no way of telling without a good deal of researching into local history.
The shipping museums in the area had scant records, only major disasters were recorded in print, and most of them were the result of storms at sea. The only other places were graveyards in the church, and poor souls lost to the sea, rarely had a grave, as they were claimed by her, and until she decided to return them to us, they would be lost forever.
The time was right for lunch, so I left the maritime centre and had a walk along the beach, my mind trying to find a reason why I had seen the light.
As I walked past the harbour, I stopped to view the many boats and all the different types, some where fishing trips, some for pleasure cruises and it all seemed so distant from the rocks, with the boats gently bobbing and bells ringing sweetly. It seemed hard to think that less then a mile away, you could be so close to safe harbour, and yet lose your life in a swirl, being able to see the lighthouse.
Sitting on the sea front, eating lobster tails for my lunch, I was mulling over idea of when to go to Whitby, it is only an hour by bus from here, and I had the afternoon ahead of me, the weather was favourable, “That’s it,’ I said to myself, ‘I’ll catch the 1:30 bus to Whitby, and see if I can get some information there.”
The route takes you past Scalby Mills and out onto the moors for a while, the moors are always a delight to see and now with the heathers and gorse bushes starting to show, it was a complete change from the browns of the autumn, today the plants were yellows and greens.
As we set off for the first stop on the route-Robin Hood’s Bay-legend has it that Robin Hood landed here, I took a glance to see if it was worth a visit one day, although it is a lovely village and well known for winkling on the coastal region, I decided not to make the trip.
We arrived in Whitby bus station, which is but a few hundred yards from the train station at about 2:40, after a brief walk to the docks I decided my best chance was the new maritime museum on the dock side. Up on entering I was greeted by a shopping area filled with all sorts of things from toys for the child in you, to history books.
I was looking at a book on local shipwrecks, when I heard a voice from behind me, “Afternoon, sir, can I help you?”
As I turned I saw a man in his late 30s, with brown hair and a welcoming smile.
“I am doing some research and was wondering, if there is any record of a shipwreck off the Betty Moffet rocks in Scarborough. I have been trying to find something on why they have the name and came up with a lot of dead ends. A couple of nights ago, I was walking back to the guest house, when I saw a ship’s lantern swinging wildly out past the rocks, and I am trying to find something about the light now.”
“About the rocks, I am afraid there is nothing anywhere, as far as anyone has been able to find yet. But, for the lantern, I can help you a little.”
“Any information you can give will be greatly appreciated,” I said with excitement racing in my voice.
“My father, like many Whitby men, was a sailor, and for many years there was a story about the lantern, the story went around the Whitby inns and pubs, the dockland and all seamen can recall the story. It was in the winter of 1871, a trawler passed through here on her way south, with a cargo of whiskey barrels. The day she set out was fine, and the wind fair to moderate heading south-west.”
“You said passed through here, so she wasn’t from here!”
“That is right, some said she was from Saltburn, but nobody really knew and that is the first of the mysteries to do with her sailing. To this day, we don’t know what exactly happened that night, as she set out towards Scarborough, she sailed out of the harbour to a calm sea, hardly a sail rippled. All seemed well, with a gentle wind blowing and a short trip ahead, they had no reason to suspect anything, but after three hours and with no sighting of the ship at Scarborough, they realised something was wrong. No flares were sent to indicate distress and the lighthouse keeper saw nothing until he spotted the lantern through the fog. The lamp was seen swinging gently with the wind, then it got quicker and quicker, the keeper at first tried to work out the message, but realised this wasn’t a message, but a warning sign.”
“You said winter of 1871.”
“Aye that is right, why did you ask?”
“Wasn’t that the winter of the Bridlington disaster which claimed the lives of sixty seamen?”
“Yes, sir, you have done your researching then.”
“I came across the information on the Scarborough maritime history site, that was a terrible night, and for the winds to change that suddenly as well.”
“The keeper alerted the lifeboat men, and as he saw them launch the boat, something weird happened, When the boat entered the water, the lantern started to swing violently to and fro and the waves were so big, the boat was making no headway and took so much water in, she almost sank twice before the coxswain was forced to give up.”
“I have seen the area, and there is a small channel you have to use to get between the rocks and shore, if you want to make the harbour safe. From where I saw the light waving, she was in the clear, so why the signal?”
“That we can only think on, but many have put ideas forward and all have the ring of possibility, from missing the channel in the mist, pilot error, fighting in the crew to winds forcing her on to the rocks.”
“I have one, you have probably heard it before, but fit’s the story like a glove.”
