ARCHIBALD SMITH, THE SHIP'S MASTER, TELLS HOW HE AND DUNCAN MACDONALD WENT OUT IN THE DINGHY AND MACDONALD WAS DROWNED
Archibald Smith beached his vessel at Resipoll to discharge a cargo of draff ("residue of husks of grain after brewing used for feeding cattle") for the tenant farmer Robert Calder
Salen 21 Feby 1856: Compeared Archibald Smith, Master of the smack 'Mary Jane' of Dunbarton and residing at Kerrey Cowal in the parish of Kilfinnan and Shire of Argyll, who says:
I am 30 years of age. The crew of the above Smack consists of three men, myself, a mate and a hand.
I arrived in the above Smack at Resipoll in Loch Sunart with a cargo of draff for Mr Robert Calder, the tenant of that farm, on 1 February 1856. The crew consisting of myself, my brother Donald Smith and Angus McDonald. To enable us to discharge our cargo as there is no pier or landing slip, we had to beach the vessel, and with neap tides we could not get so high up as to let the vessel dry at low water.
On the afternoon of Tuesday 5th February 1856 we had the cargo about half discharged, and about 11 p.m. as the night looked dark and dirty, threatening a gale, I thought it was necessary as a measure of precaution, to run out our large anchor from the stern, that so if it did come on to blow, we might thereby be enabled to haul the vessel into deeper water & there ride at safety.
At low water he decided to put out an anchor from the stern on a long line to be able to draw his ship into deeper water if the weather turned, as it threatened, nasty
It was at this time nearly low water, the tide being still ebbing. There was from 3 to 4 feet water about the smack. The punt was afloat alongside, a small boat about 10 feet in length. We first put a small Kedge into the Boat and laid it our in the direction of the spot where we intended to drop the large anchor.
Angus McDonald & I went into the punt, my brother remaining on deck to pay out the warp. The object in laying out the Kedge & warp was to pull out by it when we had the anchor and chain in the punt as we would thereby have greater purchase than with oars. So soon as we had the Kedge laid out we returned in the punt alongside the smack.
Having put out a light kedge with Angus MacDonald, to be able to lay the bigger anchor easily, he then returned for the anchor and chain
We got the anchor slung over the stern of the punt and put as much of the chain into the boat as we could. My brother was still on deck, McDonald & I remained in the punt. After we had the anchor slung and part of the chain in the Boat we took hold of the warp & pulled out by it, hand over hand. When we had gone about 40 fathoms from the smack, the strain of the chain, with the weight of the anchor over the stern of the little boat became very heavy. McDonald was in the bow and I was standing close to him. The stern of the boat was being dragged down, and as I went towards it to let the anchor drop, the punt gave a lurch, filled with water and was dragged to the bottom with the weight of the anchor.
But the weight was too great and his punt sunk
We were both precipitated into the sea. We were in very deep water as at the place where we lay the water deepens rapidly. I was taken to the bottom, and on reaching the surface and recovering my breath I made for the smack by swimming. I could not cry for a minute or two, but when I recovered my voice, I cried to my brother for assistance.
I did not see McDonald after I got above water. There were no boats at hand, and my brother got out and waded as far into the sea as he could and threw me an oar to my assistance. I never heard McDonald's voice nor do I know what became of him. There was a smart breeze at the time but not much sea. After I got ashore I was greatly fatigued and lay on the beach.
He got ashore, but there was no sign of Angus MacDonald
My brother ran to Resipoll house for assistance & returned with Allan Cameron & Allan McQueen and several others. By this time more than 1½ hours had elapsed as the house is a good distance from the shore and the inmates were all in bed. I had partially revived and we got a boat launched with difficulty and began a search for McDonald.
We went to the end of the chain and had the punt raised but we could get no sight of our missing companion. Coming on to blow and the night being very dark, we had to give up the search. The beach was carefully examined but no trace of him could be found.
Next day and for the four following days we dragged for his body with grappling assisted by boats from the shore without success. The tide rose with great rapidity and I attribute this cause and the unevenness of the bottom of the Loch as the want of our success.
