With daylight, Captain Neilson was able to assess the position. It was obvious to him that the ship was in imminent danger of breaking up. The two great fractures in the hull would inevitably cause the bow and the stern to break away from the centre portion. Being the lightest part of the ship, the bow would drag the stern down into the deeper water. The main engines’ weight would tend to hold the centre portion firmly down on to the rock shelf but eventually that too would slip back over the edge and sink. How soon that would be he was incapable of estimating.

For about fifty men on the lower decks the end must have come quickly as the sea rushed in. For those who survived the initial shock it seemed only a matter of hours before they would all be rescued. The ship was only few hundred yards from the shore, the Coastguard had given the alarm as soon as she went on the rock, the Lifeboat Station was only about a mile away and men of the Rocket Brigade were already clambering down the cliff on to the Nab.

Its Back Broken

At seven o’clock on Friday morning they shared out the only food it had been possible to salvage – a tin of biscuits, and drank the last of the fresh water.

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Copyright © Ken Wilson 1981