“Please go on.”
“The story says she came through here, nobody knows from where but some say Saltburn. My thinking is she did come from Saltburn, and the skipper was heading to Scarborough with his whiskey cargo, when he left here, all was well and going fine until he got to Robin Hoods Bay, and then he noticed she was listing, with the winds heading her down the coast and taking on water, time is against him, so he heads for port. Knowing the safe harbour ahead he tried to make Scarborough, but with the list he is being driven closer and closer inland until there is no sea left, in the mist and raging tides he gets rammed on the rocks, ripping the hull, and soaking the timbers with the whiskey. What the keeper saw, was at first a distress signal, but as the skipper realised the lifeboat was coming, he knew the whiskey could explode at any moment, so waved frantically to keep them away”
“What about the weird tide, when the boat entered the water?”
“Shall we say was either luck or maybe the Lord moving in a mysterious way; for that was before the storm hit Bridlington, so, was it chance?”
“As you say the story fits the facts, and that is not one we heard before.”
“There won’t be a record of a boat leaving here, as she just stopped here, this was neither departure nor destination, to get more details; I will have to visit Saltburn this week.”
After taking my leave from the shop, I walked to the old harbour walls, and looking out to the open sea, I could imagine the wonder as the skipper set sail for Scarborough, thinking that in a few hours they would be safe in the inn, celebrating a good haul; only to end the night, fighting for his life, with an ailing, listing boat, raging tides and rocks on the shoreline.
The next day I went to visit the Father again, to tell him of my Whitby visit, and what I had learned, the walk to the pleasant little parish church, only a few minutes from the guest house, always reminding me of the town’s vivid history, so full of little alleyways.
“Hello my son, I was wondering if you would return today as you said.”
“I always intended to come back, your records are a vital possible link in the mystery, and I love to chat to you anyway, I could spend hours here.”
“As you asked, I checked the records, and found that in 1871, there were five bodies buried in unmarked graves, they were found washed up the day after the storm, nobody knew who they were, or where they are from.”
“I have an idea. Yesterday, I was in Whitby, talking to a man in the new shop on the harbour front, he told me his father had heard a story of the light, and of a boat that left Whitby, bound for here, but grounded on the rocks. That part we know is true; the rest is my version of things which fit the story. In my version of the story she set sail with a cargo of whiskey on a calm night, and with a fair wind would have made harbour safely, but out by Robin Hoods Bay, either she hit a rock, or something went awry below deck, as he noticed a list. Taking in water, and racing the wind, he knew time was against him, and he had to make port quickly or risk losing everything, he had no choices left, as he sailed on to here.
The lighthouse saw the lantern as she rounded the North Bay, and then things started to go wrong so fast for him, with the listing and the driving winds, he came closer in to the point than he reckoned, and grounded on the rocks. The lifeboat records show that the keeper recalled seeing the lantern swinging violently, my theory is this was the captain warning the boat not to come out, as the barrels had leaked, and were at risk of blowing up.
But this is were it gets really odd, Father, as the boat entered the water, twice was driven back by the waves, until the coxswain had no choice but to given in. Was it luck she never got launched, as that morning was the big storm at Bridlington, or was if the Lord’s way of saving the boat because the big waves started as the boat touched the water.”
“That my son, is something we will never know, as the Lord moves in mysterious ways, and it is not for mortal man to try to understand. But your story would fit the facts, better than most.”
“As there is no record of her at Scarborough or in Whitby, I am going to see if I can get some more information in Saltburn this week.”
Getting there is a journey and a half in itself, as you have to go via York & Middlesborough, as railways are not allowed on the dales, as they are a national park.
So it would be a three-hour trip each way and a long day ahead.
As I walked back into the guest house, I was met by Nicki, one of the proprietors,“Hi Alan, what are you thinking?”
“Hi Nicki, I am thinking of the trip I planned, as I will be going to Saltburn, and it’s a three-hour trip each way, so going to be early start and late return.”
“Why are you going, Alan, as it is such a long trip? It must be important.”
“More just to try and tie a few loose ends up of the mystery of the lantern, and see if I can get some more information to add to my theory of why the boat ran aground.”
“All the best, Alan, I will be out tomorrow with mother, doing some shopping, so I will not see you until late, or even until breakfast.”
“Thanks Nicki, these trips up here, have really got me thinking about things.”
“Yes, we noticed the determined look on your face the last few days, as you delved deeper into this latest mystery, well this coast has lots to offer a man with an inquisitive mind like yours.”
