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the Epic Story of the Gale and Breaker

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The Story of the Gale and Breaker

Come all ye sons of Newfoundland and sailors near and far
To hear the story of the Gale lost on the North East Bar
Her skipper's name was Douglas Swartz as she plowed across the foam
"We'll catch a trip of fish," he said, "and by Christmas we'll be home."

"Don't fear those wintry blasts," he said, "that beat her sides of steel
Pull wide those engines down below and feel her dancing keel."
Her course was set for Sable Isle, a sailor's grave all know
Whose shifting sands abound with fish, where the treacherous currents flow.

Through freezing sleet and blinding snow round Sables Cape she fled
Across Le Harve and Emerald Bank to Quearo Grounds she sped
At dawn beneath an angry sky, her nets were cast away
To haul aboard a goodly catch before the close of day.

And then, across the air it came that warning to beware
A raging storm was bearing down, a sailor's skill to dare.
Oh! stand away from Sables Shoals, to all this warning came
Go seek the safety of the deep we pray in heaven's name.

But where the treacherous currents flow the Gale had gone astray
And crashing on the North East Bar a shuddering wreck she lay.
With a crew of eighteen men on board she reeled in dire distress.
In these raging seas we cannot last all heard her S.O.S.

When on the air John Halley came, a man both brave and grand
He was skipper of the Breaker with a crew from Newfoundland.
"We are coming to your rescue, so keep a light on high
Tonight we'll run the North East Bar, we will not pass you by."

But few have dared those awful shoals and lived to tell the tale
Well all men knew the double loss should the Breaker skipper fail
But God rode with that rescue craft through that awful night,
Dawn found them in grim Sables lee to stage a gallant fight.

And not alone the Breaker stood where brave men do or die
For Simon Terrio was there and his Gloucester men stood by
There lurched the Gale with frozen shroud. How could those men survive?
Came muffled voices from the wreck that they were still alive.

Spoke Halley to that stricken crew, "A lifeline we will send
When fastened well upon your mast, a breeches bouy we'll bend."
But as he spoke the wind increased and the seas ran mountainous high.
The wind blew 80 miles an hour, as another night drew nigh.

And standing hand in hand with death as seas washed on her deck
The Breaker battled through the night but could not reach the wreck.
Then out from Halifax there came a cruiser strong and brave
She had rescued many from the sea and knew that sailor's grave.

And thus the Coast Guard skipper spoke, well learned of wind and tide
To try a rescue at this time would be naught but suicide
Came rescue ships from far and near a helpless watch they kept
Said Swartz "On Sable we must die." On shore their loved ones wept.

For now the Gale, a broken hulk, lashed by the wind and spray,
Was settling in the ocean grave so anxious for its prey.
It was then the Breaker stood in close, John Halley held the wheel
Not near enough to render aid for reefs clutch at her keel.

Heard from the Gale those solemn words, To him on high we bow
As half our crew we cast adrift, may God have mercy now.
Then spoke up Capt Harvey Scott, a man who knows not fear
"Just hold her steady Skipper John, we'll drop our dorys clear."

With Scott, stood raw boned Tom Malloy, a man of six foot two
They were two of John Halley's crew of braver men there's few.
And there was Gregory Toomey on the Breaker's starboard side
With him there was Paddy Costigan, both fearless as the tide.

How could a dory live that day? They volunteered to try.
Molloy, Scott, Toomey, Costigan said "those men must not die."
With life belts fastened to their chests, they cleared the Breaker's side
Swept out of sight and Sables' clutching tides.

Then heaven smiled on those brave men, they reached the foundering wreck
Nine weary men they landed first, safe on the Breaker's deck.
With salt spray frozen to their brow, said they "Again we go."
Nor did they shirk till all were saved from Sables treacherous flow.

And loved ones on the shore rejoiced, it was a Christmas grand
And ne'er will be forgotten those brave men from Newfoundland.


john christopher

Capt Jack Halley was my uncle ...a man from Topsail CB South ( now Paradise )...He fished out of Gloucester and Boston for many decades.....I lived with him , my aunt Maude and their 10 children in Boston Mass for a year (1942-43) ... Wonderful memories...........J C

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