Shortly after six o’clock on Sunday morning the Henry Vernon went out to the wreck. The weather had improved, but it was still bad enough to make the mission dangerous.
Richard Eglon joined the crew because of his personal knowledge of the rocks and currents around the Nab. He had also persuaded Spaven’s Warehouse to provide a quantity of oil to pour on the water to calm the waves.
Whoever was nominally in charge in charge of the operation, Coxswain Smith was in particular command of the boat. He stopped the Henry Vernon to seaward and astern of the Rohilla and for what seemed an eternity to those on the wreck the lifeboat did not move. Smith took his time in assessing the position. Then he put the tricky and hazardous manoeuvre into action almost circling the wreck before approaching on the shore – ward side through the oil - calmed waves.
Soon the only one of the fifty men left on board was Captain Neilson. He was carrying the Ship’s cat and as he clambered down he slipped and fell into the water. One of the lifeboatmen immediately jumped in after him and he was pulled to safety, still clutching the cat.
Copyright © Ken Wilson 1981