From the Archives

The Southern Democrat, June 1, 1933

The ice patrol

It sometimes takes a great disaster to awaken a community or a nation to the fact that a known menace to life and property often may be removed through intelligent action. Such was the lesson of the Titanic through collision with an iceberg on April 14, 1912, with a loss of 1,517 lives.

This shocking tragedy of the sea aroused a demand for precautionary measures, resulting in the formation of the international ice patrol to watch for and report the locations of icebergs in the North Atlantic steamer lanes during the dangerous season of each year.

Ten nations joined in bearing the expense, the patrol duty being performed by United States Coast Guard cutters. This patrol has been maintained each year since the Titanic disaster, with the exception of two years during the war.

Two cutters are employed each year, using Halifax as a base. They send information of icebergs sighted transmitted by radio to all vessels in the danger zone. Captains of vessels of all nations cooperate by reporting to the ice patrol any icebergs sighted by them; this data is also broadcast by radio twice daily.

In the 20 years since the ice patrol was established, not a single life has been lost, not a single ship damaged through collision with icebergs. Truly a fine record.

-Darnall’s Newspaper Service

A tale of the sea

Sailors’ yarns are generally amusing and interesting, even if many of them are not gospel truth. We just ran across an old one from the log of Henry Hudson’s ship when that famed explorer was trying to find the long-sought “northwest passage to China” in 1608. For vivid imagination it is hard to beat.

It tells of sighting a “mermaid” in the following record dated June 15, latitude 75 degrees 7 minutes north.

“One of our company looking overboard saw a mermaid and, calling up some of the company to see her, one more came up and by that time she was come close to the ship’s side, looking earnestly on the men. A little after, a sea came up and overturned her; from the waiste upwards her back and breasts were lyke a woman’s, her body being as big as one of us; her skin was very whyte, and her hair hanging down behind being of colour blacke; in her going downe, they saw her tayle, which was lyke the tayle of a porposse and speckeled lyke a marcrell. Their names that saw her were Thomas Hitler and Robert Rayner.”

Like many other myths and superstitions this yarn was for a long time believed by thousands. Stories equally foolish are believed to this day.

-Darnall’s Newspaper Service