Sovinto

The Sovinto was the second of two notable shipwrecks that occurred during the Yankee Gale of 1906. On November 4th, the vessel left Campbellton, New Brunswick, loaded with more than a million feet of lumber, bound for Australia. The Sovinto was a large four-massed baroque that weighed 1,600-ton and was 61-metres in length. On the day the captain set sail, the weather was fair. However, later in the day, the weather changed and the gale was upon them. As they sailed through the storm, the lumber shifted and the ship was badly damaged. Realizing that the situation was grim, the captain ordered all men to don life jackets. For a while, the ship tried to run before the wind, and this worked for a while. But then the lookouts spotted breakers in their track.

 

            The captain ordered anchors dropped in hopes off stopping the Sovinto and avoid hitting the breakers. It was was too late. The ship hit Carew's Reef, off Priest Pond and the Sovinto listed hard to the port side. The life boat on the starboard side couldn't be lowered because of the ship's list so some of the crew grabbed hold of some lumber and broken deck pieces that had broken free. Clinging to the salvage, the crew who got free of the ship swam through the breakers.

            The crew who made it to shore quickly ran to nearby houses to find help. However, the captain was the only man of 22 crew that spoke English. The rest were Norwegian, Swedish and Russian. When they knocked on doors to get help, it couldn't be understood what they were saying. “Sovinto! Sovinto!” was all they said, pointing towards the shore.

 

            At the shore, the men used ropes to recover other members of the crew who had been thrown into the large surfs. It took several days to save the survivors from the wreck. On the first night, three men managed to row to shore in a dory. On the second night, two more men made it, and the next night one more man made it to shore. The seas were so heavy that it was impossible to row out to the men stranded on the wrecked vessel. Survivors were taken into local homes, clothed and fed.

            Unfortunately, 12 of the 22 crew died, unable to make it to shore. Their bodies were placed in coolers of the lobster factory at Priest Pond. Some were buried at Souris West Cemetary and others at St. Columbia Cemetery at Fairfield. Some of the crew who made it to shore, unfortunately, later died of TB.

            After the seas died down, children would swim out and play on the wreckage of the Sovinto. It was reported that rounds of cheese floated a shore from the destroyed vessel after the rescue operation finished. Salvage of the wreck can still be found on the rocks at Priest Pond. 

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