A search was carried out but, they never found the body
of the Boat was a pure accident, I had often run the same anchor out in
the same way before & I apprehended no danger. I do not think McDonald
was a swimmer, and I myself am very bad at it. He was a strong young man
about 20 years of age, and a native of the Island & parish of Harris.
I do not know his parents or their residence, nor do I know where to address
a letter to them, but I wrote to the Minister of the parish informing
him of the accident. All which is truth.
DONALD SMITH TELLS HOW HE WAS ON THE SMACK HELPING TO LAY THE ANCHOR
He was on board the Mary Jane paying out the chain when he saw the punt go down
Compeared Donald Smith, mate on board the Smack 'Mary Jane' of Dumbarton and residing at Kerrey Cowal in the parish of Kilfinnan aforesaid, who says:
I am 34 years of age. I am Mate of the above smack. My brother Archibald is Master. Angus McDonald was the hand on Board.
I concur with my brother in his statement, I was standing on the deck, paying away the chain as they took it from me. I was slacking it out gradually and very gently. They were puling out over hand by the warp which they had previously laid out. When they were near the end of the chain & when the boat was about 40 fathoms from the smack, I saw her go down stern foremost and both precipitated into the water.
His brother Archibald got ashore with some difficulty but there was no sign of Angus MacDonald
The night was dark, and a smart breeze blowing from the south or west. The sea was out and tho' I knew there were boats on the beach above water mark, still anything which I could do to assist must be enacted promptly. I got into the sea & waded out to my oxter pits & threw an oar to the aid of the parties. I never saw McDonald but I heard my brother cry for assistance. He got ashore & lay on the beach greatly exhausted. I could see no appearance of MacDonald.
He ran to Resipoll House for help, but to no avail
I ran to Resipoll house & had the servants knocked up & several of them came away with me at once. We had a boat launched and began a search for Macdonald, but without success - we lifted the punt, but his body did not come up with it. We were forced to drop that night further search as the gale which threatened had began and the night was pitch dark. We resumed our search the next day and continued it for 4 days but could get no trace of the body which has not been found yet. This is truth.
ALLAN CAMERON, FARM SERVANT CARTING DRAFF FROM THE MARY JANE, TELLS HIS TALE
He was roused from his bed at Resipoll by Donald Smith at One in the morning
Compeared Allan Cameron, Servant to Robert Calder and residing at Resipoll in the parish of Ardnamurchan and Shire of Argyll, who says:
I am 26 years of age. The 'Mary Jane' of Dumbarton came into Resipoll with a cargo of Draff for my master about the beginning of the present month and was beached. There were three hands on board, The Master, Mate and a man.
I was carting the draff after it was discharged from the ship & the whole crew appeared very agreeable, the one with the other.
On the night of the great gale, Tuesday 9th February 1856, I was roused out of my bed about 1 o'clock by Donald Smith, the mate of the smack saying that the punt had been capsized, with his brother and Angus McDonald, that his brother had got to the shore but that Macdnald was a missing. I got up and went to the spot immediately, accompanied by Allan McQueen & two or three others who had also got up.
Down on the beach, he launched a boat with others who had come down with him and searched for the missing man, but without success
We found the Master on the Beach very wet and shivering & much exhausted. A Boat was launched immediately and a search made for the missing man but without success. He was nowhere to be seen.
The punt which had capsized was lifted and we found the anchor still fastened to her stern. As the gale increased greatly and as the night grew darker, we had to give up the search.
I assisted along with a number of others in dragging the loch in the two following days for the body, without success, and so far as I know the body has not turned up yet. The beaches were also searched and everything was done which in the circumstances could be done for securing the body. Resipoll house is about ½ a mile or rather better from where the smack was laying. This is truth.
THE BODY WAS NEVER FOUND
Allan McQueen, Servant to the said Robert Calder, Residing at Resipoll, aged 30 - concurs in the preceding statement.
Appended to these notes is the following, in rough note form:
To the Registrar
of the parish of Ardnamurchan - Result of a precognition touching the
death of the undermentioned person.