That morning at breakfast I had the kippers I ordered a few days before, washed down with a good supply of coffee, best way to start my day, then taking the walk to the train station. I paid my £24 for the return to Saltburn, and got to thinking, where could I start, as the museum was now closed; the train pulled into York, and I got off and went across the tracks to get the train to Middlesbrough, for the next part of my three stage trip, at Middlesbrough I changed to a local train for Saltburn, this train passed through Redcar, a place where many years ago I had relatives, now the old ICI works are shut down and the chimneys laid to rest, the town looked even more desolate than ever. Redcar known to many who watch television mainly for the horse track that my late uncles house once looked over.
Sporting interest now being the Bears, who are a speedway team that rode at Middlesbrough, before moving to Halifax in the early 1970s; and has been here since the late 1980’s.
Last year I was going to do the trip here but could not afford it, looking back, I think it was just as well now.
We arrived in Saltburn and I took the short stroll to the sea front, a wide expanse of sand overlooked by a high bank of hills and at the bottom of which stands the Ship Inn, once the property of Saltburn’s pirate king, now a public house.
I ordered my pint and was sitting musing over my next action when I heard a kindly voice say, “Penny for your thoughts, skipper.”
Turning I saw the grizzled but very friendly face of an ex-seaman, full of character and love.
“I was thinking on a puzzle I was trying to solve and how to get some information about a boat, I believe left here headed for Scarborough.”
“Would that have something to do with the lantern seen at North Bay?”
“That’s right, do you know of the story?”
“Around here, all the sailors do, young man; the story has been passed down the years and become a tale of greed that led to the sea claiming the lives of those men. If you would be kind enough to get an old sea-dog a pint, I shall tell you the story.”
As we sat outside, in the sun that late spring afternoon, my new friend relayed the story to me that had been passed down over the years.
“T’was the winter of 1871 and the skipper of the “Caroline Grey” began loading the cargo of whiskey into the hold, being a business minded chap and always ready to make a bit on the side, he could not pass over the chance to make a few quid extra on this trip. So, he when he was offered money to take 10 kegs extra down to Scarborough, he jumped at the chance, he was seen loading them onto the ship, and as he did, she went low in the water. Everyone told him about this and the risks he ran, but greed was his master now, and a terrible master greed is, he drives normally sane men to do wicked things. As the Caroline left harbour, the men shook their heads, they could see she was slow to respond and riding very low in the water. Captain Martin, usually a good skipper, was taking a big risk, and he knew the rewards would be great but as she left the estuary, the Caroline started to slow and was not responding, she barely cleared the headland before a squall struck and with all hands lashing barrels down, he had to man the wheel by himself. Having barely survived that, they expected him to turn around and comeback but he pushed on, his cargo and the lure of the money driving him onward.
He stopped at Whitby to get some planking nailed down, after the squall had left her taking in some water. It was here things went from bad to disastrous for the captain. They left Whitby heading down the coast, and sailors of many years noticed she was already listing, nobody knew at Whitby why she was so low in the water, as the holds were tight shut, but sailors knew that meant an illegal haul, and so kept quiet-- The code of the sea—.”
“The last leg of the trip, should have been a quick run, but just out from Robin Hoods bay, the planking splintered with the rolling weight in the hold, and she took in more water.
A ship that was slow to respond, had now become a ship with a mind of its own, and no matter what he did Martin was losing control as the barrels rolled from side to side, a gentle swell throwing them into the walls of the hold and smashing them, leaking whiskey.
As he got to North Bay, a gust hit the side of the ship, and flung him from the wheel for only a few seconds, that was all that she needed the Caroline lurched violently to shore, and from then on there was nothing he could do, the ship laid low in the water, with a narrow channel between the rocks, normally an easy course to plot, but this was a wicked ship and she did not wish to land. The captain first flashed the lantern for assistance, then realising the truth of the matter, waved frantically to warn boats away, and she sank without trace, all hands claimed by the sea.”
“So, if he had not taken on the extra barrels, he would have had the clearance to make the safe harbour.”
“Possibly, but, as I said, the Caroline’s last voyage should not have been taken on; the warnings were here from the start and he ignored them.”
“I agree there, but what about the lifeboat getting turned back, by the huge waves as she entered the water, that hasn’t been explained away?”
“We are sea-goers and religious people, sir, and we believe it was the Lord’s way of saving the lives of brave men.”
“The following day was the Bridlington storm, was it chance that the wind was that strong, or just freakish weather conditions.”
“That, sir, is something nobody can say for sure, as we had not seen such high seas before, and did not for another fifty years.”