Some of my experiences at sea By: John HempHill Born 1871

My first long voyage was to St.John’s Newfoundland in the brig Stella owned by James MacDonald of Cardigan Bridge. She was sailed by Capt. Neilson and mate Donald Stegle, better known as bald headed Donald. I had a brother, Charles on board as an able seaman while I served as cook. The Stella was built in Cardigan Bridge by Duncan MacLaren and I must say a noble little ship she was. They may talk about other ships under sail, but the Stella was a bird in a breeze for a gale of wind. On this trip to St.John’s we encountered a heavy gale of wind off Cape Royal about 30 miles from St.John’s. When the gale struck us there were no orders to shorten sail. The Stella hove down on her beam and labored there until all of her sails were blown off. Then she righted with nothing left but the yards and bolt rope. An able seaman, by the name of George Campbell was at the wheel when the gale shifted and done his best to save the ship. Whether the Captain and mate got excited or frightened I do not know, but they acted like two dump-heads. The evening was coming on and a dark ugly night set in. There was an extra set of sails in the poop deck which were taken out and put on in the darkness of the night. The Stella labored for seven more days at sea before we made St.John’s. We were blown unto the banks of Newfoundland with no land in sight from the time we took the gale until it was over. The Captain and mate kept to the cabin one in each corner standing there like two statues. Captain Neilson’s wife, a beautiful woman also aboard, became a nervous wreck during the storm, tearing her hair. When the Captain and mate came on deck again, the Stella was glad to see them for the strong winds had subsided, and she was on her journey again. During the gale, we seen a beautiful white ship a hundred ton or larger then the Stella. I think she was from Lunenburg, N.S. she a three mater, a barkentine. When we sighted her, she was only wearing a gooswing topsail and on the drift. The Stella was then wearing a stem stacil, a foursail and a mainsail.

All of the information on this page was given to us courtesy of the
Cardigan River Heritage Center which is Located at
4537 Wharf Road
Cardigan, P.E.I.

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